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Inside Chris Anderson's Open-Source Drone Factory

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the free-to-fly dept.

Open Source 56

the_newsbeagle writes "The former editor of Wired is betting that the 21st century skies will be filled with drones, and not the military sort. His company, 3D Robotics, is building open-source UAVs for the civilian market, and expects its drones to catch on first in agriculture. As noted in an article about the company's grand ambitions: 'Farms are far from the city's madding crowds and so offer safe flying areas; also, the trend toward precision agriculture demands aerial monitoring of crops. Like traffic watching, it's a job tailor-made for a robot: dull, dirty, and dangerous.' Also, farmers apparently wouldn't need FAA approval for privately owned drones flying over their own property."

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56 comments

Farmers will be one target market. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46353477)

Hmmm... who else might be interested in a UAV for fun, sport, or clandestine bombing runs?

Re:Farmers will be one target market. (5, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46353689)

Heh, you should look at what ArduPilot is capable of.

Anyone can own a fully autonomous vehicle, be it land, sea or air. ArduPilot/ArduCopter/ArduRover will fly/sail/drive pretty much anything, fully autonomous, with waypoints automatically or using remote control telemetry. It can live track a target (using GPS data from a ground station) or carry out a mission like a 'bomb drop' all on its own.

I drop water balloons from mine on my dogs for fun and games, they love it, I've only done a couple fully autonomous missions, but it most certainly will fly its course and do what its told and do it exactly where it was supposed to. I've been unable to get it to drop a water balloon down my chimney, but it hits within about 6 feet EVERY TIME.

That is MORE than accurate enough to do damage.

Fun however, is first person view obstacle course races with a couple friends. All the thrill of flying an airplane through places you shouldn't, and some serious risk when you consider that you could lose $1,000 worth of autopilot and camera gear. The quads themselves are cheap, mine is custom built now, if you exclude the autopilot itself, camera gear and radios, the quad is actually cheaper than any of my other RC aircraft.

Its also the one with the shortest range and lowest payload.

These autopilots now days may not rival military tech, but they are so close that it makes me want them to bring back GPS dithering almost. This thing could EASILY be made into a lot of death.

Of course, so can a truck full of fertilizer if you know what you're doing. Except this thing will fly itself to the target while you drive the other direction. Thats the scary part.

Re:Farmers will be one target market. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353895)

Just wait till teh thug niggers mount glocks on these things. Sideways of course because marksmanship was never very important to niggers.

Re:Farmers will be one target market. (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46353919)

It was astonishing to Westerners, at least the ones I've interviewed, how many Jihadi soldiers were initially willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. You could stand outside Walmart all day long promising eternal happiness in exchange for the sacrifice of a single pinkie toe, and not fill a thimble with pinkie toes for all your trouble.

The attacks we labeled as suicide bombings were renamed martyrdom by the clerics for good reason: suicide is frowned upon (eTrade baby voice) in the Koran. But still, even a semi-medieval backwards-ass pool of Great Satan-haters has to run short of volunteers for termination glory at some point.

Killing on the fly away from the actual death has to be an easier sell.

Re:Farmers will be one target market. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46354303)

Killing on the fly away from the actual death has to be an easier sell.

The "selling", as you so quaintly put it, is ALREADY being done very effectively by the US Department of Defense.
Invading various countries which have never attacked the US in any way, shape, or form, and proceeding to kill
significant numbers of people in those countries tends to piss people in those countries off. And this is exactly what
the US has been doing. You can of course disagree with what I have written, but you'd be wrong and I'd suspect you
were either a government stooge or an idiot ( of course you could be both ).

If all this is difficult for you to grasp, reverse the situation such that : some other country has invaded
the US and is using drones to kill people and various people you know personally, perhaps even people you love,
have been killed in those attacks. Would you be ready to fight back ? If you had any balls you would. And you might
even be ready to die in order to avenge your loved ones.

What is amazing is that so few people in the US seem to understand that some of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan
just MIGHT have some reason to be angry with the US. If you put yourself in their shoes for a bit and consider what
the US has been doing to them, it might just become more clear why some of these people are angry enough to
use their own bodies as sacrificial weapons.

The real criminals are those in the US government who are in positions of influence which enable them to make this
shit happen. Scum like Cheney, and all his neocon co-conspirators who bought into the Project for a New American
Century, is who I am talking about.

