Chris Anderson's Blog – March 2015 Archive (29)

Syrian Airlift trials use of drones to deliver supplies to conflict zones

Congrats to our friends at the Syria Airlift Project, who conducted an experimental project this weekend in Sacramento to train refugees to use Pixhawk-powered fixed-wing drones to deliver supplies into conflict zones. From the video description:

On March 28-29, 2015, Uplift Aeronautics…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 30, 2015 at 6:00pm — 12 Comments

Amazon's secret drone test field in Canada, 2,000 ft from the US boarder

From The Guardian

Amazon is testing its drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada, following …


Added by Chris Anderson on March 30, 2015 at 7:28am — 4 Comments

Photos from the Ferrara Drone Show

Congrats to Marco Robustini and his team/colleagues for a fantastic first Ferrara Drone Show, in the lovely northern Italian town of Ferrara (between Bologna and Venice). Most of the drones on display were using Pixhawk or another APM derivative such as the VR Brain, with the exception of one older (2012) design…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 28, 2015 at 5:30pm — 12 Comments

Latest Festo robo-butterflies now capable of swarming, autonomous flight

Every time Festo puts out a new video, my jaw ends up on the floor. Their robo-butterflies can now navigate with "indoor GPS", which I think means motion capture cameras. Also: check out that ant! (20x+ as big as a real ant, but still!)

From …


Added by Chris Anderson on March 27, 2015 at 3:30pm — 2 Comments

3DR announces DroneKit, a full-featured SDK for drones, mobile and cloud

We’re thrilled to announce the release of DroneKit, an open platform for drone app development. DroneKit packages years of 3DR’s flight control R&D into a single robust and extensible platform which developers can use to create…

Added by Chris Anderson on March 26, 2015 at 9:00am — 27 Comments

Create waypoint path/missions with Maya, KML, Autodesk, more

Ospheric has just released a beta of its new cloud-based flight planning service, which allows you to import paths from Maya, Collada, Autodesk and Google Earth and export them as APM waypoint files. As Ospheric's Jon Farat explains: 


Added by Chris Anderson on March 26, 2015 at 7:36am — 1 Comment

First look at Ascent coaxial pocketcopter

Interesting coaxial design coming from Ascent Aerosystems. In general coaxial designs have limited speed and maneuverability, but for the "aerial selfie" application this is designed for, that may be fine.  I don't see a stabilizing gimbal, so I imagine this is mostly for still photos. Very portable and robust-looking design, however!

From …


Added by Chris Anderson on March 26, 2015 at 5:30am — 18 Comments

Google producing low-cost ADSB transponders for drones

(representative DIY version shown, not Google's)

"Google’s quest to introduce small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into low altitude airspace within a “few years” has driven the company to launch an unexpected foray into the avionics market, says Dave Vos, head of the Internet company’s Project Wing.

Two companies – L-3 Aviation Products…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 25, 2015 at 1:30am — 23 Comments

FAA issues blanket approval for commercial drone use under 200ft for Section 333 holders

Great news from the FAA, and part of an encouraging trend towards a much more progressive regulatory process in the US:

The Federal Aviation Administration has established an interim policy to speed up airspace authorizations for certain commercial unmanned aircraft (UAS) operators who obtain Section 333 exemptions. The new policy helps bridge the gap between the past process,…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 24, 2015 at 1:09pm — 10 Comments

Good National Geographic review of the IRIS+

From National Geographic:

A variety of platforms and quadcopters have recently come my way to test, fly and review. I base my reviews on my …


Added by Chris Anderson on March 20, 2015 at 2:33pm — 2 Comments

Google scraps VTOL design, back to the drawing board

Not a surprise for anyone who has tried dealing with VTOL sporks drones, which are easy to take off but very tricky to land precisely in a wind due to the sail wing. From…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 18, 2015 at 2:54pm — 40 Comments

Canada says if a drone has a "remote" it's not autonomous. What would Chappie think?

Another clever legal post from Diana Marina Cooper, a lawyer doing some smart writing on the frontiers of robot regulation. FWIW, Canada seems to have confused "autonomous" with "optionally autonomous", which is actually what most modern drones are (they have…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 17, 2015 at 9:00pm — 25 Comments

Drone vs Drone: "Net cannon" copter captures another

From sUAS News:

To counter the threat of unlawful use of unmanned systems, the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice, together with the Dutch National Police and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, has selected a number of projects in which concepts are developed that can be used to detect, indentify and/or remove these mobile systems in a…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 17, 2015 at 8:30pm — 9 Comments

"Tyrone Drone", for unmanned aerial graffiti (with spray paint and flame thrower)

Oh my. Putting aside the ethics of "unmanned aerial vandalism", I'm a little concerned about the weight of these payloads. I suspect that Tyrone Drone, a modded IRIS+, is a stunt for SWSX rather than a real thing:



Added by Chris Anderson on March 14, 2015 at 4:33pm — 12 Comments

Percepto, an add-on computer vision module for drones, now on Indigogo

Another day, another Pixhawk/IRIS+ compatible crowdfunding project! Meet Percepto, now live on Indiegogo:

Our mission is to create a valuable open-source ecosystem, not just a product, to harness the power of a strong developer community…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 12, 2015 at 6:30pm — 27 Comments

3DR Spektre and IRIS+ get FAA commercial use approval

Big news: today the FAA granted Section 333 commercial use authorization for two 3DR vehicles, the IRIS+ and the Spektre (shown above), for use by our customers BNSF and Build Imagery.
There have been several UAVs that…

Added by Chris Anderson on March 12, 2015 at 4:30pm — 16 Comments

Great-looking drone/FPV airframe Kickstarter from RiteWing

It's designed to support Pixhawk, which you can see installed here:

From the new…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 12, 2015 at 1:06pm — 7 Comments

How much damage would a small drone do to a jet engine?

IEEE Spectrum interviewed the experts, and the answer is that hitting an engine (bird strike to a MD11 shown above) is not as bad as hitting the windshield. Key excerpt:

The drone will hit the leading edge of…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2015 at 12:41pm — 10 Comments

Sense and Avoid "eBumper" available for IRIS+

The Panoptes eBumper just went live on Kickstarter. Backed!

eBumper4 helps a pilot avoid obstacles at low speeds. It also provides additional protection against erroneous control inputs and occasional light wind gusts.…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2015 at 10:55am — 15 Comments

APM-powered Splash Drone already over $100k on Kickstarter

The campaign is off to a good start on Kickstarter. I totally need one of these. APM-powered and appears well designed. Backed!

The Splash Drone is a fully waterproof quad copter, packed with useful features and capable of…


Added by Chris Anderson on March 11, 2015 at 10:44am — 24 Comments

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