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Micro Plane That Perches On Power Lines

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the look-up-in-the-air dept.

Power 192

An anonymous reader wrote in to tell us about a microplane that perches on power lines to recharge its batteries being developed as a surveillance device at MIT. As you can imagine, landing on a power line is hard to do ... and charging off transmission lines has its own problems.

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Perch? (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990734)

Would it be easier if it were more bat-like, hanging from the line instead of perching?

Re:Perch? (2, Informative)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990952)

The 'perch' is actually quite bat-like. FTA:

The MIT engineers' answer is to send their 30-centimetre-wide micro air vehicle (MAV) into a controlled stall, pointing its nose up at just the right point in its trajectory to collide with and hook onto the cable.

Once it hooks the cable, it is a passive system. Check the video...it hasn't been /.ed (yet.)

Re:Perch? (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991226)

The 'perch' is actually quite bat-like. FTA:

The MIT engineers' answer is to send their 30-centimetre-wide micro air vehicle (MAV) into a controlled stall, pointing its nose up at just the right point in its trajectory to collide with and hook onto the cable.

Once it hooks the cable, it is a passive system. Check the video...it hasn't been /.ed (yet.)

This is all very interesting but ... do we really need another way to spy on people? One would wonder how the hell our ancestors managed to survive without living in a surveillance society.

<hypothetical>It's getting to the point that there may be a market for portable personal EMP devices when battery or supercapacitor technology advances enough. Just fire an EMP burst every so often and take out any such devices that may be near you, assuring your privacy that shouldn't have been threatened in the first place. If that harms cell phones or the computers controlling car engines and such, just do what the government does and call it "collateral damage" in the "war for privacy". You'd be putting it in terms that they understand.</hypothetical>

Re:Perch? (4, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991492)

"One would wonder how the hell our ancestors managed to survive without living in a surveillance society. "

They believed that some old man in the sky was watching them all the time.

Re:Perch? (-1, Troll)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991948)

"One would wonder how the hell our ancestors managed to survive without living in a surveillance society. "

They believed that some old man in the sky was watching them all the time.

That's a rather juvenile way to put it as I don't know any serious Christian who honestly believes the transcendental God of the Bible is a corporeal being who levitates in Earth's atmosphere.... but okay. They believed "that some old man in the sky was watching them all the time." They did not believe that some old man in the sky was coming up with clever ways for them to watch their neighbors all the time. That's the difference.

Re:Perch? (-1, Troll)

blhack (921171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992068)

Are you off of your meds or something?

First, UAVs have got WAYYYYYYY more uses than spying on people. Unmanned utility wire monitoring, atmospheric replacements for satellites, land surveys, search and rescue, etc. etc. etc. Spying is just a little teeny tiny subset of the things you can do with a UAV (for instance, we're using predator drones over the gulf right now to monitor the oil spill...we're doing this because they drones can stay in the air for a very long time).

Second, you're advocating a device that would indiscriminately destroy electronic equipment with a range long enough that it could take out a airplane. Are you fucking insane? People with pacemakers, or artificial hearts...just kill them?

Destroy everybody within 200 yards' telephone, laptop, pager, e-reader, etc. because you're paranoid that some scary OMG GUBBMINT guy is watching you buy a donut?

Stay classy, slashdot.

Re:Perch? (0, Offtopic)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992152)

Are you off of your meds or something?

First, UAVs have got WAYYYYYYY more uses than spying on people. Unmanned utility wire monitoring, atmospheric replacements for satellites, land surveys, search and rescue, etc. etc. etc. Spying is just a little teeny tiny subset of the things you can do with a UAV (for instance, we're using predator drones over the gulf right now to monitor the oil spill...we're doing this because they drones can stay in the air for a very long time).

Second, you're advocating a device that would indiscriminately destroy electronic equipment with a range long enough that it could take out a airplane. Are you fucking insane? People with pacemakers, or artificial hearts...just kill them?

Destroy everybody within 200 yards' telephone, laptop, pager, e-reader, etc. because you're paranoid that some scary OMG GUBBMINT guy is watching you buy a donut?

Stay classy, slashdot.

You don't handle tongue-in-cheek sarcasm very well, do you?

Re:Perch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32990976)

According to the article it does hang by the nose. No mention of how it gets off the power line though.

This won't work anyway because wind is going to make it much more difficult (damn near impossible with current technology). To add to that, power lines are often in wide open spaces where there will be even more wind. Hanging a glider (which presumably has large surface area wings) off power lines in windy conditions just seems like a really bad idea.

