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Preview: Chris Anderson's Posts - DIY Drones

Chris Anderson's Posts - DIY Drones





Updated: 2018-01-21T01:11:55Z

 



1,000+ drone swarms in China

2018-01-09T01:00:00.000Z

This June 2017 swarm of 117 drones set the world record for the most fixed-wing drones in a single swarm. From… This June 2017 swarm of 117 drones set the world record for the most fixed-wing drones in a single swarm. From Popular Science: By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer   At the close of the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou on Dec. 7, the event's hosts set a world record for the largest drone swarm ever deployed. For 9 minutes, 1,180 drones danced and blinked out an aerial show. It was cool. It was also an interesting look into the potential future of aviation. width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/z7bWaTJrMJQ?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> According to an executive at Ehang UAVs, which provided the swarm, each drone cost $1,500, which is pretty darn cheap considering their capabilities. Take, for instance, the datalink and software used. It lets more than 1,000 flying robots coordinate autonomously and synchronize movements, with a flight deviancy of a mere 2 centimeters horizontally and 1 centimeter vertically. If something goes wrong and a drone can't reach its programmed position, it automatically lands. In the show last month, these machines created striking formations of China, a kapok tree flower, and a ship. They also showed off a lot of potential for the military and security sectors. The fact that the drones can move autonomously, landing if they don't fulfill their directive, is particularly intriguing. Ehang is essentially boasting that its swarms can make decisions on how to repair itself, as well as improvise operational functionality. This is just the latest drone development to come out of China. At Zhuhai 2016, the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) and Tsinghua University released a video of a swarm zooming in improvised, network-generated flight patterns. Though the CETC-Tsinghua drone swarm was unarmed, a CGI sequence showed the drones hunting an enemy missile launcher in urban area, and then dive-bombing into the missile launcher, destroying it. CETC followed up by launching a swarm of 117 drones in June 2017 (pictured above). Released by high-altitude balloons, these shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones glide for a 60-plus miles while collecting and eavesdropping on enemy signatures. China also is looking at taking its drone swarms into near space, alongside a planned arsenal of anti-stealth drones, hypersonic spy planes and high-altitude airships. In fall 2017, the Chinese Academy of Sciences used high-altitude balloons to release two shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones that flew downward from a height of 15 miles, and flew a distance of more than 60 miles. Those high-altitude micro UAVs have passive sensors for detecting electromagnetic activity and can map terrain. Similarly to the Perdix system drone swarm showed off by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office, the Chinese Academy of Science's flock could be released by fighters, bombers, and other drones. [...]



Low-cost sense and avoid for microdrones

2018-01-08T07:10:19.000Z

To be shown at CES this week. From the press release: ​Fitted on a Mass-Market Microcontroller, 360Fusion Software Technology Detects any Dynamic Obstacle and Helps Guide Drones Away from Collisions GRENOBLE, France – Dec. 14, 2017 – Leti, a research institute of CEA Tech, will demonstrate the world's first low-power, low-cost 3D anti-crash, fusion-sensor solution for drones at CES 2018 in Las Vegas.   Leti's 360Fusion software, in combination with miniaturized sensors, collects, analyzes and transforms millions of incoming 3D distance data items into relevant, actionable information.   This technology provides consumers and innovative companies with a reliable and affordable integrated anti-crash system. It also ensures safe navigation and enables prompt action in civil-security applications and ensures both fast response and maximum performance for drones in defense uses.   "360Fusion is a flexible solution that is compatible with all types of sensors and that can leverage data from the best of them," said Marie-Sophie Masselot, Leti industrial partnership manager. "Fitted on a low-cost microcontroller, this technology can be embedded in drones to detect any dynamic obstacle and guide the drone away from a collision."   Features of 360Fusion include: The first obstacle-avoidance algorithm in a dynamic environment based on cutting-edge, laser sensor technology Ultra-compact and miniaturized design that fits into a tiny, mass-market microcontroller 10x cheaper than comparable systems A highly integrated perception system that weighs less than 40 grams Seamless integration in existing drone technologies In its continuing work on the prototype, Leti will equip a fleet of drones with this technology to show they detect and avoid nearby drones, fit miniaturized radar sensors on the fleet, enable detours to safe routs when obstacles are detected and enable autonomous flight. -------- More from Mashable here. [...]



