While a great many scientists are attempting to create autonomous bots for uses in surgery, a team of Stanford whiz-kids are having a bit more fun with it all. The crew in question has concocted an artificial intelligence system that "enables robotic helicopters to teach themselves to fly difficult stunts by watching other helicopters perform the same maneuvers." Dubbed a demonstration in "apprenticeship learning," the robots can actually learn by observing rather than having to be programmed, meaning that entire airshows could be reeled off by planes that simply keep an open mind when warm-ups are underway. Of course, they could also be used for more serious applications -- mapping out hot spots of California wildfires, finding land mines in war zones, etc. -- but even if none of that pans out, we're cool with inventions being used purely for entertainment.

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Stanford's autonomous helicopters learn new tricks by watching