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Slideshow: These Robots Soar
8/27/2012

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Festo's SmartBird was inspired by a herring gull. It flies, glides, and sails, and can take off, fly, and land autonomously, rising by means of its flapping wings alone. Its articulated torsional drive unit, combined with a complex flight control system in its torso and tail section, lets SmartBird's wings twist at specific angles, as well as beat up and down to optimize airflow use without the use of additional lift devices. Wing position and torsion are monitored by ZigBee-based two-way radio communication, conveying operating data such as battery charge and power consumption, as well as pilot input. Pilots can also adjust torsion control parameters in real time during flight. Festo expects to transfer ideas and insights gained from the functional integration of coupled drive units to the development and optimization of hybrid drive technology.   (Source: Festo)
Festo's SmartBird was inspired by a herring gull. It flies, glides, and sails, and can take off, fly, and land autonomously, rising by means of its flapping wings alone. Its articulated torsional drive unit, combined with a complex flight control system in its torso and tail section, lets SmartBird's wings twist at specific angles, as well as beat up and down to optimize airflow use without the use of additional lift devices. Wing position and torsion are monitored by ZigBee-based two-way radio communication, conveying operating data such as battery charge and power consumption, as well as pilot input. Pilots can also adjust torsion control parameters in real time during flight. Festo expects to transfer ideas and insights gained from the functional integration of coupled drive units to the development and optimization of hybrid drive technology.
(Source: Festo)

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Charles Murray
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Re: nature versus machines
Charles Murray   8/28/2012 5:29:25 PM
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I still think the University of Pennsylvania's quadrotor robots are among the most amazing things I've ever seen.

William K.
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Robots that soar
William K.   8/28/2012 7:59:10 PM
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These are interesting and useful types of robots, that is certain. But the Japanese "sphere" thing is not that big a deal. I have seen another video of it, and it is mostly a helicopter with a spherical space-frame shroud, which does offer a good bit of protection. 

I have also seen the cheap helicopter thing that sends pictures back to a smartphone. It is quite a toy. A similar device equipped with a high resolution camera would be a serious snooping tool, all for under a hundred bucks. So now every kid can snoop wherever things can fly. Of course, no laws will be passed about this until some politician is compromised big-time, then we will see just what the courts will have to say.

But the flying remote piloted robots are here to stay, and getting better and cheaper every day. IT will certainly be "an interesting time." 

Thinking_J
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Laws have already "passed"
Thinking_J   8/28/2012 9:10:47 PM
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Currently there are numerous laws governing these devices.In the US....

- all remote and autonomous flying machines (that don't carry people) must operate within a 400' virtual cube or visual range of human operator/supervisor with a max altitude of 400'. Depends on which laws are being quoted. (FAA)

Obviously the US Military has exclusion from most of these rules... especially, outside the US.

- All said devices cannot operate where they may interfere with full size aircraft (FAA).. specifies on this vary a bit. Basically, don't fly at the end of the runway!

- There is some legal liability issues .. reason why most RC modelers work with AMA rules and their insurance. Don't want to lose radio contact or control, see it crash into a car, while it is going down the freeway, then be held personally responsible for the results!

- NO one can use these devices under current law for professional aerial photography or any professional service (this is a ridiculous recent ruling). This shut down one CA company. Doesn't matter if you a operating it within 10ft!

- Law enforcement use of these types of devices for aerial surveillance of any type is currently being reviewed and debated, Lot of concern over privacy abuse. Silly. when it is already being done with full size helicopters.

Of course, because it is still a new field.. enforcement of any of these laws is spotty at best. Most were intended to keep RC modeling safe.

My favorite quote from Frank Zappa: "We are a nation of laws - randomly enforced".

In other countries..... a license is required for operation of these flying machines.

 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: A variety of flight
Ann R. Thryft   8/29/2012 11:59:40 AM
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RNDDUDE, I think the AirJelly is probably the most sophisticated design of all of these, followed closely by AirPenguin. And they're so beautiful and so un-clunky. Festo reminds us that machines can look natural.




Ann R. Thryft
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Re: flying machines
Ann R. Thryft   8/29/2012 12:00:32 PM
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Clinton, thanks for the video link. That's by Parrot's AR Drone 2.0 quadricopter-protected version. We show version 2.0 (without the quadricopter) in Slide 3 of this slideshow. It's a talented machine full of features.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Hybrid Flyers
Ann R. Thryft   8/29/2012 12:01:16 PM
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SparkyWatt, that's a very interesting design idea. Do you by any chance design robots? Or have an idea of what such a hybrid would look like and how it would work?

bobjengr
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These Robots Soar
bobjengr   9/1/2012 11:17:01 AM
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I can envision many applications for these small soaring robots, all of which would not be an invasion of privacy.   Thinking_J has excellent points governing use and I'm somewhat amazed that law-making agencies have already formulated laws restricting their use.   A great number of uses seem to be desirable for inspecting physical structures; buildings, power plants, cooling towers, etc. as well as hazardous sites restricting entry by emergency personnel.  I wonder if any governmental agencies offer waivers for this type of work strictly for commercial purposes?    

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Flying penguins
Ann R. Thryft   9/5/2012 12:18:13 PM
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Thanks, Dave, for that book link. I've always been fascinated by the history of inventions. This discussion makes me wonder how many of them came spontaneously by contemplating what's around us in nature, both plants and animals.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Laws have already "passed"
Ann R. Thryft   9/6/2012 12:22:27 PM
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Thinking_J, thanks for all that info all about legal ramifications of flying robots in the US. Who would've guessed such laws were already in place, and that there are so many of them?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Flying penguins
Ann R. Thryft   9/6/2012 12:26:52 PM
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Thanks, Dave, for that book link. I've always been fascinated by the history of inventions. This discussion makes me wonder how many of them came spontaneously by contemplating what's around us in nature, both plants and animals.

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