2017 DIY Drones year in review

2018-01-03T02:30:00.000Z

2017 was our tenth year, and since one drone year is like ten regular years, we're practically a century old! A few thoughts on the past twelve months: First, we've continued to grow here, although not as fast as the boom years from 2012 to 2015 (see above) More importantly, the two open… 2017 was our tenth year, and since one drone year is like ten regular years, we're practically a century old! A few thoughts on the past twelve months: First, we've continued to grow here, although not as fast as the boom years from 2012 to 2015 (see above) More importantly, the two open source software projects that spun out of this community, ArduPilot/APM and Dronecode/PX4, are both going from strength to strength and are now essentially unrivaled in the full-stack open drone software market. APM is thriving with DIY'er (thanks to its developer-friendly "copyleft" GPL V3 licence) while PX4 is thriving with companies (thanks to its corporate-friendly "permissive" BSD licence).  Both are very active and have large developer bases. Below are the stats for the past month, where PX4 was slightly ahead, but in another month it could go the other way. Although I co-founded APM, I now only contribute to the Dronecode/PX4 project (professionally I can't use GPL code). But I'm super proud of them both, and when it comes to autonomous cars, where I'm still just a hobbyist, I use and love the ArduRover code when we're doing outdoors races that require GPS. Elsewhere in the industry, the consolidation in the consumer space continued, with eHang the latest to leave and most others cutting prices dramatically as DJI's Mavic proves a hit.  (3DR was one of the first to leave the consumer market, last making Solo in 2015, which is a decision I'm happier about every day, as painful as it was at the time). I predict that prices and margins will continue to fall in that market, and DJI will continue to pull ahead with its more than 11,000 employees.  The commercial side of the market continued to mature, with most companies now having defined their industry verticals and partnerships and focusing on data quality and the analytical tools expected in pro-level enterprise software.  Most founding CEOs of the bigger commercial drone companies have been replaced by enterprise sales vets, including Airware, Precision Hawk, Kespry, CyPhy, and Measure. (Exceptions are Skycatch, Drone Deploy and my own 3DR -- we must be doing something right!) It's fair to say that the DIY-centric era of the industry is now over, thanks to today's polished consumer and commercial offerings (we can take a lot of credit for birthing those!). A lot of the DIY energy has shifted to "drone" racing (not actually drones, since they're manually piloted), which does not require the sophisticated autonomy and full-stack software we focus on here. That said, there are still lots of students DIYing to learn how drones work and it continues to be a fun hobby so we'll be here for many years to come.  Personally, my professional life is totally focused on using drones in the AEC (construction) and GIS (geospatial) markets with 3DR, which had a record year as a software company in 2017. And now that getting drones to fly well is a pretty much solved problem, my hobby/DIY interests have moved to autonomous cars, where the technical challenges are much harder, from computer vision to machine learning. So I spend more time in our sister community, DIY Robocars, than here.  Ten years is a long time to sprint, and the early years here did indeed feel all-consuming. Now we're settled back to a more sustainable pace here, and I do my crazy hacking on things that have wheels, not wings and props.  Plus ça change.   [...]






Guy Pearce plays a modified DJI Phantom in "Donny the Drone"

2017-12-26T23:30:00.000Z

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="1080" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iFRT5noguxw?wmode=opaque" width="1920">

"Donny the Drone" is voiced by Guy Pearce in this new sci-fi short featuring a modified DJI Phantom.

From…

width="1920" height="1080" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iFRT5noguxw?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">

"Donny the Drone" is voiced by Guy Pearce in this new sci-fi short featuring a modified DJI Phantom.

From IO9:

The film opens in 2022, as Donny—a mapping drone who “woke up” after a midair collision with a bird, and now speaks with the lulling cadence of a new age guru—is being presented with a “Person of the Year” award. Since his transformation, he explains, he’s devoted himself to being an ambassador for machines’ ability to help people. But despite Donny’s big award, not everybody embraces his philosophy—or his vision for humanity’s future.

We’ve seen “the trouble with sentient machines” done many times before, but Donny the Drone offers a thoughtful new take on that well-trod scifi territory. Pearce, recently seen playing android and AI innovator Peter Weyland in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, is a particularly apt choice to voice the drone who gains a soul—and a slippery agenda along with it.




Pixhawk Mini now just $92 on Amazon

2017-12-22T20:44:02.000Z

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Crazy good deal on the best autopilot for small drones and rovers. This deal won't last long.  Free shipping for Prime members.

Includes GPS, power module,…

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Crazy good deal on the best autopilot for small drones and rovers. This deal won't last long.  Free shipping for Prime members.

Includes GPS, power module, 8-channel servo rail expander for planes and designed for latest Dronecode/PX4 and APM software. 

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FCC fines FPV dronemaker for illegal radios

2017-12-21T07:50:44.000Z

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From Hackaday:

The commission just …

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From Hackaday:

The commission just levied a $180,000 fine on a company in Florida for selling audio/visual transmitters that use the ham bands as well as other frequencies.

The FCC charged that Lumenier Holdco LLC (formerly known as FPV Manuals LLC) was marketing uncertified transmitters some of which exceeded the 1-W power limit for ham transmitters used on model craft.

Equipment that is purely for ham use is normally exempt from certification, but since the equipment was able to operate on other frequencies, this was a violation. In addition, even for licensed ham use, some of the transmitters were using too much power.

The company stopped selling the units in question after an FCC inquiry back in April. We can’t help but think that in years past building a consumer product with a significant radio transmitter was a big task, and someone would bring up the FCC rules and certifications before much progress had been made. These days though you can easily acquire building block ICs and modules to field a product in a few weeks that would have taken a sophisticated team years of effort not long ago.




Dronecode/PX4 1.7 out now, biggest release to date

2017-12-17T23:00:00.000Z

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We are happy to announce the release of PX4 v1.7.0, this version comes packed with performance and quality of life improvements. With 1840 commits with the help of 76 authors and hundreds of flight hours across all of our certified hardware, this is the biggest release of PX4 to date.

This…

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We are happy to announce the release of PX4 v1.7.0, this version comes packed with performance and quality of life improvements. With 1840 commits with the help of 76 authors and hundreds of flight hours across all of our certified hardware, this is the biggest release of PX4 to date.

This release couldn’t have happened without the help of our supporting members, developers, and partners that help us every day, from planning to execution, we are grateful for this community and hope you enjoy flying PX4 v1.7.0.

