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The mini flying robots that swarm like 'a 1980s arcade game'
A squadron of 16 quadcopters perform an array of advanced maneuvers, from stopping on a dime to picture-perfect figure-eights
Mini-helicopter robots fly in formation: Researchers hope these machines could one day serve as surveillance bots.
Mini-helicopter robots fly in formation: Researchers hope these machines could one day serve as surveillance bots.
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he video: Robotic "helicopter bees" are nothing new. But researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP robotics laboratory have created a squadron of 16 tiny quadcoptors that "hover in near-flawless sync with each other," says Paul Goodman at The Escapist, working together as a team. The advanced, four-rotor machines can flip over, switch directions, stop on a dime, and even fly in a perfect figure-eight formation without a hitch. (Watch a video below.) The researchers hope the advanced flying drones will one day serve as surveillance bots, or perhaps lead the charge for rescue efforts in disaster areas.

The reaction: If you ask me, these futuristic little machines scream "retro," says Cyriaque Lamar at io9 — like the "pixelated" space invaders in a certain "1980s arcade game." "I can picture a phalanx of these buggers someday roaming the skies, each armed individually with a taser or scimitar or some other implement of unpleasantry." Better stock up on quarters. Yes, these little quadrotors are "amazing," says Martin LaMonica at CNET, mainly for the swarm's pinpoint precision. But, quite frankly, that makes them "unnerving" too. When we technology writers "joke that robots will make us obsolete or make it sound like they could take over the world, we're being a bit facetious," says Elizabeth Fish at PC World. But "videos like the one below do not help matters." Take a look:

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