Tuesday, July 16, 2013

AR Drone Flying Robot

In the past I was normally more interested in models that fly by wings rather than with propellers; partially because my experience with model helicopters has been rather frustrating at times with so many broken parts. Last winter I purchased my first quadcopter, the tiny Helimax 1SQ which I could fly inside my tiny house, never broke any parts on it so far. This quadcopter flies with a radio transmitter much like the radio control helicopters.

The AR Drone can be found in hobby shops or possibly where cell phones are sold because it is controlled with a wi-fi signal from smartphone or iPad. Finally I decided it was time to get a smartphone partially so I could fly the AR Drone. It might have been better to buy an iphone instead of an Android because the ios version seems more mature, hopefully this will change.

AR Drone Flying Outside

Demonstration Flight

Flying the AR Drone has been somewhat frustrating but it keeps getting better the more I understand the technology. As the title describes this is more of a flying robot with many sensors that try to keep it stable, with some radio control guidance. In some ways it is really easy to fly, just press a button to take off and press the same button and it lands itself. You can set many flight parameters in the app that controls it, understanding the setup helps a whole lot in getting better flights. There are times when the AR Drone seems to have a mind of its' own and either does not respond or moves without controlling it.  In doing a demonstration for some park and rec kids my AR Drone started flying out of the park and landed in some one's backyard.  Since then I have limited the height and have not had that problem so maybe it was getting out of range which is only about 160 feet.

Picture Taken from AR Drone as it Landed Out of the Park

Evening Picture in Low Light Conditions

Video is transmitted to the screen of the controlling device in realtime but with bright sunlight the screen is almost impossible to see. The video or still shots can be recorded as well.  Often I fly it in the evening when sunlight is less intense and the wind is near calm, wind gusts appear to be a problem for the AR Drone.  There are some really technical documents about how the AR Drone operates and descriptions of the software that controls the AR Drone which runs on linux.  The more I read about the AR Drone, the more I appreciate the very complex technology used and can understand why it might not always operate perfect.

Two Ultrasonic Sensors and Bottom Camera

View from Top Shell Removed

Look for more posts in the future on the AR Drone as I understand it better.

Technical Documents:



Bill Kuhl

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