Staff member from the Calhoun State prison in Georgia spotted a suspicious “helicopter” flying over the prison.
Rather than an helicopter, it looks like something visitors of this site are very familiar with: a DJI F500 hexacopter with a NAZA flight board, controlled by a Spectrum DX radio:
This unusual visit prompted a search on the premises surroundings, and after an hour Deputies noticed a suspicious Dodge car with 4 people onboard, two males and two females, and the multirotor.
“Everybody had several cell phones with different contacts. People try different things but the helicopter was something new. It is a surprise I’ve never seen a helicopter. They were in the woods flying it they had binoculars evidently so they could watch it,” Hilton said.
This had to happen sooner or later. Quadcopters and multirotors are an obvious easy way to bypass any kind of wall, perimeter, country border et-cetera, and maybe deliver illegal items such as drugs for example.
We have probably all seen the original volocopter video that totalized more than 8 million visits (!!) on youtube since it was uploaded on October 28, 2011.
Volocopter from e-volo
Here’s the October 2011 video:
Since then, also thanks to a huge crowdfunding effort, e-volo now presents a prototype the first battery powered manned multirotor. The cockpit is reminiscent of helicopters but the flying mechanism is exquisitely multirotor based.
Here are a few pictures of the new volocopter, from the e-volo website.
On November 10 2013 Lady Gaga introduced the first multirotor based flying dress at her ArtPop album release in Brooklyn, NY.
The flying machine was piloted by Gus Calderon (source), a Carlsbad resident, certified pilot by FAA and owner or ISIS copter, a firm that “combines the expertise of naval engineers and FAA-certified commercial pilots to bring you the strongest, finest quality aerial platforms available on the market“.
I’d very much like to have one of those to go to work in the morning, any chance?
Which reminds us the notorious world’s first manned multicopter flight video by Thomas Senkel of e-volo. Here’s the Volocopter V1. The flight lasted 90 glorious, long seconds:
Multirotors and quadcopters come in all sorts of sizes and shapes that will reflect their main purpose and usage. In order to lift heavy reflex cameras or cinematography equipment, tipycally huge multirotors (>650mm) are used, while for indoors flying fun, some quadcopters are reaching ridiculously small sizes these days:
Flying FPV, First Person View, can be performed from all sorts of aircrafts (or other RC controlled moving devices). For quadcopters, unless you are very skilled in DIY related to video equipment (see the nice blog from FPVGuy), a decently sized frame (330-450 mm minimum) is usually required as the quad has to have a decent payload in order to carry with ease all the equipment required for FPV, such as video transmitter, wide angle camera, possibly onboard DVR to record video.
See for example a DJI F450 equipped with camera and transmitter for FPV:
A while ago a guy called “Blackout”, from Australia, started posting some amazing videos with very aggressive, sporty style FPV flights on his youtube channel, and reporting and writing about his newly designed frame called the Mini H Quad.
This is a very contained size frame (220 mm), very robust and yet extremely lightweight, designed to be able to carry full size FPV equipment usually mounted on larger multirotor frames.
In our quest toward the perfect personal drone we could not skip this one. The box arrived a few days ago and the quad is currently under assembly. I’ll be posting a build report soon.
Beyond the gear it is interesting to see Blackout’s approach to flight. He has a number of videos labeled “proximity” in which he explores very busy paths, such as trees dense in branches, and flies sometimes very close to ground level, with some breathtaking “spikes” in altitude at times. Many of his videos look like a style exercise, precisely executed. The small size of the quad also seems to allow to pass through narrow paths that would be otherwise unaccessible.
There is now a beautiful detailed article from Scientific American that tells the story in great detail, including the evolution of FAA rules on model aircrafts first, and then “drones”, that ended up banning the use of these devices for commercial purposes without the express authorization of FAA.
A multirotor was developed by the Teheran based RTS Labs that is able to take off from a boat and drop flotation aids to people in distress in sea water.
From the site:
“Pars is an Aerial robot designed and made for saving human lives. The first purpose of building the robot is the relief of people drowning near coastlines. By developing its applications, it can be used in ships and off shore reliefs. It can also be used in other applications such as monitoring of marine and off shore structures, recording films and pictures from dangerous path ways for rescue missions, precise positioning. One of the features of this robot is Ability to save more than one life in a mission it can also track its path by GPS positioning and at the end of its mission it can come back home without the need of user guidance.”
Here are some pictures from the RTS Labs site:
The level of autonomy of the machine is probably still limited at the moment, from what can be understood from the web site. The inventors state:
“It’s noteworthy to mention that this robot is designed for the first time and can make a huge revolution in robot applications for saving human lives.”
And here is a video that illustrates the capabilities of PARS.
An inspection of the railroad “viaduc ferroviaire de Roquemaure” located between Orange (Vaucluse) and Roquemaure (Gard), that hosts the high speed Paris-Marseille connection was carried out recently. Normally, these inspections take place at night and all train traffic has to be suspended for the duration of the operations.
This time however, the inspection was carried out in daytime, with a train passing about every 5 minutes. The secret of this special inspection is the usage of a quadcopter, deployed by diades.
This SNCF inspector drone could in principle perform the following tasks:
– take photos and video of railroads and other SNCF infrastructures to detect points of failure and other weaknesses requiring maintainance
– sites and infrastructure surveillance to prevent thefts, such as for example of copper wires, which are quite common
The actual use of drones in such tasks, in particular the surveillance related ones, will not come before a few years (3-4) as it still requires research and development. SNCF is planning to invest in this direction, as drone technology, when fully operational, should lead to an increased efficiency and lower costs.