Read: Search for alien life on Earth
The company, which provides automated robot systems for warehouses, was sold to Amazon for $775 million in 2012.
"When we were doing RoboCup (an international robotics competition) it did not enter my mind that the learnings I would take from my students I had trained could be used to build a company like Kiva Systems," he says.
"Basically, my mode of operation is really to focus on creating things that have never been done before and push the boundaries of what autonomous systems can do. In the process, do great research and educate people on how to really make things work and the applications will come."
There seems no limit to what autonomous flying robots might be capable of in the future and their unstoppable rise is increasingly causing concern, particularly their use in espionage and warfare. Suppressing the technology is not an option though, D'Andrea argues.
"I'm a firm believer that if the military use this technology then it's just a short step away from everyone using it," he says.
"We don't want the technology to be misused. The starting point is that our governments don't misuse the technology. As a society, we should question how much of a role, if any, these robots have in warfare."
Efforts to outlaw weapon-carrying drones have been gathering speed and support in recent months. NGO Human Rights Watch published a report (Losing Humanity: The Case against Killer Robots) in November 2012 urging governments to pre-emptively ban autonomous weapons. Another campaign, "Stop the Killer Robots," is being mobilized by the NGO International Committee for Robot Arms Control and is due to launch in April.
Far away from the social and political debates about the misuse of drones, D'Andrea is just keen to promote his teaching philosophy and how students should approach learning.
"I think there needs to be more room for unconstrained creation. We need to provide ways for folks, especially at university, to push the boundaries of what technology can do without being concerned about the immediate commercial application," he says.
"We should be more concerned about fulfilling our dreams as children. What was it we wanted to do as children? We wanted to fly like birds. Well, why aren't we doing that?"