Pretend we were doing cars, not drones
NestGen 2022 is a global virtual conference on drone autonomy dedicated to building a rich network of industry experts and adopters of drone-in-a-box (DiaB) systems.
While there are numerous conferences and events that cater to the drone industry at large, there is a dearth of focus on drone autonomy in general and DiaB systems in particular. NestGen is an effort to bring the focus on these critical sections of our industry, which will be the key drivers of growth as we transition from manual operations of drones to full autonomy.
We have often imagined a world where automated drones are able to help us with aerial monitoring, security, inspections, and various other commercial applications with little to no human intervention. It’s now time to make that happen!
What’s happening in NestGen?
NestGen is a one-day event that features 11 hours of expert sessions, deep-dives, product updates & announcements, application-specific breakouts, and a boatload of ways to network and engage with the fellow drone community members, virtually.
Designing and producing a custom gimbal for as many as 3 different sensors installed simultaneously, including two thermal cameras and LIDAR, was a really exciting project for the HD Air Studio team recently. Our client, The Technical University of Denmark, will use the gimbal to support search and rescue teams in the maritime environment.
Technical requirements outlined by Technical University of Denmark made us take absolutely different approach to the gimbal design than ever before. When The Technical University of Denmark took the leap of faith and selected HD Air Studio as the gimbal developer, I knew that I was going to do everything to make them satisfied with the gimbal. It was a really exciting project. This custom gimbal is equipped with 3 different sensors, including: Wiris Pro thermal camera, Mako G IR camera, Livox LIDAR. To enable some of the communications to the base station, the drone is unable to change its orientation. Therefore, the gimbal must also automatically adjust itself to provide the optimal field of view, as the image coming from the thermal camera is a rectangle and not a square. This required a programmable gimbal, with fast and precise movement. – Kuba Jakubczyk, CEO at HD Air Studio explains.
HD Air Studio custom gimbal is a part of the aerial solution designed to search and rescue a person that falls off a ship. The drone starts autonomously when receiving a man overboard signal. The drone with HD Air Studio camera stabilizer will search for the man overboard, using thermal imaging and neural networks for detection and classification. During navigation, the gimbal is mostly pointing down, because the thermal camera needs to directed towards the water. The drone will also be used for other projects, where tasks such as object tracking are primary. The tracking may happen manually – via RC, or autonomously. It is easy to switch between control modes on the gimbal, so it’s convenient to change between different applications.
The Technical University of Denmark has been testing our custom gimbal for a couple of months already. We asked them what they liked most about our solution and here is what they said:
- smooth movement, does not affect the video data
- great sensor encasement
- easy to work with from a hardware perspective
- useful pass-through of cables
- application freedom: programmable in the SimpleBGC software and via ROS
- ease-of-use: controlled by RC, programming and setting up different profiles/scripts through code, which the gimbal can switch to by simply pressing a button
- gimbal material: the gimbal looks very impressive, the design is very professional. The material is light and resistant. It is important for the gimbal to be light, as to not affect the flight capacity. We can confirm that the gimbal is very resistant, as it suffered no damage when the drone was involved in a small crash
I can score communication with HD Air Studio 10/10. The company is very responsive and professional. They were very understanding, they helped us make decisions for the gimbal requirements in areas that were unknown to us. We were constantly updated about the project progress. They warned us that the gimbal capabilities will be restricted by the cabling of one of our sensors and they offered to remake the cable for us. Their solution works great and we are very happy with our product. – said the Technical University of Denmark.
Topodrone, based in Switzerland, designs and produces professional surveying solutions for UAV mapping and 3D modelling based on the most popular DJI drones, as well as providing comprehensive topography and mapping services.
Topodrone produce the most cost-effective multi-band GNSS PPK modules for DJI drones for Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4, Mini 2 and Inspire 2. The kits are extremely easy to install and simple to use. Converted drones are also available ready-to-use. These drones are the ideal affordable solution for mapping at centimeter accuracy with no Ground Control Points, and are fully compatible with Emlid Reach GNSS receivers for the ultimate surveying package.
Surveyors can now get Topodrone Products from Aeromao, the dealer for North America.
The two most popular products are:
Topodrone DJI Mavic 2 Pro PPK
The most compact survey drone with folding arms, maps of up to 30 hectares of high-precision aerial survey in 30 minutes of flight. Highest image resolution among survey drones with 20 MP cameras. Almost half the price of a DJI Phantom 4 RTK drone.
