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Making a Real Batcopter, With Parts From the Hardware Store

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the get-your-mesh-on-and-move-out dept.

AI 50

garymortimer writes with an excerpt from a story loaded with eye-popping pictures and video on how to create — with some bamboo and mesh lashed on — a UAV to fly through and learn from swarms of bats in rural Texas. "Brazilian Free-tailed bats (also called Tadarida) come together in the millions in caves all over Texas, leaving every night in swarms so big they can be detected by doppler radar. Somehow, they manage to fly through this dense self-clutter without major collisions, and so our goal is to better understand this behavior. For the AIRFOILS project, the IML team created the previously mentioned Batcopter. The goal was to fly a UAV through the dense clutter, and record the bats' response with three ground-based high-speed FLIR cameras and an airborne 3D HD GoPro camera. The hope is to extract fundamental control laws of flying behavior in order to achieve better autonomous UAV flight."

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Na Na (1)

aywang31 (2078102) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393162)

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BATMAN!

Re:Na Na (-1, Flamebait)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393438)

Remember, better UAVs mean more dead Paki babies.

This is a part of your joyous destiny, Amerikan people! Celebrate!

Re:Na Na (2)

otter42 (190544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393604)

Oh, balderdash. Better controls laws means better autonomous vehicles. It's your choice if you elect people who use those vehicles to drop bombs instead of move people.

Re:Na Na (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393980)

"elect". Your humor is so dark and bitter.

Re:Na Na (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36395954)

Obama wasn't elected?

Re:Na Na (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36398628)

Obama wasn't elected?

He was the only valid ticket on the ballot, and yet, we still barely "elected" him. Or so the "numbers" "say".

Why did you avoid a SIMPLE QUESTION here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36401218)

http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2225174&cid=36390518 [slashdot.org] Because it shows you for who & what you REALLY are, a Linux troll?? Absolutely. Caught red-handed, with your pants down troll, lol.....

Re:Na Na (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36401930)

Coke or Pepsi? Coke or Pepsi?

What? You don't LIKE Coke or Pesi? That's UNAMERICAN!

Fortunately we allow fringe dissenters like you to exist. If it weren't for Coke and Pepsi, you'd be drinking Vodka - with no choice in the matter.

Re:Na Na (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36395340)

I know, I know, don't feed the trolls...

Still, try to remember that tools are morally neutral. It is only the USE to which a tool is put that can be good or evil.

UAVs could also be used to fly around looking for landmines that last longer than the wars that cause them to be deployed.

In other words, if you don't support UAV research, you are in favor of young children having their limbs blown off. See, I can play this game too!

Re:Na Na (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36401872)

I see you subscribe to the Werner Von Braun fallacy.

Go ahead, de-contextualise.

Re:Na Na (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36395374)

Hey don't blame the public, we've told our government we don't want this stuff. They still haven't listened.

Re:Na Na (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393480)

Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na BATMAN!

Tax Cuts.....POW!

Liberal Government.....BOOM!

Penis Pictures.....BIFF!

Nancy Pelosi....SPRAUGE!

Re:Na Na (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393532)

Bush.......kerplop

Pointless (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393292)

The bats are going to be disturbed by this UAV and will not act naturally, so this is all pointless. (Insert quantum joke here)

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393322)

(Insert terrible joke here)

Re:Pointless (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393370)

The bats are going to be disturbed by this UAV and will not act naturally, so this is all pointless. (Insert quantum joke here)

(Insert quantum joke here)

Maybe we already did!
-Schrodinger

Re:Pointless (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36397472)

Argh! By observing this post it has changed the outcome I read in the previous one... Damn you Schrödinger!

Re:Pointless (2)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393408)

It doesn't really matter if they act naturally, as long as they are still able to avoid the UAV as well as they otherwise would have. It's still a potential problem, but it only invalidates the data if the bats are failing to avoid the UAV.

