Penn Science Cafe Presents Swarms of Flying Robots

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Media Contact:Evan Lerner | | 215-349-5964February 17, 2012

On Tuesday, February 21, two members of Penn’s General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab, part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, will take part in the Penn Science Café, the free lecture series that for more than five years has taken science out of the lab for a night on the town.

Starting at 6 p.m. at Drinker’s West, 39th and Chestnut, Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger will present their videos and answer questions about their nano quadrotors: miniature, autonomous helicopters that can fly in tight formations and have taken YouTube by storm.

By mimicking the swarming behaviors of birds, fish and insects,  Kushleyev and Mellinger, along with the Engineering School’s deputy dean of education Vijay Kumar, are helping scientists and engineers create smarter, faster and more flexible robots.  

During the fall semester, if you attended the Penn Science Cafés, you heard about sea level rise from Benjamin Horton, director of Penn's Sea-Level Research Lab, and the coffee-ring effect and other important but perhaps silly-sounding research from grad student Peter Yunker of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The Science Café now has a sister series, the Penn Lightbulb Café

People who came out for the new Penn Lightbulb Cafes learned from religious studies professor Anthea Butler how to interpret politicians' religious rhetoric, got a behind-the-scenes look from sociology professor David Gibson at the White House during the Cuban missile crisis and heard Michael Meister, professor of South Asia studies, tell of the difficulties cultural-monuments researchers encounter in war-torn Pakistan.