Nine years and 80,000 members ago, we started with this:
That first Lego Mindstorms autopilot was feeble, sure, but it was also possible. Inspired by the availability of cheap and increasingly good GPS, MEMS sensors, cameras and digital radios, we talked about the "bottoms-up disruption of the aerospace industry", just as the Homebrew Computing Club (birthplace of the Apple II) did for computers.
The aerospace industry followed the classic path: first they ignored us, then they laughed us, then they fought us.
But thanks to this community, the technology got better, fast.
The great-great grandchild of those first DIY drones is the 3DR Solo.
Today we have this announcement on the US Department of Interior home page. We've come a long way, DIY droners!
Drones will allow Department missions previously deemed impossible
Boise, Idaho – The U.S. Department of the Interior has awarded a contract to 3D Robotics of Berkeley, California for up to 40 small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The award follows a lengthy process to develop performance requirements and select the most useful type of aircraft.
“The contract is extremely important to the Department, as it will allow us to conduct many missions that were previously impossible due to limited resources and costs associated with using manned aircraft,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Safety, Resource Protection, and Emergency Services Harry Humbert.
The aircraft weigh 3.3 pounds, are capable of carrying a variety of sensors, and are easily customized for the types of fieldwork and emergency response operations performed by the Department. The size and weight of these small UAS provide operators a simple, efficient and inexpensive tool to collect aerial data. Their design allows for rapid deployment of new payload options, as new sensors become available.
“The Department expects to use these aircraft for a diverse set of missions including, wildlife and vegetation surveys, fire management, search and rescue, hydrologic study, cultural resource inventory, and surface mining monitoring, just to name a few,” said the Department’s Office of Aviation Service Director Mark Bathrick. “These UAS will not only provide us with better science and reduce the risk to our employees, but they will result in cost savings and better service for the Department and the American people.”