Re:Pointless (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393838)

Why not just attach a camera to a brooom handle and swing it around in the bat cloud? It would be far quieter.

Re:Pointless (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393782)

Unless you want to gather data on how bats avoid UAVs

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36421502)

Unless you want to gather data on how bats avoid UAVs

Yes... This actually is the reason. We wanted to see how bats responded to disturbances as part of the larger AIRFOILS-MURI.

Ryan Hunter
Boston University
Intelligent Mechatronics Lab

Explosives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393310)

Could this be used to carry a detonator circuit and a small amount of high explosive?

Crash (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393356)

Most likely this will cause a large disturbance with all the bats and cause them to run into each other and crash......... Or not... I'm just sayin.

Re:Crash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393470)

Or it will result in lots of bats being chopped up by the propeller blades. Have they thought this through?

Re:Crash (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#36396970)

"I feel a great disturbance in the air, as if millions of RPMs suddenly revved up on arrow shafts , and were suddenly silenced."

Batman! (1)

kai_hiwatari (1642285) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393366)

I was expecting something which Batman would fly in.

Re:Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393530)

Guess I WASN'T the only one to read this as "Making a real Batman Helicopter, with parts from the Hardware Store". :D

Re:Batman! (1)

hesiod (111176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36398990)

I was disappointed as well.

Link to video: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393382)

Hardware bats [youtube.com]

Quick Robin! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36393440)

To the Bat-Remotely-Operated-Teleprocessing-Device! -www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

Not The Batcopter (1, Insightful)

gubers33 (1302099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393496)

You can't have a UAV and call it the Batcopter. there is only one Batcopter and it is flown by Batman.

Re:Not The Batcopter (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393644)

Easily solved with a Batman figurine, and to a slight alteration of the name to a "scale model Batcopter". ;)

Re:Not The Batcopter (1)

jefe7777 (411081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36398734)

far more interesting would have been sending a catbopter into a room full of cats and rocking chairs... now that would have been fur raising!

Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (3, Informative)

otter42 (190544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393670)

I realize that most of the comments here will probably be poking fun at the batcopter, and I can't wait to read what the /. audience is going to come up with. I guess I underestimated the coolness factor of flying towel racks. However, if you want to discuss the science behind it, I'll be more than happy.

It was a neat project, and we're only just starting, although that's probably the first and the last time that I'll go into the field. Apparently, we have some 30TB of data to wade through, so there's enough there for any dozen PhDs. The next task is to figure out what we actually recorded and to see what we can do with it.

Dr. Kenneth Sebesta

Re:Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36395472)

However, if you want to discuss the science behind it, I'll be more than happy.

I'm wondering why you just didn't attach the sensors to a live bat. I wouldn't think it would be too heavy.

Also, why can't you just use cameras from different angles and get a 3D view of bats without flying into them?

Re:Hadn't expected this on /. so quickly (1)

otter42 (190544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36395746)

The bat researchers (I'm a controls researcher, so I have to ask their advice about things like this) say that the bat should carry a load weighing no more than 5% of its weight. On a 10g bat, and these bats are among the bigger species, you can see that this leads to a very small package, indeed.

As for your second question, there were IR cameras recording from many different angles, all of them ground-based. The purpose of the experiment was not to record bat flight with a GoPro; that was just a nice feature that we added since we were already there. The experiment was about perturbing the bats by entering into their clutter and seeing how they respond. Do they flee? Do they ignore? Do they act the same way they do when a hawk attacks? What rules are they following when they fly in a swarm?

Parts from the hardware store? (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393760)

This is sort of misleading. They appear to have a $100 open pilot module, 4 RC hobbyist brushless motors and props, an hd go pro camera. a 4 channel radio control transmitter and reciever, I assume a high output lithium ion battery and charger. The only part that seems to come from the hardware store is some glue and duct tape. The article mentions that originally all this stuff was mounted to some aluminum rods purchased at home depot, but the rods were replaced with carbon fiber parts. I don't think the source of those parts was mentioned.