MAJOR FEATURES

  • First-generation experimental support for ROS2-like setups with FastRTPS
  • Support for many new sensors (LIDAR, airspeed, IMU, etc)
  • Significant robustness improvements and new features to default estimation system (EKF2)
  • Significant improvements to VTOL flight control
  • Increased smoothness of multi-copter flight control
  • Better performance of fixed-wing flight control
  • Many build system improvements (including 50% faster Nuttx builds)
  • New continuous integration system (http://ci.px4.io) with significantly more build and testing capacity
  • Reduced CPU load and RAM usage
  • Plus more tons of minor bug fixes and under the hood enhancements
  • Full list of changes

DOWNLOAD

You can flash the v1.7.0 release from QGroundControl or grab the binaries for your platform directly from the v1.7.0 release tag

FEEDBACK

If you have any feedback you would like to share here are some options:




Interesting insight into what bugs in jetliner autopilots look like

2017-12-12T07:11:06.000Z

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From a FAA alert about a bug in the Rockwell Collins autopilot that is used in many jetliners. Interesting, it's easier for them to fix the airport database that these autopilots use than the…

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From a FAA alert about a bug in the Rockwell Collins autopilot that is used in many jetliners. Interesting, it's easier for them to fix the airport database that these autopilots use than the autopilot code itself, although that will be coming later. 

"If the crew manually edits or temperature compensates a “Climb to” altitude, the FMS will remove the database turn direction (if any) on the immediately following leg. The FMS will turn in the wrong direction after sequencing the “Climb to” leg if the shortest turn direction is different than the required turn direction onto the next leg."

...

"Rockwell Collins has removed from both the Jeppesen and Lufthansa (LSY) Navigation Databases the approaches for which the FMS may not turn correctly after an altitude is edited beginning cycle 1712. This resulted in the removal of approximately 10,000 approaches. Rockwell Collins is working on corrective actions for this issue to restore the removed procedures and has been providing regular updates through email communication."




Vision of a full-automated farm drone system

2017-12-08T15:35:43.000Z

src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/242310566" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="">

This is still in the prototype stage, but it's an inspiring vision of what farm drones could someday be

src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/242310566" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen="">

This is still in the prototype stage, but it's an inspiring vision of what farm drones could someday be




University of Warwick Pixhawk-powered rescue drone team profiled by Autodesk

2017-12-03T00:36:36.000Z

Impressive work by the University of Warwick, who are designing a Pixhawk-powered drone from search and rescue. Above, a test device for Pixhawk. Below, a mold for the carbon-fiber mold. … Impressive work by the University of Warwick, who are designing a Pixhawk-powered drone from search and rescue. Above, a test device for Pixhawk. Below, a mold for the carbon-fiber mold.  From the article: The design now has a 2.2-meter (7.2-foot) wingspan, multiple imaging cameras, and an antenna tracking system at the base station to maintain contact. It also features two control systems designed in Autodesk EAGLE: a traditional manual transmitter for takeoff and landing and an autopilot system controlled by modified open-source software. Warwick Associate Professor of Engineering Simon Leigh, who specializes in additive manufacturing, guided Barlow’s team during the project. He knew they would 3D-print reusable molds of the UAV body parts and then use them to resin-infuse strong-yet-light carbon fiber to create the finished product. Leigh says it took about one month of continuous 3D printing to finish the molds. After that, infusing the carbon fiber proved a challenge, as well. “We used liquid-resin infusion, which is under the vacuum,” Barlow says. “You apply a vacuum to your carbon fiber on the mold, and then you inject resin into it under the vacuum. That’s generally done on a much bigger scale, with much easier geometric parts than we were using, so we had to invent a lot of really cool tools to do it.” Barlow couldn’t elaborate on those inventions due to the terms with industry partner GKN Aerospace, which may commercialize some of them down the line. To exercise that kind of innovative thinking while working with an expert company was a great experience and opportunity for the students, Leigh says. And they continue to employ creative thinking toward making parts of the UAV multifunctional to maximize its weight For example, the UAV’s main function will be to search for casualties on a mountain, land next to them by parachute, and deliver supplies. But the parachutes could be made of emergency space blankets for the people to use, and other equipment could also be built into the aircraft. Customized software could even tailor the payload for the needs of each emergency. “It would suggest the load out you would need and how to balance it to get the right center of gravity,” Leigh says. “So we cataloged the supplies we want to put in it and worked out where they might sit in the airframe.” The group has also explored using Autodesk Netfabb additive-manufacturing software to optimize aspects of the UAV design to be 3D-print friendly and reduce weight. Barlow’s goal for the UAV was a carrying capacity of about 5 kilograms (11 pounds) and an 80-kilometer (49.7-mile) range, but that’s much farther than current UK regulations allow for this type of drone. The many layers of regulation applied to UAVs from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the wireless communications regulations from Ofcom are “bit of a minefield to navigate,” Leigh says. [...]



Blimpduino 2.0 getting closer!

2017-12-02T20:58:08.000Z

(image) Good news from the JJRobot/MRo collaboration: 

We got the Blimpduino control board ready! After 3 months of testing a bunch of sensors and polishing the design (thx for the help…

(image) Good news from the JJRobot/MRo collaboration: 

We got the Blimpduino control board ready! After 3 months of testing a bunch of sensors and polishing the design (thx for the help )we just got the miniaturized version of PCB.Stay tuned for videos of the blimpduino and more!




