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DJI releases Ground Station function for Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On June the 24th, DJI has released update of the Ground Station function for Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision +.

With the new update, Phantom 2 Vision pilots can set up to 16 GPS waypoints by simply dragging pins into the area map.

Once the pilot has set up the flight path, he or she can focus on filming, and let the Ground Station app do the flying. The app also features “Go Home” button, which brings the flyer back to the initial launch position. Also, the pilot can switch from auto to manual flying in mid-flight.

Key features:

  • flight plan with up to 16 waypoints (including altitude and speed setup)
  • “Go Home” function
  • 5km flight distance limit
  • 500m maximum flight radius from home point and 200m flight altitude limit

Current owners of the Phantom 2 Vision and Phantom 2 Vision+ just need to update the Vision app for Android or iOS, as well as the Phantom’s firmware, to version 3.04 to start using it.

Video courtesy of DJI

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Riot Control Drone

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Initially, I wanted to write about an awesome graphical overview of the civilian drone landscape, created by SkyTrails, available at Scribd. Unfortunately, I had to change that plan, as I feel strong compulsion to write about this creation: Skunk Riot Control Drone.

Skunk Riot Control Drone

Skunk Riot Control Drone

Dronologista is a blog that covers non military drones only. That means drones that are being used for value creating things like aerial filming, precision agriculture, logistics, art etc. It explicitly excludes drones that are being used for military operations and whose purpose is to search & destroy, since I am of opinion that those UAV are getting enough media attention already.

However, someone figured that arming a drone, a multirotor, with non-lethal armament with an intention to use it on humans, could be a good, value creating, economically feasible idea. That someone is a South African company Desert Wolf, known for their camping and other specialized offroad trailers.

Their product, a UAV called Skunk, is a octocopter equipped with four high-capacity paint ball barrels, that could shoot protesters with dye markers, solid plastic pellets, or small capsules of pepper spray. It is controlled by two human operators, one controlling the flight of the UAV, and the other controlling the payload. Despite the price tag of around $46.000, already 25 of Skunks have been sold to mining companies in South Africa, notorious for their problematic treatment of mine workers and frequent riots. That is the scariest thing actually: apart from quite brilliant engineering, there is nothing good about this flyer, yet it seems to be a market success, confirming once more saying: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Knowing how crowds usually react to drones hovering over their heads (check the video below), it is not hard to imagine the outrage this drone would cause.

It seems that this step-by-step instruction on how to build the net gun, available on Instructibles, could soon become one of the most downloaded content on the net.

Anyway, dronologista thinks that much better application of this drone would be against poachers, and hopefully someone will get idea out of this post (e.g. applicants for the UAV Conservation Challenge)

If you want to find out more about this product, you can check Desert Wolf page.

Interesting articles about the Skunk could be found at BBC news, and Defenceweb.

Image courtesy of Desert Wolf.

SenseFly eBee RTK – new tool for aerial mapping

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On June 11th, senseFly announced arrival of their new flier: eBee RTK. It is a survey-grade aerial mapping tool that enables the collection of aerial photography to produce orthomosaics and digital elevation models with absolute accuracy of down to 3 cm. Their previous aerial mapping UAV, the eBee, had accuracy of 5cm, and it still produced quite impressive results, as it can be seen on the video below:

Weighing just 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs) the eBee RTK is one of the lightest drones on the market. Its flexible foam airframe and rear-mounted propeller are designed to ensure the safety of both the drone and the people on the ground. Autonomy is approximately 40 minutes on a single battery charge, flying with cruising speed between 36-57km/h. The eBee RTK can also resist winds of up to 45km/h (12m/s).

senseFly eBee RTK

senseFly eBee RTK

 

According to the specification, eBee RTK has approaching angle of 20°, which allows it to land in confined spaces. Usually, approaching angle for fixed wing UAV is around 5°.  Also, eBee RTK has integrated fallback procedures: if the eBee RTK’s sensors detect a critical situation a warning is shown via its eMotion ground control software. The eBee RTK then automatically initiates the relevant safety procedure, such as returning to its landing point if its battery runs low or strong wind is detected, or starting to climb if it detects it is close to the ground.

