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Micro Air Vehicles

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the watch-out-for-frisbee-dogs dept.

Technology 152

Offwhite98 writes "Over at The Gainesville Sun they are running an article about really small planes used to watch all kinds of stuff. I am sure the common applications for these devices are pretty clear, but if you could use these for a lot of fun. Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results." A little bigger than the Spy Fly but probably much more robust.

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152 comments

UAV's (3, Interesting)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 11 years ago | (#3988992)

"The planes are operated by remote control and range in cost from about $700 to as much as a couple of thousand dollars depending on the type of video equipment used. "

don't i remeber reading the air force where spending 100's of millions on uav's ... i would like to see someone shoot down 100 of these after they were droped out the window of a b52.

Re:UAV's (0)

tvsjr (242190) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989010)

Always wanted to be a fly on the wall? Now's your chance! I can think of so many ways to get in trouble with these devices... :-)

Re:UAV's (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989012)

I think that you should simply suck my ASS! Dumb son of a bitch, you should not question the actions or motives of the US Government.

Re:UAV's (1)

svvampy (576225) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989027)

Low cost is good, but it's pretty likely that one these go beyond prototype, the cost will increase to match the nine hundred dollar screw drivers with which they're assembled.

Re:UAV's (2)

captain_craptacular (580116) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989205)

There's your chance to get rich. Develop a missile that can be fired from a 6" aircraft _AND_ do some damage and the airforce will throw cash at you like mad.

Re:UAV's (1)

boomer_rehfield (579777) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989266)

yah...great.. it's all downhill from here....

"Today two 6" F-16 Air Force jets were fired upon by two 3" SAMs. They were able to avoid the incoming missles, and retaliate, destroying the SAM sites with a few 2" HARMs. Iraq has totally denied this claim and says that they were defending thier national security."

Re:UAV's (1)

BLAG-blast (302533) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989428)

yah...great.. it's all downhill from here....

Sure sounds like it... so how big does a plane need to be to deliver an antimatter device? Once containment problems have been solved antimatter missles wouldn't have to be very big to deliver a .5 gram pay load.

How much damage would .5 grams of antimatter do anyway?

Re:UAV's (1)

red_gnom (545555) | more than 11 years ago | (#3990124)

"How much damage would .5 grams of antimatter do anyway"

It depends.
If applied on the growing area, I think a lot.

Re:UAV's (2)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989876)

ummm...
why not just remove the camera, and insert a grenade?

Re:UAV's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989884)

Why not just give each of them a modest payload of anthrax and send them over unsuspecting enemies, or New York. Potayto Potahto. Easily dispersed by wind and gravity, they could do some serious damage. Even a small explosive could work if they were guided close enough to the right target, simple enough for an assassination. You could even record the footage as its doing its dirty work and send it over the internet for your eternal glory. All it takes is a little imagination and the wrong mentality and you have a dangerous weapon.

But why would your airforce care about that? Its not like these are jets...

my thoughts on /. (-1)

TheBahxMan (249147) | more than 11 years ago | (#3988998)

can be summed up here. [doorfromhell.com]

Re:my thoughts on /. (-1)

handybundler (232934) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989163)

I agree with this post.

Fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989001)

fp?

Re:Fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989062)

failllllure >:P

Re:Fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989295)

This is an automated slashdot message.

You have failed to get the first post. Please try again when the next discussion appears. Now return to your den of evil and continue the work of the mighty trolls.

Thanking you for your effort.

CmdrTaco

Looks like fun (-1, Redundant)

schoolsucks (570755) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989003)

Looks like fun.

Do it yourself UAV kit (5, Informative)

tramm (16077) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989004)

Or you can build your own UAV with Free Software and a soldering iron... We're not quite ready to fly autonomously, but we do have a working inertial measurement unit, GPS navigation and control board. It's all GPLed and kits for the control board are available.

http://autopilot.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

WOW! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989005)

WOW!

New popup material (1, Funny)

mortonda (5175) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989006)

And you thought the X10 cameras were *NOT* used for improper spying... sheesh

"It looks like a UFO". (2)

fm6 (162816) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989007)

I've often wondered how many flying saucer stories started out with somebody spotting an experimental aircraft test.