If you think the US needed to invade Iraq or Afghanistan, all I have to say to you is that you should go enlist and
put your stupid ass on the front line, where you will be most useful to protect others who just enlisted because they
were poor and had no other options.

.

Re:Farmers will be one target market. (1)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | about 5 months ago | (#46355641)

I own 2 APM's, one on my quad, and one of my hex, and they are AWESOME bit of kits. Fun as all get out to fly, and when I want to do some easy flying missions they do that very well as well. For a hundred dollar flight controller they do as much or more than many costing up to 10 times as much.
And while I'm not a huge fan of 3DR, the fact they are open source, allows me to get Clones that are just as good and not have to deal with 3DR directly, so it is a win win for me ::)

But For Practical Jokes ... (2)

Toad-san (64810) | about 5 months ago | (#46361591)

Perhaps it wouldn't be completely infeasible to consider a large fixed-wing model aircraft (like a C-130 model?) programmed to autonomously land on an aircraft carrier? One nice and stable and stationary, like in Norfolk Naval Yard? With an onboard video camera transmitting to an external recorder of course, since the Navy probably wouldn't have much of a sense of humor about this sort of thing and you might not want to ask for it back.

Sure would make for a hell of a Youtube video though :-)

Not that I'm suggesting anyone try anything like that, of course, having no wish to visit Guantanamo (despite the friendly moose).

model plane with camera etc.. glued to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353489)

change the world again no doubt... rock on /. http://youtu.be/1F2zl4LqSlg while we become grounded again... kudos OS plane builder.. call it a flown or something less sinister sounding than drone might help?

Re:model plane with camera etc.. glued to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353597)

Shazbot, your drone has been shot down by a local angry villager!

A vision of the future (4, Interesting)

cupantae (1304123) | about 5 months ago | (#46353511)

Whatever the fate of this particular company, it's pretty clear to me that most (or all?) farming jobs can be automated with a combination of current machinery, sensors and some reliable software. I predict a world where several hectares of farmland will be simply monitored by each "farmer". Automatic combine harvesters are already a reality. Drone surveillance is near. Pest control? Can't see why not. A complete automatic milking system which lovingly cares for each cow? Maybe 30 years.

A system where animals to be slaughtered never see a human face? Don't be shocked, it's coming.

Re:A vision of the future (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 5 months ago | (#46353631)

A complete automatic milking system which lovingly cares for each cow? Maybe 30 years.

Almost fully automated dairies are already a reality, systems in place that allow the cow to enter into an automated system when it feels the need to be milked, the finds it's way to a system of machines that disinfect the teats, milk the cow, send it on it's way. There are automatic massage / scratching machines, systems that robotically clean stalls... Seriously, most people don't realize how automated dairy science is. 30 years? It's already here.

Google it.

Re:A vision of the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353723)

I want to see animal harvesters that look like the giant tripod ships in War of the Worlds!

already there, pretty much. GPS self driving combi (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#46354429)

That's not too far off from where we are now. Modern combines already drive themselves more precisely than humans can drive them all day. When you're working a million dollars worth of crops, you don't want to be six inches off and run of $20,00 of seedlings. I'm sure some of my neighbors who work in the agriculture departments here at Texas A&M could give some great examples. I'm in security and safety engineering agency of A&M myself, so while ag isn't my field I know there's some amazing stuff around this town.

Re:A vision of the future (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 months ago | (#46354531)

it's pretty clear to me that most (or all?) farming jobs can be automated with a combination of current machinery, sensors and some reliable software.

During the 20th century the proportion of the total workforce employed in agriculture declined from 34% to 3% [clevelandfed.org] , so your prediction is already about 90% fulfilled!

Re:A vision of the future (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 5 months ago | (#46355609)

Whatever the fate of this particular company, it's pretty clear to me that most (or all?) farming jobs can be automated with a combination of current machinery, sensors and some reliable software.

Then, in that same vein, so can cooking jobs.

Robots measure and mix ingredients and move them into ovens and heat etc.

Also cashiers, taxi and truck drivers, medical technicians and so on and on. Many of the medical work can be automated - physical checkups, testings, some forms of surgery. Large swathes of office and factory jobs can be eliminated as well.

Re:A vision of the future (1)

cupantae (1304123) | about 5 months ago | (#46355905)

so can cooking jobs

Only if the cooking is formulaic enough, I'd say. For someone who "can" cook, there's a feedback process of tasting and altering. But maybe you're saying that taste sensors will do this with algorithms good enough to rival any human cook. Maybe. Who knows?

Otherwise, I totally agree. And I do not fear a world with less work in it. Life can be so much better. We will still always need academics, entertainers, experts, customer service people and carers, I believe. Imagine a world where everyone can do what they're interested in. Scarcity and competition will always exist, but I think things are getting better and more interesting.

Re:A vision of the future (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 months ago | (#46356097)

tasting and altering is only required because the initial ingredients were not accurately measured or quality controlled. A robotic system wouldn't have such problems.

For example (a bad example) McDonald's burgers come out identical, every time, everywhere. Its not much of a stretch to imagine the same processes being used to produce food!

Cooking would become something designed for pleasure - a hobby or personal pastime.

Re:A vision of the future (1)

cupantae (1304123) | about 5 months ago | (#46360837)

I think you're wrong. I think it's an oversimplification and over-rationalization to say that there is one combination of ingredients which is optimal, and to be aimed for every time. I never want my food to be uniform; I want it to be varied and imperfect, as that adds to the excitement and interest of eating.

And I know I would much prefer the variation to be down to a cook's whims rather than a process which intentionally introduces a quality-controlled level of randomization.

Re:A vision of the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46357469)

Um, most mass commercial cooking is already done by machines. You don't think humans are creating those TV dinners do you?

Re:A vision of the future (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46356505)

I predict a world where several hectares of farmland will be simply monitored by each "farmer".

Why would you need a farmer at all? A computer can take an infrared photo and determine where photosynthesis is occuring and where it isn't, it can send out bots to take leaf and soil samples in the weak spots... A computer can do a better job than a human, eventually.

As a customer, fuck 3d robotics. (5, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46353639)

His factory is a joke.

They don't ship product on time, they claim to have shipped things they don't, and they pretty much lie at every turn when you deal with their customer support. Their website claims items in stock that aren't, and claims items out of stock that get shipped.

I made repeated calls and met with repeated lies.

This pattern is repeated time and time again by others than myself on their forums.

When you want to actually get your product you have to post a rant online on their forms, twitter and other social media sites ... then all of the sudden, mysteriously your package will be shipped with stuff they said they wouldn't have for a week ... of course this is already 2 weeks after they claimed to have shipped it over night ... given you a tracking number that still claims FedEx hasn't been picked up.

I eventually got my package about 3 weeks after placing an over nighted order for things the website (AND customer support by phone) claimed they had in stock. Even FedEx seemed a little irate that I'd been giving a tracking number for an overnight package that was entered in their system for pickup and hadn't been picked up in 2 weeks when I spoke to them.

Chris Anderson is a blowhard loud mouth that has almost nothing at all to do with 3d robotics other than his name, and thats a good thing, cause its a shitty company that appropriated GPL'd code for its own profit, which would be fine, if it weren't such a shitty company.

He's just riding on other peoples work like he does everywhere. He has basically no actual involvement with the company other than claiming CEO and using his name to drum up investment funding for his coffers. Half the time it doesn't even appear that he knows what his company actually does, and I doubt for an instant that he's ever held the controls of one of his drones.

Fuck 3d robotics and Chris Anderson, its a horrible company to do business with and deserves to die a painful death. Stay far far away.

ArduPilot rocks. 3d Robotics sucks ass in every conceivable way.

Re:As a customer, fuck 3d robotics. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46354069)

"others than myself on their forums"

That's if your posts don't get deleted [google.com] .

3DR is definitely a juggernaut in the hobbyist space, give them that credit when its due folks. And the GPL'd development is run much like RedHat did in their early days (aside from the 0.0.x h/w changes no one it told about), where as the new Pixhawk platform appears to be moving to either a ubuntu style control or ETH's "Linus approach" of strict control. But there are always alternatives:

  • DJI Innovations (ACE system runs waypoints and the NAZA/Phantoms now have limited waypoints)
  • The one and original Mikrokopter (still the benchmark for performance and autonomy in the multicopter space)
  • Blade/Horizon (their 350 is based on some research tech)
  • MultiWii (active community, but less pull than the APM)
  • OpenPilot (the debian of the FOSS teams)
  • Autoquad (cutting edge stuff that works out of the box)
  • Megapirate (fork of APM before 3DR took over)
  • Paparazzi (plane bias)
  • Numerous APM clones that actually work well....

Just to name a few. Some of those projects are even more cutting edge that APM takes from. And that's the hobbyist/prosumer space. There's plenty of pro/military systems out there, but cost $$$.

Re:As a customer, fuck 3d robotics. (2)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46354081)

It sounds like you're saying you weren't completely satisfied with your shopping experience at 3D Robotics.

Tell us what you really think.

Re:As a customer, fuck 3d robotics. (1)

DuncanE (35734) | about 5 months ago | (#46355855)

Your post is oddly not very specific while sounding specific. What did you actually order and how long did it take to arrive?

In before the patent. (1)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#46353671)

Scarecrow, but with a UAV/drone.

Summary is wrong (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46353703)

Farmers most certainly would require FAA approval for using their own drones.

You can not use an ariel vehicle (ANY ariel vehicle) for commercial purposes in the US with a waiver or certificate of air worthiness.

Doing work for your farm would most certainly be commercial, even if you don't sell the product itself. Research alone can be commercial.

Re: Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353887)

Agreed, this is the current state of affairs. However it's unclear what new regulations regarding drones will be. The president directed FAA back in 2012 to come up with new regulation to take effect in 2015. That's just one year away. It is quite likely to include some specific language about being able to use drones below a certain altitude above ground level, most likely 600-800 feet.

Re: Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46354123)

Agreed, this is the current state of affairs. However it's unclear what new regulations regarding drones will be. The president directed FAA back in 2012 to come up with new regulation to take effect in 2015. That's just one year away. It is quite likely to include some specific language about being able to use drones below a certain altitude above ground level, most likely 600-800 feet.

That's an interesting statement. I followed your citation and read it for myself: it said exactly what you say it did and comes from a source I consider credible. So I believe you for now based on the info available. Good job!

Oh wait, there's been a mistake. You're the guy who didn't back up his statements at all. All we know is $SomeInternetDude said X. Oh.
Oh.

Re:Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353913)

Farmers most certainly would require FAA approval for using their own drones.

You can not use an ariel vehicle (ANY ariel vehicle) for commercial purposes in the US with a waiver or certificate of air worthiness.

Doing work for your farm would most certainly be commercial, even if you don't sell the product itself. Research alone can be commercial.

It's an excuse for government to fuck with you even when you never leave your own property. Democrats and the old people that run homeowners associations just love that!

Re:Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353939)

Farmers most certainly would require FAA approval for using their own drones.

You can not use an ariel vehicle (ANY ariel vehicle) for commercial purposes in the US with a waiver or certificate of air worthiness...

The only thing needing approval here is your grammar.

Assuming what you meant to say here was without a waiver, perhaps you should also grab a dictionary and look up that word too, because it absolutely makes your argument here pointless and invalid. It's kind of the entire point of a waiver, which will likely be granted to farmers and the like to use in limited engagements on their own property. A lot of rules and regulations are going to change with drones, so stop assuming it's all a dead-end. Too much money is at stake, which defines the laws.

Re:Summary is wrong (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46354101)

If you were trying to be a dick,

well,

you nailed it.

Re:Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46354229)

If you were trying to be a dick,

well,

you nailed it.

Halt das maul, Üntermensch.

Re:Summary is wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353981)

BTW the word is "aerial". You would look like much less of a dumbass fuckwit if you actually take a moment to understand the words you use especially if you are telling other people how wrong you think they are. Maybe it isn't "fair" but that is the reality. When you screw up something so basic and simple it is natural to wonder why anything you say should be taken seriously. Perhaps your understanding of FAA policy was obtained with the same carelessness and incompetence. Who knows? I couldn't find out without doing my own FAA research and if I am going to do that, why the hell would I need an explanation of it from you? Clearly you see the problem, no?

Also, are you a lawyer? Is your interpretation of FAA regulations intended to be legal advice? I don't know that either.

Re:Summary is wrong (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46354139)

Look - if the little mermaid wants to lend out her vehicles (ANY of her vehicles) to support god-fearing american farmers, who the f*** are you to criticize?

Re: Summary is wrong (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46355897)

Yep, misspelled the word, repeatedly. Does make me look the dumbass.

The regulations however are written in very clear text and have been around longer than I've been alive and likely you too.

