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Pixhawk-based autonomous multicopter charging station

Congratulations to Giovanni Durso, whose Pixhawk-powered autonomous recharging system is a finalist for The Hackaday Prize My system attaches to the bottom of current apm systems and allows them to land on a user defined target (example targets provided) and when equipped with the supplementary electronics allows for recharging 

This means that the copter is now capable of performing multiple missions and if combined with a ground vehicle it can be used as an extension of the ground robots capabilities thus creating a multi robot system 

Example applications are 
-surveillance 
multiple copters watching an area 
-environmental surveying 
Can do mapping or remote sensing over a longer period due to recharge 
if with agv it can move around the environment and perform a multitude of missions 
-extending current agv operations 
Aerial mapping / complimentary sensors 
-improved aerial photography 
capable of tracking a target  DETAILS

The cheap small GPS used on hobby UAVS are only accurate to +-5m and traditional landing systems simply move the copter to a predefined GPS location and slowly lower the craft hoping that there is nothing in the way and that the position is where you started. This is nowhere near accurate enough to allow the copters to dock and thus recharge themselves. Normally a human operator is required to move the copter from the landing site to a place where it can be recharged. This limits mission operation and requires a human operator to be physically present.

Utilizing recent advances in low power high performance computing and computer vision techniques my system will allow the copter to dock, recharge itself and when finished fly off again and continue its mission thus partially compensating for the poor endurance of multirotors.

Todo

- Design testing platform [DONE]

- Build testing platform [DONE]

- Test flightworthyness of platform [DONE]

- Design recharging electronics

- Design vision software for landing [DONE]

- Test integration of vision system with paltform

COMPONENTS 1×Hexacopter 1×Odroid u3 computer 1×Pixhawk autopilot 1×Usb webcam

Simulation of autonomous landing 13 days ago • 0 comments

Using the free vrep simulation environment and my access to matlab and simulink via the university the simulation model of the copter has been developed and I can work on designing vision based control algorithms without the risk of crashing copters.

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Angry ram knocks out drone mid-air, chases photographer.

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SteadiDrone MAVRIK – Video

We've spent a long time developing the MAVRIK to be the most affordable high quality medium lift drone available today, or tomorrow. With an all new fully adjustable rail supported front mounted brushless gimbal that will fly hundreds of different cameras with the ability to point straight up, to our well known 'Rapid Deploy' folding air frame design, a new airframe hatch that allows access the electronics quick and easy without the need for any tools. A high strength impact resistant top dome that not only looks great, it includes flight controller LED and USB access without needing to remove the dome! These features and many more make the MAVRIK a revolution in drone design and offer an aerial platform you can take out everyday and use with confidence, whether it be a commercial job or shooting ultra smooth video, aerial mapping or search and rescue, the MAVRIK will do it all and more.

http://www.steadidrone.com/drones/steadidrone-mavrik

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Droneshare Update

We have been working hard to get Droneshare out of beta, and are pleased to share that we are almost ready to call it V1. We are wrapping up a few things including mission discovery, filtered searches, and making flight uploads easier.

Interesting milestones since our last update:

Over 15,000 flights uploaded (a combination of public and private flights) Upload support is now built into Droidplanner, APM Planner and Mission Planner Dataflash (binary or text) logs are now supported (in addition to the original tlogs) Andrew Chapman’s LogAnalyzer tool is now integrated for analyzing Dataflash log files looking for common problems A “movie” button provides a first person visualization of flights Live vehicle tracking & control is now in alpha testing

Here is a sneak peek:

We have received a lot of great input on ways to improve Droneshare, thank you for your feedback! We are excited to focus on the next version. Here are some things we have in mind:

Better plotting control and better plotting UI Airspace warnings More polished design ( possibly with better tablet integration )

Before we get started on our next version, we would love to learn more about how and why you use Droneshare, and gather your thoughts on features you would like to see. To keep everyone’s thoughts in an organized fashion, we have created a survey that will help us decide how to move forward based on your needs.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mapbox and Doarama for providing us with awesome open source mapping and and visualizations that make Droneshare better.

Help us make Droneshare even better, ways to help:

Answering our short survey: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nEF3VrLQ0VdEDunWwt-GGvD1cVPWvlUefAy20lGqxUM/viewform

Using or extending our project source code: https://github.com/diydrones/droneshare

Found a bug? feel like a feature is missing? help us by creating a ticket: https://github.com/diydrones/droneshare/issues

Uploading your missions droneshare: http://www.droneshare.com/

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Need to Know – Export Controls

As outlined in this early post by Hai Tran, it has been reported that Australian based UAV manufacturer Cyber Technology found themselves in a spot of bother with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service when they attempted to export UAVs out of the country on two occasions.

Excerpts from itnews.com.au describe the two incidents:

"The shipment was opened and found to contain two 'CyberQuad' mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), two low light CCD cameras, two hand held UAV controllers, two pairs of video glasses, one power management system with four batteries, two chargers, one mains power supply, two portable video terminals and one rugged Pelican brand transportable case" a spokesman said.

and

Just one month later, a Cyber Technology employee was caught trying to travel overseas with the goods in their baggage

It is obviously no surprise to learn that there are export controls for products relevant to defence applications here in Australia, but it seemed unclear to me where the line is drawn.  What is export controlled and what isn't?  Where is the line between RC Model aircraft, Civilian focused Remotely Piloted Aerial System and Military Hardware?  How does a company or individual interested only in recreational and civilian use of UAVs steer clear of such restrictions?  Is it even possible?

