It seems like the media love to focus on how “drones” will start delivering our Amazon Prime packages in the future (and others discuss the legality of shooting a drone that flies over their property) but there are many other reasons why the emerging UAV technology will improve many aspects of our lives. Faine Greenwood over at Slate, discusses why the media is so focused on deliveries:
Both the general public and defense analysts need to be careful about focusing on blue-sky ideas about package delivery and weapons-packing drones to the exclusion of imagining what impact democratized aerial data may have on our societies and our security. Drones are doing all kinds of handy things for humanity, even in the infancy of the technology. They’re being used to protect indigenous land rights, improve agricultural yields, create impressive works of video art, and more, and these applications are only going to expand in the very near future.
Head on over to Slate to read the entire, well-though our article. It will open your eyes.
3D Robotics, the San Diego-based UAV company, who recently announced a $50 million round of venture funding, just released a teaser video featuring what seems to be a new quad, and from what I gather, it is so easy to fly, even a monkey can do it. Please, 3D Robotics, don’t make these things “idiot proof” or attempt to market them as such. Sure, you want to sell a ton of these and DJI seems to be eating everyone’s lunch, but, being the open-source pioneers that you are, also focus on educating those who want to fly. The last thing we want is more fly-aways because of bad GPS locks. Technology won’t solve the problem with newbs trying to fly multirotors out of their window and stright into the White House lawn. More…
Jayson Hanes, a UAV enthusiast, is in the middle of an FAA-induced controversy. He received a letter [pdf link] from the FAA telling him that they received a complaint about his commercial use of UAVs and it appers to be valid because he has monetization on his YouTube channel. He does’t do commercial aerial photography, in other words, he has never been hired nor is he for hire for your next wedding. He simply flies his DJI Phantom Vision around, records the sights and posts the video on YouTube. Ah, he is also enrolled in YouTube’s monetization program, so ads show up either before you watch his videos or a small banner is shown. More…
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:
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.
Great news for fans of winter sports! ESPN has been given the greenlight by the FAA to use UAVs to film at this year’s Winter X-Games. This is the first time ESPN is using unmanned aerial vehicles for videography, but it has been done before at winter events, I do recall multirotors being used at the last Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In cooperating with the FAA, Calcinari said, ESPN had to provide thorough documentation to prove that the drones would be flying in a “closed-set” environment, one that limits access to the fly zone to only members of the production crew. As such, the area where ESPN will be using the drones to film won’t be accessible by the public — which, given the FAA’s known stance on the recreational handling of these devices, is no surprise.
Lets see what kind of footage ESPN is able to get. Just imagine the shots of the Flying Tomato from above!
Gizmodo just published an article titled “Don’t Trust Your Expensive Autonomous Drone to Always Be Autonomous” that shows the almost $3000 DJI Inspire autonomously taking off and crashing into a garage. I have several thoughts in this regard:
– This just reinforces my statements made here: there will never be a substitution for good old fashioned piloting, no matter how advanced the algorithms are.
– Multirotor makers should encourage people to learn to fly properly, especially DJI. Also, stop marketing these tools as fool-proof. We all know they are not. They will flyaway. They will crash. There is no substitue for human error and ignorance.
– The need for a more education around multirotors and “drones” in general.
– Also, the word “drone” implies autonomy, so “autonomous drone” is sort of reduntant, in Gizmodo’s title. A multirotor can be a drone, if autonomous, but not all multirotors are drone, by this definition. Mini racer quads are generally not “drones” by this definition since they don’t fly on their own.
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.
This is what you get when you get permission to use a multirotor to film at an airport. Amazing footage. Taken at the Mexico City Internation Airport.