I seriously doubt they will even get past the stage of attaching this thing to a real full-scale line.

Re:Perch? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991476)

Not to mention that stealing power through induction is nothing new, and nothing that the people who are trying to sell that power are too keen on you trying. I mean, I can see the military not really caring too much about that aspect for their operations, but such a scheme would need some way to pay for it if you wanted to use it domestically.

-Steve

Re:Perch? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991698)

The story references a military story [newscientist.com] , where they talk about developed technologies that deform the wings into limp hanging detritus. That should diffray the issue of wind once attached to a line.

MIT students have actually been developing robot planes like this for years. They can prop-hang [technovelgy.com] and take off vertically. They can hook vertically onto walls. They can fly quickly around indoors [popularmechanics.com] . Wind, then, is just one more problem to tackle.

Re:Perch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992248)

Wind, then, is just one more problem to tackle.

LOL, I guess you have never actually tried any of this then?

Wind is the problem. It's the hardest of all and is why none of these projects have solved it.

Re:Perch? (2, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991028)

It does hang, just from a hook near the nose so it isn't upside down.

Which would make actually hooking up *much* easier, since you need to be nose up which is why you can stall.

Hooking up upside down would be really hard, pointing your nose down makes slowing down just a tad difficult.

What I don't understand is how it is going to take off again. It'd need to unhook and flip nose down before it hit the ground with enough height left to get the speed to generate lift. That doesn't seem like such an easy thing to do...

Re:Perch? (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991132)

think harrier.

Re:Perch? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991962)

If it can VTOL, then you don't need to bother hooking up with a controlled stall, so no.

Re:Perch? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992262)

Exactly... and to be more specific: all it needs is positive thrust to weight. Then taking off straight up is possible. Just need to drop enough to go around the wire from which it has just hung.

Re:Perch? (5, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991148)

Hooking up nose down may be easier, come to think of it. Because then what you should do is basically land on top of the wire with a small forward speed, letting your aircraft slide forward until the hook mounted all the way at the tail catches the wire. Presto, hanging nose down.

Getting off would be simple as well that way: retract the hook, fall down making speed, and just pull up the nose. Now just make sure you hang on a high enough wire.

Taking off hanging nose up is a bit harder, I would guess a tail flip - also a quite standard manoeuvre but requires more height. Unless your engine is so powerful that you can accelerate straight up. Not likely for such a craft.

Re:Perch? (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992210)

Not likely for such a craft.

I wouldn't be so sure about that... The thing is made from very low-weight foam and brushless motors are getting to the point where this is a reality. Those little toy Air Hogs things, for instance, can do this (albeit on a much smaller scale). /Sidebar: wtf has happened to those things? 2 years ago, they were all over the place, now the only thing I ever see are those god-awful 2-axis helicopters.

Re:Perch? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991762)

Spin the propeller up. Take off vertically. RC planes have enough power in the nose to do that.

Re:Perch? (1)

Xibby (232218) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991934)

Shouldn't be a problem to take off from the power line. The electric motors used in R/C airplanes can generate enough thrust to hover a plane and all it's gear. Build the drone with two electric motors and counter rotating props and you could take off vertically (as well as hover) at full thrust (if that). Go up 50 feet, then turn off one of the motors to spin into nose dive position and kick the elevator to full climb to get back to horizontal flight. The great thing about R/C plans (and drones) is you can do crazy stunts that would make a human pilot motion sick, black out, or outright kill them.

Re:Perch? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991984)

Except if that is what you have, why are you be risking a stall to hook up, instead of just hovering and slowly descending until you hook up?

Re:Perch? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991044)

Seeing that video I think it's indeed going to hang. There seems to be a hook at the plane's belly to hook onto the cable.

It's a hard trick. I wonder how many tries for that video to work out - that mattress won't be there just because. And this is indoors, no wind, no movement of the wire. The wind will be the hardest: wind changes all the time, and will be influenced by the cable at close range. I can imagine quite some turbulence to overcome for the aircraft.

I wonder how often birds have to practice before they can land on a wire. The flying, the timing, the following of the wire as it swings in the air... it's not easy. And then many birds have the advantage that they can hover, even if only for a short while, in a way a fixed wing craft can never do. The bird has a lot of time for last-moment correction, a fixed wing craft not. It falls off and will have to turn around (a tricky manoeuvre in itself, after serious stalling, nose up in the air, and probably taking a hit from the cable it tried to hook on to) and try again.