Re:Parts from the hardware store? (5, Informative)

otter42 (190544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36393906)

The carbon fiber parts where from hobby-lobby [hobby-lobby.com] . Although we'll be getting them from HobbyKing in the future because it's something like $5/rod.

The only specialty part was the OpenPilot CopterControl module [coptercontrol.org] . That was indeed all of $100. Appropriately sized BLDCs can be bought for $7/ea., a radio is $50, the props are $1.50/ea., the battery was $20, the charger was not high output, and there are a few other components that you didn't list which I won't either in the interests of conciseness. Suffice to say that you can build a complete, functioning quadcopter with a CopterControl for all of $250, incl. the transmitter/receiver combo.

Re:Parts from the hardware store? (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36395922)

Thanks for the info. I realize my post might have sounded overly pedantic. I forgot to add it still looked like a kick ass project :)

Re:Parts from the hardware store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36395154)

Sounds like what 98% of all quadcopter hobbyists encounter daily.

And we are giving 100K+ grants to these colleges to do R&D on stuff that industries experts like Ascending/Aerovironment/Dragam/Microdrone [popsci.com] have been doing for ages. On both cheap and expensive scale. With all the super-universities [diydrones.com] teams [rcgroups.com] working on acrobatic in a close spaced with motion capture systems, why not have some R&D in wind-resistance? Motor fail-over? Wireless comnunications? No one is really doing hardcore research in that topic, aside from the hobby community and that's what everyone is really asking for....

Looks more fun. Story should have said, College students buy a quadcopter, velcro a set of sensors to record to an SD card and fly it in a swarm of bats to get the sensor readings.

Re:Parts from the hardware store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36395326)

You make an excellent point that many hobbyists are doing things as worthwhile as scientists. And why shouldn't they be, when science itself was a hobby until the Manhattan Project turned it into a career?

However, you do the world no favors by dismissing scientists as a subset of hobbyists. Sebastian Thrum's team didn't win the DARPA Grand Challenge because they were a bunch of after-work hobbyists. They won it because they were committed full-time to solving the problem. This is flexibility and focus hobbyists just don't have. The world needs both.

Re:Parts from the hardware store? (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36397532)

The only part that seems to come from the hardware store is some glue and duct tape. The article mentions that originally all this stuff was mounted to some aluminum rods purchased at home depot, but the rods were replaced with carbon fiber parts. I don't think the source of those parts was mentioned.

Didn't you know carbon fiber was on aisle# 6?

Based on the awesome summary the high output lithium ion battery and charger clearly must come from a Dewalt 18-volt hammer-drill.

Batchopper? (1)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | more than 3 years ago | (#36395654)

...Or so I thought, until I saw the netting in the closeups.

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Sagannian Bats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36396282)

Thousands of fotos of angry bats giving the finger. Or worse. Argh!

Bats, bats, bats (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36397084)

What a neat project, bats are amazing mammals and rarely hit objects in their way, I was exploring a cave in Santa Cruz, CA once and in a slightly larger than body sized passage when a solitary bat came flying by, it cleared the 6 inches above my buddy with ease, never slowing down, and I was on my back and got to see and feel it pass inches over me, it was a trip!

Another time on a 9 day caving excursion in remote areas of Nevada, I watched a sunset while standing in the entrance of a cave while thousands of bats flew out of the cave around me and across the valley in a long picturesque swarm.

This cave had a "Hollywood" entrance that one could walk around in, and bats were flying all around me and I was walking around slowly, and not once did a bat collide with me, and there were thousands of them!

It was quite an incredible experience.

Not as incredible as exploring the cave while the bats were leaving, it was terribly Stinky! from all the Guano and such.

Yuck! Our hair stunk so bad of bat urine (even with our caving helmets on) that we had to take impromptu showers with our drinking water to wash the stench out.

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