Human vs AI drone racing

2017-11-23T07:41:33.000Z

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SrqrGweKQAU?list=PLTiv_XWHnOZoPT2VCxZJOF7Vg1VTNuGj4&wmode=opaque" width="854"> From NASA JPL:  The race, held on Oct. 12, capped off two years of research into drone autonomy funded by Google. The company was interested in JPL's work with vision-based… width="854" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/SrqrGweKQAU?list=PLTiv_XWHnOZoPT2VCxZJOF7Vg1VTNuGj4&wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> From NASA JPL:  The race, held on Oct. 12, capped off two years of research into drone autonomy funded by Google. The company was interested in JPL's work with vision-based navigation for spacecraft -- technologies that can also be applied to drones. To demonstrate the team's progress, JPL set up a timed trial between their A.I. and world-class drone pilot Ken Loo. The team built three custom drones (dubbed Batman, Joker and Nightwing) and developed the complex algorithms the drones needed to fly at high speeds while avoiding obstacles. These algorithms were integrated with Google's Tango technology, which JPL also worked on. The drones were built to racing specifications and could easily go as fast as 80 mph (129 kph) in a straight line. But on the obstacle course set up in a JPL warehouse, they could only fly at 30 or 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) before they needed to apply the brakes. "We pitted our algorithms against a human, who flies a lot more by feel," said Rob Reid of JPL, the project's task manager. "You can actually see that the A.I. flies the drone smoothly around the course, whereas human pilots tend to accelerate aggressively, so their path is jerkier." Compared to Loo, the drones flew more cautiously but consistently. Their algorithms are still a work in progress. For example, the drones sometimes moved so fast that motion blur caused them to lose track of their surroundings. Loo attained higher speeds and was able to perform impressive aerial corkscrews. But he was limited by exhaustion, something the A.I.-piloted drones didn't have to deal with. "This is definitely the densest track I've ever flown," Loo said. "One of my faults as a pilot is I get tired easily. When I get mentally fatigued, I start to get lost, even if I've flown the course 10 times." While the A.I. and human pilot started out with similar lap times, after dozens of laps, Loo learned the course and became more creative and nimble. For the official laps, Loo averaged 11.1 seconds, compared to the autonomous drones, which averaged 13.9 seconds. But the latter was more consistent overall. Where Loo's times varied more, the A.I was able to fly the same racing line every lap. "Our autonomous drones can fly much faster," Reid said. "One day you might see them racing professionally!" Without a human pilot, autonomous drones typically rely on GPS to find their way around. That's not an option for indoor spaces like warehouses or dense urban areas. A similar challenge is faced by autonomous cars. Camera-based localization and mapping technologies have various potential applications, Reid added. These technologies might allow drones to check on inventory in warehouses or assist search and rescue operations at disaster sites. They might even be used eventually to help future robots navigate the corridors of a space station. [...]



First pass at a Drone family tree diagram

2017-11-23T00:46:57.000Z

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For a presentation I'm doing I tried to explain how the modern drone industry grew out of the intersection of two communities, RC and robotics, and although they didn't merge, they did both evolve. 

Here's where this community comes in, bridging those two…

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For a presentation I'm doing I tried to explain how the modern drone industry grew out of the intersection of two communities, RC and robotics, and although they didn't merge, they did both evolve. 

Here's where this community comes in, bridging those two

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And here's an animation showing how 3DR and Dronecode evolved alongside the markets

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Pixhawk Mini now just $139

2017-11-22T00:30:00.000Z

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Last year, we introduced the Pixhawk Mini, a small, efficient autopilot designed in collaboration with HobbyKing specifically for the Dronecode PX4 1.6 stack. It’s been put to work on a variety of projects, and many of you use it to build DIY quads, planes,…

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Last year, we introduced the Pixhawk Mini, a small, efficient autopilot designed in collaboration with HobbyKing specifically for the Dronecode PX4 1.6 stack. It’s been put to work on a variety of projects, and many of you use it to build DIY quads, planes, rovers, and more. It also now supported by the ArduPilot/APM code, too.


Today, we’re excited to share that the Pixhawk Mini is now available for just $139, which is 30% less than its original $199 price point.

The Pixhawk Mini is 60% smaller than the original Pixhawk, and has improved sensors and an included GPS module. It's the smallest autopilot you can buy, while still rivaling its big brothers in power. Since its original release earlier this year, the digital airspeed sensor has also been upgraded to give more reliable readings.

Designed specifically for the pro-grade Dronecode PX4 software, Pixhawk Mini has an integrated four-motor power distribution board and power supply module, which enables efficient installations with small quadcopters. But you can also use it with fixed-wing vehicles and rovers with the included 8-channel RC-out board. 

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To see more features, technical specs, and to buy online, check out the Pixhawk Mini on Amazon.




Preview of upcoming Dronecode/PX4 multi-camera VIO feature

2017-11-21T00:47:53.000Z

width="854" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uboDLwVgD84?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) is a way to do position estimation and navigation without GPS, which is both useful for drones inside and for self-driving cars. Coming to the next release of the Dronecode/PX4 stack. 

width="854" height="480" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/uboDLwVgD84?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) is a way to do position estimation and navigation without GPS, which is both useful for drones inside and for self-driving cars. Coming to the next release of the Dronecode/PX4 stack. 




Great YouTube channel on using Dronekit, APM

2017-11-19T23:02:04.000Z

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="789" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iL5DIqL9qdE?wmode=opaque" width="1903">

Tiziano Fiorenzani, an Italian engineer now working in the US, has one of the best YouTube channels on using open source drone software, especially, APM, Dronekit and Python. Above is just one example, on Drone Delivery with Python:

We are going to write a script that connects with the vehicle and waits for the operator…

width="1903" height="789" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iL5DIqL9qdE?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">

Tiziano Fiorenzani, an Italian engineer now working in the US, has one of the best YouTube channels on using open source drone software, especially, APM, Dronekit and Python. Above is just one example, on Drone Delivery with Python:

We are going to write a script that connects with the vehicle and waits for the operator to upload a valid mission. Then the script adds our current location as final waypoint and the vahicle is commanded to arm and takeoff. The vehicle is then set to Auto and once the final waypoint is reached, the script deletes the mission and sets the vehicle in Return to launch mode. At the end the script resets its status and is ready for new adventures!

See the rest of his videos on his YouTube channel here




DIY Drones now at 86,000 users

2017-10-20T20:20:54.000Z

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It's customary and traditional that we celebrate the addition of every 1,000 new members here and share the traffic stats. We've now passed 86,000 members! We're also more than ten years old!

Rather than simply give the usual monthly traffic snapshot, I thought I'd give the data…

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It's customary and traditional that we celebrate the addition of every 1,000 new members here and share the traffic stats. We've now passed 86,000 members! We're also more than ten years old!

Rather than simply give the usual monthly traffic snapshot, I thought I'd give the data for the whole decade, which tells quite a story. 

  • First, some amazing totals:
    • More than 20 million users and 118 million pageviews over the decade. 
    • 13,400 blog posts
    • More than 60,000 discussion threads
    • Nearly a million comments
  • Second, the ups and downs of this industry. Over the ten years, we've gone from one of the few drone communities around to today, when there are hundreds of sites, most of them commercial, and drone users and developers are scattered amongst them. In the early 2010s, DIY Drones was in the top three results on Google for "drones". Now there are pages and pages of commercial sites before it. That's a natural thing and demonstrates classic maturing of an industry. The amateurs have given way to the pros.
  • Third, the related rise and fall of "DIY" in the drone industry. With the triumph of DJI and its Phantom (and now Mavic and Spark) lines, it's no longer necessary to build your own drone. This is a good thing (the same happened with PCs and all sorts of electronics before it), and many people still choose to do so anyway for fun (as they still do with PCs), but it's clearly gone back to a niche activity or one for developers, much as it was in the early days. 

Today, we're still a big community with healthy traffic (about 10,000 visitors and 15,000 page views a day). And we'll continue just as we are for many years to come. We won't be the biggest site in this space, but we'll continue to be one of the most interesting and a friendly, high-quality place to talk about ideas and projects that extend of potential of drones to change the world. And have fun doing it!




Blimpduino flies again!

2017-10-03T22:37:45.000Z

Ten years after this site started with its first project, a robotic blimp called Blimpduino, two long time friends here, Jordi Munoz and Jose Julio, are relaunching it in a new improved form. It's called, unsurprisingly, Blimpduino 2.0, and you can see the progress here.  The is new… Ten years after this site started with its first project, a robotic blimp called Blimpduino, two long time friends here, Jordi Munoz and Jose Julio, are relaunching it in a new improved form. It's called, unsurprisingly, Blimpduino 2.0, and you can see the progress here.  The is new one is based on fly-by-wire Wifi system (smartphone based) and supports computer vision with the OpenMV camera.  It's what we had in mind a decade ago, but just took years for the technology to catch up.  It looks like it will be available in a couple months. Can't wait! [...]



"MVP" computer vision rover with OpenMV for less than $90

2017-10-02T04:30:00.000Z

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This is the cheapest good computer vision autonomous car you can make — less than $85! It uses the fantastic OpenMV camera, with its easy-to-use software and IDE, as well as a low-cost chassis that is fast…

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This is the cheapest good computer vision autonomous car you can make — less than $85! It uses the fantastic OpenMV camera, with its easy-to-use software and IDE, as well as a low-cost chassis that is fast enough for student use. It can follow lanes of any color, objects, faces and even other cars. It's as close to a self-driving Tesla as you’re going to get for less than $100 ;-)

It’s perfect for student competitions, where a number of cars can be built and raced against each in an afternoon.

width="570" height="321" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/3G4eN2A52ic?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">

Instructions and code are here




Eagles vs Drones (spoiler: Eagles win)

