[FlorianH] Shows Off MinimaBL, The Next Generation Of His Quadcopter Project


[FlorianH] has all kinds of new features to show off with this generation of his quadcopter project. Just about everything has seen an upgrade or some other kind of tweak since we looked in on the last version of the aircraft.

You’ll find some outdoor flight demo clips after the break. Right off the bat we’re impressed at the rock solid stability of the quadrotor while in flight. Even indoors the last version had a hint of a wobble as the control loop calculated stabilization. Here he borrowed some code from the open source Aeroquad project which helps account for this improvement. But the hardware choices lend a hand too. He moved from an ATmega32 up to an STM32F405RG processor. That’s an ARM chip which he programs using one of STM’s Discovery boards. The motors have all been upgraded as well (if you listen in the demo videos for both models you can hear a difference) and he redesigned the frame, which combines carbon tube with 3D printed parts to keep it light yet strong. The upgrade is every bit as impressive as the original build!

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Autonomous Plane? Quadrotor? Both? Meet The ATMOS!

If you’ve been trying to decide between building an autonomous quadcopter or a fixed wing UAV, you may not have to choose anymore.  [Team ATMOS] from Tu Delft University in the Netherlands, has developed a UAV that can autonomously transition from quadcopter flight to that of a fixed-wing aircraft. Although the world has seen several successful examples of transitioning-flight or VTOL aircraft, team [ATMOS] claims to have made the first autonomous transition of this type of craft.

This UAV was featured in their school newspaper, which provides a write-up about the work that went into creating this hybrid UAV. When you’re done with that, be sure to check out the two videos after the break. The first shows the [ATMOS] taking off vertically and flying off as a flying-wing fixed aircraft. The second video shows this and other UAVs in the [DARPA] competition that it was designed for. Fast forward to 2:24 to see this aircraft do a fly-by.

Thanks for the tip [Dirk]!

Quadrotor Opera Begs For Lasers And Pink Floyd

In case quadrocopters aren’t cool enough, here’s an orchestrated quadrotor light show that was shown at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this last week. With 16 quadrotors and a few can lights, it’s a light show not to be missed.

This quadrotor show was created by a collaboration between KMel robotics and Marshmallow Laser Feast. The guys behind KMel are the same brilliant minds behind this nanocopter swarm that can play the [James Bond] theme. For this light show, the guys at KMel Robotics used a Vicon motion capture system to coordinate the flock of quadrotors, as seen in this picture.

With a servo-controlled mirror on the bottom of each quatrotor, each vehicle in the fleet is able to reflect beams of light around the stage and into the audience. Now it’s only a matter of time until a setup like this is used for a showing of Laser Floyd.

Tip ‘o the hat to [cesar] for sending this one in. Via IEEE Spectrum.

Edit: They’re not can lights. After watching in 1080p, [Impulse405] is pretty confident they’re High End studio spots or a wash with a tight focus. Thanks for keeping us honest, [Impulse405]!

Yet Another PCB Quadcopter

Like most people out there, we’re fascinated by these little buzzing and hovering quadrotors. We’ve really enjoyed the recent trend of miniaturizing them and using PCBs as the frame itself. As [scolton] points out in his instructible, his isn’t the first, the smallest, or the lightest, but he does have some great information and a few tricks up his sleeve that make this a fun project to check out. The 4pcb measures 6.5 inches from motor shaft to motor shaft diagonally. It weighs 138 grams and, with its current batteries,can fly for roughly 8 minutes.

A nice thing about the 4pcb is that it includes brushless motor drivers into the design. Apparently that isn’t very common. What we really like though is the massive amount of reference material [scolton] provides. Not only could you download everything necessary to recreate his work, he links to so many other projects and resources you could probably expand in any direction your heart desires. If you’re considering a quadcopter build in the near future, you might want to bookmark this one.

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Quadrotor Squadron Plays The [James Bond] Theme Song In Preparation For World Domination


If you weren’t already a big fan of quadrotors by this point, we’re pretty sure the video below will get you on the bandwagon in no time flat.

The video was debuted this past week at the TED2012 conference, giving [Daniel Mellinger, Alex Kushleyev, and Vijay Kumar] from the University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab, a chance to show off their amazing robotics work. The team used a set of autonomous quadrotors to play the [James Bond] theme, complete with keyboard, drums, cymbals, guitar, and maracas.

The coordination of the robots undoubtedly took an incredible amount of time to orchestrate, but after watching the video we think it is well worth the effort. Now of course you can’t simply input a piece of sheet music into the quadrotor control system and expect them to play it, but we imagine that time will arrive before you know it!

Continue reading to see the [James Bond] theme song in full, and be sure to swing by the U Penn site to read more about the project.

Thanks to everyone who sent this one in!

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Variable Pitch Quadrocopter Flies Upside Down

Straight from the Aerospace Controls Laboratory comes a variable-pitch quadrocopter designed by [Mark Cutler] and [Jonathan P. Howe]. While real, full-sized helicopters always have variable pitch rotors, changing the pitch of the blades on remote control aircraft is a fairly uncommon modification. When it’s done right, though, being able to easily change the thrust direction of a propeller leads to very cool flights, like having an airplane hover nose down.

[Mark] and [Jonathan] identified two interesting techniques that a variable pitch quadrotor can bring to the table. The first is trajectory generation  – because of the added maneuverability, their quadrotor can perform more aggressive banking turns when following a preprogrammed path. The second benefit to their design is quick deceleration. In the first video after the break, you can compare the deceleration rates of a variable pitch and fixed pitch quadrocopter. While the fixed pitch quad continues climbing after being commanded to stop, the quadrocopter outfitted with variable pitch rotors can stop on a dime.

We’re still waiting for the equivalent of the Red Bull Air Races for quadrocopter builds, but when it comes we know what would win the slalom event.

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Robots Listen Only To The Leader When Building A Roving Quadcopter Landing Pad

Swarm robotics is really starting to produce some interesting results. This image is from the video embedded after the break that show a group of five robots creating a landing platform for a quadrotor helicopter. The four that actually make up the platform are not in contact with each other, but instead following commands from the leader. We’re impressed by the helicopter’s ability to target and land on the moving platform. Takeoff appears to be another issue, as the platform bots stop moving until the quadcopter is airborne again.

These robots are part of a Graduate project at Georgia Tech. [Ted Macdonald] has been working along with others to implement an organizational algorithm that guides the swarm. The method requires that the robots have an overview of the location of all others in the swarm. This is done with high-speed cameras like we’ve seen in other robotic control projects. But that doesn’t discourage us. If you already have a flying robot as part of the swarm, you might as well add a few more to serve as the eyes in the sky.

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