Important features:

  • 16MP still camera
  • up to 3km radio link
  • linear landing

Package contains:

  • eBee RTK body and detachable wings (incl. autopilot and electronics)
  • above mentioned 16MP still camera
  • 2,4 GHz ground modem for data link
  • two Li-Po battery packs and charger
  • spare propeller
  • Carry case with foam protection
  • Remote control and accessories
  • user manual
  • fully featured software

The eBee RTK should be available on the market in third quarter of 2014.

Detailed info about the product you can find on senseFly webpage.

Image and video courtesy of Parrot and senseFly.

 

AirDog – The Drone You Can Not Get Rid Off

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

How cool would it be to record all perfect moments while performing outdoor activities? Furthermore, to put them all in a compilation and share them widely, easily and instantly? How demanding that UAV system might be?

The answer comes with a funny name – AirDog drone. It provides such an exclusive and dedicated service to its owner. Technical details of the AirDog are scarce, but what is known is that the drone will feature a stabilized mount for a GoPro camera and will track the film-subject via bracelet, 3d printed by the Baltic 3D.

AirDog control bracelet printed by Baltic 3D

AirDog control bracelet printed by Baltic 3D

The concept, however, is not completely new: One of the first videos of auto-follow drone that appeared on the Youtube, was uploaded almost exactly one year ago. In it you can see the engineer behind the project explaining how he turned a Parrot AR drone 2.o, into a pet that will lock on person’s face and follow it like a good puppy.

It is going to be interesting to see how the manufacturer is going to prevent drone from colliding with other static and movable objects around the individual with the wristband (think of downhill bike ride through the woods). Moreover, it will be challenging to see how the drone is going to act on the unfavorable atmospheric conditions, which it might get exposed to, while closely following the subject.

If AirDog is not a prank like the Gofor was, we can soon expect a storm of AirDog made extreme sports videos all over the net.

What is really exciting about this concept that was finally made available, are other possibilities: imagine an NFL game where a couple of players would have similar tracking devices in their helmets, and the director can choose which one of them the AirDog should follow. What a touchdown video that would be… And if you think outside of the sports, what if a reporter in a warzone could have such gadget, and record him/herself dodging bullets on the frontline?

Be that as it may, AirDog will probably be the bestseller that will offer a very unique perspective of unfolding events, and dronologista will keep track of the project.

Pictures and videos courtesy of AirDog and Popular Science.

Drone Startups part 8: Easy Drone

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

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If you would like to make a good aerial photos and videos, you should have at least some knowledge of all the nuts and bolts of the gear you want to use. You must be able to set up your equipment, or in extreme cases you need to build, modify and calibrate the UAV you want to use, almost from scratch.

There are people, believe it or not, that are not that technically inclined, and they just want to take the flying machine, attach a camera to it, and fly it while making some breathtaking shots. They cannot choose a lot. One of the bestsellers that caters for that group is the DJI with the Phantom series of quadcopters. However, beside all the good sides, Phantom is not quite modular, and not that easy to transport.

That is where Easy Drone steps in. It is a flight ready, plug-and-play, out-of-the-box solution, for taking high quality aerial shots.

Easy Drone with Turnigy 9x RC

Easy Drone with Turnigy 9x RC

A modular frame, designed for the ease of transport and assembly, consists of detachable carbon rods with integrated motors and contacts, and can be assembled in mere minutes, without any tool. The Fly Bot command unit is then plugged in, and you are ready to go.

 

Frame assembling steps

Frame assembling steps

Plug the bot

Plug the bot

Impressive video of how small the transport box is and the ease with which the Easy Drone is assembled, you can see below.

The frame can carry up to 1,5 kg of load, which can include Sony NEX, Panasonic GH or Black Magic Pocket Camera with standard Sony lens. The command unit, Fly Bot is programmed to handle any combination of motors and blades, and will auto configure best settings without manual tuning.

