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OpenRelief Project Launches Disaster Drone Project at LinuxCon Japan

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the making-anime-come-true dept.

Japan 30

An anonymous reader writes "We'll never forget last year's LinuxCon Japan conference, which took place shortly after the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March. As the country still reeled from the disaster, LinuxCon presenters discussed how open source software could contribute to disaster relief. One year later, a team of developers has returned to LinuxCon in Yokohama this week to announce OpenRelief, a new project aimed at building a low-cost, remote-controlled robotic plane to report damage in hard-to-reach, disaster stricken areas."

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Dual Use (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40266465)

According to the article, this disaster drone is also a sex doll, with a working and easily cleanable vagina, and the face of a terrified Japanese woman.

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NerdmastaX (1749114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40266467)

im sure someone will find a prob with it

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Re:wholesale designer clothing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40267127)

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Under 1000$ (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#40266511)

so your taking like a 100 RC plane, sticking about 150$ worth of hardware in it, free software, batching it together with a under 1000$ price tag and taking it to a place where the people are still recovering from a disaster to pitch it

I dont know if its brilliant or questionable

Re:Under 1000$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40266637)

The hardware is more than $150 - the ardupilot board alone is $150 then you need an Arduino Mega and a GPS sensor along with all the video capabilities etc they've added.

Re:Under 1000$ (1)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#40266915)

You probably missed this bit. "Shane Coughlan, a consultant based in Western Japan and a co-founder of OpenRelief says he took his inspiration for the project from that LinuxCon discussion last year."

plus the chances of any earthquake are quite high in Japan because of their location on a fault, it may be of use to have these planes in reserve.

Re:Under 1000$ (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40267017)

You'd better call the US navy.

They're spending $28,000,000 to do the same thing.

Re:Under 1000$ (2)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40267327)

The difference is paying for something that will probably work most of the time with a bit of fiddling occasionally, and something that can be put in a crate, bounced around on rough seas in wildly varying temperatures for a few months/years, then be pulled out by someone with a small pamphlet of basic instructions and still work.

Re:Under 1000$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40267473)

You can pack a lot of nerds with the product to handle any kind of complex launch for 28 mil.

Re:Under 1000$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40268675)

Plus, it's a good way to manage the economy, without having to defend the expenditure as being anti-open-market, because "'s the military that's inefficient..."

Re:Under 1000$ (2)

shanecoughlan (902917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40268643)

First of all, OpenRelief is a design project where people donate their time, experience and money to help create open disaster relief solutions, and we make our designs available to everyone for free. We do this to try and solve serious problems with gathering information in disaster situations. The reasons vary between the project contributors, but they are all pretty clear cut. For example, I was involved in the Japanese disaster relief effort last year, and the problems encountered there directly motivated me to work with Karl Lattimer to create OpenRelief.

Second of all, the 1,000 USD cost refers to the expected cost to source and build the drones around the world. In other words, it is the target Bill of Materials for retail purchasing of the various technologies needed to assemble the drone. For obvious reasons that does not involve taking a "100 RC plane, sticking about 150$ worth of hardware in it" and hoping for the best. Perhaps it would be informative to take a moment and price the retail Ardupilot with airspeed sensor from Udrones, which is currently 324.95 USD plus shipping. The OpenRelief plane also requires good optics, good servos, motor, battery and a computer. As another commentator said, this is about balancing cost and reliability, with the requirement that this equipment can be built or shipped anywhere in the world and provide utility for a reasonable time.

While it is easy to make vague comments based on opinion, there is a significant gap between that and actually building, testing and refining a solutions with a specific use-case in mind. To avoid waste, it would be more useful if energy instead went towards increasing functionality and lowers costs in projects like OpenRelief, so that better solutions can be created and shared with others.

