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Peter Bollinger

From the Battlefield to the Playing Field

Quadrotors at USC are revolutionizing work and play.

From a distance, the airborne machines sound like a horde of angry wasps. But the buzzing quadrotors under development at USC are revolutionizing the art of warfare.

Nora Ayanian, the Gabilan Assistant Professor of Computer Science at USC Viterbi, is using quadrotors to create virtual reality and 3-D imaging. By equipping quadrotors with cameras, Ayanian turns them into optimal recording devices for recreating digital models. Unlike toy helicopters, these autonomous “flying robots” held up by propellers do not require remote controls.

Working alongside Mark Bolas, director for Mixed Reality Research at the Institute for Creative Technologies, Ayanian is implementing this technology for the military, which currently uses quadrotors for surveillance. Ayanian is reinventing the military’s use of quadrotors by integrating them into training. Using the quadrotors, each soldier’s relative position is captured and imported into the virtual reality world, increasing their ability to work as a team. These highly portable quadrotors can also create and capture 3-D images, making training more cost efficient.

Of course, the same technology can also be used in our very own Coliseum! Quadrotors can create a 3-D instant replay from every angle.

As Trojans, we take pride in our outstanding academics and world-renowned athletic teams, especially our football team. With the quadrotors in action, football fanatics and referees can monitor the entire game from multiple angles to minimize the margin of error and ensure each team earns the points it deserves. Within several years, all eyes (and quadrotors) will be on the ball during home games.