Most of us would be aware of complications faced by US based companies, like 3DR and sparkfun, navigating export restrictions. Export restrictions don't appear to be limited to RTF systems either, with basic and seemingly harmless items like stepper motor controllers which are designed for laughably innocuous things like egg painters apparently affected also.  Yet there appears to be no restriction on things like this, which doesn't seem to make sense?  And what about kickstarter campaigns like the Pocket Drone, Hexo+ and AirDog, and their 5,000-odd backers? How export restrictions will impact on the fulfilment of rewards to backers of these campaigns remains to be seen. Each of these campaigns are international, and it appears that no warnings or disclaimers have been publically issued to backers referring to potential export restrictions. It seems reasonable to assume that there would be a quantity of backers based in countries that may not necessarily be on the unrestricted list (which can be found by clicking on the top left of this page).  The Pocket Drone for example remains yet to ship, but is being assembled in the US. It seems logical that AirDroids would have a plan to ensure fulfilment of all relevant rewards, as refunding dozens, possibly hundreds of backers could cost them heavily - especially when you consider the commission taken by Kickstarter (I wonder whether that gets refunded in the case of a refund in the event that a reward is unfulfillable). Perhaps they plan to fill a container, ship it to Hong Kong and distribute to their backers from there. It seems unlikely, but that would certainly be a laugh if they were forced to do so (but an interesting example of the great lengths a company might be forced to go to create jobs in the US)!

When comparing the above examples of export restricted products in the US with the products offered by Cyper Technology, there are obviously some distinct differences.  Cyper Technology offer 4 different complete aerial systems, each of which are uniquely developed for use in specific applications.

The CyperQuad is a quad copter which is optimised for carrying a range of payload options.  It specifically lists a range of Military uses among it's intended applications - which include Urban Surveillance, Over the hill reconnaissance, communications relay node as well as Mine Detection and target detection.  But it's list of intended use applications also includes recreational uses including aerial photography and FPV.

The CyperEyeII is a medium range endurance (long endurance by our standards) unmanned platform that is designed to carry a payload up to 20kg for up to 10 hours. It's capabilities are quite advanced and it lists both military and civilian uses, but no recreational uses.

Then there is the CyBird and CyberWraith, which are both aimed solely at defence specific applications.

Looking at these systems as a group, and Cyper Technology as a company, no one would argue the relevance of export control. The same can be said about many of the big players like Advanced VTOL Technologies, VTOL Aerospace, Codarra Advanced Systems, Unmanned Systems Australia and Aerosonde. But what about other manufacturers which blur the line like the Flamingo from Silvertone, or those focused squarely on the civilian market like the Scarab series from MuiltiWiiCopter, the GoFour from Aerobot or the original Mini H Quad from Blackout?  Where is the line draw? Or is it all export controlled?  Does this affect all manufacturers and resellers?  And how onerous is the current permit process?

The DSGL (Defence and Strategic Goods List) Categories lists UAVs under Part 2 of the categories list. As identified by Robert Palmer, the definition for what is controlled can be found in section 9A012 on page 246 of the Defence and Strategic Goods List Amendment 2011 (No. 1) - F2013C00051.

9A012 "Unmanned aerial vehicles" ("UAVs"), associated systems, equipment and components, as follows:

a. "UAVs" having any of the following:
                1. An autonomous flight control and navigation capability (e.g., an autopilot with an Inertial Navigation System); or
                2. Capability of controlled-flight out of the direct vision range involving a human operator (e.g., televisual remote control);

b. Associated systems, equipment and components, as follows:
                1. Equipment specially designed for remotely controlling the "UAVs" specified in 9A012.a.;
                2. Systems for navigation, attitude, guidance or control, other than those specified in 7A and specially designed to provide autonomous flight control or navigation capability to "UAVs" specified in 9A012.a.;
                3. Equipment and components, specially designed to convert a manned "aircraft" to a "UAV" specified in 9A012.a.;
                4. Air breathing reciprocating or rotary internal combustion type engines, specially designed or modified to propel "UAVs" at altitudes above 50,000 feet (15,240 metres).

The DSGL also specifically identifies a long list of other items relevant to DIYDroners in the Dual Use Goods section including radio equipment, telemetry and telecontrol equipment, magnetometers, accelerometers, inertial navigation systems, flight control systems and robots. Additional notes stipulate that materials, software and technology related to controlled goods are also controlled.

By these definitions it seems that any APM or FPV equipped aerial system would be affected - including a 400g 230mm mini quad.  The same could be said of an unpowered slope soarer with a 5.8Ghz 25mW video transmitter.  Or a Lego NXT kids toy, any comparable item, or just about any part thereof.

So, could some of us in the DIYDrones community find ourselves in trouble with the law as a result of this law?

As the issues experienced by Cyber Technology with their CyberQuad demonstrate, the definition of export certainly includes travelling with the item.  Like Lachy Goshi, I would love to take one of my smaller aerial systems with me on my next holiday to southeast Asia, but the idea that I might run foul of the Australian Customs Act or Criminal Code on the way out, or on the way into a foreign country (say at Phuket International, for example) is a bit of a worry.  Hai Tran rightfully points out just how unsettling it is to think that, even as end users, we could find ourselves in hot water if we are not careful. This is especially concerning when the maximum penalties are so incredibly high. Like Ben Dellar, I am keen to know more.

It seems that no matter whether you are a developer, a manufacturer, a reseller or simply an operator or end user, or where in the world you are based, it might well be worth taking a closer look at how these laws might affect you in your jurisdiction.

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