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1,000+ drone swarms in China

This June 2017 swarm of 117 drones set the world record for the most fixed-wing drones in a single swarm.

From Popular Science:

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer 

 At the close of the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou on Dec. 7, the event's hosts set a world record for the largest drone swarm ever deployed. For 9 minutes, 1,180 drones danced and blinked out an aerial show. It was cool. It was also an interesting look into the potential future of aviation.

According to an executive at Ehang UAVs, which provided the swarm, each drone cost $1,500, which is pretty darn cheap considering their capabilities. Take, for instance, the datalink and software used. It lets more than 1,000 flying robots coordinate autonomously and synchronize movements, with a flight deviancy of a mere 2 centimeters horizontally and 1 centimeter vertically. If something goes wrong and a drone can't reach its programmed position, it automatically lands.

In the show last month, these machines created striking formations of China, a kapok tree flower, and a ship. They also showed off a lot of potential for the military and security sectors. The fact that the drones can move autonomously, landing if they don't fulfill their directive, is particularly intriguing. Ehang is essentially boasting that its swarms can make decisions on how to repair itself, as well as improvise operational functionality.

This is just the latest drone development to come out of China. At Zhuhai 2016, the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) and Tsinghua University released a video of a swarm zooming in improvised, network-generated flight patterns. Though the CETC-Tsinghua drone swarm was unarmed, a CGI sequence showed the drones hunting an enemy missile launcher in urban area, and then dive-bombing into the missile launcher, destroying it. CETC followed up by launching a swarm of 117 drones in June 2017 (pictured above).

China High Altitude Mini Drone

Released by high-altitude balloons, these shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones glide for a 60-plus miles while collecting and eavesdropping on enemy signatures.

China also is looking at taking its drone swarms into near space, alongside a planned arsenal of anti-stealth drones, hypersonic spy planes and high-altitude airships. In fall 2017, the Chinese Academy of Sciences used high-altitude balloons to release two shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones that flew downward from a height of 15 miles, and flew a distance of more than 60 miles. Those high-altitude micro UAVs have passive sensors for detecting electromagnetic activity and can map terrain. Similarly to the Perdix system drone swarm showed off by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office, the Chinese Academy of Science's flock could be released by fighters, bombers, and other drones.

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1,000+ drone swarms in China

This June 2017 swarm of 117 drones set the world record for the most fixed-wing drones in a single swarm.

From Popular Science:

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer 

 At the close of the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou on Dec. 7, the event's hosts set a world record for the largest drone swarm ever deployed. For 9 minutes, 1,180 drones danced and blinked out an aerial show. It was cool. It was also an interesting look into the potential future of aviation.

According to an executive at Ehang UAVs, which provided the swarm, each drone cost $1,500, which is pretty darn cheap considering their capabilities. Take, for instance, the datalink and software used. It lets more than 1,000 flying robots coordinate autonomously and synchronize movements, with a flight deviancy of a mere 2 centimeters horizontally and 1 centimeter vertically. If something goes wrong and a drone can't reach its programmed position, it automatically lands.

In the show last month, these machines created striking formations of China, a kapok tree flower, and a ship. They also showed off a lot of potential for the military and security sectors. The fact that the drones can move autonomously, landing if they don't fulfill their directive, is particularly intriguing. Ehang is essentially boasting that its swarms can make decisions on how to repair itself, as well as improvise operational functionality.

This is just the latest drone development to come out of China. At Zhuhai 2016, the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) and Tsinghua University released a video of a swarm zooming in improvised, network-generated flight patterns. Though the CETC-Tsinghua drone swarm was unarmed, a CGI sequence showed the drones hunting an enemy missile launcher in urban area, and then dive-bombing into the missile launcher, destroying it. CETC followed up by launching a swarm of 117 drones in June 2017 (pictured above).

China High Altitude Mini Drone

Released by high-altitude balloons, these shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones glide for a 60-plus miles while collecting and eavesdropping on enemy signatures.

