Category: News

Face-detecting drones react to voice and gesture commands

Face-detecting drones react to voice and gesture commands

November 28, 2013 14:00 | By | Add a Comment

If you like SciFi, Vancouver’s Simon Frasier University sounds like the place to be. They recently showed off a project involving several modified AR.Drones that react to human faces along with contextual voice and gesture commands. The are able to command drones individually as well as assign them into groups and have them execute commands adressed at the group.

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This results in nifty commands like “You three, take off!” with the command  “Not you!” separating a targeted drone from the group. There’s obviously still a way to go until we get sentient hovering companions like in the beginning of the recent Superman movie, but their research paper is interesting to read nonetheless.

Video demonstration below.

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Attempt to smuggle contraband into prison via hexacopter fails

Attempt to smuggle contraband into prison via hexacopter fails

November 28, 2013 10:35 | By | Add a Comment

Apparently, getting stuff into a prison is such a rewarding endeavor that some people risk spending up to 20 years in the very place they try to get in to.

This is what happened to a group of four people trying to smuggle tobacco into Calhoun State prison. They were using what appears to be a a DJI Wookong on a Flamewheel F550 to fly the contraband into the prison complex, only to be caught red-handed by a guard who noticed the hexacopter hovering over the prison. Bottom line: Interesting idea, but reality is not like in spy movies.

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Remote control camera almost gets eaten by lions

Remote control camera almost gets eaten by lions

November 27, 2013 22:47 | By | Add a Comment

Watch these wildlife photographers strap a DSLR into a lion-proof case on wheels. The result is some mildly amused lions and a bunch of fascinating snapshots.

Video after the break.

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New Version of MultiWii 3D based on MW2.3 released

New Version of MultiWii 3D based on MW2.3 released

November 27, 2013 14:50 | By | Add a Comment

Do you know MultiWii? If you are into multicopters and do more than just buy DJI, you are probably aware of that project. MultiWii 3D however is an altogether different beast.

Their aim? Nothing other than inverted multirotor flight by reversing the ESC direction in-flight. All you need for joining this still very experimental playfield is a quadcopter with symmetric-pitch propellers, ESCs with SimonK’s reversable ESC firmware, and the latest MultiWii3D code on your flight controller.

Wild video of the result in action after the break.

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KK 2.1 Flight Controller released, sports MPU6050 goodness

KK 2.1 Flight Controller released, sports MPU6050 goodness

November 27, 2013 13:07 | By | 2 Comments

HobbyKing just released their KK 2.1 flight controller. It’s a hardware upgrade from the already-great KK 2.0 and features the same tried and tested integrated display and buttons.

What’s new then? Mainly an upgrade to the excellent MPU 6050 accelerometer/gyro sensor chip, as well as a big fat Atmel Atmega644PA for additional outputs and more program memory.

The KK 2.0 was already an excellent flight controller (see our review), and the little integrated LCD proved to not only be highly crash resistant, but incredibly useful in helping with setup – making this a lot easier and quicker than setting up a Naza actually. With this upgrade one of the minor negatives of the KK 2.0, the limited maximum rate of rotation sensing that can result in the flight controller becoming confused during extremely fast flips, is greatly improved.

The KK2.1 can be yours for USD $30.- via Hobbyking.

Specs and video after the break.

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FPV pilots in the UK get legal weight and height increases.

FPV pilots in the UK get legal weight and height increases.

November 27, 2013 10:37 | By | 1 Comment

FPV flight in the UK is heavily regulated. It’s in large parts thanks to the FPV UK Association that they have been operating under an FPV exemption that allowed FPV flights of up to 400 ft altitude, with a weight limit of 1.8kg for fixed wing, and 2.5kg for rotorcraft.

This exemption has now been extended to allow flights up to 1000 feet with drones of up to 3.5kg. Of course, that’s not the only restriction and FPV pilots in the UK are urged to read up on the regulations to be exempt from the otherwise-restrictive Order 66 Air Navigation Order 166(3).

Full text of the news after the break.

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SmartPlane is a smartphone controlled plane for 70 euros

SmartPlane is a smartphone controlled plane for 70 euros

November 26, 2013 17:13 | By | Add a Comment

SmartPlane is the “World’s first” smartphone controlled aeroplane – at least according to its producer, a company called TobyRich. That claim is debatable, but regardless, the SmartPlane promises a fun flying experience of up to 30 minutes (if you use thermals, no doubt) and fully proportional rudder control via bluetooth. You steer the plane by tilting your iPhone, with an on-screen slider allowing for motor control while the app makes air traffic control noises to complete the embarassment illusion.

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Currently only iOS devices are supported, with an Android app planned for mid-2014. The price is EUR 69.- (which at the time of writing translates to USD 94.-) and if you’re still interested, you can purchase one from smartplane.net right now.

Slightly-cheesy advertisement video after the break.

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3DR IRIS available for preorder

3DR IRIS available for preorder

November 26, 2013 10:31 | By | Add a Comment

The 3D Robotics IRIS drone is now available for preorder. It’s meant to be used as a serious drone for civilian users, offering complete waypoint flightplans via PC or smartphone/tablet. Unlike DJI, their products are often open-hardware and open-source, which explains why 3D Robotics chose not to gimp their flight controllers or restrict them to a small number of waypoints.

Indeed, the IRIS uses the new Pixhawk autopilot system while retaining compatibility with the ArduPilot Mission Planner (APM).

The IRIS is one of the cheapest available professional drones with full waypoint support at a preorder price of just over USD $729.- , depending on selected options. This includes integrated 433MHz or 915MHz telemetry.

The Pixhawk flight controller is sure to be a hot topic in 2014 as it’s poised to replace the aging Ardupilot 2.x controller. The Pixhawk itself can be preordered for USD $200.-

More pictures and technical data after the break.

