With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week granting exemptions
for drone use in film production, we are guessing this won't be the last time we cover an unmanned aerial vehicle promising fresh new ways of capturing footage from above. The team behind the PlexiDrone really couldn't have timed its run any better, looking to shake things up with a snap-together drone capable of lugging a range of camera equipment along for the ride.
Nixie is a camera-equipped quadcopter designed to follow the user around taking pictures and videos on command, while conveniently wrapping around the wrist to form a bracelet when not in use.
Although big players such as Amazon
and the United Arab Emirates
have all announced plans to launch drone-based delivery services, it looks like DHL Parcel is about to beat them to it. This week, the courier company announced that it will begin using its unmanned DHL Parcelcopter to deliver pharmaceuticals from the German seaside village of Norddeich, across 12 km (7.5 miles) of the North Sea, to the small island of Juist.
Fans of the Disney classic Fantasia
will no doubt remember the Sorcerer's Apprentice
segment of that film, in which a hapless Mickey Mouse accidentally brings an army of mops to life. Well, Cirque du Soleil has teamed up with ETH Zurich and spinoff group Verity Studios to create a somewhat similar video entitled Sparked
– instead of mops, however, it features a fleet of lampshade-clad quadcopters.
Last year, 3D Robotics announced its Iris quadcopter drone
. Like other similar products, it can either be flown manually using radio remote control, or it can use its onboard GPS to autonomously fly between a series of preprogrammed waypoints. Today, however, the company announced its successor, the Iris +. Its big feature is the Follow Me function, which allows it to automatically fly along above a moving ground-based GPS-enabled Android device. This means that when equipped with a GoPro actioncam, it can get tracking footage of you as you cycle, ski or surf.
When bridges are inspected for cracks and other defects that could lead to their collapse, engineers must either hang beneath those bridges on lines, or view them from elevated platforms. Whichever approach is used, a lot of setup is involved, and defects may get missed. In the future, however, unmanned aircraft may be able to more quickly and thoroughly check out bridges, working with wireless sensors built into the structures.
Last month we covered the launch of an interesting Kickstarter project
that aimed to jump-start sales of a drone version of a fully-functional hover bike. The quadcopter drone acts as a proof of concept for the full-sized manned vehicle, with proceeds from the crowdfunding effort intended to fuel the continued development of the final vehicle. Gizmag visited the Malloy Aeronautics workshop in the UK to take a closer look at the Hoverbike project.
Having revealed its original Hoverbike design
back in 2011, Malloy Aeronautics has been hard at work developing its ambitious, science fiction inspired vehicle. The team has made some significant changes in the last few years, moving from a dual rotor to quad rotor design while adding some serious stability credentials in the process. Chris Malloy has now launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter where backers are being offered a working 1/3rd scale version of the second generation Hoverbike, while giving the team a helping hand in the development of the eventual, manned vehicle.
As any professional photographer knows, setting up lights can be a hassle. This is often the case in the studio, but especially when shooting on location. Before too long, however, it may be possible to use hovering autonomous drones as light sources. In fact, that's just what a team from MIT and Cornell University has already done. Their system not only does away with light stands, but the light-equipped aircraft automatically moves to compensate for movements of the model or photographer.
The ESA has tested a novel system that may allow the agency to safely land rovers on Mars using a quadcopter-like dropship. A fully automated, proof of concept Skycrane prototype was created over the course of eight months under the ESA's StarTiger program, with the system's hardware largely derived from commercially available quadcopter components.