It costs less than a quarter of the $1,400 bill of materials estimated for the Japanese Defense Ministry's flying sphere. The battery gives it a running time of only 12 minutes. And its CPU is only a 468MHz ARM9. But the AR.Drone 2.0, which Parrot introduced at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, has impressive hovering, takeoff, and landing abilities similar to those of the Japanese sphere. (You can access videos here and here.)
The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 has a streamlined hull for outside use. For inside use,
a full hull shield protects it from impact.
The AR.Drone 2.0 is the second version of the popular flying robot, which its maker calls a flying, augmented reality video game. It's got on-board video cameras and WiFi for streaming video to the handheld control device, which can be an iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad. Though it was designed for Apple platforms, it will be available on other hardware "in the next few months," the company says. It can also be controlled with a Linux PC and a joystick using the AR.Drone Navigation software, which is available for free and was designed for application developers.
With some imagination and better electronics, the robot could be both cheap and powerful enough to form a design platform for machine vision and military applications. It's also really cool to look at, and I bet it's a lot of fun to play with. If I were an engineer, I'd want to figure out how to make it more powerful without weighing too much more or compromising its moves.
The Parrot quadricopter is made of carbon fiber and high-resistance PA66 plastic, a polyamide, or nylon. Its embedded CPU runs Linux, and memory is kept at a low 128Mbytes of 200MHz DDR. Running speed is 16.4 feet per second, or 11.2mph. With its protective hull for indoor use, it measures 20.7 inches x 20.3 inches. Outdoors, without the hull, the Parrot measures 17.7 inches x 11.4 inches. With or without the hull, it weighs less than a pound.
Actually I think they're evolving into home entertainment centers. When I was a kid and a teen, all I wanted to do was to sit in the driver's seat and pretend to be the driver. Now, I'd much rather be in the back, reclining or sleeping or watching a DVD while cocooned from any potential dangers by 25 airbags and 12 cup holders.
@naperlou: Hotrodding the AR is tricky. Each motor has it's own microcontroller and drive circuitry. Switching to larger motors means reverse engineering the controller protocol and matching the timing, which I have heard is rather tight. As the weather gets better, I'll be more inclined to mess around with things that fly.
As for general overall design style. The tri-,quad-,hexa-copters are designed in the short-flight, agile, high-energy use arena. The drones we hear the most about in the news are long distance, energy efficient, long flight-time designs (liquid fueled) which brings the design back to aeroplane shapes.
The copter-drones have been used to look inside buildings after earthquakes and other short flight applications.
From boats to airplanes to...rocket ships? I know "rocket ships" sounds kind of 50s/60s, but that's what some of these newer car shapes make me think of. But maybe that's a continuance of the airplane cockpit look.
Re the cars, they also evolved from looking like houses on wheels (1910s and 1920s) to looking like boats, to airplanes, to. . . I actually forget what the analogy is for current vehicles. My observation about U.S. versus Japanese drones (military vs. manga) is original, but the car thing is an old one. You can really see how the first cars were like houses on wheels, with the high "walls" etc. Today, driver's seats are like airplance cockpits, and they'll get more so as we see the introduction of heads-up displays. That'll be a good thing, because it'll force drivers to actually look at the windshield, offering some hope that perhaps they'll look OUT it, too.
What an interesting observation, that US drones look like our military planes, whereas Japanese versions look like their fictional sci-fi characters. Makes total sense to me. Car styles used to reflect more of their respective cultures, too, back in the day, as did clothing, household objects and a ton of other things. Interestingly, Parrot the company is based in Paris. European design is extremely different from US design, in many different consumer products anyway as well as fashion, and some of it reminds me of modern Japanese design.
curious_device, thanks for your feedback. Good to hear from someone who's actually hacked the AR.Drone, and thanks for the confirmation of what I imagined: that it wouldn't take much to build a more powerful full-featured, multi-capable drone on top of this versatile open platform.
Looking at this from the industrial design and cultural perspectives, it's interesting to observe the differences between U.S. and Japanese drones, both in the military and in games for consumer as described in this story. In the U.S., we design our mini flying stuff to essentially look like little versions of our fighter aircraft.
On the other hand, the Japanese designs seem to have evolved from Anime, in that they look somewhere on the spectrum from Mothra to whatever those other dinosaur-like horror movie characters were called. You can also see that this flying game comes from the same world in which humanoid-like robots seem completely normal. I guess what I'm saying is the cultural landscape in which engineers and designers work has a big influence on what the end products look like.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.