An anonymous reader writes "Stanford computer scientists have developed an artificial intelligence system that enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by 'watching' other helicopters perform the same maneuvers. The result is an autonomous helicopter that can perform a complete airshow of complex tricks on its own. The stunts are 'by far the most difficult aerobatic maneuvers flown by any computer controlled helicopter,' said Andrew Ng, the professor directing the research of graduate students Pieter Abbeel, Adam Coates, Timothy Hunter and Morgan Quigley. The dazzling airshow is an important demonstration of 'apprenticeship learning,' in which robots learn by observing an expert, rather than by having software engineers peck away at their keyboards in an attempt to write instructions from scratch.'" The title of the linked article uses the term "autonomous," but that's somewhat misleading. The copters can't fly on their own, but rather can duplicate complex maneuvers learned from a human pilot.
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