Re:"It looks like a UFO". (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989114)

A lot of them, since "Area 51" is where the US makes all their new aircraft, and experiments with many different kinds of aircraft. I forget the actual name of the airfield.

Re:"It looks like a UFO". (1)

SpelledBackwards (587772) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989146)

The base is located in the giant sunken hole created by the now-dried Groom Lake. That's the official name of the base, I believe.

Re:"It looks like a UFO". (1)

kiltedtaco (213773) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989149)

Groom Lake Test Facility, on the Groom dry lake bed.

Not Groom Lake/Area 51 (2)

fm6 (162816) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989292)

I don't mean the usual Nevada/New Mexico stories. I mean experimental aircraft that aren't all the weird, but look unfamiliar enough to make suggestible people think of spaceships.

It's probably not the best example, but the Avrocar [autobahn.mb.ca] comes to mind. It's tantalizing, because it was an actual flying saucer that was being developed just when the flying saucer stories started to become commonplace. The funny thing is that, although the project was secret, it wasn't to hide it from the Soviets. Avro was more concerned about other aircraft companies with deeper pockets, that could have leapfrogged their development effort if they'd gotten wind of it.

Whole article /.ed (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989019)

UF turns a corner in developing small surveillance planes

By JESSE JAMIESON
Special to The Sun

Peter Ifju's latest plane looks more like a miniature flying saucer than a traditional airplane.

University of Florida researchers and students are at the forefront in the creation of micro-aerial vehicles, an emerging field with a list of applications including military reconnaissance, fire management and agricultural monitoring. Peter Ifju, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at UF, holds a MAV equipped with a color video camera and transmitter.
JOHN MORAN/The Gainesville Sun

And it may not be long before they are seen flying around football stadiums or golf tournaments taking video footage from a whole new perspective.

Intuition and artistry have helped Ifju and his students turn science fiction into science fact in developing the small airplanes - called micro-aerial vehicles, or MAVs.

The smallest, about 5 inches in diameter, set a record in April for surveying a target 2,000 feet from the launch site at the International Micro Air Vehicle Competition.

"Before, it was just a dream, and now we're starting to turn the corner on some of these applications," said Ifju, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Florida.

Reconnaissance for military troops in the field, wildlife surveying and use in sporting events could all be applications for the planes, which are equipped with a video camera and transmitter that allows them to take footage of any targets as much as a half-mile away during a 10-minute flight.

"When you think about it, you mostly think of military applications, but there are all kinds of cool things you can do," Ifju said.

"I've always said I'd like to fly a micro-aerial vehicle into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and follow the kickoff and then take it into the stands and lead the wave, and all the time it would be on the Jumbotron," he said.

The planes are operated by remote control and range in cost from about $700 to as much as a couple of thousand dollars depending on the type of video equipment used.

When they are too far away for the pilot to see, they can be controlled through the use of virtual reality "video glasses" that display the camera's picture so the pilot feels as if he was on board the plane.

One of the greatest benefits of MAVs may be that they would eliminate the need for some pilots to endanger themselves during war.

"It's cheaper to fly them and that's $1,000 versus someone's life," Ifju said.

The planes have evolved since 1997 from an 18-inch, 10-ounce plane powered by a gasoline motor to a 5-inch plane that weighs about two ounces and is powered by a nearly silent electric motor that runs a propeller.

Ifju and his students are at the forefront of MAV design with their planes taking first place in the International Micro Air Vehicle Competition for the past four years.

But they are still working to perfect the design and correct some of the problems that come with producing a small airplane, such as mastering their controls and extending their flight time.

Ifju said the goal is not to make the planes smaller but rather to develop better uses such as coordinating several planes to fly the same mission at once in order to increase the chances of success.

"These days our goals are to make the airplane more capable," Ifju said. "Once you're down to a certain size it's like 'what's the difference between a 5-inch and a 6-inch airplane.' "

Trangenics will have to be careful (0, Offtopic)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989021)

They'll have to wear their hair long to cover the tattoo, so that when the security drones fly by, they won't be recognized and ...oh, wait. Dark Angel was cancelled. Never mind.

interesting results (2, Funny)

jallred (108071) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989022)

"Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results"

Yeah, like the planes crashing into each other and then into the guests, cake, etc.

Re:interesting results (1)

red_gnom (545555) | more than 11 years ago | (#3990147)

"Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results"

Or a very quick divorce...

stop funding corporate crooks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989023)

Excellent slashdot alternative:

AlterSlash [alterslash.org]

I almost always read that instead of slashdot.

Reading or subscribing to slashdot only puts cash in the greedy pockets of VA Softwares board of crooks, er, i mean directors. The slashdot janitors and flunkies make the same garbage salary regardless of what happens.

Also another site that always gets the stories at least a day before slashdot sometimes as much as a week, or never in the case of something exposing hypocrisy from osdn.

LinuxToday [linuxtoday.com]

Last year when VA stock tanked Slashdot executed a nasty smear campaign against them in attempt to steal their readers, but due to blatant hypocrisy it failed.

Also if you want real dissenting political commentary from a respectable source may i suggest:

The Nation [thenation.com]

This magazine was founded to promote the abolitionist movement in the 1800s and continues to be a well respected alternative news source today. Sure the DMCA is bad, but not being able to pirate DVDs on Linux is nothing compared to the real injustices going on in the rest of the world, many times funded by your tax dollars.

Enjoy these alternative news sources and feel good knowing you are no longer helping to line the pockets of crook CEOs from the days of infectious greed by supporting osdn and other fronts for the fizzled stock scam once known as VA Linux.

Always Moving? (3, Insightful)

phraktyl (92649) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989033)

While this is a very cool technology, and quite the advancement, I wonder how practical it is. Like large aircraft, it has many limitations on movement: forward or... forward. Take his football kickoff example: it would follow the kickoff, and then would loose the ball in the time it takes to circle around the other way.

Wouldn't this have been more useful if it were based off a more maneuverable platform such as a helicopter?

Re:Always Moving? (2)

halftrack (454203) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989128)

Most radio controlled aircrafts (especially slow ones) have better control than large airplanes and can usually make a turn with a radius 1 or 1.5 times the wing-span. I bet this plan can turn even quicker - on a dime - in less than 0.5 second. (Provided the pilot is competent.)

Re:Always Moving? (1)

martyn s (444964) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989144)

Yes, but what would make it about 100 times more useful would be if it could hover. THAT would be great. Imagine one of these things zipping around like a dragonfly. Hover, zip somewhere, stop, hover, zip some more, hover. You know what I'm talking about. That would be hot.

Re:Always Moving? (2)

halftrack (454203) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989158)

Just to _spin_ on this string of arguement. Helicopters and insects (which are the two (except VTOLs) that can hover) are subject to much more complicated aerodynamical constructions. So, when we first have a plane that small, that can spin around on a dime, just mount a gyro controlled camera that will keep focus locked at one point in one angle. Probably a tough challenge, but not impossible.

Re:Always Moving? (1)

martyn s (444964) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989299)

I don't know too much about the feasibility in applying this stuff. All I know is what would be REALLY useful. And a machine the size and maneuverability of a dragon fly would be REALLY useful. Can you even imagine?...

I look at it this way. The dragonfly does it fine. It's definitely possible. It's only a matter of time.

Re:Always Moving? (1)

aero6dof (415422) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989170)

For some applications it would probably be much easier to put up a gimballed, stablized, video platform under a weather ballon.

Re:Always Moving? (1)

good-n-nappy (412814) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989421)

Yeah, that's how they've been doing it at sports events for quite some time - although shaped like mini blimps usually. Anyway, I have definitely seen those with video.

Obviously, 10 minutes and 1/2 mile seems kind of short for most applications. I wonder how much bigger you have to go to get, say an hour flight time.

Helicopter vs. Airplane (2)

msheppard (150231) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989516)

Airplanes use aerodynamics to gently finesse lift out of the air.

Helicopters are so ugly the ground repels them.

M@

Re:Helicopter vs. Airplane (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 11 years ago | (#3990106)

Helicopters are so ugly the ground repels them.

