Not a quadcopter, it’s an octocopter!
The advantage of this design is that it is way, way more maneuverable than quadcopters, helicopters, or blimps. It has full 6DOF movement.
The principle was described in a paper last year  and a neat little video:
This year they produced a cool demonstration, playing fetch with the omnicopter.
This is pretty amazing!
The description of the demo indicates that it works by evaluating large numbers of possible trajectories to select optimal one from a given initial state to a final state. They say that the system can generate 500,000 trajectories per second, resulting is a smooth, magical effect.
(This is very much a “brute force” search through all possible trajectories—computers don’t have to be “smart” if they are fast!)
As Evan Ackerman comments, this design has a lot of potential to be better than the conventional approach of trying to put a robot arm on a quadcopter. “[Y]ou could just stick a gripper onto an arbitrary face of it, and then have the entire robot serve as an actuator.”
Nice work, all!
- Evan Ackerman, ETH Zurich’s Omnicopter Plays Fetch, in IEEE Spectrum – Automation. 2017. http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/eth-zurich-omnicopter-plays-fetch
- Dario Brescianini and Raffaello D’ Andrea. Design, modeling and control of an omni-directional aerial vehicle. In 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2016, 3261-3266. http://flyingmachinearena.org/wp-content/publications/2016/breIEEE16.pdf