Tag Archives: drone

Looking forward to Seattle Police flying drones downtown

Watching this video has me pretty excited to see Seattle PD deploy their $41,000 RC drones in a downtown environment. Vortices around buildings, lots of vertical obstructions and inexperienced pilots should make for some interesting deployments. Thankfully these ridiculously overpriced toys only run for about 10 minutes so pedestrians and  cars will only be at risk for brief periods.

It gets better- SPD is not content with the two drones they pissed away $80,000+ on, they now want $150,000 for additional drones- and they have yet to even deploy the ones they have.

They were planning on sending pilots to fixed wing ground school, until someone informed them that they might want to do the helicopter ground school, since the drones are not fixed wing aircraft. Real bunch of “top guns” on the SPD Drone Committee. Maybe they could consult with the 20 year old guys at the mall who fly those toy helicopters? Probably be more relevant training than learning about settling with power on a Bell 206.

Two guys decide to fly RC helicopter around Alcatraz- resulting in multiple citations from Feds

Found this article in the Marin Independent Journal, apparently these guys were attempting to shoot some video around Alcatraz last week. Apparently it didn’t work out too well for them:

“Hedrick was cited on suspicion of disturbing wildlife, operating aircraft within 500 feet of a boat dock, creating hazardous conditions and operating an aircraft within the Federal Aviation Administration-imposed closure of 2,000 feet above the island.

Paquett was cited on suspicion of filming without a permit”

The FAA has stated that commercial use of RC helicopters/quadcopters is currently illegal. These guys might want to try to shoot something a little less high profile.

Here’s a link to their Vimeo page and their website. Looks like they have done some pretty impressive work, shame they chose to fly around a protected area without checking into it with the appropriate  authorities.

Original article: Feds cite Marin County men over drone helicopter flight at Alcatraz – Marin Independent Journal.

Boeing Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft Completes 1st Autonomous Flight

Photo credit: Boeing photo

— High-Altitude, Long-Endurance aircraft is designed to remain airborne for up to 4 days while reaching altitudes of 65,000 feet

ST. LOUIS, June 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing’s [NYSE: BA] Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system (UAS) completed its first autonomous flight June 1 at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The 28-minute flight began at 6:22 a.m. Pacific time as the liquid-hydrogen powered aircraft lifted off its launch cart. Phantom Eye climbed to an altitude of 4,080 feet and reached a cruising speed of 62 knots. After touching down, the vehicle sustained some damage when the landing gear dug into the lakebed and broke.

“This day ushers in a new era of persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) where an unmanned aircraft will remain on station for days at a time providing critical information and services,” said Darryl Davis, president, Boeing Phantom Works. “This flight puts Boeing on a path to accomplish another aerospace first – the capability of four days of unrefueled, autonomous flight.”

Phantom Eye is the latest in a series of Boeing-funded rapid prototyping programs, which include Phantom Ray, Echo Ranger, ScanEagle Compressed Carriage, and an associated Common Open Mission Management Command and Control (COMC2) system capable of managing all of the company’s unmanned assets.

“While Phantom Eye is important for many reasons, future ISR, strike and bomber programs also will benefit from the technologies we are developing and maturing for our customers,” said Davis.

The flight took place following a series of taxi tests in April that validated ground guidance, navigation and control, mission planning, pilot interface and operational procedures.

“This flight demonstrated Phantom Eye’s initial handling and maneuverability capabilities,” said Phantom Eye Program Manager Drew Mallow. “The team is now analyzing data from the mission and preparing for our next flight. When we fly the demonstrator again, we will enter higher and more demanding envelopes of high-altitude flight.”

Phantom Eye’s innovative and environmentally responsible liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will allow the aircraft to stay on station for up to four days while providing persistent monitoring over large areas at a ceiling of up to 65,000 feet, creating only water as a byproduct. The demonstrator, with its 150-foot wingspan, is capable of carrying a 450-pound payload.

The company’s portfolio of UAS solutions includes the A160T Hummingbird, H-6U Unmanned Little Bird, S-100 Camcopter, Integrator, ScanEagle (which is currently in service in Canada, Australia, Poland, the Netherlands and Malaysia), Dominator, Phantom Eye and Phantom Ray.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 61,000 employees worldwide.

Review of the XP2 Quadcopter from Xproheli

I’ve been looking for a quadcopter or helicopter to shoot decent HD video for a while. I had some success using an HD Camera on an AR Drone, but the quality leaves a lot to be desired and the lifting performance is simply not there. I thought about a Trex 700, Gual x7, and the X650 from Xaircraft as well as several other options available on the internet. Then I stumbled on the XP2 from Xproheli. These guys are right here in the US (Bend, OR), and they are film makers who have obviously spent hundreds of hours trying to come up with a solution to shooting stable HD video from the air. Before I bought my XP2 I called Xproheli’s owner, Hans Skjersaa, to learn more about the device and what to expect. Hans is pretty pumped about this quad and it comes across quickly. He is willing to walk you through any questions or concerns. I immediately felt more comfortable buying the XP2 knowing I could get support from local guys rather than trying to email someone in China.

So I went for it and bought the RTF XP2 from them. It arrived on my porch the next afternoon, totally complete with radio, 4 batteries and charger (you supply the camera). Hans told me to give him a call before I tried to fly it for the first time, he walked me through what to expect and offered some good tips. After a couple rainy days I had it up flying- the power of this thing blew me away- it has tons of reserve power, carrying a Gopro is not an issue at all for the XP2. You can put this thing several hundred feet in the air in a matter of seconds. Unlike the AR Drone and some helicopters, this quad has no “stable” or auto leveling feature- if you do a control input it stays in that orientation until you counter that input. So, if you bank to the right, it will stay in that bank until you roll out of it yourself. At first this is a little hard to learn, but the results are the video will be very smooth. I’m thinking I’ll be installing a FPV video system next to allow for better control at altitude or distance.

I’ve got dozens of trouble free flights on it so far (about 2.5 hours of actual flight time) and I really love the way this thing flies. It’s durable- being made of aluminum it’s very light, and unlike so many of the other quads out there, if you land hard or have an accident you can bend the aluminum back into alignment rather than have broken carbon fiber or plastic pieces to deal with.

I hope these guys keep pushing the design to allow for larger cameras, and maybe add features like GPS, altitude hold and other options to make it even more versatile.

Here is a video review I made showing the XP2 in the air, as well as some video and photos I’ve taken with it:

Yeah it’s expensive, but these guys have worked hard to come up with a great quadcopter that is unlike anything else out there and I think it produces video that rivals pro-grade RC helicopters that cost thousands more.

If you are interested in one go to www.xproheli.com and see what they have, you won’t be disappointed.