Tag: UAV

NZ RC enthusiast forbidden from testing his selfmade Sense and Avoid system

NZ RC enthusiast forbidden from testing his selfmade Sense and Avoid system

July 4, 2014 14:04 | By | 1 Comment

Bruce Simpson, aka XJet on youtube, was planning to test his long-promised “Sense and Avoid” system. This system was meant to allow UAVs to sense approaching vehicles and prevent collisions between FPV UAVs and other models or full size aircraft. His plan was to use low-power 2.4GHz transmissions as a sort of cheap radar system. Asking for permission to perform these tests on the local Tokoroa airfield yielded a hard “no” from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the South Waikato District Council (SWDC).

To quote Bruce:

They claim that the mere 35mW transmissions on the 2.4GHz band associated with my SAA testing would make flying RC model jets unacceptably risky – yet the very people flying them are all wandering around with wifi-enabled smartphones capable of putting out 200mW each on the same frequencies, and the average microwave oven in nearby houses may churn out almost a watt of noise by way of leakage — or at least that’s what Wikipedia claims here:

Bruce is by no means an unknown person in the RC community. He’s best known for his original pulsejet designs, the pulsejet go-cart, and his audacious plans to publish a book on how to build a DIY cruise missile, which resulted in him getting slapped with everything from letters from the US embassy to sudden tax fraud investigations.

Link to the local newspaper article and a video message from Bruce after the break.

Read more and comment

Parrot Bepop is a GPS-enhanced RTF camera quadcopter

Parrot Bepop is a GPS-enhanced RTF camera quadcopter

May 14, 2014 9:18 | By | Add a Comment

French company Parrot recently announced their latest product, the Bepop Drone. It’s a lightweight quadcopter with a digitally stabilized camera, eschewing mechanical gimbals in order to save weight.

The 14 megapixel camera isn’t the only attraction though, for it boasts a dual-core embedded linux flight controller with 8GB of RAM, Wifi range of up to 300 meters or, with a range extender package, going as far as 2km.  Their “SkyController” is basically a tablet dock with sticks, not exactly a brand new idea but definitely executed in an interesting fashion.

bepop2

Price is said to be above the Parrot.AR, but below the Phantom 2. Watch the official product video after the break, and check out the official website.

Read more and comment

FAA cracks down on UAV demonstration at Kennedy Space Center

FAA cracks down on UAV demonstration at Kennedy Space Center

May 12, 2014 9:10 | By | Add a Comment

It was planned as a rich demonstration of civilian UAV technology, but the FAA once again stepped in and made sure as few people as possible got to see it.

Last Sunday, the Exploration Park of the Kennedy Space Center was abuzz with drones of all types and sizes, thanks to the “Aerospace Research Challenge” hosted by Space Florida. The AUVSI tries to raise awareness about the commercial use of drones and the need for more open regulations. It’s a bitter irony that the very thing they are currently fighting hindered this demonstration: The FAA cracked down on the event, imposing strict rules that basically ensured that the large crowd of interested individuals got very little to see. Observers trying to see the actual flight demonstrations were ushered out by the FAA, for “safety reasons”. And even at a respectable distance observers were asked to leave.

A few TV cameras were allowed to record the actual flights. Each drone had to be controlled by two pilots, both were required to have a full pilots license plus medical flight status certification.  The FAA justified their restrictions pointing to recent incidents of careless individuals flying rc models near airports.

Tomorrow, the AUVSI will host the Unmanned Systems 2014 in Orlando, where the topic of current US regulations is going to be a hot topic.

Read more and comment

FAA announces investigation into drone flying at 4/20 rally in Denver

FAA announces investigation into drone flying at 4/20 rally in Denver

April 23, 2014 8:51 | By | 1 Comment

The 4/20 marijuana rally in Denver was scene to a nervous and typical reaction by US authorities to a private hexacopter with a camera flying overhead and filming the event.

Denver police say they found two unidentified men flying a drone over the rally in Denver’s Civic Center Park. The men were asked to leave the top of the McNichols Civic Center Building because they didn’t have the proper permission.

Greenshot_2014-04-23_09-36-16

The FAA is now investigating this event, issuing several statements alleging that even private, non-commercial use of model aircraft may be a problem – if they don’t want you to, of course.

“Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft — manned or unmanned — in U.S. airspace needs some level of authorization from the FAA. Routine operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems over densely-populated areas is not allowed,” the FAA said in a statement.

