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back to article Boffins produce aerobatic copycat-copter pilotware

Researchers at Stanford University have developed technology which lets computers handling remote-control helicopters achieve complex manoeuvres by copying a human pilot. Having "seen" a move carried out successfully once, the pilot-ware can then repeat it more consistently than the human. Stanford grad students led by Professor …

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Coat

"You'll need...

Flash installed and your net admins will need to agree you should be watching YouTube at work."

Well, that'll explain why I can never see the vids on El Reg. Who'd have thought, eh.

<sarcasm/>

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Dead Vulture

And now for my final trick...

... the "hard forced auto-rotating landing on uneven ground due to an exhaust pipe failure."

That was how a depressing number of my radio-controlled helicopter days ended. There were a couple of notable exceptions, including the "Glasgow Neds Nick the landed 'Copter" manoeuvre. Sadly they'd waited till the engine was off before surfacing. Or I could have practiced my "Glasgow Neds get Hands, Arms chopped" sequence.

Dead bird... for obvious reasons...

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Anonymous Coward

Analysis seems unimaginative

The user could initiate a manoeuvre, which the computer then 'carries off'. It's easy to initiate a glide in a helicopter but takes some practice to maintain it / pull out of it. This applies as nicely to pilot / aircraft as to pilot / drone.

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Black Helicopters

I for one

Welcome our new Helecopter Overlords!!

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Dead Vulture

Acrobatics and war

It may come in useful in ground attack missions and dogfights between drones.

Think about it: It's only a matter of time before the army starts using autonomous air support for its troops. If one side does it, the other will too. And then... the more agressive and manobrable machine wins. Hands down.

If this prototype already beats a champion, what chance would have a, let's say, Predator pilot?

Dead bird - because they will be falling from the sky soon.

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Stop

apprenticeship learning my @#!*

Hasnt anyone heard of rote learning and backpropagation neural nets. This looks like the exact same thing mixed up and with a fancy name. I am tired of seeing same stuff being reinvented the whole time!(Like microsoft and ie 8's new porn mode) Also first post!

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Not really news, is it?

This is typically how welding and painting robots in the automotive industry have been programmed for years - a human craftsman does it manually first, and then the robot copies the maneuver.

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Black Helicopters

Am I the only one...?

Am I the only one that, while watching the video, couldn't shake the feeling that maybe this wasn't a nifty aerobatics computer flying taught sequences, but either a computer, or a person, trying to hold a simple hover and failing miserably!

It was a helicopter - it looked black to me...

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Silver badge
Alien

The More you Know the More you Realise the Little you Know and how Little Anyone Knows

...... but what Little you Know is More than Enough to Make IT Different for Everybody.

"...and backpropagation neural nets." ... By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 2nd September 2008 14:56 GMT

Hoffman Mark Ultra Programming was a Tricky Neural Net to Map and Configure. Well Worth ITs Journeys though in Absolute Control.

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MrT
Bronze badge
Black Helicopters

It's a toy...

... so to apply to a real helicopter, with different dynamics, power/weight, etc., the robo-pilot would have to learn using a real aircraft. I saw a pilot back-flipping, looping and barrel-rolling a Lynx helicopter last weekend - much more impressive - but would you trust a program that's been upscaled from flying a hobby model? Still, as the final step it's going to be done, even if RoboCop-ter has to ride in the right seat watching a real pilot flip and spin a real copter.

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Quimby's Usuform Robots

Yet another case of sci-fi becoming reality. The old (1945-ish) SF story "Q.U.R." presents a scenario where a robot has to learn to mix a perfect Venusian Martini. The bartender who makes the best martinis in the Solar System is interviewed, but it turns out that he can't describe how he makes the martini--he "just does it". In the end, they have a robot watch him and duplicate his movements.

El Reg needs to put in some sort of "robot" icon...

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Black Helicopters

Hmm, just think of

the moment when a UAV bomber suddenly has some sort of error, being a hard or soft error, and it goes flying ground-wards with however many pounds of explosives on it...

i'm not entirely too keen on unmanned vehicles, air or otherwise, that are big/heavy enough to do some damage if they crash.

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Black Helicopters

I need your clothes your boots and your helicopter

Yes, soon the 'boffins' (god I hate that word) will teach these autonomous vehicles to fly around on there own, then give them guns and bombs so they can be used as UCAV's, and then..... let the human hunting begin! [...beep...exterminate the inferior biologicals ....beep... exterminate! exterminate! ]

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Coat

I watched the video but...

all I could see was a stupid fly buzzing round.

Where's a fly-swat icon when you need one?

Someday, somewhere, there'll be a "minor clerical error" when that autopilot is uploaded to a commercial airliner.

Hmm, no sick-bag icon, either.

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Background

Brilliant showcasing - having the helicopter flying against a background of dark trees half the time so you can't actually see what it's doing.

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Coat

Wait, what was that crunching sound?

This is all very well over a flat field, but what happens when the computer tries to impress the coffee machine next door and forgets to allow for the 6ft wooden fence some inconsiderate meatbag left outside the window...?

Or when the weather changes and the heli gets caught in a sudden breeze - if all it's doing is repeating the same control inputs without really comprehending the effects of local conditions then you're just asking for trouble and a heli-shaped hole in the ground (or a nearby spectator)...

There is a reason there are still soft pink squidgy things at the sharp end of the airplane, even if they do just sit and drink coffee and chase skirt most of the time (jealous, me? Nah, never! ;-) )

Mine's the one with "Flight Safety" on the back and the lists of ARIAs (Always-Remembered Instructors' Advice) in the pocket...

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@Paul Slater

That's an example of "security through obscurity" in action!

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