No matter what it's an impressive trick, even in such a controlled environment.

the bus stop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32990740)

what is it with black people and the bus stop? anyttime you see a bus stop, there is always a black person there.

i would bet money that if you put a bus stop in the middle of sibera, hundreds of miles from anyone and left it for a few hours, when you return they would be black people in it. stereotypical black people too. there will be one old man holding a bicycle tire on the rim, muttering to himself. there will be a fat black girl on her cellphone talking too loud and shaking her finger while doing the "mmmhmm" thing. lastly there will be a 20-something thug-life wanna-be with bloodshot eyes.

black people and the bus stop, it's a mystery.

Yes, but... (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991122)

If you did all of that, would that affect the charging of the plane from the power line?

I thought not....

Oops, someone just handed me a card. *reads card* "Do not feed the trolls". Sorry, my bad.

prior art? (0)

AntEater (16627) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990748)

So MIT is spending how much money on reinventing the pigeon??

Re:prior art? (2, Funny)

radicalpi (1407259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990824)

Is it just me, or is that Pigeon staring at us?

Re:prior art? (5, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991102)

So MIT is spending how much money on reinventing the pigeon??

I'm picturing a few pigeons on the line when this microplane perches on it. The pigeons look over at this mechanical oddity with reserved curiosity. Then an artificially-generated voice from the plane states "PAY NO ATTENTION TO ME. I AM A NORMAL PIGEON. I DEFECATE ON CARS AND THE HEADS OF PEOPLE. COO. COO". The pigeons, satisfied with the answer, go about their business.

After they fly off, the plane's voice kicks back in. "HEH HEH HEH. SUCKERS".

Re:prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991260)

and in the next model MIT's working on I heard they are going to fix that "caps lock" bug.

Re:prior art? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991818)

This is student work we're talking about here. They're paying MIT for the opportunity to do MIT's research.

Re:prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992088)

Indeed.. same with those people that tried to reinvent the bird with those damn flying gizmos. No good can come of it!

What next, reinvent a better horse? FOR SHAME!

Sweet! (2, Funny)

WreathOfBarbs (804654) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990750)

I for one welcome our new power line perching overlords!

Re:Sweet! (1)

skids (119237) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991062)

All ur flux lines R belong TO US!

Until Elmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32990780)

Fudd [youtube.com] appears.

Yours In Moscow,
Kilgore Trout

Control System Is External (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990822)

The control system is external so it has the benefit of a side-view comparison of the flight path and motion.

They'll need to come up with vertically binocular vision and a bit more computer power on board before this thing is useful.

Right now it's one part of a bigger system.

Charging (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990832)

"charging off transmission lines has its own problems."

Not to mention how to bill for it.

Re:Charging (1)

uniqueUser (879166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990986)

Not to mention how to bill for it.

I don't think the user will be expected to pay a bill. More likely used for military surveillance.

My question is, why does the video look like it was from the 1960's?

Re:Charging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991114)

Not to mention how to bill for it.

I don't think the user will be expected to pay a bill. More likely used for military surveillance.

So the military gets to steal our precious electricity to spy on us with. Why is MIT helping them with this?

Re:Charging (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991256)

At least they're not stealing our precious bodily fluids.

Re:Charging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992250)

This man is obviously a psychotic.

Re:Charging (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991146)

Your military gets free electricity?

- What if they develop a car-based AI system that can refuel independently... free gasoline or diesel?

- What if they develop a drone that can feed off sugars, and empty's your kitchen every day? No worries?

Not that I really care - I'm just curious where you draw the line :-)

-- It's useless for any offensive purposes because the first infrastructure that gets bombed is the electricity grid. Must be only for spying at home then.

Re:Charging (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991210)

Your military gets free electricity?

They get whatever they want, because they have guns.
Although expecting the electrical grid to be up during an
invasion seems like a bad assumption.

Re:Charging (1)

uniqueUser (879166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991470)

Although expecting the electrical grid to be up during an invasion seems like a bad assumption.

In Iraq, some utilities where kept as whole as possible so that they could be used during the invasion. Same thing as hoping there is still a bridge over the river by the time you get there. But, yes, I agree. The ones with the guns tend to have the advantage over the ones who are not as well armed.

Re:Charging (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991286)

What if they develop a drone that can feed off sugars, and empty's your kitchen every day? No worries?

