Autonomous Helicopters Teach Themselves to Fly

Posted on August 31, 2008  Comments (7)

photo of Stanford Autonomous Learning Helicopters

Stanford’s “autonomous” helicopters teach themselves to fly

Stanford computer scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers.

The dazzling airshow is an important demonstration of “apprenticeship learning,” in which robots learn by observing an expert, rather than by having software engineers peck away at their keyboards in an attempt to write instructions from scratch.

It might seem that an autonomous helicopter could fly stunts by simply replaying the exact finger movements of an expert pilot using the joy sticks on the helicopter’s remote controller. That approach, however, is doomed to failure because of uncontrollable variables such as gusting winds.

Very cool. Related: MIT’s Autonomous Cooperating Flying VehiclesThe sub-$1,000 UAV Project6 Inch Bat PlaneKayak Robots

7 Responses to “Autonomous Helicopters Teach Themselves to Fly”

  1. Andrew Flusche
    August 31st, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

    Simply amazing! With this type of learning, robots could do virtually anything, just by watching it be done. That’s incredible!

  2. Bernhard
    September 2nd, 2008 @ 2:41 pm

    Occasionally I look here by and read the interesting and well written contributions. Today I would like to leave gladly a greeting from Thuringia in Germany!

  3. Alex Popuj
    September 4th, 2008 @ 7:42 am

    It was predictable! Smart people do everything that robots look and do like them exactly. But they don’t even guess what that all brings to them 😉 But anyway it is a one more step forward in the engineering.

  4. CuriousCat: Robot Independently Applies the Scientific Method
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 8:55 am

    “A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators…”

  5. Brian Airsoft
    May 22nd, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

    Those have to be some the the coolest mini-helecopters I have ever seen. I’d love to see them in action.

    The thing that I noticed was that they are all different sized. That being the case, I wonder how they can “learn” to do tricks. Can they account for the variation in size? I guess that must be the answer.

  6. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Learning Design of Experiments with Paper Helicopters
    October 11th, 2009 @ 9:02 am

    Dr. George E.P. Box wrote a great paper on Teaching Engineers Experimental Design With a Paper Helicopter that can be used to learn principles of experimental design, including – conditions for validity of experimentation, randomization, blocking, the use of factorial and fractional factorial designs and the management of experimentation…

  7. Swarmanoid: Cooperative Robot Networks » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    August 20th, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    this would let us have specialized robots for various tasks instead of having to have robots that can do everything (which is very complex and difficult). Plus cooperating robots is just cool…

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