Did the persons operating the hexacopter fly below 400ft AGL? We don’t know, but it appears the burden of proof is on the side of the FAA. However, it is disturbing to see the FAA mix and match regulations from manned flight operations, controlled airspace and commercial UAV regulations and apply bits and pieces to effectively claim that they are to be asked for permission for any flying thing. The fact of the matter however is that they are not, and while flying a multirotor craft over a public event may not be the most politically sensitive thing to do, it remains to be seen whether the FAA can substantiate their claims – or whether they’ll just wait until new, restrictive regulations are being passed into law. The FAA has issued a fact sheet regarding the use of UAVs, which of course does nothing to substantiate whether a flight such as in Denver is illegal or not. It should be noted that no arrests were made, and all the police could do was to “ask” the pilots to leave the roof of the building from which they were controlling the craft.

Our guess is that the US will see restrictive regulations and classifications eerily similar to the ones recently passed in Austria.

Read more and comment

EU Commission working on stricter rules for drones

EU Commission working on stricter rules for drones

April 9, 2014 14:03 | By | 2 Comments

The European Commission has today proposed to set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones (or “remotely piloted aircraft sytems” – RPAS). The new standards will cover safety, security, privacy, data protection, insurance and liability. The aim is to allow European industry to become a global leader in the market for this emerging technology, while at the same time ensuring that all the necessary safeguards are in place.

Civil drones are increasingly being used in Europe, in countries such as Sweden, France and the UK, in different sectors, but under a fragmented regulatory framework. Basic national safety rules apply, but the rules differ across the EU and a number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way.

Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “Civil drones can check for damage on road and rail bridges, monitor natural disasters such as flooding and spray crops with pinpoint accuracy. They come in all shapes and sizes. In the future they may even deliver books from your favourite online retailer. But many people, including myself, have concerns about the safety, security and privacy issues relating to these devices.”

The technology for civil drones is maturing and there is potential for significant growth and job creation. On some estimates in the next 10 years it could be worth 10% of the aviation market — that’s €15 billion per year. The Vice-President added, “If ever there was a right time to do this, and to do this at a European level, it is now. Because remotely piloted aircraft, almost by definition, are going to cross borders and the industry is still in its infancy. We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can work with, just like we do for larger aircraft.”

 

So much for the press release by the European Commission. Interestingly, nobody talks about regulating the sale and use of ladders, to help prevent people from peeking into your bedroom. If anyone was hoping for a liberal, progressive stance on the private and commercial use of UAVs by the EU Commission, today’s news is less than positive, to put it mildly.

Read more and comment

Event38 Bluetooth Telemetry Bridge Review

Event38 Bluetooth Telemetry Bridge Review

April 6, 2014 14:52 | By | Add a Comment

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Event38 set out t0 eliminate the need for laptops on the flying field. Sure you can use bluetooth to control and monitor your drone, but that only gets you how far, 30 meters, maybe 40? If you want to use a 430MHz or 900MHz telemetry transmitter, you need an android tablet/phone capable of USB host mode, AND it’s another thing connected to your mobile device.

IMG_20140405_163814

Event38’s Bluetooth bridge eliminates all this by offering you a simple self-contained, self-powered device you can just bring to the flying field, clip onto your belt and forget about, using your phone or tablet to control even the most complex and demanding Drone missions. But is the $140 price tag justified? Find out in our in-depth review after the break!

Read more and comment

Fednav Shipping uses multirotor as scout for their ships

Fednav Shipping uses multirotor as scout for their ships

April 3, 2014 11:03 | By | 2 Comments

Fednav recently announced that they are now using multirotor craft to scout out ice conditions ahead of their vessels.  Their vessels are indeed capable of navigating ice up to a certain thickness, so knowing when things get too thick is indeed very valuable to them.

fednav1

“The deployment of drones fitted with top-quality cameras gives the ice navigator another useful aid when making important decisions while transiting heavy ice regimes, and, in turn, improved safe navigation”, Thomas Paterson, senior VP of Fednav, stated in a press release.

Read more and comment

Renault Kwid concept car features integrated quadcopter drone

Renault Kwid concept car features integrated quadcopter drone

February 7, 2014 19:29 | By | Add a Comment

Have you ever thought about using your quadcopter during a traffic jam to scout ahead and see just how long you’ll have to wait? Or scout difficult terrain where reversing would be difficult? The folks at Renault apparently did, and although their new Kwid concept car is probably never going to be at your local dealership, the idea is cool nonetheless.

renaultkwid1

An integrated autonomous drone launches from a dedicated pad on the car, allowing the driver to survey the surrounding area and look for detours, assess the length of traffic jams… who are we kidding, this is basically a James Bond toy come true. Or rather, in concept phase.

renaultkwid2

No doubt the FAA will have a few words to say about this. Or more likely just one word: “No.”

