Anti whaling activists using UAV to track whaling fleet


Just found this in the news:

The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to successfully locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on December 24th.


Would be interesting to get more information about the system they use... (Range endurance etc.)

Especially the recovery on the small helicopter deck could be challenging.

Merry Christmas to all !!


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  • I did not want to bring "politics" into this but since GM has linked to a rather unbalanced propaganda site for PW/SS I am compelled to provide balance to the story.

    This is a very delicate matter and I hope I will not be thrown out of here for bringing in an alternative view on the matter. You can trust that I love whales and other animals as much as anyone and I do not approve of the Japanese whaling program or other irresponsible hunting in any way. I am brought up with farming and nature, I am a fisher, hunter and nature conservationist myself and would never unnecessarily hurt an animal.

    But Paul Watson is not the one to further the cause for anything. He is a persona non grata in a large part of the world for a good reason. Not because of noble activism for protecting animals or nature but for his reckless, violent and irresponsible actions. Only luck has saved him from becoming responsible for manslaughter.

    Before you decide where you want to place your money for nature, do your own research. You can start by removing the glee from your eyes and reading Greenpeace's declaration (they threw him out). This declaration is trying hard to be nice and diplomatic about the guy and his doings:

    Calling him an activist is belittling the term. He certainly collects his share of affluent followers as have other desperado's in history but that does not annihilate his nefarious record. The firm that gave him the drones is deriving good publicity but they should be careful because PW is "this close" to being classified as a terrorist in the US and Australia and I guess that is not good for the UAV business? 

    Enough said. Let's stick to the fun part and find out what, how much and how well these guys have done to propagate our common interest.

     I hereby promise not to utter one more word here that can be interpreted as being off the DIYdrones topic in any way. If you want to haggle with me on the subject of SS and PW then by all means do so in PM's.

    The  use of drones, successful or not, in an open sea setting like the one described is a very important event for us to discuss and learn from.

    I myself am very interested in the matter because where I live we are constantly in need of better search and rescue techniques. Open sea search is a field where I see autonomous drones as a very promising and useful technique. The monotonous sea surface is an almost prefect venue for automated search by "artificial intelligence" image detection. Our group is planning research on this and I hope I can relate our experience here later.

    My vision is that of a drone, perhaps jet driven that autonomously sweeps a large area at great speed and delivers coordinates and multi-modal images in real time of anything that differs from the very uniform appearance of the sea surface. This would spare enormous time and cost that now is spent on search by planes and large helicopters. Therefore it is important to derive knowledge and experience, if any is to be learned, from this story.

  • Moderator

    You might just find out more about this


  • Moderator

    If you have a landing area big enough for a helo then you can defiantly land while underway as shown in Gary's clip.  During the winter, here in Northern Cal, the wind really picks up and I land my platforms (stryker, sky fly max, and raven (nitro-003) right at my feet because the wind is doing all the work.  It really looks cool but takes a little practice.  The raven is the most difficult to land this way, it's stall speed is faster than the other two so it's decent is a little faster, plus mine has been reinforced w/another layer of fiberglass so seeing it come in right at you still is a little disconcerting but that's a mental thing, not a platform thing. Seems I can't get over not wanting to be skulled by my own plane!

  • I don´t think landing an a small vessel will be easy. In some conditions, yes... But the platform seems quite heavy. (See this as an example: We probably have to wait till next years "whale wars" series start...

    Gary, thanks for your insides. Do I get you right that it is a complete system made by Atto? The one on the pictures looks like improvement on the one described as 2h endurance (Jackaroo). But still electric. The 15h doesn´t sound like LiPo :-)

    Cheers,  Marc

  • @gary we need a Bruce Schnier in UAV world ;), given its age of 3d printing and eda, all that is going to posting some code like Schnier did , I would assume :)
  • Moderator

    Dean and Chris have been quietly working on some very cool stuff for a while.

    The Geobat platform is very cool 

    There is also particular airframe that flies for more than 15 hours, small in size and pretty revolutionary. But that one is in NDA territory.

    Their biggest problem at Attopilot is ITAR restrictions, still there should be more than enough customers in the USA.

    I have flown both the thermopile and IMU Attopilots and really all that needs to be said is that they work!

  • Exactly Gary, that landing just on a boat, very easy.     I'm not sure how many of you have ever been out on a large vessel, a cruise ship perhaps, but you can often see seagulls just floating midair flying into the wind, maintaining relative position to ground things but still "flying", doable and not overly difficult with AP assistance (manual would be a bitch though)

  • Moderator

    Don't forget they are having an offer on airframes and APs at the minute $9999 for a complete system. 

    Proven throughout the world!

    Even the wet bits.

    Heres how a high surface wind speed landing might look. Even managed a couple myself

    high wind landing with autopilot assistance from Dean Goedde on Vimeo.

  • Moderator

    Its an AttoPilot platform last year they successfully turned around the whaling fleet just by saying they were going to launch. (Whoops just realised they are only talking about this years experience....)

    Chris Mc Nair is a member he will tell you all about it. The crew untook training with him and Dean.

    There are other things but they are under embargo. 

    Perhaps you could ask Chris about the 24 hour platform.

    I believe I am right in saying that the drop it off the side method is sometimes employed. Again Chris is the man,

  • With the way nautical winds occur it is very likely that they are hand launching into the wind no problem, they could even land without the net with the ship moving into the wind, groundspeed matching ship's speed isn't too difficult with a good wind and it can hover right down (seemingly)

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