Quadrotors have been in existence for a long time now and are way cooler than your normal looking helicopters. The second-gen of quadrotors are small, agile and can be flown indoors and outdoors.
Research projects that are being undertaken to develop the control systems of quadrotors are several and are being undertaken at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Stanford, MIT, to name a few. Among these The Stanford Testbed of Autonomous Rotorcraft for Multi-Agent Control (STARMAC) is a “multi vehicle test bed used to demonstrate new concepts in multi-agent control on a real-world platform.”
Working with six quadrotor vehicles, STARMAC is all about trying to improve the control thereon and strategies that these vehicles can execute online. The vehicles being used are small, light and low cost, and yes, they look your proverbial cool. These are easy to maintain, are equally adept at flying indoors and outdoors, and have sufficient computing resources for independent operations. STARMAC started out with an off-the-shelf four-rotor helicopter and transformed it into vehicle (STARMAC II) improving up on every minute detail.
DraganFlyer IV was the original – Starmac I – vehicle. Almost incapable of being controlled except until major onboard modifications, this one represented a major challenge for the researchers. To redesign it for STARMAC goals a complete overhaul of frame and onboard electronics was undertaken. During testing in the fall of 2004, four major deficiencies were observed and work was undertaken to remove them, ultimately leading to development of STARMAC II vehicles.
STARMAC II sees improvements in: Thrust Capabilities, On-board Computation Resources, Communication Reliability and Bandwidth, and Position Measurement Accuracy. STARMAC II platform has been tested successfully and at least five more vehicles are being built to expand the fleet. STARMAC’s results augur well for these wonderful looking machines that are advantageous in several real-life scenarios.