3rd Amendment

Or, if you're smart, simply load your car up with sugar the next time a sugar truck crashes and spills its white gold.
Dump it in your back yard to attract the drones, and then sell them back to the drone keepers at a huge profit.
Watch out for British guys trying to sweeten their tea, and watch out for rain.

Re:Charging (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992038)

Simpsons right?

Re:Charging (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991328)

- What if they develop a drone that can feed off sugars, and empty's your kitchen every day? No worries?

I would feed a spy drone some sugar if it kept the terrorists away... gotta keep the terrorists away. that's how they get ya...

Re:Charging (1)

uniqueUser (879166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991392)

Not to mention how to bill for it

I don't think the user will be expected to pay a bill. More likely used for military surveillance.

Your military gets free electricity?

The military of my country? Yes, I would assume so. I don't think an invading force will usually set up an account with the local utility company before beginning a military campaign. Could be wrong though. I personally have never planed a war, but if I did, I don't think I would expect to pay for the electricity my spy MAVs used. Just seems silly when looking at the big picture.

Do you really think the civilian use for this would out weigh the military use?

Re:Charging (5, Funny)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991164)

This brings back memories of when I was a kid. I and my friend had a 'fort' which was coincidentally under one of those "high tension" (what, about 50KV?) power lines.

We had the bright idea that rather than run an extension cord out from his house, we could just shoot an arrow that had a conductor attached to it over the lowest of those power lines, then use a transformer to step it down to the right voltage, and Bob's your uncle; instant television in the old fort.

Fortunately, we were much more interested in the architecture than the elctrical provisioning of said fort and quickly realized how in over our heads we'd be to try something like that.

Re:Charging (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991480)

Something like this?
Man steals electricity with meat hook [reuters.com]

(Reuters) - German police are investigating a man for theft after he siphoned electricity off a high-voltage overhead transmission line for one month with the help of an ordinary meat hook, authorities said on Tuesday.

Re:Charging (1)

DavidJSimpson (899508) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991788)

The next step is to have this little airplane carry a small rechargeable battery from my house to the power line. It would charge itself and the battery, then return the battery to my house and pick up the next battery that needs recharging. Obviously I would need to make some kind of coconut battery holder so that the plane could grip it by the husk.

Re:Charging (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991998)

Would one airplane be enough to carry the coconut?

Re:Charging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992208)

Well, it's mostly a question of weight ratios. For example, a five ounce airplane could not carry a one pound coconut.

Re:Charging (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992118)

Better hope its a low charge. The power company can see unbilled usage at the plant, and are able to sense demand on the lines. I know of two cases here in Colorado where people were getting free power because of where the lines were adapted. One got fined, the other didnt, which is probably because of how he had it set up. The first actually set up a fairly fancy induction relay to power his house (and was fined for "stealing" power that was leaking out of the lines anyways), where the other just put florescent lights in his barn that lit up because of the field.

When asked to take his lights down, he said no, and that they could move their lines if they didnt want him to use it. They did route it over his barn (a pre-existing structure).

As someone on Facebook mentioned... (3, Funny)

magsol (1406749) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990890)

"Pooping on cars is the next hurdle."

Re:As someone on Facebook mentioned... (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990938)

Mod insightful.

That would require acquiring input regularly, processing said input, locating above-mentioned target, etc...

Re:As someone on Facebook mentioned... (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991424)

Remember, this is a potential domestic spying device.

It's more likely they'll be pooping on our liberties.

Re:As someone on Facebook mentioned... (3, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991588)

Laserbeak, eject. Operation: wiretapping.

Re:As someone on Facebook mentioned... (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991928)

All of the powerline powering systems I've seen breach the outer shell of the line with a metal hook.

There is no way in hell that's getting approved for domestic usage. A: it would be sued out of existence amazingly quickly, and B: there are enough government-owned places around domestically that you could just plug the things in.

Further, you'd have to either have someone watch all of that video (and we're tremendously backed up on audio recordings as-is), or process it somehow in a searchable format. Something like this would make sense to replace human tails in certain circumstances, and could be helpful in backing up helicopters in pursuit cases. But overall, there aren't enough police for a full police state. We just have way too much data as-is.

Microplane? (1)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 4 years ago | (#32990930)

Why would you need to recharge a microplane? And why would you want to use a powerline? I just use mine for lemon zest.

Re:Microplane? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991230)

Why would you need to recharge a microplane? And why would you want to use a powerline? I just use mine for lemon zest.

I use mine for making furniture for doll houses.