But if you’re like us and enjoy relishing the dream, there’s a neat making of video after the break.

Read more and comment

Riverwatch is an autonomous Catamaran with piggyback Hexacopter

Riverwatch is an autonomous Catamaran with piggyback Hexacopter

January 30, 2014 17:01 | By | Add a Comment

Riverwatch is a “Marsupial Surface-Aerial Robotic Team for Riverine Environmental Monitoring”. What sounds like the robot version of Captain Planet is actually a very fancy set of very different vehicles: One is a completely autonomous catamaran with GPS/IMU navigation, LIDAR and SONAR, the other is an autonomous hexacopter capable of takeoff and landing right on the aforementioned catamaran.

slide3-1080x400

This combined system is tasked with collecting environmental data of rivers. The tilting LIDAR sensor is used for surface obstacle avoidance while the sonar prevents the vehicle from running aground, but they also use a camera with image recognition software to determine the transition between water and land. The hexacopter is used to augment the field of view and provide enhanced visual navigation capabilities to the catamaran. This is of course a scientific prototype of the university of Lisbon, funded by ECHORD.

Quite impressive demonstration video after the break.

Read more and comment

Acoustic source location from micro UAVs

Acoustic source location from micro UAVs

December 12, 2013 16:46 | By | Add a Comment

A team of swiss researchers from EPFL has outfitted micro UAVs with a microphone array, which enables the craft to triangulate the position of narrow-band sound sources such as emergency whistles. The fact that they are able to use microphones for source direction detection while in flight is extremely impressive, though of course the nature of the signal (a whistle at a known frequency) certainly helps. They envision this as a mobile tool for rescue workers trying to locate people in distress in difficult terrain, deployed simply by throwing into the air and controlled via a waypoint interface on a mobile phone or handheld.

epfluav

In search and rescue missions, Micro Air Vehicles (MAV’s) can assist rescuers to faster locate victims inside a large search area and to coordinate their efforts. Acoustic signals play an important role in outdoor rescue operations. Emergency whistles, as found on most aircraft life vests, are commonly carried by people engaging in outdoor activities, and are also used by rescue teams, as they allow to signal reliably over long distances and far beyond visibility. For a MAV involved in such missions, the ability to locate the source of a distress sound signal, such as an emergency whistle blown by a person in need of help, is therefore significantly important and would allow the localization of victims and rescuers during night time, through foliage and in adverse conditions such as dust, fog and smoke. In this work we present a sound source localization system for a MAV to locate narrow-band sound sources on the ground, such as the sound of a whistle or personal alarm.

Check out the stunning video presentation of their results after the break.

Read more and comment

MARS parachute system saves multirotor craft, headaches

MARS parachute system saves multirotor craft, headaches

December 11, 2013 14:31 | By | Add a Comment

Have an expensive multirotor craft? MARS has an insurance for you. Their lineup of parachute deployment systems can accomodate a range of sizes and weights, with the biggest model MARS 120 being able to save a 11kg craft from the harsh consequences of continuous unimpeded exposure to gravity. That one is $1500, but the Mars Mini, which is suitable for 450-size frames such as the Phantom, is only $150.

marsbig3

Right in the middle is the Mars 58 which can save up to 4.5kg of expensive multirotor weight.

The MARS products are spring-loaded parachute storage and deployment units that can be simply attached to your rotorcraft and then triggered with a servo signal. While the bigger model is extremely impressive it does add a whole 1kg to your craft. The Mars Mini on the other hand weighs only 120g.

These systems are definitely interesting for the more professional FPV/UAV pilot where expensive camera payload needs to be saved in case of  loss of control or lift.

Stick around for the demo video after the break.

Read more and comment

Petition the US Government to allow commercial UAS use

Petition the US Government to allow commercial UAS use

December 9, 2013 8:56 | By | Add a Comment

There’s a petition on change.gov regarding the commercial use of unmanned platforms outside populated areas.

The FAA is hampering economic growth, job creation and scientific development by not allowing commercial entities to operate small unmanned aircraft systems. Current FAA plans will not allow commercial SUAS use until September of 2015.

We propose:

– Immediate action by the FAA to lift the blanket ban on commercial UAS systems under 10 lbs. outside of populated areas, under 400 feet and two miles away from airports.

– The creation and support of a self-regulating organization that will train and oversee SUAS operations, similar to the American Radio Relay League. This will allow the industry to quickly adapt while maintaining safety, security and privacy.

If you live in the US and want to sign, click here.

