So This is What a Terrifying Quadcopter Tornado Looks Like

By Andrew Liszewski on at

We’ve covered the remarkable work that researchers at ETH Zurich have been doing with robots and quadcopters before, but did you know its facility has a dedicated Flying Machine Arena where they tether drones to poles and make them fly in circles at terrifying speeds? It’s even more amazing than it sounds.

So This Is What a Terrifying Quadcopter Tornado Looks Like

You’d expect a tethered drone to be a pretty boring spectacle, but without the risk of crashing into a wall, some of these quadcopters are able to hit speeds of up to 34 miles per hour during these experiments. And four going at the same time look like they’re able to suddenly spin up a tornado.

It’s a good reminder of just how limited current artificial intelligence technologies are. When autonomously trying to avoid obstacles, drones often seem like they’re slowly tip-toeing around a space so their rotors don’t come into contact with anything. But when you get them out in the open, they can fly faster than most people realise. [ETH Zurich via IEEE Spectrum]