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Canadian company Aeron Labs has sold an Aeryon Scout to the Libyan rebels for an undisclosed amount. This quadroter drone can be set up with a pre planned flight path, or you can just touch the touchscreen to tell it where to go.
The particular version the rebels received also has a thermal imaging camera, allowing the drone to see at night.
Aeryon Labs states:
While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country – they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. The Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts. This video gives sample photos and video from both the Scout’s daylight and thermal payloads.
According to Wired, Aeryon Labs worked with private security firm Zariba and had the drone hand delivered by Charles Barlow, who runs Zariba. Charles states he spent no more than 24 hours training the rebels how to use the Aeryon Scout.
A new robot helicopter by Vanguard Defense called Shadowhawk has been released. Shadowhawk has a range of 35 miles and can fly up to 70 miles an hour. It can come equipped with a turbine or piston engine. All models come with a Sony FCB EX-980 CCDTV camera as well as a FLIR Photon UTAM-32 Thermal Camera.
If you are in the military, then you have the option of adding a Taser XREP, 40mm, 37mm grenade launcher or 12 gauge shotgun with laser designator. Yes, you can now get a robotic helicopter with a grenade launcher! Now hold on a minute, get those ideas of launching hand grenades at your neighbor out of your head.
We are not quite sure how this will play out in regards to licensing if you as an individual want to use one. Considering the News Corp’s The Daily has a drone and may or may not need licensing. Kashmir Hill from Forbes states:
Hobbyists are basically free to use drones as long as they keep them under 400 feet. At this point, civil and commercial use of drones is only allowed for research and development purposes. “Not for compensation or hire” says one FAA notice. To get government permission to use a drone (for non-hobby purposes), a private entity has to jump through hoops including getting an airworthiness certificate — meaning the thing is safe to fly — and an experimental certificate, approving the planned use of the unmanned system (uses are currently limited to research and development, marketing surveys, or crew training).
Vanguard Defense has already won a bid to supply Mongomery County in Texas with the Shadowhawk for it’s Homeland Security efforts.
I guess law enforcement gets to circumvent the licensing. Why do they get to have all the fun?
Click through for a video of Shadowhawk in action.
From Aeryon Labs in Canada comes an amazing new quadrotor called Scout. Scout weighs only around 1 kilogram and while carried disassembled, it quickly snaps together. Scout has a range of 3 kilometers, can travel up to 50 kilometers an hour and withstand 80 kilometer an hour gusts of wind.
Pre planned flight paths can be used or you can simply click on the map on the control screen and Scout will go to that location.
The payload area is easily swappable and you can put in either a video camera that can stream video to any device like an iPhone, or a thermal imaging camera. Other payloads can be easily developed.
Click through for a video of Scout catching a bad guy in action using the video camera.
Update 8/24/11 – Libyan rebels get Aeryon Scout drone.
What the plane can actually carry seems to be up for debate. On one hand it is supposed to be capable of carrying four cruise missiles, but some say those are way too heavy for it’s size. Others say the term cruise missile could mean anti-ship missiles and that it is big enough to carry these.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated:
The jet, as well as being an ambassador of death for the enemies of humanity, has a main message of peace and friendship.
I guess they have been reading War & Peace over in Iran, in order to come up with the above phrase.
Lead researchers Raymond Ouong and Raffaello D’Andrea have developed a system where the individual single propeller components can drive around and dock with each other, as shown here. Once enough of them are docked together, then they can fly.
Eventually they will be able to then land, disassemble, drive around, reassemble, fly again and keep repeating this process. From the DFA webpage:
The Distributed Flight Array is a flying platform consisting of multiple autonomous single propeller vehicles that are able to drive, dock with their peers, and fly in a coordinated fashion. Once in flight the array hovers for a few minutes, then falls back to the ground, only to repeat the cycle again.
Swarm robotics always remind us of hive minds and the Borg.
To watch this crazy swarm assemble itself and the fly, click through for the video.