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Black Hornet, Microcopter

Black HornetThe tiny Black Hornet is a microcopter UAV designed by Prox Dynamics, a Norwegian company.  This microcopter is deployed by hand and controlled with a joystick, while viewing the action on a tablet.  The Black Hornet can fly for up to 25 minutes and is almost completely silent.

Black Hornet is currently being deployed with the British troops in Afghanistan where it is said to make a big difference. It streams live video and can capture snapshots.  Weighing only 16 grams  this seems like a great addition to a troops arsenal without adding much extra weight.

Click through for a video from a couple of years ago of an earlier test model.

Link via (IEEE Spectrum)

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UAV Flies Indoors

MIT AUVThe Robust Robotics Group at MIT has developed an algorithm that allows a fixed wing plane to fly indoors.

AUVs usually fly outside and rely on GPS to help navigate. Using a fixed 2 meter winged plan indoors without GPS makes the challenge even harder.

Nick Roy, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and head of the Robust Robotics Group states:

The reason that we switched from the helicopter to the fixed-wing vehicle is that the fixed-wing vehicle is a more complicated and interesting problem, but also that it has a much longer flight time.

In the video below, the plane has already been given a map of where it is going, but it still needs to figure where it is on the map in real time by using sensors. The next step is to get the plane to generate a map on the fly.

Link via (MIT News)

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Flybox By Skybotik

FlyboxFlybox is a very thin six blade helicopter made by Skybotix, a spinoff from the Autonomous Systems Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

This flying robot comes with ROS installed,  uses an ARM 32 bit controller and can last for up to 30 minutes at at time.

Available options include a USB camera, WiFi, XBee and Bluetooth.  No word on price yet.

To learn more, check out the free demonstration at Swissnex in San Francisco on September 30,2011.

Link via (Swissnex)

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Helicopter Drone Fits In Your Trunk

InceptorYet another tool for law enforcement similar to Shadowhawk, but without the weapons or thermal camera. A small helicopter drone named Inceptor from a company called Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing.

This drone has a weight of 3.5 lbs and can fly for up to 24 minutes at a time at speeds of up to 24 miles per hour. Inceptor has an electric motor that uses lithium polymer batteries that are easily swappable.

It also has a range of 1/2 a mile, but that can be extended with a beefier antenna.

Ground control comes with a touchscreen that has augmented reality and vehicle status.

It will be made available to law enforcement agencies for a price of $50,000.

Link to Inceptor Spec Sheet (pdf).

Link via (Robots.net)

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Robot Helicopter

Shadowhawk 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.

Link via (Wired)

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