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Open Source Technology

Inside Chris Anderson's Open-Source Drone Factory 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-to-fly dept.
the_newsbeagle writes "The former editor of Wired is betting that the 21st century skies will be filled with drones, and not the military sort. His company, 3D Robotics, is building open-source UAVs for the civilian market, and expects its drones to catch on first in agriculture. As noted in an article about the company's grand ambitions: 'Farms are far from the city's madding crowds and so offer safe flying areas; also, the trend toward precision agriculture demands aerial monitoring of crops. Like traffic watching, it's a job tailor-made for a robot: dull, dirty, and dangerous.' Also, farmers apparently wouldn't need FAA approval for privately owned drones flying over their own property."
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Inside Chris Anderson's Open-Source Drone Factory

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  • by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:45PM (#46353511)

    Whatever the fate of this particular company, it's pretty clear to me that most (or all?) farming jobs can be automated with a combination of current machinery, sensors and some reliable software. I predict a world where several hectares of farmland will be simply monitored by each "farmer". Automatic combine harvesters are already a reality. Drone surveillance is near. Pest control? Can't see why not. A complete automatic milking system which lovingly cares for each cow? Maybe 30 years.

    A system where animals to be slaughtered never see a human face? Don't be shocked, it's coming.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @10:13PM (#46353689)

    Heh, you should look at what ArduPilot is capable of.

    Anyone can own a fully autonomous vehicle, be it land, sea or air. ArduPilot/ArduCopter/ArduRover will fly/sail/drive pretty much anything, fully autonomous, with waypoints automatically or using remote control telemetry. It can live track a target (using GPS data from a ground station) or carry out a mission like a 'bomb drop' all on its own.

    I drop water balloons from mine on my dogs for fun and games, they love it, I've only done a couple fully autonomous missions, but it most certainly will fly its course and do what its told and do it exactly where it was supposed to. I've been unable to get it to drop a water balloon down my chimney, but it hits within about 6 feet EVERY TIME.

    That is MORE than accurate enough to do damage.

    Fun however, is first person view obstacle course races with a couple friends. All the thrill of flying an airplane through places you shouldn't, and some serious risk when you consider that you could lose $1,000 worth of autopilot and camera gear. The quads themselves are cheap, mine is custom built now, if you exclude the autopilot itself, camera gear and radios, the quad is actually cheaper than any of my other RC aircraft.

    Its also the one with the shortest range and lowest payload.

    These autopilots now days may not rival military tech, but they are so close that it makes me want them to bring back GPS dithering almost. This thing could EASILY be made into a lot of death.

    Of course, so can a truck full of fertilizer if you know what you're doing. Except this thing will fly itself to the target while you drive the other direction. Thats the scary part.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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