Now they can swarm.
A Swedish company has cracked the code for enabling up to 49 autonomous drones to work together in precise formation.
First, a demonstration:
It’s mesmerising. Watch the full video after the jump for a different demonstration.
But Malmö-based startup Bitcraze has spent some seven years perfecting the 27 gram drones using, as a starting point, “a Vicon motion-capture system and a custom object tracker”.
It has now been rewarded with serious interest from NASA in its “Crazyflie” platform.
And Microsoft, and Ericsson.
“All I can say is that (NASA) are looking at swarm technology,” Bitcraze co-founder Tobias Antonsson told The Local.
“How to solve a task faster with a swarm as opposed to a single drone.”
It’s more comforting to think of this technology being used for light shows and some very impressive advertising displays.
But obviously, there will be some military interest. In May, the US Navy released a video showing how it would like to see its drone swarm tech “LOCUST” – named after the favoured plague of biblical choice – for scouting and blanket bombardment purposes.
Here’s a demonstration of how it sees a drone swarm deployed:
Back in January, Wired covered how swarm technology will change the face of modern warfare.
But there are many, many practical uses. A Quora forum on the topic canvassed ideas such as farming and animal herding, forest fire monitoring and search and rescue.
And when it comes to NASA’s use for a drone swarm, the obvious answer is large scale, rapid exploration and research.
The possibilities are endless. Get the technology for a platform right, and interest is guaranteed.
Here’s the full demonstration of the Crazyflie swarm in action: