Ascending Technologies showed off some of their technology during the Super Bowl Halftime show. If you have seen the video, the formations look awesome in the night sky. The only issue was that the sequences were taped days prior to the Super Bowl and Lady Gaga was likely standing in front of a green screen when she "leaps" into the stadium. To the trained eye, it seemed a bit staged and unfortunately, it detracted from the difficulty and challenges of flying that many UAV's. A few Intel reps talk a bit about the project details in the following article. Enjoy.
Global Synchronized Autonomy #1 is rapidly approaching and with it, the need to safely manage the flight of multiple autonomous aircraft. Over the past few months, I've been fine tuning a distributed, browser based, UAV control system that I call the Flying Robot Commander, FRC for short. The FRC integrates with PaparazziUAV via the PPRZLink messaging interface and gives me the ability to safely manage multiple autonomous aircraft. Sometimes I remember to setup a tripod and capture a bit of the development process. Case in point, here's a short video clip of a pre-flight system test that I conducted yesterday. Pretty pleased with how well the system works and how easily I can create a diverse set of interfaces for managing the aircraft in a safe manner. Enjoy the video and remember to take part in GSA #1. Plans for GSA #2 are already in the works. Upward and onward.
It's been a few months since the last Flying Robot Commander(FRC) update so I thought it might be a good time to share again. Most of the recent work has been focused on making the code more modular to support variant UI as well as protocols. Currently, the FRC, is integrated with PaparazziUAV via PPRZLINK. That being said, it's fairly straightforward to add a MAVLink interface as well. The project leverages python along with Flask micro-framework to facilitate a RESTful, web-based interface. For those wondering what those symbols are in the above, image, it's Klingon. Need to work on a Vulcan theme next. Check out a video of the FRC managing six aircraft using Paparazzi UAV GCS. Live long and prosper. ~HooperFly
What's GSA1? It's the first, of hopefully many, Global Synchronized Autonomy(GSA) events celebrating planetary technical solidarity. It's the opportunity to start/trigger your favorite autonomous systems using any time synchronized device. What are autonomous systems? They include, but are not limited to: flying, walking, crawling, rolling, floating autonomous systems; don't forget life forms also fall into the category of autonomous systems. :) What's a time synchronized device? In this case, it relates to devices that have the ability synchronize within a few seconds globally; these include: computers, cell phones, watches, etc.... Most anything that connects to a communication network, for example the internet, will probably suffice. So start thinking about how to participate - the who, the how, and the whats; - the when is June 25th, 2016 @ 17:00 UTC. "What are we gonna do now?" - Joe Strummer
Portland, Oregon is counting down to it's inaugural Winter Light Festival, Feb. 3-6, 2016, and HooperFly Flying Robots are in the mix. Located on the grounds of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry(OMSI), the "Nocturnal Flying Robots" will be performing on Wednesday, Feb. 3rd as well as Saturday, Feb. 6th. Also, on Thursday, Feb 4th, HooperFly(aka Rich Burton) will give a science presentation focused on light and flight, aptly titled "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flying Robot". If you're in town, be sure to come check it out. It's going to be illuminating. :)
In a show of global technical solidarity, on June 25th, 2016 at 1700 hours 00 seconds UTC(GMT for some of us old folks), the world's "Global Synchronized Autonomy" event will occur. What is Global Synchronized Autonomy? Well, it's about using all of our highly synchronized devices and global networks to initiate a bit of local autonomy. You may have heard the saying "think global, act local"? That's exactly what this project is about. The idea is to "trigger" autonomous systems at the very second specified, globally, where autonomous systems includes flying robots, rovers, boats, planes, and, yes, humans. From a first order perspective, it's an opportunity to bring together the autonomous machinery community and let folks come up with creative/novel autonomous systems to trigger and enjoy in their communities. On a global level, we share in our ability to connect and collaborate in an uplifting manner. The loverobot.org site is the current place holder for the landing page and will evolve as we approach the date. Stay tuned for information, code, videos as well as practice countdown days going forward. Save the date and start thinking about how to participate. Giving rise to the Unoccupied Collective ~HooperFly (Art by Tim Bonvallet)
In the continuing evolution of scalable, multi-UAV control surfaces, here's a few minutes demo of the Guidance Mode UI using the Flying Robot Commander in tandem with Paparazzi UAV. The same framework for building last week's Flight Block UI is used in the creation of the Guidance Mode UI. Instead of using live aircraft, I chose to use the Paparazzi simulation environment for this demonstration. Note that even though each UI is being displayed on different touch devices, they can happily run on a single or many devices, depending on how the user wants to layout their flight control systems. Enjoy and stay tuned for more open-source Flying Robot Commander adventures.
Being a product of the 1960's and a fan of science fiction films/series like Star Trek, Lost in Space, 2001: Space Odyssey, Space 1999, Silent Running, the idea of having a control surface full of multi-colored buttons seemed a natural approach for managing flying aircraft. Last week, I decided to design a web based UI that scratched that 1960's sci-fi itch, so to speak. I call it the Flying Robot Commander, with a wink and a nod to Johnny Sokko. The goal was to make a flexible web based UI that allowed for easy development of virtual control surfaces with nice big, colored buttons, sliders, etc... that easily integrate with Paparazzi UAV. Since it's delivered via a web browser, it works on any device that runs a browser(i,e. touch screens, touch devices, traditional laptops/desktops). Here's the a video of the first ever live test of the FRC(flying robot commander). Unfortunately, the rainy weather kept the first demo limited to simple arming/disarming of motors. The weather folks promise that we will be getting a few rainless days soon, so stay tuned for a follow-up video with multiple aircraft in the air under the tutelage the Flying Robot Commander. Giant robot, launch! ~HooperFly
If you're looking for state-of-the-art, precision flight, you might want to check out the latest video pumped out by the folks over at Ascending Technologies. Pretty impressive and it's only going to get better. Ho, ho, ho!