Thanks for the "news" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32990958)

But this was already covered on hack a day almost a month ago

Good job guys

How does is charge from just 1 line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32990972)

Wouldn't the power just flow through the line, because there's greater resistance through the glider? That's why birds don't get electrocuted when they land on power lines, right?

Re:How does is charge from just 1 line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991038)

Wouldn't the power just flow through the line, because there's greater resistance through the glider? That's why birds don't get electrocuted when they land on power lines, right?

No. They don't get electrocuted because they are not grounded.

However, that's irrelevant. I'm sure they're charging it by induction. The current flowing through the wire creates a magnetic field. In turn, you can use that magnetic field to induce a current.

Re:How does is charge from just 1 line? (1)

Psychofreak (17440) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991186)

Has to be induction. You can build half a transformer (coil of wire) and get a measurable voltage, and almost usable current from standing under a high tension wire. No trespassing involved.

Now getting the device in place, doing surveillance, and getting the device removed before it is noticed would be a challenge.

Phil

Re:How does is charge from just 1 line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991298)

Ostriches are grounded. Guess that's why you don't see them sitting on power lines. Or penguins for that matter, although they do occasionally perch on the television.

Weight? (1)

Reilaos (1544173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991060)

How large can a glider be before you would have to worry about breaking power lines?

What is it like to detach from the line and start flight back up? I can't imagine it being too smooth a process, what with starting out by pointing straight up.

How does it create a closed circuit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991084)

Seems like only contacting one of the conductors would give it about as much juice as it gives 'normal' birds.

Re:How does it create a closed circuit? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991284)

Most transmission lines carry AC. The magnetic field generated by the current can be inductively coupled to draw off usable energy. This won't work for a DC transmission line though.

Re:How does it create a closed circuit? (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991714)

Grab 2 points on the same line, the resistance on the transmission line should generate something to work with.

There's always a catch ... (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991100)

From TFA:

"The heart of the system is a library of trajectories," says Tedrake. "Wall-mounted cameras report on the glider's position and the control system looks up a trajectory that will take it to the perch." [emph added]

It is very difficult for a glider to accurately figure out the distance to an approaching power line for fairly obvious reasons -- the arc subtended doesn't increase all that much as you approach until you are right up on top of it. You can use multiple cameras but that only nets you a resolution bonus proportional to the inverse of the vertical distance between the cameras. Using cameras external to the glider is an obvious improvement but it does sort of negate the idea that this is an independent flying system.

That said, I don't mean to discount the achievement by pointing out the limitation of having an external camera. Technology progresses incrementally and all that.

Good news! (1)

ThePangolino (1756190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991130)

Now I know what to do in case I don't pay my electricity bill. \o/

Birds are smarter than nerds! (1)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991160)

Birds are smarter than nerds!

Flock of birds? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991202)

Hm...a flock of birds that performs surveillance...where have I heard that one before...

Easy to Do (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991204)

Landing on a power line is fucking easy to do.
Go look at some power lines.
Do you see any things that have landed on it?

I bet you fucking do.

parasites (2, Interesting)

danlip (737336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991238)

I am imagining self-reproducing bird sized electricity suckers overwhelming the grid. It would make a great premise for a sci-fi movie.

Re:parasites (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991380)

SyFy are already all over it: Cyberdactyls versus Mega Werevampire. [scifisquad.com]

Kristy Swanson, let's get your career going again.

Why does it perch? (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991290)

It's possible to get useful amounts of power by simply placing a coil of wire under the line, and getting power by induction. On the ground it would need a big coil, but a plane could fly along the powerline and get much better efficiency. So why perch on it?

Also, where does the plane get its ground?

Re:Why does it perch? (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991586)

neither alternating current or Induction require a ground.

AC becomes safer for saltwater sacks (us) if a ground is used, but we're talking about robot spy birds here.

where is the outrage? (2, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991330)

So, making a copy of a song is piracy and stealing, but taking energy from a power line is clever and innovative? Seems like very selective morality for what Slashdot condemns and what they find worthy of reporting without criticism.

Re:where is the outrage? (1)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991534)

This may come as a surprise but Slashdot is a collection of Individuals, many of them capable of forming and holding their own opinions.

Re:where is the outrage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992030)

WRONG! Slashdot is a collective! You just haven't been assimilated yet...

Re:where is the outrage? (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992098)

many of them capable of forming and holding their own opinions.

Speak for yourself, you insensitive clod. - A. Lemming

Re:where is the outrage? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991912)

> So, making a copy of a song is piracy and stealing...

