WWB UAV Team Introduction

Hello,While I am a teacher at a local high school (Cypress Bay) in Weston, FL, this summer I presented an idea to a small group of motivated students to build a UAV.We were initally motivated to begin this project by Chris Anderson's awesome video from the Maker Faire about the Google campus & UC Berkeley flyovers.We also were fortunate to currently be finalists for a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams grant. This team was also able to compete successfully at the state level and travel, all expenses paid, to the National Science Bowl in Washington, DC in April 2009.We have one major question: how can we contribute to help others further their research or activities?Our first step was to decide what type of aircraft to employ; we have initially decided to go with a helicopter. This would enable us to achieve our first major goal: videotape or take aerial photos of the campus, football games, etc.However, if anyone can think of a better use for our skill set, we would love to hear how best we can contribute to this fairly nascent field.
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  • The way I see it, Getting involved in ardupilot would mean getting involved in a autopilot project which aims to be the most lowcost of them all, which I think is exciting. But it still has to get quite a bit of polish (telemetry, ground station, different airframes), so that's maybe one of the areas where you could work.
    While ardupilot is for planes, mikrokopter.de is for quadcopter and quite impressive, but not too autonomous. And then theres paparazzi, which is quite autonomous and well polished and seems to work well for planes. With the latter, getting involved might mean more of higher-level work or tuning existing bits and pieces.
  • Hovering UAVs have been done...kinda. But not really all that thoroughly. Low cost and easy to use/build projects are particularly scarce.

    Of course there's a reason for that. It's really not easy.

    So I'd say it's definitely a worthwhile project, but you'd need to consider carefully whether you're biting off too much.
  • Well, then a quadcopter it will be.

    Helicopter was probably chose due to the following:
    We started the InvenTeams proposal with the idea to create a small hovering vehicle that could be used in small spaces. For example, SWAT or police are trying to enter a building, but do not know what or who is behind the door or walls. The robot is deployed, quietly moves room-to-room and surveys the interior. However, it turns out that a bunch of similar devices have been previously designed. So that idea fell through. We went with a very doable UV water filter (inexpensive design + portable).
    When I posed the UAV idea, I guess the hovering was still on their mind.

    Do you think I should resolutely squelch the helicopter idea, or is it worthwhile to let them come to that conclusion on their own?
  • 3D Robotics
    Welcome! How did you choose a heli? They're probably the hardest UAV challenge and there are other ways to get a stable camera platform, such as a quadcopter.
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