If you're looking for an autonomous aircraft without the need for registration in the U.S., Paparazzi UAV and 1bitsquared have got you covered. The Lisa/S quad has a takeoff weight of 39g(0.086 lbs.) That's way below the FAA registration limit and still leaves plenty of head-room for payload, approximately 210 grams worth.
It's great to see folks doing real science with open-source UAV systems.
ENAC UAV Lab team and Meteo-France (CNRS-GAME and ENM) teams have spent several days at the Atmospheric Research Center of Lannemezan (in the south of France) in order to perform experiments for simultaneous meteorological measurements through multi-UAV flight.
Paparazzi UAV, an open-source uav platform, is breathing new life, so to speak, into 20K RAM Naze32 and CC3D autopilots. That's great news for anyone that might already own these class of autopilots and would like to use Paparazzi UAV on them(link to GitHub). Of course, there is a limit to the number of modules/features you can have active at any given time due to the RAM restrictions. That being said, you can still do a lot of interesting flight scenarios within the confines of 20K. Check out the Paparazzi GitHub pull request for Naze32 support details. Enjoy!
Today marks the release of the Elle0 autopilot. The folks over atbv1bitsquared have been working long and hard on this new Paparazzi autopilot. It was their goal to make it as affordable as possible without compromising on the power and memory needed to run Paparazzi.
Elle0 features a very powerful 32bit ARM Cortex M4 micro processor, and is still backwards compatible to the Lisa/M and Lisa/MX you know and love. The footprint of the board is a standard 30.5mm x 30.5mm that was made popular by the nano racer quad community. This makes it easy to replace the autopilot on your racer quad and benefit from the features and stability of the Paparazzi UAV framework.
They are still working on documentation but for now you can take a look at the Pre-Order page for details. Elle0 will start shipping early 2016.
Here is a short video from the annual HobbyKing Beer lift challenge. One of the more entertaining events in the wacky world of UAV's. Maybe the folks over at Amazon, Google, WalMart, etc... can take note. Sure would be nice to see their "delivery" drone offerings/solutions giving the beer lift challenge a go. Maybe next year? Enjoy.
The passing of the autumnal equinox provides more opportunity to test luminary robots. Over the last few years, at about this time, I find myself deep in lighting experiments for upcoming projects. It's important to test any candidate lighting systems to understand how they might affect the autonomous flight characteristics of each aircraft: EMI, power consumption, flight stability, agility, longevity, etc.... On Sunday night, I attached lights to two TeensyFly Quads and a TeensyFly Hexa to test them in multi-aircraft autonomous flight. Here's a video of those two flights. These are flying robots, no joysticks were harmed in the filming of this video. Enjoy!
Sometimes a flight experiment gone awry exposes a set of behaviors that directly correlate to previous design choices. It's a moment of validation based on developing systems with the expectation that they will fail. The video below is an example of one of these moments.
During one my daily experiments with multiple robots, one of aircraft experienced a GPS interference event on takeoff. It skirted across the ground and flipped over, the motors still spinning. Often, I will lower the throttles and shutdown the experiment. On this day, however, I made the decision to let the two well behaved robots fly and see if I could "rescue" the flipped aircraft.
NOTE: I do not condone approaching an aircraft and interacting with one while motors are active. That being said, I broke my rule on this occasion. I'm fully aware of the multitudes of outcomes that could have arisen. Being familiar with this set of aircraft over the last 6 months, I took a calculated risk. That being said don't interact with an aircraft when propellers are spinning.
As mentioned in the note, I approached the aircraft looked at the motors and props and noted no damage. The aircraft had flipped and was still trying to fly to its hover point. At this point, I could have shut down the aircraft but I didn't. I picked it up by the battery aware that aircraft will have torque and try to continue it's flight. As I lifted it, I could feel it wanted to fly to it's hover point. I checked the GPS status of the aircraft and, once again took a calculated risk, letting it go with the expectation that it will fly to its hover point. As the video below shows, it did complete its mission. What I didn't observe at the time, was that I was holding the aircraft 180 degrees off its orientation. So when I released the robot , it did it's best to "right" itself and fly to its hover point. Not until I reviewed the flight log and video did I understand why it performed the way it did. In my mind it should have just flown up but I hadn't detected that I was holding it backwards when I released it.
It should be noted that there are redundant radios and safety systems in place to manage these aircraft. The only person I put in harms way was myself. I've been flying these systems for the past six months and they have been tested multiple times where flights don't go as expected. As a matter of fact, I plan for failure and relish the uneventful flights where everything goes as planned.
The upside is that the robot survived a less than optimal takeoff and completed it's mission with a little help from a friend.
A few weeks back I posted about flying multiple robots along with my Periscope channel where the videos age out on a daily basis. Some folks requested a more persistent video of these flights. Yesterday, I went out to the field and did a few flights. My friend Max was nice enough to film one of the multi MAV flights, and I took the initiative to archive it on YouTube. Here's a continuous shot of the flight followed by a PaparazziUAV GCS view of the flight. Note the GCS portion of the video is accelerated by 8x to reduce the viewing time. Enjoy.