No, no, no. Helicopters fly only because they beat the air into submission.

Heisenbergs Helicopter (2)

Gorimek (61128) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989650)

A helicopter stands still by furiously blowing air downwards. This could easily blow the football off its direction.

Re:Always Moving? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989853)

A guy I know has a radio controlled helicopter, about a 1 metre rotor-span, with cameras on it, and he hires out his services as an aerial photographer.

Kinda seems like a similar sort of thing, but helicopters do seem more practical.

Re:Always Moving? (1)

slugo3 (31204) | more than 11 years ago | (#3990023)

Maybe put a little transmitter in the football that the plane focuses on. The one pictured in the link only had one propeller but they could add more to give it more mobility. kind of like vtol

Baseball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989034)

Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results.

Use this close to the batter at a baseball game for an interesting result too.

More interesting will be... (3, Insightful)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989036)

...the nanotech devices which are so light they don't need to fly, just float with flagellum for guidance mechanisms.

Gotta read "Diamond Age" again soon, it was a good read.

Re:More interesting will be... (0, Offtopic)

pudding7 (584715) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989166)

No it wasn't.

Re:More interesting will be... (1, Offtopic)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989183)

Yes it was.

Re:More interesting will be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989395)

U Suck

Doh!!!!!! (1)

Critical_ (25211) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989037)

i just saw a pop-up at Yahoo for the new MAV w/ an X10 camera mount.

Winner !!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989040)

I believe we have a winner ... this MUST be the slashdot post with the worst grammar EVER !!!

Well, wat doo I now aniwai ...

Artificial Kid (1)

56 (527333) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989041)

Has anybody read the book 'The Artificial Kid' by Bruce Sterling? The basic gyst is that people stage fights with each other, film them, and then sell the films. They film them by having several tiny cameras fly around their body, taking in the action from different angles. If I could just get a few of these together, strap some tiny cameras on them, and get a pair of padded nunchucks, I'd be all set.

Re:Artificial Kid (2)

Artifex (18308) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989296)

I was just thinking about that book, while reading this...

The basic gyst is that people stage fights with each other, film them, and then sell the films.

Actually, that was just a minor point of the overall story. But it was stilla cool idea. Also, the cameras hovered, so you can't really think of them as planes.

If you want to see another story where floating cameras get a lot of treatment, try Farewell Horizontal, by K.W. Jeter.
It's out of print, though, so you'll have to hit a used bookstore [powells.com] .

Re:Artificial Kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989316)

What's with that fucking sig?

Re:Artificial Kid (1)

56 (527333) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989979)

It's taken from an interview with Heber Jentzsch, the leader of Scientology. The man's a complete lunatic. If you would care to learn more, probably don't seeing as you're an annonymous coward, but in any case: His official bio is here: http://www.scientology.org/scnnews/jentzsch.htm A transcript of the interview from which I took this is here: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?lastnode_id=12 4&node_id=1273063

Re:Artificial Kid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989415)

No. Nobody on /. has ever read anything by Bruce Sterling.

Common Applications? (1)

yeoua (86835) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989043)

Well, we all know what the common application for the x10 cams are... er, I mean the hinted application.

So what else would people do with a fully mobile flying camera with a live video feed?

Buy shares!!! (2, Interesting)

Neuronerd (594981) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989044)

You cant possibly hire enough people to fly each of these planes if you use them for surveillance. Working in an institute that is heavily involved in modern forms of AI I can assure you that the number of crashing /dying planes will be immense.

Its really difficult to make a driving robot come back home. They always hit things or are very slow.

These planes better be really cheap! And the firms that deliver them will have to deliver them in the millions if a few hundred of them are to be in the air at any point of time.

Re:Buy shares!!! (1)

boomer_rehfield (579777) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989285)

Yes, it would be expensive to pay that many people, unless you say took 5 and programmed them to fly in formation off the lead man, who was being flown by a human......

Now I remember where I've seen these before. (3, Funny)

putrescence (588712) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989053)

PLIF [plif.com] .