2017-10-01T00:08:48.000Z

From the Wall Street Journal: SYDNEY— Daniel Parfitt thought he’d found the perfect drone for a two-day mapping job in a remote patch of the… From the Wall Street Journal: SYDNEY— Daniel Parfitt thought he’d found the perfect drone for a two-day mapping job in a remote patch of the Australian Outback. The roughly $80,000 machine had a wingspan of 7 feet and resembled a stealth bomber. There was just one problem. His machine raised the hackles of one prominent local resident: a wedge-tailed eagle. Wedge-tailed eagle Swooping down from above, the eagle used its talons to punch a hole in the carbon fiber and Kevlar fuselage of Mr. Parfitt’s drone, which lost control and plummeted to the ground. “I had 15 minutes to go on my last flight on my last day, and one of these wedge-tailed eagles just dive-bombed the drone and punched it out of the sky,” said Mr. Parfitt, who believed the drone was too big for a bird to damage. “It ended up being a pile of splinters.” Weighing up to nine pounds with a wingspan that can approach eight feet, the wedge-tailed eagle is Australia’s largest bird of prey. Once vilified for killing sheep and targeted by bounty hunters, it is now legally protected. Though a subspecies is still endangered in Tasmania, it is again dominating the skies across much of the continent. These highly territorial raptors, which eat kangaroos, have no interest in yielding their apex-predator status to the increasing number of drones flying around the bush. They’ve even been known to harass the occasional human in a hang glider. A picture of a wedge-tailed eagle taken by an Australian UAV drone. PHOTO: AUSTRALIAN UAV Birds all over the world have attacked drones, but the wedge-tailed eagle is particularly eager to engage in dogfights, operators say. Some try to evade these avian enemies by sending their drones into loops or steep climbs, or just mashing the throttle to outrun them. A long-term solution remains up in the air. Camouflage techniques, like putting fake eyes on the drones, don’t appear to be fully effective, and some pilots have even considered arming drones with pepper spray or noise devices to ward off eagles. They are the “ultimate angry birds,” said James Rennie, who started a drone-mapping and inspection business in Melbourne called Australian UAV. He figures that 20% of drone flights in rural areas get attacked by the eagles. On one occasion, he was forced to evade nine birds all gunning for his machine. The birds are considered bigger bullies than their more-docile relatives, such as the bald and golden eagles in the U.S. Wedge-tailed eagles are the undisputed alpha birds in parts of Australia’s interior but it’s not entirely clear why they’re so unusually aggressive towards drones. Scientists say they go after drones probably because they view them as potential prey or a new competitor. “They’re really the kings of the air in Australia,” said Todd Katzner, a biologist and eagle expert at the U.S. Geological Survey in Boise, Idaho. “There’s nothing out there that can compete with them.” Nick Baranov holds a drone camouflaged with ‘eagle-eyes.’ PHOTO: AUSTRALIAN UAV The problem is growing more acute as Australia makes a push to become a hot spot for drones. One state, Queensland, recently hosted the “World of Drones Congress” and last year gave about $780,000 to Boeing Co. for drone testing. Amazon.com is expanding in Australia and could try using[...]



Our DIY Robocars sister community in the news

2017-09-26T14:02:20.000Z

width="1440" height="697" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i-x_-L4uBpc?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Jalopnik covers our DIY Robocars sister community. If you're in the Bay Area or one of the other half-dozen areas with these races, join us!  We'll also be competing in the Sparkfun AVC in Denver in October,

width="1440" height="697" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/i-x_-L4uBpc?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""> Jalopnik covers our DIY Robocars sister community. If you're in the Bay Area or one of the other half-dozen areas with these races, join us!  We'll also be competing in the Sparkfun AVC in Denver in October,




Dronecode announces new Dronecore SDK, shipping with new Yuneec H520

2017-09-10T20:12:10.000Z

(image) At this weels Interdrone conference Yuneec and Dronecode announced the new DroneCore SDK, which is now shipping on the new Dronecode-based Yuneec H520 commercial…

(image) At this weels Interdrone conference Yuneec and Dronecode announced the new DroneCore SDK, which is now shipping on the new Dronecode-based Yuneec H520 commercial hexacopter. The above slide shows how the architecture works, but basically Dronecore replaces the old DroneKit SDK, and provides an easy-to use mobile (Android and iOS) and onboard (C++ and Python) interface to Dronecode/PX4-based vehicles. Of which there are many!

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The library provides a simple core API for managing one or more vehicles, providing programmatic access to vehicle information and telemetry, and control over missions, movement and other operations.

Developers can extend the library using plugins in order to add any other required MAVLink API (for example, to integrate PX4 with custom cameras, gimbals, or other hardware over MAVLink).

DroneCore can run on a vehicle-based companion computer or on a ground-based GCS or mobile device. These devices have significantly more processing power that an ordinary flight controller, enabling tasks like computer vision, obstacle avoidance, and route planning.

The full reference is here.




Boeing's Insitu uses swarms of Solos for autonomous mapping

2017-08-21T16:30:00.000Z

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-pwDkxeWq14?wmode=opaque" width="1280">

In this episode, the Roswell Flight Test Crew speaks with John Leipper, the Solutions Architecture Manager for drone manufacturer Insitu. At the Future Farm Drone Rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon, Insitu conducted a drone swarm demonstration using three 3DR Solos – all controlled by a single pilot using a computer. Of course, to stay in…

width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-pwDkxeWq14?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">

In this episode, the Roswell Flight Test Crew speaks with John Leipper, the Solutions Architecture Manager for drone manufacturer Insitu. At the Future Farm Drone Rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon, Insitu conducted a drone swarm demonstration using three 3DR Solos – all controlled by a single pilot using a computer. Of course, to stay in compliance with FAA regulations, an individual pilot for each aircraft was on standby should immediate human intervention be required. The long-term goal is to make drones more efficient through automation, requiring less direct human input to gather data more quickly than would be possible with a single drone. Such a control system would also allow the drones to be operated remotely via the Internet or other networks.




