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The quadcopter, which was developed at TU Vienna, can negotiate its way through a room completely on its own. It does not need any human interference, and in contrast to other models, it is not assisted by any external computer. All the necessary computing power in on board; the image processing is done by a standard smartphone.

Quadcopters have become a popular toy for academic research. The small aircraft, powered by four electrical engines, are perfect for testing advanced feedback control systems, which make them fly steadily and safely. But beyond that, quadcopters are also used to test how machines can be made to perceive their environment and act autonomously.

The Virtual-Reality-Team at Vienna University of Technology has been working with visual data for many years. "Proceeding towards robotics and mounting a camera onto a quadcopter was just the logical next step for us," says Hannes Kaufmann (Faculty of Informatics, TU Vienna). Usually, quadcopters are steered by humans or they send their data to a powerful earthbound computer, which then returns the necessary control signals. The Vienna quadcopter, however, does not need any external input.

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