News release from the competition (2, Informative)

iAlex (134189) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989057)

For those that are interested here is a news release from the competition held in Utah.

http://unicomm.byu.edu/news1/mynews/releases/arc hi ve02/apr/miniairplane.htm

Re:News release from the competition (1)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989072)

eh ?

i think you were looking for :
http://unicomm.byu.edu/news1/mynews/releases/arc hi ve02/apr/miniairplane.htm

How long until... (2, Funny)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989059)

How long until the porn industry does something with one of these?

"The first erotic feature to include low-level fly bys of all the action!"

GARPLY (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989075)

WALDO

Micro Airplanes Laboratory - Demo (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989085)

I actually attend class in the same building at University of FL as the micro-planes people. I attended a demonstration which was way cool.

They've developed an algorithm that can scan the horizon and auto-determine the horizon. In a side-by-side comparison between a human pilot and computer, the human could make you very sick. The vidoe jumps as the plan flys very erratically. With the computer algorithm, the plane flies smooth.

Another note, they use a PC to do the processing. The demo guy actually has an Apple laptop and runs all the video in quicktime. The PC processes the avi quicktime video, and returns the flight control info to the micro-flight airplane.

Another not, they are funded heavily by the DOD.

Another problem is fuel. The micro-planes only have enough fuel for a few times around a football field, and their range is similarly limited.

Finally, the coolest video they have is where the plane tracks a moving vehicle, and follows behind it.

Torsten

Re:Micro Airplanes Laboratory - Demo (1)

Dave_B93 (528595) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989180)

They have some footage from one of the camera's and it checking for the horizon here [ufl.edu]

Uses.... (3, Insightful)

jhaberman (246905) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989099)

Ya know folks... Just because something isn't very useful to the common public, doesn't necessarily mean that it is entirely useless.

I'm sure there are TONS of commercial/industrial uses that can't be predicted just yet...

Jason

Re:Uses.... (1)

boomer_rehfield (579777) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989293)

Security...you could cover MUCH more distance with one of these than walking...

Border Patrol... nuff said...

Stealing base signs...err... I mean...

Re:Uses....search & rescue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989438)

how about mounting infrared (hyperspectral?) cameras and send a flock of the puppies out.

MAVs and MFIs (3, Informative)

vortimax (409529) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989100)

robots.net [robots.net] frequently has articles on Micro Air Vehicles and Micromechanical Flying Insect robots. The Berkley MFI Project Overview [berkeley.edu] is another good place to get more info.

look boss... (2, Funny)

taernim (557097) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989130)

de plane, de plane.... de really, really small plane!

flying car (1)

opencity (582224) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989141)

Over a Moller Int. [moller.com] they say they have a prototype for a flying passenger car. They've defined success as "more than one minute out of ground effect". Further evidence of their advanced technology is the press release is dated Aug 2002 which (today) means its from the future. In the FAQ they say two years and four more for the FAA - $500k for limited production with price dropping to 80k. Might be vaporware, but I want one.

Re:flying car (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989255)

Moller has been shilling that thing for years.

"Flying passenger car". Do you REALLY want your neighbor, who can barely manage piloting a car in 2D, to have free 3D range? Coming in for a landing over YOUR house?

Interesting results? (2, Funny)

GrammarPhone (513904) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989143)

Use 10 of them as flying candid cameras at a wedding or a party and you I am sure you will get interesting results.

Results like:

Shitty aerial footage of your wedding or party ("Honey, get the dramamine - I want to watch our wedding video again!")

Guests getting whacked in the eye with a spinning propeller

Stopping your party every ten minutes so you don't miss anything while the batteries recharge

Yeah, these things will totally make my party rock!

Re:Interesting results? (2)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989248)

You missed the part where the groom's embaressing friend (in my experience, me) finishes his ninth vodka lemonade and decides to start chasing the things, knocking over tables, the cake, bridesmaids, etc.

God, I love (other people's) weddings.