Boeing's Insitu uses swarms of Solos for autonomous mapping

2017-08-21T16:30:00.000Z

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-pwDkxeWq14?wmode=opaque" width="1280">

In this episode, the Roswell Flight Test Crew speaks with John Leipper, the Solutions Architecture Manager for drone manufacturer Insitu. At the Future Farm Drone Rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon, Insitu conducted a drone swarm demonstration using three 3DR Solos – all controlled by a single pilot using a computer. Of course, to stay in…

width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-pwDkxeWq14?wmode=opaque" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="">

In this episode, the Roswell Flight Test Crew speaks with John Leipper, the Solutions Architecture Manager for drone manufacturer Insitu. At the Future Farm Drone Rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon, Insitu conducted a drone swarm demonstration using three 3DR Solos – all controlled by a single pilot using a computer. Of course, to stay in compliance with FAA regulations, an individual pilot for each aircraft was on standby should immediate human intervention be required. The long-term goal is to make drones more efficient through automation, requiring less direct human input to gather data more quickly than would be possible with a single drone. Such a control system would also allow the drones to be operated remotely via the Internet or other networks.




Introducing OpenSolo!

2017-08-03T17:00:00.000Z

Big news! Reposting from the 3DR blog. Also see the ArduPilot Team announcement here.  When we launched Solo back in 2015, one of its selling points was that it was… Big news! Reposting from the 3DR blog. Also see the ArduPilot Team announcement here.  When we launched Solo back in 2015, one of its selling points was that it was based on the open source ArduPilot software, the project that Jordi Munoz and I launched as a side-project way back in 2007 and then grew beyond our imagination in the able hands of the community.  The point of Solo was to package up this open stack in a polished, easy-to-use consumer product (like the DJI Phantom), treating the ArduPilot stack as an “open core” and extending its functionality with proprietary features much as companies do with Linux-based devices. This worked very well as a product (Solo had some really innovative features, some of which are still unequaled) but less well as a business (we couldn’t make it cheaply enough to keep up with the rapid price declines in the consumer market, so we stopped making them at the end of 2015).  Now, two years later, 3DR has shifted its focus to the commercial market that exploded after the FAA launched its Part 107 commercial operator licensing program last year. But there are lots of Solos still out there, with great untapped potential — it’s just not our core business anymore. So what to do? Open source the rest of it! We’ve heard loud and clear that the community wants a tried-and-true Ardupilot platform that can be extended without limit. The Ardupilot team has already embraced Solo and ported the latest flight code to it. But the custom 3DR WiFi control, telemetry, and video streaming technology, the “Artoo” controller and the “Shot Manager” mission control stack that runs on the onboard Linux processor were not open source, so the full potential of the drone remained locked. No more. I’m delighted to announce that we’re now open sourcing almost all of the remaining code, including the SoloLink wireless stack, ShotManager, the high-level onboard mission scripting layer that gave Solo all of its “smart shots”, and a range of other packages include the code for the controller and the build tools. The code has now been released in a new OpenSolo organization on Github, licenced under the permissive Apache 2.0 licence. More details about what’s been released here: solo-builder – scripts for configuring a virtual machine to build the Solo software meta-3dr – the build recipes that assemble the complete Linux system for the Solo and Controller i.MX6 processors. shotmanager – implementation of Solo’s Smart Shots. sololink – 3DR software that runs on the i.MX6 processors, implementing things like video streaming, control, telemetry, pairing, logging, etc. artoo – firmware for the STM32 microcontroller in the controller responsible for the inputs and screen. solo-gimbal (coming soon) – firmware for the microcontrollers in the Solo Gimbal [...]



Dronecode updates for July: new QGroundControl, FPGA autopilot, PX4 1.6

2017-07-23T01:30:00.000Z

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" mozallowfullscreen="" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/226583727" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="640"> Lots of news and updates from the Dronecode team this month:  1) The Aerotenna OcPoC autopilot (video above) now supports the Dronecode/PX4 software stack! ● FPGA and dual-core ARM processors in… width="640" height="360" src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/226583727" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen="" mozallowfullscreen="" allowfullscreen=""> Lots of news and updates from the Dronecode team this month:  1) The Aerotenna OcPoC autopilot (video above) now supports the Dronecode/PX4 software stack! ● FPGA and dual-core ARM processors in OcPoC allow for real-time signal processing and for executing complicated algorithms, enabling exciting new possibilities for artificial intelligence, deep learning, and a truly autonomous and intelligent UAV ● With more than 30 programmable I/Os supporting most standard interfaces, OcPoC is incredibly flexible, allowing free reign for your creativity ● OcPoC features industrial-grade redundancy, ensuring you can always count on your key systems such as GPS, IMU, and more ● Flawless integration with Aerotenna microwave radar sensors, including uLanding radar altimeter and uSharp collision-avoidance sensor. 2) QGroundControl 3.2 is out! Many inprovements and new features: Settings File Save path - Specify a save path for all files used by QGC. Telemetry log auto-save - Telemetry logs are now automatically saved without prompting. AutoLoad Plans - Used to automatically load a Plan onto a vehicle when it first connects. RTK GPS - Specify the Survey in accuracy and Minimum observation duration. Setup ArduPilot only Pre-Flight Barometer and Airspeed calibration - Now supported Copy RC Trims - Now supported Plan View Plan files - Missions are now saved as .plan files which include the mission, geo-fence and rally points. Plan Toolbar - New toolbar which shows you mission statistics and Upload button. Mission Start - Allows you to specify values such as flight speed and camera settings to start the mission with. New Waypoint features - Adjust heading and flight speed for each waypoint as well as camera settings. Visual Gimbal direction - Gimbal direction is shown on waypoint indicators. Pattern tool - Allows you to add complex patterns to a mission. Fixed Wing Landing (new) Survey (many new features) Fixed Wing Landing Pattern - Adds a landing pattern for fixed wings to your mission. Survey - New features Take Images in Turnarounds - Specify whether to take images through entire survey or just within each transect segment. Hover and Capture - Stop vehicle at each image location and take photo. Refly at 90 degree offset - Add additional pattern at 90 degree offset to original so get better image coverage. Entry location - Specify entry point for survey. Polygon editing - Simple on screen mechanism to drag, resize, add/remove points. Much better touch support. Fly View Arm/Disarm - Available from toolbar. Guided Actions - New action toolbar on the left. Supports: Takeoff Land RTL Pause Start Mission Resume Mission - after battery change Change Altitude Land Abort Set Waypoint Goto Location Remove mission after vehicle lands - Prompt to rem[...]