Some of the key features of the Easy Drone are:

  1. Unique, light-weight frame – it is a proprietary design, that makes transportation and assembly breeze, while providing incredible strength
  2. One command unit – the Fly Bot, plug-and-play solution
  3. Fly Bot use on multiple frames – whether you prefer larger props and slower motors or other way around, just load the settings, and it will be optimized to a new frame
  4. Auto tuning – Easy Drone determines its own optimal settings
  5. Telemetry module built-in – connect to your computer or tablet to wirelessly change settings or choose a new flight path
  6. Video stream comes as a standard feature
  7. Flight data on the video screen – Altitude, speed, battery life and other data available on the preview video

 

Easy Drone mission planner

Easy Drone mission planner

Flight times are depending on the combination features and equipment turned on, but some average times are:

  • all features on (camera power, gimbal power, video link on) – approx. 12 minutes
  • gimbal on – approx. 14 minutes
  • no additional equipment – 16 minutes

Easy Drone is featured on Kickstarter. After only a couple of days the project has gathered 75% of the funds, and backers can grab their Easy Drone for $900 already. The success is no wonder, since it is an advanced modular multicopter (with built-in features such as automatic landing – check the video below), designed  for videographers that need quick, easy and affordable aerial shots. For more info on Easy Drone check their Easy Aerial webpage.

Launch date will be towards the end of the year. Parts are 95% finished, which means that assembly and shipping will start as soon as project is funded.

Dronologista considers Easy Drone one of the benchmark projects that can influence the design of multicopter UAV in the future, and will keep a close eye on new developments of Easy Drone.

Easy Drone – well done!

Drone Startups 7: Flexbot

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Flexbot is the smallest UAV featured here so far. It is a tiny, crowdfounded, open-source nanocopter, which can be controlled by a smartphone. A successful Kickstarter project has more than $500K pledged, and a small army of followers and users worldwide.

FlexbotBut it was not always peachy keen for Flexbot. When it was founded it was called Hex, and the whole fundraising campaign was run under that name with large Hex logo included. However, at the end of 2013. backers were informed that due to copyright conflict, the name of the quadrotor has to be changed. It had a snowball effect on production, and the pre-Christmas launch was delayed until February this year. But that story is a history now, and Flexbot is shipping their product on a massive scale.

With the price of only $49 for the basic product, Flexbot is inexpensive and fun to fly. It is world’s first consumer electronic product that uses 3D printing technology to achieve personalization. Users can select one of several shell designs for their copter, or they can send their design and Flexbot will print it out for them.

Flexbot at the beechTiny drone comes with a cool app for a smartphone that is open-source and hackable. One of their more expensive  products, costing whooping $159, comes with a small 720p webcam that sends real-time video to users mobile device.

Flexbot App Screenshot

Assembly of the drone takes less than five minutes, and requires no soldering, which is kind of cool if you don’t have a soldering gun at your disposal. How easy it is to assemble this nifty little drone, you can see in this video:

Flexbot is a perfect device for everyone interested in flying drones, but not interested in tinkering with the frame, motors and other pieces of hardware. But if you do want to do that, you can create your customized, personalized, pimped out copter, you can hack the app and get the drone you always wanted.

Pictures and video courtesy of Flexbot.

Landslide surveying UAV – Bramor C4EYE

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Last weeks floods that devastated large parts of Balkan peninsula, left behind a trail of destruction with consequences that will last for years. One of the threats caused by the deluge are landslides. Since the affected area is very large, there are many activated landslides that are endangering whole settlements.

In order to tackle the problem, Bosnian government acquired Bramor C4EYE system made by C-ASTRAL, a Slovenian UAS manufacturer. Bramor C4EYE is a catapult launched, blended wing design drone, well suited for remote sensing applications. Made of are kevlar, carbon and vectran, the Bramor C4EYE is both lightweight and sturdy.

Bramor C4EYE

Bramor C4EYE

The system is highly mobile and fits into a MILSPEC, rain resistant backpack with the GCS embedded industry standard rugged package and is designed for fast deployment, flight ready in less than five minutes. It can be safely operated by single operator/pilot in command.

Bramor C4EYE case

Bramor C4EYE case

With the endurance of 3 hours and operational range of 30 kilometers, it will greatly improve landslide surveying in the areas affected by floods. It will enable specialists to cover large areas quickly, spot potential or activated landslides, and react before it is too late.

Consequences of any natural or man-made disaster can be very difficult to remediate. UAV can certainly made this task little bit easier.

Detailed technical specification of the Bramor C4EYE UAS can be found on C-ASTRAL webpage.

Pictures and video courtesy of C-ASTRAL.