Re:Under 1000$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40271611)

I am another volunteer for this project, some people like to volunteer their knowledge and time to help others, to give back to society, I am in the state emergency services, local ambulance commitee, Ham Radio operator and member of the Wireless Institute of Australia, Royal Flying Doctors Service, Variety etc etc etc all volunteer non paid. Al Hart from the land down under that has Cyclones to Floods to Bushfires.

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nice info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40266611)

We will always wait for the development of technology, because we are in the developing and developed countries will continue to follow.

Everyday use? (1)

Jens Egon (947467) | more than 2 years ago | (#40266701)


But we really need these things to already be at the scene, or at least not half a world away in some warehouse.

So what would you buy one of these for?


Re:Everyday use? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40267637)

I have always wanted a drone that I could hand launch that would let me get an idea of what the roads are like ahead — I'm talking here about dirt roads, in BLM land. Something that would actually fly the route and check the roads FOR me wasn't even on my road map.

Re:Everyday use? (1)

shanecoughlan (902917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40271433)

Using the robot plane for this type of thing should be relatively trivial. You would probably have to train the camera a little to improve fidelity of recognizing dirt roads, but especially after integration with OpenStreetMap, the basic functionality fits right what this OpenRelief technology can do.

Re:Everyday use? (2)

Gim Tom (716904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40268525)

There are disaster and emergency response groups all over the world that could easily afford something like this. There are also individuals that buy equipment that is far more expensive than this to support disaster relief efforts. I am aware of a number of Ham Radio organizations that have built custom trucks or RV's just for use in emergency communications. In my state, there is a project underway to equip hospitals in the state with on site ham radio equipment and with assigned and trained operators that live close by so that communications can be maintained between them and other emergency services to when needed.

Re:Everyday use? (1)

shanecoughlan (902917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40268705)

Naturally we are very glad to work with and support these types of organizations. Put simply, helping with disaster relief is our objective. We want to refine our robot plane and sensors to ensure that relief workers can fill in their knowledge gaps more quickly and effectively than before.

Re:Everyday use? (2)

shanecoughlan (902917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40268683)

It's a good question. OpenRelief is designing and testing technology to create a really good airframe solution with broad capabilities. It will be pretty cheap for anyone to source components at retail for around 1,000 USD and build their own unit. If a company decides to start production, it can set up a channel and build the technology at a much lower price due to supply chain savings. We are happy to have both types of stakeholder in our community.

While OpenRelief is focused on disaster relief, you can also use the robot plane platform for other things. As one other poster mentioned, it can work for scouting roads ahead for sports or similar, and it can make a great test-bed for your own UAV development.

Thermal imaging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40266979)

If I were designing a UAV for disaster relief, I would stick Thermal Imaging on it. Nevermind being able to recognise the people walking around, you need to look for the half-buried half-dead people that really need urgent help.

Re:Thermal imaging (1)

shanecoughlan (902917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40268821)

Adding additional functionality to the basic robot plane is intended to be trivial. What might be useful is to think of this as a platform with some basic features, and the flexibility to be customized for specific use cases.

Maru-copter (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40267419)

To be a soothing presence to the victims of disaster, the drone should evoke calm and friendly feelings.
The Japanese like their cute cats.
My suggestion is a cross between Maru "the strangest cat on the planet"
and "Orvillecopter" part cat, part rc helicopter.

At last a useful cat

Understanding OpenRelief (2)

shanecoughlan (902917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40271471)

Hi all, and thanks for reading about OpenRelief. We are now in a six-month cycle of testing and improving the robot plane and related sensors, and aim to have a durable set of solutions published as schematics and code by December. The idea is to allow anyone, anywhere to make OpenRelief solutions using readily available technology.

I thought it might be useful to share a little more information with you via this page. With that in mind please find some overview information below.

A video overview of OpenRelief and the robot plane: []

An interview with a deep-dive into why OpenRelief was established and where it is going: []

A copy of the slides we just presented at LinuxCon Japan to launch the project (warning: PDF): []


Co-Founder, OpenRelief

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