It has been repeatedly clarified by the FAA every time some jackass like you tries to twist it's very clear meaning, so, smarty pants, go fuck your self in your own ignorance. Even slash dot has covered people being stopped for commercial use.

Re:Summary is wrong (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46354359)

[[Citation needed]]

"Commercial" normally means "for revenue" - farmers using them on their own property would seem to be private, as they're not offering the service to others.

Re: Summary is wrong (0)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46355911)

Don't have too. They are growing for commercially, that makes their drone for commercial use just like their tractor.

They've dealt with far more clever people with far bigger wallets and contrary to the ignorant 'I'm smarter than the government' morons like yourself think, you arrant going to out smart them with a clever twist of words.

It's as if you've never been part of society at all, are you 12?

Re: Summary is wrong (1)

deadweight (681827) | about 5 months ago | (#46357117)

I am sure there are 12 year olds on here. As for the FAA - commercial pilot here speaking - they are VERY good at figuring out anything that even smells like commercial ops.

Re: Summary is wrong (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46359981)

In other words, you can't show your claim to be true. Noted.

Who the moron in the conversation is plain to see.. Among other markers, it's the idiot with such crappy reading comprehension as the think that a plainly marked supposition is a claim to be "smarter than someone".

Re:Summary is wrong (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 5 months ago | (#46364401)

While I agree with you in principle, the FAA has been taking an extremely harsh view towards this issue. If you snap a photo from a drone and put it on a website that has ads on it they'd probably argue it was commercial use, let alone putting it in a newspaper.

If somebody pays a pilot the cost of fuel for flying them someplace the FAA would argue that this requires a commercial license as well. At most pilots can split costs evenly, and they can't even count fixed costs like maintenance/hanger/etc in that. If the passenger paid the expenses of the flight on their own they argue that the pilot was compensated with the "joy of flying" and thus was paid for the flight. If the pilot is happy, then the FAA isn't. :)

Oh, they consider commuting to work by plane a commercial flight as well. Just be glad they don't run the DMV.

All of this aside if you're flying a drone around at 100 feet chances are nobody is going to notice/care. If for whatever reason somebody does care, then the FAA can go after you if a dollar changes hands just about anywhere.

Re:Summary is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46355747)

Not to worry, the Chinese will pick this one up and use it to their commercial advantage while all the FCC morons argue about it.
By the time everyone has woken up and it is allowed in US and other countries then ya all missed the train and suffer with higher costs.

Re:Summary is wrong (1)

deadweight (681827) | about 5 months ago | (#46357213)

Speaking of morons, the FCC could not care less what you do with drones as long as the radio is licensed correctly ;)

Well hell then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353711)

...I might just have to move back to the family farm!

hey buddy can you spare a .com? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353735)

no but i'll give you 5 dollars for that can of peaches.... http://youtu.be/fNosqpC2Br8

Drone Ahoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353809)

1. Why should the operator of a UAV care whether said negligible loss is far from the madding crowd?

2. Why should the operator of a (theoretically) untraceable UAV care whether the FAA sanctions it?

Re:Drone Ahoy (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 5 months ago | (#46354559)

Two words: air space

heartfelt old material for a new clear generation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46353859)

once more with feeling http://youtu.be/odM5S3BZS-g

Too late (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 months ago | (#46353959)

UAVs are already used for commercial applications in other countries. Like agriculture in Japan, for example.

Thanks to our FAA's habit of sitting quietly like a lap dog until one of the major US aerospace manufacturers give them a command, foreign UAV development is decades ahead of us. When they are approved for use here, manufacturers with experience will overrun this market.

Exciting, but it will take a lot of work yet (3, Insightful)

caseih (160668) | about 5 months ago | (#46354331)

A lot of people are getting excited about what drone can do in agriculture. Folks on the diydrones forum, when they find out my brother and I actually are farmers, get all excited to try to solve problems for us. The problem is, it's going to take a lot of work to make drones useful in agriculture. I attended a presentation recently by an professor specializing in remote sensing and agriculture. She uses satellites, planes, and drones to try to get useful data from crops. It would be really handy to determine crop disease or monitor moisture use, etc.