DIY Drones at 85,000 members -- a look back at an extraordinary decade

2017-07-07T01:00:00.000Z

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It's customary and traditional that we celebrate the addition of every 1,000 new members here and share the traffic stats. We've now passed 85,000 members! We're also more than ten years old!

Rather than simply give the usual monthly traffic snapshot, I thought I'd give the data…

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It's customary and traditional that we celebrate the addition of every 1,000 new members here and share the traffic stats. We've now passed 85,000 members! We're also more than ten years old!

Rather than simply give the usual monthly traffic snapshot, I thought I'd give the data for the whole decade, which tells quite a story. 

  • First, some amazing totals:
    • More than 20 million users and 117 million pageviews over the decade. 
    • 13,400 blog posts
    • More than 60,000 discussion threads
    • Nearly a million comments
  • Second, the ups and downs of this industry. Over the ten years, we've gone from one of the few drone communities around to today, when there are hundreds of sites, most of them commercial, and drone users and developers are scattered amongst them. In the early 2010s, DIY Drones was in the top three results on Google for "drones". Now there are pages and pages of commercial sites before it. That's a natural thing and demonstrates classic maturing of an industry. The amateurs have given way to the pros.
  • Third, the related rise and fall of "DIY" in the drone industry. With the triumph of DJI and its Phantom (and now Mavic and Spark) lines, it's no longer necessary to build your own drone. This is a good thing (the same happened with PCs and all sorts of electronics before it), and many people still choose to do so anyway for fun (as they still do with PCs), but it's clearly gone back to a niche activity or one for developers, much as it was in the early days. 

Today, we're still a big community with healthy traffic (about 20,000 visitors and 35,000 page views a day). And we'll continue just as we are for many years to come. We won't be the biggest site in this space, but we'll continue to be one of the most interesting and a friendly, high-quality place to talk about ideas and projects that extend of potential of drones to change the world. And have fun doing it!




ArduPilot, PX4 dominate AUVSI drone competition

2017-06-26T17:00:00.000Z

(image) When we got started ten years ago, the annual AUVSI student drone competition was dominated by commercial autopilots, such as Piccolo. Now it's almost entirely open source autopilots, led by ArduPilot (14 of top 20) and Dronecode/PX4 (3 of top twenty). I'm super proud of this having co-founded…

(image) When we got started ten years ago, the annual AUVSI student drone competition was dominated by commercial autopilots, such as Piccolo. Now it's almost entirely open source autopilots, led by ArduPilot (14 of top 20) and Dronecode/PX4 (3 of top twenty). I'm super proud of this having co-founded ArduPilot and now leading Dronecode. Only one commercial autopilot in top twenty -- next year they will be gone entirely!

From sUAS News

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How do modern open source autopilots compare to aerospace-grade IMUs?

2017-06-20T17:21:08.000Z

I noticed that Digikey is now selling Honeywell's newest aerospace-grade IMUs, which cost $1,328 each (note that's just for the IMU; it's not… I noticed that Digikey is now selling Honeywell's newest aerospace-grade IMUs, which cost $1,328 each (note that's just for the IMU; it's not a full autopilot). How do the specs of these aerospace IMUs compare to those we use here? Are they worth the extra money?  In terms of overall approach, the Honeywell IMU seem very similar to modern autopilots such as Pixhawk 2.x and 3.3: they both have MEMS sensors with internal environmental isolation and temperature compensation. As for the sensors themselves, I'm no expert on specs, so I'll just post the basics here, comparing the Honeywell sensor to the Pixhawk 3.  On the face of it, the Invensense and ST sensors in the Pixhawk 3 appear at least as good, if not better. But I imagine that there are some other factors that may be more important, such as gyro drift and vibration filtering. The Honeywell specs in drift are shown here:  Meanwhile the Invensense ICM-20602 sensor in the Pixhawk 3 gives its drift in different units: ±4mdps/√Hz. I really don't know how to compare those. Finally, I'm sure that a lot of the performance depends on the software running on the Pixhawk boards, be it PX4 or APM, both of which use GPS to augment the raw IMU data to compensate for drift, along with a lot of other smart filtering.  So for those IMU experts out there: how do you think these two approaches compare? Are aerospace-grade IMUs worth the extra money? [...]