In our previous article we had noted how, in a presentation of Prof. Raffaello D’Andrea from the ETH Zurich, there is a bit of extreme interest for the security of quadcopter flights: Prof. D’Andrea showed that on cutting out two propellers from a quadcopter, the machine can still fly by adopting a different flight pattern, in which the quad continuously rotates on itself (yaws). Not very practical for shooting some stable video, but possibly great to avoid a crash.
And indeed the team of Prof. D’andrea now expanded on this part of the research and presented a video in which the same mechanism, a failsafe algorithm, is activated automatically during flight on a propeller failure.
Hopefuly we might see this as a selectable option on the next generation of flight controllers. DJI, what about implementing this on the next NAZA update? We might read some less news on quadcopters falling from the sky of Manhattan maybe and flying a quadcopter near people could become slightly less of a concern.
Next we’d like to see some efficient automatic avoidance mechanism. This would be another piece of the puzzle that needs to be completed to make multirotors really secure in a near future.
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.