Turns out, though, these are very hard problems, and small UAVs are actually making it harder in the short term. Here's why. A UAV map of a field, typically is done at low altitude, but stitching together thousands of high res images taken as the aircraft passes back and forth across the field in a pattern. Stitching is done using standard image algorithms that try to identify common pixels to line things up. The problem with this is that the very process of stitching the images changes the data. Is this pixel really this color of green, or did it get changed to fit in better (exposure adjusted)? Also the crop looks very different when you pass over it one way vs another way. For example a silk rug changes color if you view it from a different angle or rub your hand across the nap. This becomes a problem with UAV mapping because the resolution is so high, and the number of pixels is so great. With satellite imagery stitching doesn't really enter into it.

And once you get your image, what does it mean? I see some dark spots. Are these individual plants, rocks, dirt clumps, or shadows? Or is it horrible disease? And even if you can detect a difference in the crop's NDVI [wikipedia.org] pixel values, that does that mean? Is the plant just dry? Soil is naturally poorer? Or is disease. Sometimes disease shows up very clearly in an NDVI map taken from a drone. But in the end a human really has to walk the fields anyway, and take samples.

So the field (no pun intended) of UAV imagery is just getting started. I believe it will do cool things, but we have to be patient as we address the inherent problems with stitching, and also develops a means of understanding and exploring the data (google maps zooming for farmers' fields!).

For me the number one thing I'd like to get from UAV imagery would be accurate 3-d mapping of the topography for drainage purposes.

For right now, it's an expensive toy for some farmers to play with (UAV mapping and agronomy companies), and a project for researchers. And for me, UAVs are just a fun hobby.

Re:Exciting, but it will take a lot of typing! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46354393)

Wow! Some people take a good fucking long time to get to whatever point they were making.

Re:Exciting, but it will take a lot of work yet (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 months ago | (#46356121)

Not crops but animals - there's a lot of crime involving theft or plain vandalism (think people irresponsibly walking their dogs near sheep) that could be better handled by remote drones with cameras. Currently such crime is easy to perpetrate as farms are far away from anyone, including the police who aren't exactly thick on the ground in rural areas.

A drone that could stay aloft for a long time could well help deter these or at least provide some video evidence later.

Re:Exciting, but it will take a lot of work yet (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46356533)

Is this pixel really this color of green, or did it get changed to fit in better (exposure adjusted)?

It's really not a big problem, because adjusting exposure digitally is a well-known problem. Further, you can reasonably shoot all the images in such a series with the same EV, aperture, what have you, because you're shooting them all at the same time and the land is homogeneous by definition. You can also take images that humans can't understand and perform the analysis on them. A human can't look at a picture and tell where photosynthesis is occurring. A machine can.

Re:Exciting, but it will take a lot of work yet (1)

caseih (160668) | about 5 months ago | (#46371689)

Easy for you to say. Tell that to the researchers working in this area. Just shifting your angle of view is enough to change the colors dramatically. It doesn't matter that it's the same time, same aperature, etc. Trust me, even a slight change in perspective can alter the shades and make the shadows appear differently. It's not as simple as you make it out to be, believe me.

Not sure what you mean by land is homogeneous by definition. The crops move in the breeze, dirt is a different color from area to area. Fly east and it looks a certain way, fly west and it looks completely different.

Yes NDVI does show something about photosynthesis. Oh look, here's photosynthesis occurring. But what does that actually mean? Is this good? Is this bad? Photosynthesis occurs in all sorts of places. How can I use this information to maximize production and economy?

Anyway, like I say, I'm not trying to stop the progress of UAVs in agriculture, just trying to be realistic about the pace of progress and the problems that have yet to be overcome. Speaking as a hobbyist and a farmer. There are companies here now that will do mapping for me, but the actual bottom line is that they don't current pay for themselves.

Wrong camera in principle (1)

Max_W (812974) | about 5 months ago | (#46354991)

GoPro camera is a wrong choice for the UAV. It has a display. But at the UAV there is nobody to look at this display during the flight.

Still a display adds to the weight. And the weight of the UAV is crucial for flying inside the city. If UAV weighs 100 - 150 grams then it is safe, if 1000 - 1500 grams flying is extremely unsafe for people and property on the ground.

A new ultralight HD, wide angel camera is needed for UAVs. Then they could be used inside the city for mapping, surveying, etc.

Re:Wrong camera in principle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46355107)

If UAV weighs 100 - 150 grams then it is safe, if 1000 - 1500 grams flying is extremely unsafe

Ha, the battery on my UAV weighs that by itself. Anything and everything like this is unsafe if it hits you in the face even at the low speeds we're talking about.

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