Engineers working in the Fast Lightweight Autonomy program at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have successfully created and tested a quadcopter that can move at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour) on its own and while carrying extra weight in the form of sensors and a camera.
The video (above) of the drone demonstration shows how quickly it can move through a straight path, as well as how effectively it can avoid obstacles autonomously. DARPA also shows a few of their failed flight tests, in which the drone crashes into the ground and tears through the plastic used to form a wall of the obstacle course. "Sometimes the real world gets in the way," the video notes.
The project page does not specify what the military will use the technology for once it is perfected, but seeing the drone move at full speed is impressive enough on its own.