Should Watch! Programming Precision Aerobatics [VIDEO]

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The drone gurus from the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich are back! This time, the laboratory founded in 2012 under the direction of Prof. Davide Scaramuzza has developed a drone that can fly incredibly graceful aerobatics. Watch the video and read below to see how they did it!

From the Robotics and Perception Group: “Performing acrobatic maneuvers with quadrotor is a big challenge. Acrobatic flight requires high thrust and extreme angular accelerations that push the platform to its physical limits. Professional drone pilots often measure their mastery by flying such maneuvers in competitions. In this work, we propose to learn a sensorimotor policy that enables an autonomous quadrotor to fly extreme acrobatic maneuvers only with acquisition and calculation on board. We train the policy fully in simulation using demonstrations from an optimal controller that has access to privileged information. We use appropriate abstractions of the visual input to enable transfer to a real quadrotor. We show that the resulting policy can be deployed directly in the physical world without having to optimize real data. Our methodology has several beneficial properties: it does not require a human expert to perform demonstrations, it cannot damage the physical system during training, and it can be used to learn maneuvers that are challenging even for the best human pilots. Our approach enables a physical quadrotor to fly maneuvers such as the Power Loop, Barrel Roll and Matty Flip, with accelerations of up to 3 g. “

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