The SMAVNET or Swarming Micro Air Vehicle Network is a project from the EFPL School of Engineering.
Basically a small swarm of flying robots are deployed, say in a disaster area. The robots fly above, maintaining a rough shape and each robot is equipped with a Wi-Fi dongle, creating a large network for communications.
The flying robots also employee Zigbee and GPS to communicate with each other and for logging data.
Using ants and their search for food as inspiration, a type of swarm behavior has been developed. Also, safety and collision avoidance have been thought of.
The critical issue of operational safety has been addressed by light-weight, low-inertia platform design and by implementing several security features in software. Among other things, we looked at mid-air collision avoidance using local communication links and negotiation of flight altitudes between robots. By providing a risk analysis for ground impact and mid-air collisions to the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA), we obtained an official authorization for beyond-line-of-sight swarm operation at our testing site.
Look out, the researchers have been officially been allowed to let the swarm out of their sight. The robots are finally taking over.
Click through for a video.