Chris Anderson's Blog – June 2008 Archive (22)

UAV videos on Engineering TV

Engineering TV has a bunch of UAV episodes up, including the Berkeley Aerobot Team and the Hybrid Systems Lab at Stanford University.

Links to the videos are below:

Autonomous Quadrotor…


Added by Chris Anderson on June 30, 2008 at 6:24pm — No Comments

Our next ArduPilot: the dual-core ArduPilot Pro!

[NOTE/UPDATE: All the below, from long ago, has been superseded by events. Basic ArduPilot proved capable of every this described here, so we cancelled this version of the product. Thinking about what the next version of ArduPilot could be can be found…


Added by Chris Anderson on June 28, 2008 at 8:00pm — 21 Comments

The problem with neural networks

This, from the always interesting Jack Crossfire blog, is the smartest observation on neural networks and genetic algorithms I've seen in ages. Excerpt:

"In our last experience with neural network feedback, the feedback always headed towards 0. That one used straight back propagation to predict cyclic from attitude change. That fiasco has cursed all future investments in the radically different genetic approach. The… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 25, 2008 at 10:44am — 3 Comments

CropCam user pushes for FAA exemptions

Farmer Uses Unmanned Eye in the Sky to Maximize Crops

Idaho Business Review (06/23/08)

(Excerpt, thanks to the AUVSI news roundup, follows):

Kendrick, Idaho, farmer Robert Blair is heading the campaign to… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 25, 2008 at 8:00am — 12 Comments

Microsoft Virtual Earth now accepting DIY aerial imagery

Cool news from Microsoft: its Google Earth competitor, Virtual Earth, is now accepting user-generated aerial imagery. Unlike Google Earth, where your own data can only be superimposed on the "real" Google Earth data, and people will only see it if they use a special URL, Microsoft is offering to integrate… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 23, 2008 at 8:52pm — 10 Comments

BlimpDuino home page

BlimpDuino is a very low cost open source autonomous blimp. It consists of an Arduino-based blimp controller board with on-board infrared and ultrasonic sensors and an interface for an optional RC mode, a simple gondola with two vectoring (tilting) differential thrusters, and ground-based infrared beacon.…


Added by Chris Anderson on June 23, 2008 at 6:00pm — 132 Comments

ArduPilot Pro home page

[UPDATE Jan, 2009: The description below is our original conception of ArduPilot Pro. However, we were able to achieve all of these features with the basic ArduPilot, so we are now reconsidering what additional features to add to a future dual-core ArduPilot. Things we are considering include SD-card datalogging and… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 23, 2008 at 4:30pm — 46 Comments

Is GPS good enough for altitude hold?

In our quest to create the simplest and cheapest autopilot available, we're debating whether we need a barometric pressure sensor or can do reasonable altitude control with GPS alone. The old answer to this was the GPS alone wouldn't work--not only were errors of as much as 10s of meters, but glitching could leave you without any… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 22, 2008 at 11:00am — 13 Comments

Review: new Arduino Nano board

Gravitech has now released a new Arduino board, the Nano ($49.99), which I think is the best one yet. I just got one, and have had a chance to compare it with the two other breadboardable Arduino options: the Stamp (AKA Mini)… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 21, 2008 at 4:30pm — 4 Comments

How can we make IR beacons with unique IDs for Blimpduino?

Jordi and I are slightly stuck at the last part of our Blimpduino project. We've got the blimp itself all sorted, from electronics to mechanical assembly, and are ready to move into mass production on that. We intend to ship it with a single ground-based IR beacon, around which it… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 20, 2008 at 10:30am — 47 Comments

Perhaps I spoke too soon about the iPhone and UAVs

Command a system of UAVs remotely from an iPhone's web browser, regardless of what the TOS says. (thanks to Danger Room for the…


Added by Chris Anderson on June 16, 2008 at 1:00pm — 5 Comments

ArduPilot: New Thermopile Boards!

Those of you following along with the ArduPilot development probably suspected that we weren't going to stick with leaving the stabilization function to the off-the-shelf FMA Co-Pilot for long. And sure enough, integrating those thermopile sensors… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 13, 2008 at 10:00pm — 34 Comments

New version of FMA Co-Pilot system coming

FMA just announced that a new version of their FS8 flight stabilization system (this is the thermopile-based Co-Pilot integrated into a RC receiver) is coming in the fall. No details on what will be different about the new version.

In the meantime, you can buy the old version (FS8CPI) while supplies last for $149.95. Call the FMA Sales line at 800-343-2934 (phone orders only). Picture of the old one… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 13, 2008 at 7:28am — 2 Comments

So much for the iPhone Autopilot

Engadget points out that the iPhone developer SDK terms of service ban the use of it for "autonomous control of vehicles, aircraft...".

No worries--we're focused on… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 12, 2008 at 9:55am — 2 Comments

DIY Drones in the San Diego Union Tribune

A big story today in San Diego's newspaper about DIY Drones at the AUVSI conference. Excerpt follows:

"'Do-it-yourself drones' create buzz at S.D. convention

The unmanned Predator aircraft developed in San Diego during the mid-1990s has become a workhorse surveillance plane for U.S. military forces in Iraq, as well as a robotic… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 11, 2008 at 6:30pm — 10 Comments

RoboGames this weekend in San Francisco

This weekend RoboGames returns to the Bay Area. It describes itself this way:

"RoboGames is the world's largest open robot competition (even the Guinness Book of World Records says so!) We invite the best minds from around the world to compete in over 70 different events. Combat robots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu. Some robots are autonomous, some are remote controlled - but they're all…


Added by Chris Anderson on June 11, 2008 at 7:41am — No Comments

Five things I learned at AUVSI today

Wandering the amazing show floor at AUVSI in San Diego and talking to engineers there today with Jordi (shown), I learned a ton. Here are five things that maybe everyone else in the world knew, but I didn't:

1) "Primary" (non-rechargeable) batteries have twice the energy density of rechargeable Li-Pos. So look again at those little 3v lithium camera… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 10, 2008 at 10:30pm — 7 Comments

New BlimpDuino board, now surface mount and RC compatible

The DIY Drones autopilot board factory is in full swing. We've got another cool board for you, a production-ready final version of the BlimpDuino board.

Changes include:

  • All surface mount technology, to make the board smaller,…

Added by Chris Anderson on June 9, 2008 at 7:30pm — 10 Comments

A simple demo of how to read RC signals and drive servos with Arduino

Most autopilots have the ability to read signals from a RC receiver and drive servos. For instance, in the case of ArduPilot, we read the current throttle setting when the autopilot is engaged (so we can maintain that setting, although we'll later nudge it up and down to maintain altitude) and we drive the rudder servo and ESC. In the case of BlimpDuino in RC mode, we read the throttle and left/right commands from the RC receiver and translate them into commands to the motor drivers (the… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 8, 2008 at 9:30pm — 12 Comments

New ArduPilot boards

We're making good progress on ArduPilot, the Arduino-based open source autopilot, and Jordi's just finished an improved version of the board, along with a new surface-mount version for those who care about size and are extra handy with a fine-point… Continue

Added by Chris Anderson on June 6, 2008 at 3:00pm — 23 Comments

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