Kinect helicopter looks like something from the future

What happens when you mount an Xbox Kinect camera on top of a wireless “quadrocopter”? You get one of the coolest contraptions ever documented on YouTube.

It looks like the good folks over at UC Berkeley finally found a reason to expense a Kinect for the engineering lab. Researchers at the university hacked it so that, while afloat, it could sense what’s around it.

Using the camera’s built-in features, it can move around, change the view, and recognize when an object or obstacle is in its way. It’s kind of like a Roomba, except way cooler. It can’t vacuum anything, though.

The hack comes in that it’s turned into a 3D radar. That’s what allows it to sense precisely how close everything is. For now, it can only run on a predetermined path. If it sees something in its way, it will stop and hover, instead of trying to find a way around. Then, when the obstacle is moved it will continue.

It’s way cool, but if it was even more astonishing, we’d have to start worrying about the sure-to-follow robotic apocalypse.

By the way, are we the only ones frustrated that the Kinect can become an autonomous flying robot, a holographic video display, and a motion-controlled computer, but in its official use all we have are dancing and mini-games?

At this point, we won’t be impressed until there’s an Xbox 360 game that lets you become an android, prints money, and ends all world conflict.