China also is looking at taking its drone swarms into near space, alongside a planned arsenal of anti-stealth drones, hypersonic spy planes and high-altitude airships. In fall 2017, the Chinese Academy of Sciences used high-altitude balloons to release two shoebox-sized, flying-wing drones that flew downward from a height of 15 miles, and flew a distance of more than 60 miles. Those high-altitude micro UAVs have passive sensors for detecting electromagnetic activity and can map terrain. Similarly to the Perdix system drone swarm showed off by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office, the Chinese Academy of Science's flock could be released by fighters, bombers, and other drones.

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Hybrid Cargo Drone First prototype (15kg max weight at take-off)

After a few months of work, the first prototype is ready. In the video, we show some moments of construction and testing.

The propulsion system worked better than we expected, now we are focusing on a new generator that will allow staying in the air with 150 grams of fuel per hour (that's awesome if you think the weight at take-off is 5 kg).

The new frame will have a diagonal of one meter, so we will be able to use new motors with a thrust capability of 30 kg.

We saw that the market is really interested in the type of aircraft we are developing, that give us great expectations for the commercialization stage.

For any question please write at this email: nicolai.valenti@gmail.com 

Subscribe to the new letter here: http://eepurl.com/ddACr5

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Hybrid Cargo Drone First prototype (15kg max weight at take-off)

After a few months of work, the first prototype is ready. In the video, we show some moments of construction and testing.

The propulsion system worked better than we expected, now we are focusing on a new generator that will allow staying in the air with 150 grams of fuel per hour (that's awesome if you think the weight at take-off is 5 kg).

The new frame will have a diagonal of one meter, so we will be able to use new motors with a thrust capability of 30 kg.

We saw that the market is really interested in the type of aircraft we are developing, that give us great expectations for the commercialization stage.

For any question please write at this email: nicolai.valenti@gmail.com 

Subscribe to the new letter here: http://eepurl.com/ddACr5

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Obstacle Avoidance for 3DR Solo using LightWare LW20

Our friend Stephan Schindewolf, in collaboration with Thomas Stone and I.R. Lock, developed an affordable, front facing collision detection solution for the 3DR Solo, using a LightWare LW20 (or SF20) and a servo.

The LW20 comes standard with a built-in servo driver for SLAM maps within user-definable view angle and distance. The Lidar is being controlled by an Arduino, which manages the Lidar configuration, scanning and obstacle detection.

The Arduino is connected to the IMX companion computer in Solo via USB. On the IMX Stephan added the required controls and actions, LED handling, speech output and collision prevention routines in shotmanager.

Functionality

Current features include:

  • 3 sector scanning for obstacles (left, center, right) within a 6 meter range ahead of Solo.
  • Scan is enabled by log-button press on the controller paddle. A short button press toggles the GoPro on/off as before.
  • Scanning on/off is indicated by a text and voice prompt in Solex.
  • The Solo LEDs indicate the detection of an obstacle by flashing in purple color: Left LED: obstacle to the left; right LED: obstacle to the right; both front LEDs: obstacle in center (LED control requires Arducopter 3.5 or higher installed)
  • If a front collision is detected, Solo goes into BRAKE mode in all flight modes except LAND or RTL. You can exit BRAKE by pressing the FLY button anytime.
  • In all smartshots, you will get visual feedback by the LEDs and voice feedback in Solex.
  • Obstacle avoidance keeps track of the forward pitch angle along with Solo altitude. As soon as the pitch angle for the current altitude would cause the lidar beam to hit ground, obstace avoidance is temporarily disabled. Both front LEDs flash in yellow to indicate that status.
  • Text and speech output in Solex, for obstacles in the center of the flight path also the approximate distance to the obstacle is reported

The following videos show the result of the hard work:

https://youtu.be/OKWKLyUCm9E

https://youtu.be/IKCGKXnNq2o

You can view the full project here: Obstacle Avoidance for 3DR Solo

A word of caution before you proceed:

1. All the modifications require a great portion of care since you are modifying some of the core modules of the 3DR Solo software. It is strongly recommended to backup all the original files on the IMX before making any changes.

2. This project will void your 3DR warranty.

3. The project describes a 3D printed plastic housing for the SF20, but the LightWare aluminium housing, as fitted on the LW20, is recommended to avoid possible overheating of the Lidar (the aluminium acts as a heat sink).

LightWare would like to thank Stephan and Thomas for this great project. I'm sure many will find it interesting and helpful.

For more information about the LW20 please visit our website: LightWare

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