Read more and comment

Swiftbot wants your money for kickstarting a waterproof drone

Swiftbot wants your money for kickstarting a waterproof drone

December 6, 2013 15:27 | By | Add a Comment

The Swiftbot is a waterproof multirotor drone. Or rather, it will be, if they manage to secure enough funds. Your funds, to be more exact, and via their Kickstarter campaign. The idea is for the quadcopter to be able to land on water and submerge cameras, hydrophones etc. under the water surface to take pictures, record audio, and so forth.

swiftbotThey use the excellent ArduCopter which means this will be completely MavLink-compatible, so you can use your existing apps on iOS, Android, Linux, Mac and Windows to control it. Pledging 99 dollars gets you… a 3d-printed flyable micro model of the Swiftbot. The only bigger pledge is $199 for early access to the 3D-printed parts library. There’s no way to pledge for a complete system, or even printed parts, which may explain why this kickstarter is at just over $300.- with only 16 days to go…

Read more and comment

Editorial: hobby FPV pilots, FAA and Amazon, oh my

Editorial: hobby FPV pilots, FAA and Amazon, oh my

December 4, 2013 13:00 | By | 1 Comment

This week was abuzz with the news about Amazon supposedly giving serious thought to using multicopters as delivery tools. Aside from the obvious fact that this was an extremely well-executed advertisement, with amazon getting as much as a full page in every major newspaper for free, there are so many unanswered questions surrounding this proposed delivery method that one might question the seriousness of this whole idea.

And the FAA, finally waking up from their ten-year slumber, struggles to cope with the sudden onslaught of news stories about farmers using small UAS for monitoring crops, checking up on their cattle, etc. – something sparked off by recent movies perhaps. And interestingly enough, the FAA now timidly endorses the use of said agricultural drones.

With other countries such as Canada now also contemplating on how to regulate civilian drone use, private commercial and non-commercial FPV is far from saved. In fact, many countries have now enacted rules that either heavily regulate commercial RC and FPV flights, enact restrictive altitude and range limits for non-commercial RC vehicles, or both. One thing is clear: Nobody wants to endanger any lives. The problem is that heavyhanded regulation is not an answer to such safety concerns, as there are already plenty of laws and regulations regarding civilian air traffic control. Nor do we need new laws to solve “privacy issues”. In most countries it’s already illegal to film people in their home without their consent, or similar things that politicians are adamant about trying to protect us from.

You’ll notice that the state always tries to reserve the right to invade your privacy, to keep us all safe of course. And yet serious privacy transgressions almost always are the result of misuse of such authority. Perhaps it’s time to tell people to stop worrying about a RC model pilot “filming your bedroom”, but instead start worrying about the future police and state-owned UAVs recording details of your private life to, say, use against you if the government deems it useful to their current goal.

To that end, why is it that so many countries make a difference between private RC flight, and commercial RC flight? What difference does it make if the pilot of an RC airplane or helicopter earns money with his flight or not? Why does it stop being a “model aircraft” as soon as money is involved?

Back when the printing press made it possible to break the monopoly of a select few on producing books and spreading information, their reaction was one of agressive counter-attack. Printing presses were something that needed to be “regulated”. When the internet made it possible for people to instantly share information and directly communicate, this too became a tool of power – and like any such tool, once its potential was realized by the people in power, they sought control over it.

RC model aircraft, with or without cameras, are much the same. They were regarded as toys for over 50 years, but now that we know how to use them as the empowering information-gathering and utility tools they are, the powers-that-be seek to control and regulate. But make no mistake: This is not something that will be limited to multicopters and RC vehicles with cameras. RC flight as a whole runs the risk of being the victim of severe restrictions, none of which having anything to do with the safety of manned flight or the privacy of individuals.

RC flight should not be limited any more than necessary, which means line of sight and within visual range. Conversely, the use of police and state operated drones should be heavily regulated and under constant public scrutiny. In the whole private/commercial FPV and UAV debate, we may well run the risk of compromising too much.

Click on “Read More” below to add your comment.

Read more and comment

Amazon tinkers with multicopters for airborne delivery

Amazon tinkers with multicopters for airborne delivery

December 2, 2013 9:22 | By | Add a Comment

Dubbed “Amazon Prime Air”, the company’s latest delivery scheme uses multicopters to deliver packages in under 30 minutes. At least, that’s the lofty goal of the company. The play to have a fleet of octocopters that pick up appropriately-sized orders from the fulfillment center and fly it straight to the customer. According to the CEO Jeff Bezos the aim is for such a service to go operational within four years – a pretty optimistic goal considering the FAA will have a word or two to say in this matter, and they’re usually not quite the fast responder when it comes to policy changes.

Check out the fancy demo video after the break.

Read more and comment