No. Copyright infringement is not theft.

> ...but taking energy from a power line is clever and innovative? Seems like
> very selective morality for what Slashdot condemns and what they find
> worthy of reporting without criticism.

"Clever" is not a moral judgement (not to mention that the bit about recharging from powerlines is wild speculation imported from another article about another project run by a different organization).

Re:where is the outrage? (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992044)

Say wah?

I'm pretty sure that 1) the majority of /.ers certainly don't view copying songs as piracy or stealing and 2) that developing a RC plane that recharges on power lines can be considered clever and innovative but is still stealing power.

You know, just the same way that movie bank robbers can be clever but they're still just thieves.

Starglider flashbacks (1)

JacksonG (82656) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991384)

I'm having flashbacks to playing Starglider! Recharging via powerlines was one of the hardest things I found to do.

J

Who pays for the electricity? (2, Insightful)

junglebeast (1497399) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991444)

Great, robotic birds land on the power lines and run up your electric bill.

Re:Who pays for the electricity? (3, Informative)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991846)

Generally there are not exposed power lines between your power meter and your home, and even less likely with newer construction. They could trace it to your neighborhood, but not to any one particular home unless they caught it perching.

There are also people working on leeching power from WiFi radio signals in order to recharge cell phones, with the consequence of reducing the range of your WiFi.

I'm looking forward to someone coming up with the not-so-bright idea of recharging electric cars using the induction loops that control the lights at intersections. Like pulling power for your time machine by parking on a rift in Cardiff.

Re:Who pays for the electricity? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991992)

> There are also people working on leeching power from WiFi radio signals in
> order to recharge cell phones, with the consequence of reducing the range of
> your WiFi.

That would not reduce the range of your WiFi: the rf would be absobed by the body of the cellphone user anyway (but even if it weren't, so what? If you don't want me to absorb your radiation and put it to use don't spray it at me).

The stuff that's actually interesting (5, Informative)

Zackbass (457384) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991576)

If anyone here is actually interested in the science behind this you should have a look at some of the lab's publications on the subject. As per Slashdot tradition, all the brilliant points brought up so far in the comments already have answers, they're just a little bit harder to find this time.

Our research group's website:
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/locomotion/index.html [mit.edu]

On the actual perching work:
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/robotics-center/public_papers/Cory08.pdf [mit.edu]
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/robotics-center/public_papers/Hoburg09a.pdf [mit.edu]
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/robotics-center/public_papers/Moore09.pdf [mit.edu]
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/robotics-center/public_papers/Roberts09.pdf [mit.edu]

Rick's PhD thesis on the subject:
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/locomotion/perching_media/CoryThesis.pdf [mit.edu]

and on the controls side:
http://groups.csail.mit.edu/robotics-center/public_papers/Tedrake09a.pdf [mit.edu]

A little side note to the geniuses at MIT (3, Funny)

bplipschitz (265300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991662)

Miniature surveillance aircraft would never need to return to base if they could cling to overhead power lines to recharge their batteries. Now engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are close to perfecting the trick – taking inspiration from birds.

Uh, the birds aren't recharging.

Really.

Re:A little side note to the geniuses at MIT (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992026)

> Uh, the birds aren't recharging.

A Great Snowy tried that on the 7200V line that used to run over one of my pastures. Hung there upside down for weeks.

Re:A little side note to the geniuses at MIT (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992168)

Uh, the birds aren't recharging.

Really.

Uh, they are [reference.com] .

Really.

See definition 4

Yes! Finally! (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991686)

Soundwave! Play back Laserbeak's findings!

I can die happy now.

Just learned about it this weekend (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#32991802)

Steven Rambam mentioned this (and showed a cool video of it) at his "Privacy is Dead: Get Over It" talk at The Next HOPE [thenexthope.com] . It's too bad there wasn't any coverage of The Next HOPE on /.

Drag a little electrical contact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32991986)

basically like an inverted street car.

Why land at all?

Surveillance Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32992188)

Thanks MIT for helping us march down the path towards a surveillance society a little more.

On the other hand I could see versions of this being used by smugglers to move a kilo or so of drugs at a time across borders or fly a few pounds of explosives into a government building. The sword cuts both ways.

Missing something (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32992260)

From TFA: "Wall-mounted cameras report on the glider's position and the control system looks up a trajectory that will take it to the perch."

How exactly is that going to work with an actual power line? Not a lot of wall-mounted cameras up there.

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