We're a group of 3 senior computer engineering students and we're thinking of using Arducopter as platform for a class project. We want to build a prototype for what we call a "Power Line Analyzer". This power line analyzer would be an autonomous quadrotor vehicle that would fly over high voltage power lines and gather temperature data of the power line.The actual prototype that we are considering would do the following. Using GPS coordinates of the "power lines" and sonar data, from an a on-board sonar that would be located under the copter, the copter would follow a 6 inch in diameter tube and using infrared thermometers it would store the temperature data of the tube. When a certain threshold temperature is detected the copter would snap a picture and save it on an SD card. Inside the tube we would place some kind of heating elements to increase the tube temperature. In addition the copter would avoid obstacles in its path which it would detect using sonar. This obstacle avoidance would be implemented in the simplest way possible e.g. only avoidance through the sides would be considered. Although this last requirement is not essential if it's too hard to implement. The final due date for the project is around late December.Do you think the Arducopter project is mature enough currently to build this project?Some components we are thinking on using:* JPEG Trigger : http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9459* JPEG Color Camera : http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9334* Infrared Thermometer : http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9570* Ultrasonic Range Finder: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9491or : SRF08s from http://www.robot-electronics.co.uk/acatalog/Ultrasonic_Rangers.html* XtremeBee Board : http://store.diydrones.com/product_p/br-0015-01.htm(XBee module not chosen yet)

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  • This seems like a pretty cool project. How did it end up panning out?

  • Developer
    Simple answer is: No
    Could it do it: Yes
    Due date December: No way

    Then a bit more explanations. I don't thing any one the currently available quad/hexa platforms can do this. It needs a lot of extra programming and working with sensors. Ok ArduCopter would be rather good platform to start making this happen and this is due that there has been already obstacle avoidance and sonars on ArduCopter and we are working more with those.

    Developing this type of application even with one of the best quad platforms like AscTec/Mikrodrones etc would take a lot more than few months, you said that project due date is at end of December. Will be really hard if not impossible with this time frame.

    Ok if we just have simple GPS navigation and possible bottom/sideways ultrasonar systems to make simple obstacle avoidance and altitude hold, yes in that case it would be possible but to make it follow this 6" line.. No i'm afraid that this is too much.

    MikroKopter / MicroDrones have good GPS hold, best hold is on MicroDrones what I've seen on videos but then again MD systems starts around +20.000 USD what I know so they are totally different level systems. AscTec Quad prices starts at 4-5000 USD. AscTec allows external programming but MD is closed. MK as far as I know does not have any sonars facing down or sideways. They use barometer for altitude hold. I never even saw sonars on their sites.

    Could ArduCopter platform used for this: Yes you could use it, and this is not yes just because we make them in here. There are many reasons, like I said we already had obstacle avoidance, we already used sonars, we already had basic GPS hold and we also have totally open and hackable software where nothing is hidden or closed.

    So to include infrareds and others would not be impossible it just needs a lot of work to do this. Maybe in your case we can create even special frame for this purpose. Only enemy on this project would be your time frame.

    Following that physical cable, ummm sonar might not be the best idea but maybe visual tracking could do the trick. There are already some projects to make camera based tracking but those projects also needs some time.

    But after all.. This is exactly for what ArduCopter and whole ArduCopter development platform has been designed and planned for. Eg modifying it to higher purposes.

    I would loooove to see more this type of applications done with ArduCopter. Path is long but it creates really good applications.
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