Available for only $5,117 CAD
TOPODRONE DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2.0 PPK
Very compact survey drone with a global shutter with a capacity of up to 27 hectares of high-precision aerial survey in 25 minutes of flight. 20 MP camera's global shutter provides increased accuracy.
- The best survey drone to complete aerial survey of the building's façade.
- Highest resistance to wind among survey drones of its class.
Available for only $5,499 CAD
Already have any of these drones?
Customers can also buy just the upgrade kit and turn an existing drone into an accurate surveying professional tool, obtaining up to 3 cm accuracy in XYZ and 1 cm resolution resulting in highly accurate orthomosaics and 3D models.
Kits are available at only $2,714 CAD
Instructions for installation are full support is provided.
More information at: https://www.aeromao.com/product-category/topodrone-dji-ppk-drones/
More information will be added to Aeromao’s store soon.
I have upgraded my quadcopter XJ470 with a Skydroid T12 radio, an OAK-D depthAI stereo camera and a Raspberry Pi 4 companion computer. This configuration enables state-of-the art artificial intelligence drone piloting. The skydroid t12 enables long distance telemetry and video. The OAK-D combines depth measurements and artificial object detection. The RPi 4 has an WiFi access point enabling remote desktop communication by means of VNC. Avoidance python scripts are uploaded to the RPi 4, generating mavlink drone messages controlling the quadcopter. A test video demontrates the new features.
[Nicholas Rehm] works during the day at the Applied Physics Laboratory at John Hopkins, Maryland, so has considerable experience with a variety of UAV applications. The question arose about how the perseverance mars rover landing worked, which prompted [Nicholas] to hang a rock under his drone, attached via a winch. This proved to be interesting. But what is more interesting for us, is what happens when you try to attach an inverted pendulum to the top of a drone in flight? (video embedded, below)
This is a classic control theory problem, where you need to measure the angle of the pendulum with respect to the base, and close the loop by calculating the necessary acceleration from the pendulum angle. Typically this is demonstrated in one dimension only, but it is only a little more complicated to balance a pendulum with two degrees of freedom.
[Nicholas] first tried to derive the pendulum angle by simply removing the centering springs from an analog joystick, and using it to attach the pendulum rod to the drone body. As is quite obvious, this has a big drawback. The pendulum angle from vertical is now the sum of the joystick angle and the drone angle, which with the associated measurement errors, proved to be an unusable setup. Not to be discouraged, [Nicholas] simply added another IMU board to the bottom of the pendulum, and kept the joystick mechanism as a pivot only. And, as you can see from the video after the break, this indeed worked.
The flight controller is [Nicholas’] own project, dRehmFlight (GitHub), which is an Arduino library intended for the Teensy 4.0, using the ubiquitous MPU6050 6-DOF IMU. [Nicholas] also made an intro video for the controller, which may prove instructive for those wishing to go down this road to build their own VTOL aircraft. The code for pendulum experiment is not available at the time of writing, perhaps it will hit the GitHub in the future?
I have a question. Could anybody direct me to where I can find learning material or some schematics on long range FPV communicarions? I mean any online class, book, website is welcome at this point... I'm trying to learn design principles for 10km or above Video/Data link electronics.
Thanks in advance.
Hi, my name is William. I am developing a large unmanned VTOL aircraft similar in function to the Convergence RC model. The 2 tilting motors in front motors run on 14S batteries. The one in back needs a 28S battery.
I would like to operate the motors using only two 14S batteries. My idea is to connect the 2 batteries in series for the back motor and tap off each battery for the front motors. I will be using Opto ESCs, so that the input signal ground is issolated from the power ground.
Has anyone tried this before? Does anyone think it will not work?
Nicholas Rehm may be a full-time aerospace engineer, but his success in constructing a DIY self-flying drone that avoids obstacles without standard GPS tech aboard still merits a standing-O. He also gets a deep bow for describing the serious wonkitude involved in a thoroughly entertaining way.
Rehm is no neophyte to homemade drone projects – with or without GPS assistance. Given the education and experience required for his day job, no doubt, his DIY endeavors tend to be a great deal more complex than the typical amateur craft that get (as woebegone Soviet citizens used to put it) “snotted together.” His YouTube page contains over a dozen instructional videos of how he devised and assembled his way-complex UAVs, usually relying on wry understatement or irony to cut the thickness of complex processes he’s detailing.
