Drones over Paris: A recap and timeline

12 Mar , 2015  


Paris, the city of light, seems to have a “drone” issue, as reported by the media. There have been many accounts of unmanned aerial vehicles flying illegally around the city, around landmarks, and generally arousing the anger and suspicion of Parisians. According to the reports I’ve read, it is illegal to fly an unmanned aerial vehicle in Paris. The following is a timeline of the events, and they seem to be a recurring issue, as there are still reports coming out. More…


Charging your UAVs midflight

18 Feb , 2015   Video

You know the scenario, you’re having an amazing flight, but you’ve got to land because you’re running low on electrons. But what if you could charge your craft while your’re flying, untethered? A Canadian company called Solace Power, in partnership with Boeing, are working to make wireless charging more efficient, and they demonstrate the way their prototype works in the video above, with the green light indicating that the multirotor is charging, mid-air. From TechCrunch:



The New York City Drone Film Festival

18 Feb , 2015  


Introducing the New York City Drone Film Festival, a sold out event created to highlight cinematography captured via your favorite flying platform, the “drone”. The screening will take place on March 7th, 2015, and they might add a second screening, so hold on your your hats. From their website:



NoFlyZone: a solution to a non-existent problem

12 Feb , 2015  


Presenting the NoFlyzone, a community driven database of properties that will prevent “drones” from flying over your house. Actually, its just a site where you can submit your property without residence verification and somehow in the future, UAV manufacturers will use this data to prevent their craft from flying over your property. Just like DJI is doing for the White House. Oh, nevermind.



UAVs, a billion dollar industry?

12 Feb , 2015  


Gizmodo has very interesting piece where the compare the early computer club movements of the 70’s and 80’s with the “DIY Drone” movement that we see now a days. They interview Chris Anderson, former Wired Magazine editor and CEO of 3D Robotics.



Star Wars style racing mini multirotors in the Bronx

12 Feb , 2015   Video

Motherboard has a very interesting article/video on a bunch of guys who race their mini multirotors in the Bronx, in freezing weather. An interesting take on “drones”. Watch out the one of the guy’s comments regarding the FAA and how he isn’t afraid the the government agency banning “drones” because they say below 100 ft. Check it out.

Drone Racing, 'Star Wars'-Style, in the Snowy Bronx | Motherboard.


Introducing the Association of Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems

5 Feb , 2015  


I came across a new organization designed to protect, integrate and explore the commercial use of UAVs (their term is sUAS, or small unmanned aircraft system). Its called the Association of Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Systems and their website is located at: Anyone is free to join and they also accept donations. Their mission statement, as state on their home page is the following:

The ACUAS firmly believes:
and businesses and citizens deserve the opportunity to move forward along with the rest of the world.
and until proven necessary, our government has no basis for restricting commercial operations.
to include everyone who wishes to use and benefit from safe and responsible sUAS operations, without delay and without restrictive barriers-to-entry.

I encourage you to visit their website and join the organization, donate if possible. It these types of organizations and the people behind them that will help UAVs flourish.


No Drone Zone? Really?

28 Jan , 2015   Video

I can really sleep better now that the FAA has released this 15 second video where they remind everyone that you should not fly your “drone” this Sunday at the Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ. What are your thoughts?


Auto-following “drones” won’t revolutionize. Neither will sense and avoid

8 Jan , 2015  


The Verge is reporting from CES about a “drone” company that will soon launch the Airdog: a quadcoper that will automatically follow you as you do action sports so that it can capture all the action, and they call it revolutionary. No, it won’t be. I will take mediocre footage of you fooling around in the wild. But lets rewind a bit:

Helico Space Industries launched a Kickstarter campaign and they raised a bit over $1.3M, blowing past their initial goal of $200K and their goal was to deliver a quad copter that will follow a user automatically while filming the subject and keeping the shot in frame, via a tracking bracelet. Fast forward and they now demonstrated their quad at CES 2015. Their first batch of quads are supposed to be delivered next month, at their initial price of $1300.

Now, there is nothing wrong with trying the capture the market and creating devices that will allow us to record ourselves at every moment, but technology isn’t the savior. Their upcoming feature, sense and avoid, seems great on paper, but all the algorithms in the world won’t save us from ignorance and general stupidity. Crashing isn’t something might ruin a flying session: its unavoidable. Gravity makes no exceptions. And when these “drones” become more and more ubiquitous, the only thing that will avoid injury, damages and liabilities is education.

We need to teach people about the risks of flying multirotors and how to minimize them. We need to educate the public about how these flying miracles work and how to maintain them. Common sense isn’t very common and if we keep telling the public that these things fly themselves by adding more and more technological features, we’re doomed. But most importantly, lets teach a fellow enthusiast how to actually fly.



Underactuated Rotor for UAV. Goodbye Swashplates?

16 Dec , 2014   Video

The ingenious folks over at University of Pennsylvania have created a method of providing pitch, roll and yaw control on a small vehicle using only 2 counter-rotating and axial motors, no swashplate. This is ground-breaking in the field of small radio controlled vehicles. To achieve this they’ve created a special hinge:

The main motor directly drives the propeller hub, which is itself connected to the propeller blades by two inclined hinges. The hinge geometry couples blade lead-and-lag oscillations to a change in blade pitch. Instead of only driving the motor with a steady torque, we add a sinusoidal component in phase with the rotation of the rotor to induce a cyclic pitch variation. The amplitude and phase of this control signal determines the magnitude and direction of the vehicle response.

Still trying to process all this? No worries, check out the video above for an illustrated explanation of this method.

Modlab » Archive » Underactuated Rotor for Simple Micro Air Vehicles.