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Who Builds the World’s Most Popular Drones?

Who Builds the World’s Most Popular Drones?
By JACK NICAS and COLUM MURPHY SHENZHEN, China—Big U.S. defense companies brought drones to the battlefield. Now a Chinese company is bringing them to the masses. In just a few years, SZ DJI Technology Co. has become the world’s biggest consumer drone maker…

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Google leasing NASA Moffet Field for drone, space research

This is good news for Bay Area drone research! From Business Week:

Google Inc. has agreed to a $1.2 billion lease of NASA’s Moffett Field airfield in California for 60 years, as the company invests in new technologies such as robotics and aviation.

As part of the deal, Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC will invest more than $200 million in improvements at the site, which is near the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, according to a NASA statement. The facility is slated for research, assembly and testing in the areas of robotics, space exploration, aviation and other technologies, it said.

Google is committing more resources to cutting-edge technologies as it looks for new ventures beyond its core online search services. The Internet search provider has acquired several companies in a robotics effort that was led by Android co-founder Andy Rubin. Last month, Google said Rubin was stepping down and that James Kuffner, a research scientist, would take his position. Other research efforts have included wind power, driverless cars, drones and computerized eyewear.

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GPS Kalman Filtering in PyQuadSim

This video shows recent work by Washington and Lee undergraduate student Shannon Nollet: a simple Kalman filter being applied to the a simulated noisy GPS signal in PyQuadSim (http://home.wlu.edu/~levys/software/pyquadsim/), a Python quadrotor simulator.  The yellow plot is the original, noisy simulated GPS signal (latitude / longitude), and the green plot is the GPS signal filtered using the Kalman filter in OpenCV.  Despite our use of a linear filter (as opposed to the Extended Kalman Filter used in actual vehicles), and despite the filter having only two state variables (latitude, longitude), the filtered GPS signal is good enough to support hover-in-place in the absence of stick input.  I am hoping that students, researchers, and hobbyists can use these kinds of simulations to help  learn about the Kalman Filtering that is essential to the firmware of Autopilot systems like Pixhawk, OpenPilot, and others.

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Stair Climbing Ground Drone ARTI by Transcend Robotics

Innovative leaders in robotics technology have recently announced the launch of their Kickstarter

crowdfunding campaign to bring Ground Drone, the next evolution of ground robotics, to the market.

Washington D.C., November 3rd, 2014

Ever since the 1940’s when Isaac Asimov developed the Three Laws of Robotics and so powerfully

described a future that many people want to see become a reality, the anticipation of fully autonomous

robots has been growing stronger. However, the reality of obstacles scattered around our environment

(steps and stairs being the biggest problems) has only allowed even the best funded companies to

produce “two dimensional” bots that can only effectively traverse flat and clear surfaces. Thanks to

Transcend Robotics, that paradigm is about to change. The company has recently announced the

launch of a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to bring to life “The Ground Drone Project”; an

affordable and capable robotic platform that can be utilized in many different environments and for a

myriad of needs.

“Roboticists have been so taken with Asimov’s vision of bi-pedal mobility that they have spent

decades and uncountable millions trying to skip an intermediate and affordable evolutionary step in

the process,” commented Andrew Ferguson of Transcend Robotics and inventor of ARTI, (articulated

traction control), the technology behind the project. “Yes, eventually we will have affordable walking

robots, but in the meantime, we CAN have full home, factory, and office mobility today.”

According to Transcend Robotics, ARTI is the current rendition of this new approach to overcome

obstacles in the environment. Most current solutions employ complex “flippers” that require trained

human intervention to surmount even the simplest of obstructions. With the ARTI platform, getting

up and down obstacles is as simple as pointing and shooting. ARTI accomplishes this by leveraging

a mechanical chassis innovation that avoids the extra complexity to allow for natural and smooth


The Kickstarter Ground Drone Project, led by Phillip Walker, will launch this solution to makers and

hobbyists worldwide. Various rewards will be available for backers including tee-shirts, do-it-yourself

instructions, a bare bones chassis kit, piloting a remote tele-presence ARTI, and even a fully assembled

R/C controlled ARTI. To say this news has caused excitement in the tech and robotics community

is quite the understatement. “For many of us, this is a dream come true – and we are only a few steps

away from even more amazing things,” Walker states.

The innovative chassis has three, enclosed boxes with plenty of room (450+ sq in.) for electronics

and actuator additions. Most of the assembly parts & components are off the shelf or can be easily

fabricated. In addition, if ARTI is successfully funded, documents will be open to the public including

a bill of materials, CNC vector files, and assembly instructions so that anyone can build his/her own

ARTI from scratch.

“We want to provide a versatile and affordable ground robotic chassis to stimulate robotic development

for individuals, small businesses, and the maker community so that innovation can move forward

aggressively,” noted Walker in mentioning his motive for opening up a patented technology.

“This technology is needed now, not in 10 or 20 years. Once roboticists have access to true and

affordable mobility,” Ferguson added, “the promise of robotics will finally be realized in ways that will

stretch our collective imaginations.”

To join the evolution, go to http://kck.st/1EdP8BH or go to Kickstarter.com and google “Ground Drone Project”.

For more information on Transcend Robotics be sure to visit TranscendRobotics.com.

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2014 UAV Challenge Official Photos Published

I know there have already been a few posts regarding the 2014 UAV Challenge however the official photographer "Stefan Hrabar" has just published his photos of the event and they are certainly worth seeing.

Brings back many happy memories of my week in Kingaroy as a member of Team Thunder.

The link to the 2014 gallery is


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