Re:Interesting results? (1)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989312)

while I agree that these would be extremely lousy if they were used as the sole camera in a wedding/party, they'd be great for adding a little extra frill, a little extra splash to supplement more tradtional video equipment. Things like the bridal procession in a wedding, for example, could be filmed from sightly behind, or in front of, the bride. You could have a fairly candid panoramic shot of the whole crowd, instead of having to have the photographer mind eir way through the celebrators. Also, as it's going to be a supplement, fuel life is not going to be an issue; I'm sure that if this does get adapted for photographic use, they'll have snap on fuel tanks available for it. It'll be a tool, and in an industry where people have tens of thousands of dollars of equipment, a relatively inexpensive one, too.

Helicoptors (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989154)

Anyone with info on small helicoptors for stationary camera shots.

Re:Helicoptors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989302)

nice sig... cause we all know how much anger helps you think rationally... idiot...

I cant wait (1)

aliusblank (547153) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989207)

for these to replace the X10 cameras in the popunder ads...

Discovery Channel covered MAVs (5, Interesting)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989212)

A segment on Discovery Magazine, aired on the Discovery channel recently, covered these MAVs and showed some guy who'd fitted several of his model airplanes with cameras.

As someone who's also done this I can tell you that it's still important to have the vehicle in direct visual line of site if you want to be sure and get it back.

When looking at the world through a remote video camera without the benefit of an artificial horizon and other instrumentation, it's very easy to get a small model into a spin or spiral from which it is difficult to recover. Being able to directly see the model from the ground is the only safe way to ensure you can regain control in such situations.

The problem is one of orientation -- once you lose view of the horizon through the camera it becomes very difficult to tell what your plane is doing -- thus very difficult to feed in the proper control corrections.

If it weren't a breach of copyright I'd post the DivX video I made of that Discovery broadcast -- it was really quite interesting.

AeroVironment's Black Widow (1)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989223)

www.aerovironment.com/area-aircraft/unmanned.html from a /. post a few days ago. These are the same people who develop those super high alttitude solar planes w/NASA. A link on the page leads to a technical paper (w/interesting details) of the 'Black Widow' a 6-inch MAV seemingly much further along than the ones at U of Florida. (30 mph, 30 min flights) Cheap too. I want one.

Reminds me of (3, Interesting)

mstyne (133363) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989252)

A tremendously slimmed down Cypher [russian.ee] ... although these little guys probably won't lob grenades at you.. Wasn't there something like this in Perfect Dark [perfectdark.com] ?

Fat Cats caught red handed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989270)

Send a few of these to follow your congressman or senator around and catch them in the act of accepting their paycheck from the corps that own them.

Re:Fat Cats caught red handed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989455)

Tuesday - yes, it was Tuesday
When I saw my congressman coming out of the titty bar
He didn't look like my congressman, but that's okay
Nobody really looks like themselves anymore
I think its got something to do with that crap
They've been pouring into the water
I decided it might be wise to follow the congressman
Just to see what he was up to.
After all, my tax dollars do pay his salary.
The congressman got into a taxi, so I hailed a taxi
Despite the obvious dangers involved
And the coloured voices in my head began to sing:

All I gotta do is put my ear to the wall
And I can hear it all, yes I can hear it all
All I gotta do is put my ear to the wall
And I can even hear the little insects crawl

The congressman was in taxi number 23
And I was in cab 17
But numbers are meaningless in this kind of cat and squid game
My driver was an Aries
And he laughed when I said "Follow that cab!"
And he kept laughing until he saw the cold blue steel of Little Elvis
"Keep your god-damn hands off that radio!" I warned him
"I work for the government!"
This is actually a half truth
I'm really a bike courier
But I make a lot of deliveries to government offices.
That's where I heard about the cheese.
And the coloured voices in my head kept singing:

All I gotta do is put my ear to the wall
And I can hear it all, yes I can hear it all
All I gotta do is put my ear to the wall
And I can even hear the little insects crawl

There's this super secret government program called
"Operation the cheese stands alone"
It's the congressmen's pet project
They claim that they're giving surplus cheese to the needy
I, of course, have my suspicions
After 15 very quiet minutes
The congressman's cab pulled up outside a warehouse
I had the Aries circle around the building and drop me off.
He seemed to be grasping the importance of my mission
Since he said I didn't have to pay him.
As long as I promised to stay very far away from him and his taxi.
I swear, some people just don't want to get involved.