Quite clearly, Rehm not only brings his work home with him, but indeed creates additional labors of love to infect others with his passion for drones and other aerial craft.
“I am a full-time aerospace engineer, but I like to work on interesting flying projects in my free time: drones, airplanes, VTOL, and everything in between,” he says on his video page. “My goal is to share what I learn along the way and make advanced concepts less scary.”https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=155,86 155w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=655,364 655w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=768,426 768w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=1024,568 1024w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=1536,853 1536w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=2048,1137 2048w" sizes="(max-width: 2998px) 100vw, 2998px" layout="responsive" disable-inline-width="" i-amphtml-layout="responsive" i-amphtml-auto-lightbox-visited="" lightbox="i-amphtml-auto-lightbox-1" on="tap:amp-lightbox-gallery.activate">https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=155,86 155w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=655,364 655w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=768,426 768w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=1024,568 1024w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=1536,853 1536w, https://dronedj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2021/11/Rehm.jpg?resize=2048,1137 2048w" alt="" />
Which is exactly the miracle he pulls off in this video describing how he made a DIY drone that avoids obstacles without using the standard GPS tech aboard most UAV – and without even needing to be connected to outside communication feeds. Which not only makes his autonomous vehicle immune to collisions or outside jamming devices, but immeasurably cool to boot.
Rehm’s initial idea was to find a viable alternative to habitual autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance systems. Those require a pre-planned flight path to be entered on a map, waypoint-by-waypoint, that the craft follows in sequence until it reaches the designated destination.
“The drone is actually quite dumb in that it can only fly from one point to the next with no real perception of the world around it, needing to be told what to do for every step of the way,” Rehm explains in the video.
To remedy that, he replaced the foresworn GPS with algorithms powering Google Maps. Those interact with data picked up from the drone’s onboard internal measurement unit, cameras, altitude gauge, position and movement detectors. All of that, orchestrated by a Raspberry Pi 4 using a Robot Operating System, allow the craft to find the way around obstacles it encounters as it advances.
Unlike sequentially progressing as in waypoint-based systems, Rehm’s drone is only told where to go and eventually return to, and is on own from there. As the video demonstrates, when the UAV encounters an obstacle, its programs detect a clear but limited area to either side to take to avoid them. That confined free space detection range is used each time the advancing UAV encounters an obstruction, taking a baby step route around each, but otherwise flying freely until it reaches its destination.
Rather breezily brushing aside the formidable math and engineering needed to pull a feat like his off, Rehm reminds viewers his DIY project is just one of many they can take to greater heights.
“Once you have the building blocks in place for a complex project like this, it’s pretty easy to go back and expand on those individual elements to make the overall system more capable,” Rehm says at the end of the video, his GPS-less drone hovering a few feet away. “For example we could swap out that AprilTag detection algorithm I used for something more robust to maybe detect buildings; or we could expand our motion planning from two dimensions to three.”
Easier for Rehm to say (and believe) than most, though it’s clear he’s sincere in closing out by expressing the motivation for his cutting-edge “snotted together” drone videos.
“I hope you learned something interesting.”
This board is one of many Linux-Based boards that run Ardupilot. What is spepcial about this board is that has very simple architecture. Only necessary components has been added. No extra or redundant components. However it is still expandable and more sensors can be added if you want to.
The PCB shield is designed to use simple breakouts available in the market. No special soldering skills or components are required. You can build from scratch your own board using this PCB and learn the basic architrecture of Ardupilot boards and move to next step where you add extra sensors and ending by building your own board.
Yes this board acts more like a developing kit rather than a ready-to-fly board. Again if you want to fly with it you can but then do not use pin headers and solder the breakouts directly on the board.
On the software side. OBAL board does not have special drivers. All you need to do is to clone ardupilot repository and compile the code. Nothing special, nohting hidden , completely open source.
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Please don't forget to check out my Ogg music collections containing hundreds of my tracks in higher-quality Ogg format. They sound great, loop better in game engines (if you happen to be into game development) and are a…"
Hi DiyDrones, I hope the community will help me out with the log attached.Pilot observation - He was testing the X- Configuration quad in loiter mode and suddenly the system started behaving like acro and crashed, further adding to it he was…Read more…
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