Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2017 - JAN 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR APPLICATIONS 38 unmanned systems inside   December 2017/January 2018 burst modes—and it can stream 720p video over Wi-Fi. Snap has a maximum speed of 33.5 mph, can reach 1 g of acceleration and has a maxi- mum altitude of 5,000 meters. However, "we find that f lying a drone high and fast is not the best use of a drone for our operations," Agvent said. "We tend to f ly low and slow—the great preponderance of our operations are probably between 70 and 100 feet." The 150-gram lithium-polymer battery is designed for a flight time of 20 minutes based on an average speed of 5 mph, and recharges in one hour. This "smart battery" keeps track of how much charge the drone has left and learns over time how it gets used. Vantage then com- bines this information with GPS data and data on average wind speed to create a "dynamic geo- fence"—basically a safety net to ensure the drone Vantage worked with professional direc- tors to program drone shots that often take expert pilots years to master. This includes having the Snap orbit users by f lying a smooth circle around them, and going out and back for a smooth fadeaway shot into the distance to paint a big picture and capture context. Snap also has a number of automatic f light modes, where the drone tracks users based on their smartphone's GPS. With the air tripod mode, Snap hovers in place and rotates and pitches its camera to keep the user in frame, which is good for tight spaces or getting the framing just right for a specific move on the part of the user, such as a f lip or a high dive. With the free-form following mode, the drone moves with the user in any direction, keeping a constant orientation relative to the user's path. With the virtual wire mode, users point the smartphone's camera at where they want the drone to start and stop and also select the drone's orientation to lead in front of or follow from behind or beside the users along this path, which helps make sure the drone moves down a clear path and gives us- ers better control over composition. "Basically, we have the user be more like a director and less like a helicopter pilot," Fisher said. "Typically, in professional military and commercial drone settings, it's standard to have two operators on a drone, one for the sensor, one for the aircraft, but that's not a practical option for most people, so we figured out ways for the software to take over. So instead of having cus- tomers control the pitch or lateral motion of the UAS in real time, the idea is to have them say, 'This is the sort of shot I want,' and letting the UAS do the hard work of creating that." Snap's camera can get angled from straight down to straight ahead. The gimbal used to piv- ot the drone's camera and hold it steady weighs less than 40 grams, or as much as six times less than other gimbals. Nevertheless, it can adjust the level of the camera more than 7,000 times per second, or about 60 times for each rotation of the propellers, to help keep shots stable. " I'VE BEEN CUT BADLY BY A BLADE ON A QUADROTOR, AND ALMOST EVERYONE I KNOW WHO FLIES REGULARLY HAS BEEN CUT AT SOME TIME AS WELL, SO IT'S REALLY EXCITING TO ADDRESS THAT PROBLEM." Tobin Fisher, co-founder and CEO, Vantage Robotics goes no farther than its battery can take it back. There is no minimum height and distance that Snap needs to keep from users—one can literally bump into it and grab it out of the air, Vantage said. (Small fingers, however, can still fit through the prop guards if one really tries, so Vantage advises against f lying the drone in- tentionally into anyone or anything.) The Snap is primarily designed to be con- trolled via a free smartphone app available for iOS or Android. One can also pilot it with a two-stick controller, such as a Bluetooth game controller in combination with a smartphone and the app, or with a DSM controller in conjunction with a future accessory. It has a maximum range of 150 meters over Wi-Fi or 1 kilometer with upcoming modules.

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