All I gotta do is put my ear to the wall
And I can hear it all, yes I can hear it all
All I gotta do is put my ear to the wall
And I can even hear the little insects crawl

So I walked into that cold dark place
Little Elvis drawn and ready for action
I too was ready -
Ready for the moment when I would be a real American

All I gotta do is bang my head on the wall
And I can have it all, yes I can have it all
All I gotta do is bang my head on the wall
And I can even make the little insects crawl

Lockheed (2)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989274)

One of the Lockheed employee newsletters ran a story on these recently.

They don't seem to have any of it that I can find on the web but I did run across this [intelligenceonline.com] site that has some good info on what DARPA, Lockheed and others are doing in this area.

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these! (0, Offtopic)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989276)

Someone had to say it.

Cool, but... (2, Interesting)

cachorro (576097) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989332)

Aside from the coolness factor, I can't see how this could ever be competitive with something based on a helium balloon.

Sure a balloon couldn't manuever quite so fast, but it would have a much improved range.

Solution to low battery and hover problems (5, Funny)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989368)

Ok, people are talking about these not being suitable for much because they can't hover or, have too large turning circles. Also, i see people are complaining about the cost and the battery life. Heres my idea.

Humming-birds have wings and can hover. They also have the ability to fly for extended periods, and when they get tired they can perch on the nearest ledge. Obvously, technology is not at the stage where this could be easily implemented into a Humming-bird sized package, and cheaply. However, Humming-birds themselves are relatively plentiful. What if, you attached a minature camera and transmitter to.. a Humming-bird? "But you cant control it!!" i hear you say. What if, you attached electrodes in such away that you could control, or atleast influence the flight. The bird would still keep priority control for dodging obsticles and landing when tired, but you would be able to control the basic directional element, and the direction of the camera. If you employed a flock of Humming-birds you could maintain a good deal of coverage for any event. Also, Humming-birds come with AI and basic flight control systems built in reducing the need for on-board electronics witch in turn reduces weight. For example, the bird has a built in gyroscope and can automatically 'right itself and maintain level flight.

The battery life of the camera could also be extended by attaching the power and/or data cables to the bird and having them trail behind, this would also prevent the bird from going out-of-range.

The millitary applications for this are also good - since no-one would look twice at a Humming-bird on a battle feild, they could be fitted with explosive devices to create humming-suicide-bombers (although the payload would be small).

Re:Solution to low battery and hover problems (1)

racerx509 (204322) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989632)

Quoth the user "The millitary applications for this are also good - since no-one would look twice at a Humming-bird on a battle feild, they could be fitted with explosive devices to create humming-suicide-bombers (although the payload would be small)."
This was tried already years ago. During WW2, the US army experimented in tying small bombs to the legs of bats. When the bats were set free, they would go home to roost in dark areas, hopefully enemy buildings and the bombs would explode.

Buy a MAV today (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989459)

Check out http://www.spyplanes.com . $30K and you can buy a fully autonomous 5 foot wingspan plane (folds down to fit in a golf bag!) with a built-in gyro-stabilized camera. MLBco also makes a 6" remote-controlled MAV that has a mini camera and radio transmitter in it -- it's demonstrated a 20 minute flight time at 60mph. You can't see this thing if it's more than half a mile away; you have to pilot it using the video downlink.

Audio (2)

weston (16146) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989462)

Everyone is going to be thinking of video applications... but what I want is audio. The ability to place a mic anywhere in a room arbitrarily would make me happy.

Of course noise is going to be a problem, and hovering too, but that's my wish.....

I want one (dozen) (2)

lingqi (577227) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989474)

To scout for cops hiding behind bushes etc. when i am speeding on the highway. hehe... takes the radar-gun / radar-detector war to a whole new level.

i'd imagine they make it illegal for spy-cams to fly above the speeding limit, though. (or just outlaw them on public highways outright.) if, that is, too many people start using it for that purpose.

actually i thought about building something for that (a bit larger, though), but havn't got the chance to yet. will keep y'all posted

and when they crash? (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989553)

tell me how 10 little noisemakers flying arround over a wedding is a good thing? and ... what happens when they malfuction.. it wont exactly be a bird falling from the sky, whatever they're made out of would probably hurt if it hit someone..