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DJI Phantom collides with Sydney Bridge, captures interesting footage

DJI Phantom collides with Sydney Bridge, captures interesting footage

November 26, 2013 10:11 | By | Add a Comment

Edward Prescott flew his quadcopter around Sydney Bridge last month when apparently his camera mounting failed and the drone crashed into the bridge when it tried to get home via GPS auto-return. Landing on railway tracks it prompted a train to stop and its driver to pick it up.

The onboard GoPro recorded everything, including the curious faces of the railway staff.

Interestingly, Prescott got his drone back pretty quickly from NSW Police. These days you’d expect jailtime for “accidental terrorism” or something. That said: Flying in densely populated areas is not a smart idea. Especially not if your experience is limited to flying a DJI Phantom out of the box.

Check out the video of this luckily-harmless accident after the break.

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The Micro Drone 2.0 with Aerial Camera

The Micro Drone 2.0 with Aerial Camera

November 25, 2013 13:46 | By | Add a Comment

Lusting for a mini-quadcopter with an integrated camera, but don’t want to spend $100? The Micro Drone 2.0 is now being sold for a mere USD $64.- over at CultOfMac.com. It looks a lot like a Walkera Ladybird with an on-board camera and microSD video recorder. The camera is a standard-definition model, so don’t expect amazing HD footage.

Still, for 64 bucks, that’s not too bad. Sale ends in 6 days though, so you have to be quick. Or, you know, wait for the next sale.

Video of the Micro Drone 2.0 after the break.

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Paralyzed man uses FPV drone to “walk” around

Paralyzed man uses FPV drone to “walk” around

November 25, 2013 11:48 | By | Add a Comment

This is one amazing use of robots and quadcopters as telepresence device for disabled people:

Henry Evans, who was paralized by a stroke in the prime of his life, is now chained to a bed by his body. With only minimal motor control, his options of “getting around” would be zero, were it not for… essentially, purpose-built RC vehicles.

He’s showing off a modified AR.Drone quadcopter which he controls via an Oculus Rift. He also enjoys playing robot soccer. Of course this is very much experimental and the short flight times and high maintenance effort means he is not going to do this without help or supervision anytime soon, but it’s inspiring nonetheless.

Check out the really awesome TED talk video after the break.

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DJI releases Zenmuse Z15-5D Gimbal for the Canon 5D Mk II and III

DJI releases Zenmuse Z15-5D Gimbal for the Canon 5D Mk II and III

November 24, 2013 12:52 | By | Add a Comment

DJI just released their high-end Z15-5D gimbal, specifically designed for the Canon 5D Mark 2 and Mark 3. This is a 3-axis gimbal, complete with infrared control for your Canon camera, as well as three operating modes that either keep the camera stabilized straight and level, stabilize it at a certain angle, or a “FPV mode” that locks the gimbal in place without stabilization, for easier FPV flying. It supports pan/tilt angles of up to 130 degrees, as well as a roll angle of up to 30 degrees.

Note that only the EF 24mm 2.8 lens is supported (due to the camera CG), and you need at least a DJI A2 with firmware v2.0, a WKM v5.26 or an Ace One / Ace Waypoint with firmware v4.02.

There’s no word on pricing yet, although GLB has a preorder offer for about USD $3000.-

More pictures after the break.

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3D FPV camera now available for $319

3D FPV camera now available for $319

November 22, 2013 13:48 | By | Add a Comment

EMR Labs has announced the availability of the first hobby-grade 3D camera designed specifically for FPV flying. The camera can be set to either 2D or 3D mode and has adjustable convergence and white balance. It comes with a remote cable that can be connected to a receiver to control the camera convergence or exposure while the aircraft is in the air.  The exposure feature is excellent for keeping the ground properly visible under adverse conditions such as sunrise or sunset conditions. The camera lenses are positioned at the human inter-ocular distance to generate a true to life 3D experience.  Special calibration modes are provided to enable the user to realign the cameras if needed.

This is part of their Transporter 3D system which was successfully funded via IndieGoGo, promising to become the first commercially available and affordable integrated system for FPV flight using the Oculus Rift for total immersion.

We have an Oculus devkit in the lab here and we can tell you from personal experience that it’s awesome, so this is absolutely exciting news.

You can purchase the camera now from ReadyMadeRC or NGHobbies (Update: NGHobbies link is now defunkt) for USD $319.-

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Two interesting and cheap 450-size quadcopters

Two interesting and cheap 450-size quadcopters

November 22, 2013 12:04 | By | Add a Comment

Two interesting offers just went up on GLB: First we have a complete F450 Quadcopter with Crius AIO Pro V1.1 flight controller, 20 Amp ESCs and Motors which comes pre-assembled for USD $140. Just attach the motors and connect your receiver and you’re ready to fly. Add a $25 GPS module, upload the MegaPirate firmware and you have a stable, GPS capable drone that does an unlimited number of waypoints.

The second offer is also a 450-sized quadcopter, but includes landing skids and an aluminum camera gimbal for your GoPro, complete with gimbal controller, 20A ESCs, Crius AIO V1.1 flight controller, motors and props. Price for this one is USD $231.-

These multicopters come without manuals, which means you will have to read up or watch a video on flashing MegaPirate, but the upside is that get a ton of features, especially unlimited waypoint planning and other nifty stuff that the closed-source competition charges a lot of money for.

Cow eats FPV plane

Cow eats FPV plane

November 22, 2013 0:10 | By | Add a Comment

A Bixler FPV plane lands in a paddock, after which the cows make short work of it. Obviously bovines don’t appreciate the finer details of FPV flight. Either that, or they don’t like the Bixler plane 😉

Source: Liveleak