Insitu's latest looks like a DIY Drone, costs $50,000

What do you think could be in this Trex450-style copter that could make it worth $50,000?



This small helicopter is called Inceptor and it is the latest product of Insitu, the innovative company behind ScanEagle that is now owned by Boeing. Inceptor weighs only 3.5lbs and fits into a police car trunk. It has an electric motor with swappable lithium polymer batteries. It can fly for around 24min, take-off and land autonomously, navigate and hover via waypoints and also controlled semi-autonomously through a touchscreen. The integrated flight control system is aFCS20 provided by Adaptive Flight Inc.

One can learn to operate it in a few hours and it provides electro-optic or IR imaging immediately even during adverse weather conditions and wind gusts. Video imagery is transmitted to the handheld ground control station and distributed to decision makers for real-time viewing. It flies below 500ft and within line of sight (as dictated by the FAA-issued certificate of authorization).

Inceptor will enter a developing but still very niche market sector that is mostly dominated by quadcopters. Prototypes are already flying and initially it will be available only for US public agencies at a cost of around $50.000. Selected law-enforcement customers will test it soon.

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Comment by Sean Skirvin on August 10, 2011 at 7:10pm
To me this article and its comment shows just what is so great (and also so wrong) about the DIY community. First off, we as members of the DIY community, particularly newer members get to start our projects off of the backs of all others that have came before. We get to skip SOOO much R&D, both from the original products that we are hacking, and from all others who have hacked and reconfigured that product before ourselves. I'm not saying its a bad thing, on the contrary, its a good thing, heck its a great thing. In my opinion it(DIY communities) are one of the BEST things to come out of the information age, but we should all realize what it TOOK to really make these things that we make. That product, and all DIY products for that matter, are not just the sum of their parts.
Comment by Sean Skirvin on August 10, 2011 at 7:46pm

comment should read comments, nothing against the OP

Comment by MarcS on August 11, 2011 at 12:11am

Chris, regarding complexity of control, multicoper are not really difficult. In contrary you got the benefit of a hovering system which makes your IMU algorithms much easier (some projects even don´t have "real" filtering, just PID-loops from sensors to controls). In a plane you always got problems with your acceleration... Theory should be in all the DCM threads... The fact that you fall out of the sky if any component fails is for sure, anyway :-)

And as far as I know there are many autopilots (closed and open source) which are capable of controlling fixed wing and hovering platforms (just checked: gluonpilot, micropilot, paparazzi, piccolo...).

Regarding the Inceptor, time will tell if it can really help the police... If it´s not really easy to use, they probably won´t accept it. They´ve got enough trouble without a complicated helicopter system. This will be the decision point. Asking for the price comes after.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on August 11, 2011 at 1:39am

Eventually you get tired of hovering the multicopter and start flying forwards, backwards and maybe even sideways. You might also consider making a turn while flying one of those directions... :) My point being that a multicopter IMU has to deal with the same acceleration and pendulum effects as in a airplane.

Comment by DJS on August 11, 2011 at 12:13pm

extremely sophisticated, state of the art, flight control computer. No fly-bar, independent tail motor for higher reliability, Totally autonomous.  No R/C experience required or desired.  Point-and-go interface on the map.  push-bottom snapshots. gyro-stabilized tilt turret to hold target of interest in view as air vehicle changes pitch. interchangeable, nose-mounted payload sensors.  All of this backed by Insitu's team of UAS experts (currently accumulating flight time faster than any other UAS company world-wide).

Then - add in the validation and verification work.

Add in the training manuals and CDs

Add in the overhead costs associated with operating a compnay that has more than 800 UAS professionals backing their products.

$50K sounds cheap....

Bottom line - you get what you pay for.


Comment by Anish on August 12, 2011 at 1:36pm

i thought the copter came with the car and whole package was 50 k ;)

Comment by Luke on August 14, 2011 at 3:48am

no mug will ever buy one.


not even a glass or a plate.

Comment by Chuck on August 15, 2011 at 1:52am

I bet the sell 100 in a year.  Police Departments get Homeland Security grants.  Its not like they take it out of their budget.  The police department where I work has Segways, gun shot detectors and radars for detecting people in the bushes.

Comment by Max on August 15, 2011 at 3:39am

Im with DJS, sounds cheap... and its VERY cute ;)


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