Neighborhood watching with the Swinglet CAM high resolution flying camera
By Paul Ridden
November 9, 2010
With the help of the Swinglet CAM you can create your very own local aerial map a la Google Maps, or monitor wildlife distribution in a given area, or maybe just get a feel for what's going on in the neighborhood. The small, unmanned aerial vehicle can take off and land on its own and its integrated camera will snap high resolution images along a predetermined flightpath or as directed by remote control.
Swiss sensor manufacturer senseFly sees the Swinglet CAM high resolution aerial photography drone being useful for such things as traffic monitoring, security applications, mapping, crop monitoring and wildlife watching. It comes packed in a suitably-sized case, has a wingspan of 80cm (31.4 inches) and weighs 500g (17.6 ounces). Its Li-polymer battery will power the UAV for 30 minutes which is said to give it an operational range of up to 20km (12.4 miles) and a top speed of 30-50kph (up to 30mph).
Once unpacked from the case, the onboard brushless electric motor is activated with a few shakes of the device. The drone can be programmed to follow a pre-determined flight path based on up to 20 GPS coordinates, but also comes with a remote control. So long as the device stays within range (up to 2km/1.2 miles), it is also possible to alter a pre-programmed flight plan while it's in the air, but there's no live photo feed so operators will have to wait for it to land before being able to get at the images.
As for the images, they're automatically snapped with an integrated 12 megapixel camera. The Swinglet CAM package also contains a radio modem, battery and charger. Operators will need to load the included "e-mo-tion" software onto a suitable notebook, but there's also a version which includes a semi-rugged notebook ground station.
Pricing information is available on request from senseFly but we wouldn't expect the Swinglet CAM UAV to be available at the cheaper end of the scale.
The company has produced a video to show what its product is capable of: