If you're not yet familiar with quadrocopters, you first need to check out the video below that shows them in action.
Essentially, these are robots that think for themselves. The above video shows what happened when a team of researchers at Pennsylvania State University put them in swarm formation, where they had to think for themselves in order to complete tasks such as flying through a window or forming a figure of eight.
But now that has been taken to the next level in Japan. Taking the concept of quadrocopters one step further, they conducted an experiment with the Japanese Police Force that reconcstructed an explosion at a chemical plant. The quadrocopters were then sent in to scan the site for survivors and relay the information back to a master computer. Below you can see these particular quadrocopters in action, with the experiment explained towards the end of the video:
The future is now?
An experiment like this places robotics firmly in the 'now' as opposed to just being resigned to fantasy in science fiction films. It takes them out of the conceptual and into the real world, where we can really begin to see how robotic technology has its place and the potential it has to transform lives.
While the tech is developing at a phenomenal rate, what remains to be seen is how society can catch up. Mention the word 'robot' and you are likely to instil a bit of fear, particularly when it comes to these robots replacing human tasks, however much more capable they may be in performing such taks.