Gainesville? ROCK CITY! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989615)

This map hung up on the truck stop hallway door
is looking worn and I can hardly read it anymore
I feel like I'm a speck thrown on the map
and I can't help my urge to laugh
I never used to feel like that

Well I'm half awake half a world away
all my past mistakes and every wasted day
I wouldn't have it any other way

I'll try through my haze and half shut eyes
to count up all the reasons why
I should be back at home tonight

Half awake half a world away
all my past mistakes and every wasted day
proves that I'll never change
I'll always stay the same
I wouldn't have it any other way

Gainesville! Rock city!
Gainesville! Rock city!
Gainesville! Rock city!
Gainesville! Rock city!


Half awake half a world away
all my past mistakes and every wasted day
I wouldn't have it any other way
I wouldn't have it any other way

Best line from the article... (1)

f00Dave (251755) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989661)

"Once you're down to a certain size it's like 'what's the difference between a 5-inch and a 6-inch airplane.'"

Ooo! and Ahh....

What? You mean 'airplane' isn't a euphemism? =]

The only proper use of these... (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989681)

... would be to buzz Florida Field [gatorcountry.com] (Ben Hill Griffen for you "youngsters" in g'ville) during football games....

Gallun, "The Scarab," 1936 (3, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989683)

OK, now I know what's been nagging at me... in Raymond Z. Gallun wrote a story which appeared in "Astounding Stories" in August, 1936, and which I read as a kid in Groff Conklin's anthology, "Science Fiction Thinking Machines."

"The Scarab ... was a tiny thing, scarcely more than an inch and a half in length... it dipped in its flight and its quart-lensed eyes took in the scene below.... Excited shouts and cries were detectable to the sensitive, microphonic ears of The Scarab...."

It flies miles, into the room where the Bad Guys are broadcasting an extortion request: they will kill a million citizens unless "all available radium in the country is brought to our laboratory."

"The mind that controlled the Scarab had seen and heard enough. Now it decided that the moment in which to act had come. With a whir the Scarab shot from the concealing shadows of the corner where it had hidden itself." It injects an anesthetic; the Bad Guy loses consciousness; the nation is saved.

The brilliant, crippled, wheelchair-confined detective explains "A fella can't just sit around, you know. And so I got to thinking that if I had a little radio-controlled robot to do my crook-chasing for me--well, anyway, I wrote a letter to our good friend Dr. Clyde Allison, explaining my situation... after a while the Scarab and all the controls that deliver it were delivered here.... "

APACHE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3989705)

2K

Stalking (3, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989800)

Imagine the tabloids getting ahold of these things. Already stars have people climbing fences and using telephoto lenses.

Now, just pop a drone in the air and overfly the target. How about flying up to the window of a high rise building?

Add a microphone, instead of video camera, for a twist.

Once they get these babies to HOVER, they will be fantastic. Not that they aren't now.

Imagine automatically dispatching a micro drone to check out a disturbance/noise from the safety of security central? Your camera can't see behind the tree? Fly around it.

Add a little radar and do some 3D terrain mapping...

ad infinitum

If you think 500-dollar hammers are bad (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 11 years ago | (#3989978)

then Imagine Saddam swatting a pesky misquito not realizing that it cost 10 million dollars to manufacture.

Electric Sparrows (2)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 11 years ago | (#3990067)

MAV is singularly unimaginative. 'Electric Sparrow' is the obvious better choice.

Strange convergence observation (2, Funny)

Travelr9 (514162) | more than 11 years ago | (#3990156)

In this article, plus the linked Spy Fly piece from CNN, three different aero geeks from three different universities are shown in three different pictures. These guys could be brothers, or even twins.

Either:

There is some sort of 'aero geek chic' I don't know about

We're witnessing the visual manifestation of genetic selection for an obsession with small flying objects

This is the early stages of an alien invasion.

Look again: http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/science/07/27/flying microbots.ap/index.html
and: http://www.gainesvillesun.com/articles/2002-07-31c .shtml

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