ETH's Raffaello D'Andrea presenting at TED -- Wow!

ETH (home of Dronecode's PX4 project) is now leading the world in advanced drone tech. Just watch this amazing video...

Autonomous systems expert Raffaello D'Andrea develops flying machines, and his latest projects are pushing the boundaries of autonomous flight — from a flying wing that can hover and recover from disturbance to an eight-propeller craft that's ambivalent to orientation ... to a swarm of tiny coordinated micro-quadcopters. Prepare to be dazzled by a dreamy, swirling array of flying machines as they dance like fireflies above the TED stage.

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Comment by DBX Drones on February 20, 2016 at 2:35am

As always, Raffaello and ETH making the impossible possible. 
We have learnt so much about control, guidance and navigation from them...

This is when you realize how powerful the open source community is. As he says: it is difficult to estimate how big the economical impact of this technology would be, but for us, the real reward is the journey and the act of creation.

We (DBX Drones) hope that the technology we are creating would spread, so that everybody can expand their reach to the 3rd dimension during more time and along more distance.

Comment by Pete Hollands on February 20, 2016 at 2:49am
  • Professor Raffaello D'Andrea says that there is no camera based positioning / orientation system in this demo (e.g. Vicon). So this really is a landmark demonstration.
  • The swarm consists of at least 25 drones flying together in the theatre.
  • There is no safety net between the audience and the drones. But I personally believe that he will have ensured it is safe. 
Comment by DBX Drones on February 20, 2016 at 2:51am

Good points @Pete

Can be assume they are using SLAM? 

Comment by PX4 on February 20, 2016 at 3:24am

Raff d'Andrea's group is using PX4 as their platform, but of course all the control algorithms and localisation system (and credit of course!) is theirs, so you can't just take PX4 and replicate their results. They have been fantastic in working with us on the infrastructure and VTOL, the beginning of the PX4 VTOL control effort was a joint project (videopaper). The IDSC is also a PX4 partner with ongoing collaboration (

And the lab can even take credit in having played a critical role in the birth of the MAVLink protocol: Lorenz Meier created the initial concept as his semester project for the flying machine arena and later generalized it, which then became MAVLink.

Comment by Pete Hollands on February 20, 2016 at 6:10am

I am adding an alternative link to VTOL paper mentioned by PX4 above (as the original link only provided the paper abstract).

Comment by saripudin on February 20, 2016 at 9:44am

After seeing their current research about new localization technology, I think they have used Ultra-wideband range measurement to fusing with the IMU data, CMIIW

Comment by JB on February 20, 2016 at 10:04am

Outstanding as always!

I particularily liked the swarming mini drones and monocopter...awesome work.

As one would say: State of the art! ;-)

Comment by Patrick Poirier on February 20, 2016 at 11:30am

Thanks to Raffaelo and all the team involved for showing us the future

Comment by HeliStorm on February 20, 2016 at 5:49pm
I wonder how they designed the multicopter? Someone infinitely smarter than myself, I am sure, could think up such a design,but it almost looks thrown together randomly. Having played with genetic algorithms some, I could see something like a monocopter being designed through this process.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on February 20, 2016 at 5:53pm

I just got the Pozyx ultrawideband indoor positioning modules. Four of them placed around a room give precise 3D position information (+-10cm).  It's $650 for the full setup for one vehicle, and $150 for each additional vehicle. 


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