Boeing and the US Air Force have converted retired F-16 fighter jets into drones, designated as QF-16s. According to Boeing, "While in the air, the QF-16 mission included a series of simulated maneuvers, reaching supersonic speeds, returning to base and landing, all without a pilot in the cockpit." The military claims that they will use the drones for dogfight training. Video of the first pilotless test flight below. (Thanks, David Steinberg!)
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[Video Link] Matthew says, "Filmmaker Eddie Codel used a DJI Phantom drone and a GoPro Hero3 camera to film a "drone’s eye view" of Burning Man."
[high res] Everyone knows about this comic book, which Dick Cheney read as a boy and later used as the basis of his foreign policy during the Bush administration. Here's another comic, from 1939, that predicts modern drone warfare.
(Thanks, Randy Regier!)
This year, the Burning Man Organization has set out rules for drone operation on the playa, developed in concert with drone-hobbyist/burners who attended a summit at BMOHQ on July 17. The rules include a common-sense safety code, parameters on where/when/who can be videoed; fire safety rules; spectrum management procedures; and guidance on elevation and wind.
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The Distributed Flight Array is an experimental project from ETH Zurich; it's a set of 3D-printed hexagonal rotors with magnets on their edges; they automatically join up with one another, sense and compute the aerodynamic properties of their current configuration, and cooperate to fly together.
The system is designed around a central propeller which provides thrust for the structure. Surrounding it are three omni-directional wheels that let the bots get into position with each other on the ground while magnets embedded in the frame provide a connection. A gyroscope provides positional information to an on-board microprocessor while an infrared sensor feeds information about altitude to the system. Pins allow the collected bots to communicate this real-time data between each other and adjust their individual thrusts to keep the combined unit stable. Despite the sensitive nature of the electronics, when a flight is over, the bots disengage midair and fall safely to the ground where the process can begin anew.
Individual units can only propel themselves spastically around a room, but when joined the DFA modules can create traditional quadcopters, more advanced decacopters, and their most impressive applications are atypical and asymmetrical arrays that defy traditional aeronautic aesthetics. These odd combos often produce interesting flight patterns — in one configuration where the bots are aligned linearly, the construct appears to flap as the opposite ends try to reach equilibrium.
...Next steps for the project will be removing the last vestiges of human control—currently a motion-capture system or an operator using a joystick has to provide a small amount of feedback to keep the system from drifting away. The hope is that the DFA becomes completely autonomous and increasingly versatile. “What I would love to see is in-flight reconfiguration,” says Oung. “Which I think is certainly possible with the current system.”
Watch: Autonomous Robots Self-Assemble and Take Flight as One [Joseph Flaherty/Wired]
Deer Trail, a small town near Denver, is contemplating issuing $25/year hunting licenses for Federal drones
. No drones are reported to have ever flown over Deer Trail, and it would likely be a federal crime to destroy one, but the mayor clearly views this as a way of sending a message to Washington, and of making some easy money for the town. (via MeFi
"Albert Hibpshman is a United States Air Force (USAF) pilot of manned and unmanned aircrafts. During his recent deployment to Afghanistan, Hibpshman was a Mission Commander flying MC-12Ws [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircrafts] as well as a Group Liaison Officer, responsible for the coordination between five flying squadrons and Army, Marine and special forces units at bases spread throughout southern Afghanistan." Speaking with Muftah.org, Hibpshman shares
his personal experience with contemporary drone warfare, and the human side of cyberwar. — Xeni
"The DIY (Drone It Yourself) v1.0 kit offers you the opportunity to turn any object into a drone*, simply by attaching four motors and a control unit -- no technical know-how needed. The kit consists of multiple parts that are easy to assemble and can be attached to a wide range of different objects"
DIY (Drone It Yourself) - Jasper van Loenen
Spencer Ackerman, formerly of Wired News and now with the Guardian, reports today
: "A study conducted by a US military adviser has found that drone strikes in Afghanistan during a year of the protracted conflict caused 10 times more civilian casualties than strikes by manned fighter aircraft." The new study was referenced
in an official US military journal, and shows that US officials' claims that unmanned planes can target more efficiently than manned counterparts are not true. [guardian.co.uk] — Xeni
Above, footage of a protester's quadcopter in Gezi Park getting shot down by the Turkish Police. Below, the footage of police violence the drone had been capturing (complete with music that sounds like it came out of an orc-fighting scene in the Hobbit). Ahead of us: a long, weird future history of protest.
Tuesday afternoon on June 11th 2013, Police was violently attacking peaceful protestors. Police fired guns at one of our RC drone during the protests in Taksim square, Istanbul. Police aimed directly at the camera. Due to the impact on the camera (it did have a housing) the last video was not saved properly on the SD card. The camera and drone were both broken. Managed to keep the SD card. Here is the footage from that camera! This footage you are about to see is from the prior flights minutes before the incident.
Turkish drone shooting heralds a new age of civillian counter-surveillance
Spocko sez, "In this commercial for a cell phone screen protector product, a quadcopter flies up to some fruit, sodas and a cell phones and shoots them with a remote controlled handgun.
The company, Clearplex, has many videos of it's screen protector products being shot at, so this one is a natural, although creepy, extension of that series.
The video is edited so it's hard to know how accurate the quad-copter is, but consider how apparently easy creating this one was,what's the next step?"
Drone vs Phone: Samsung Galaxy S IV - GunDrone
(art by Daniel Martin Diaz)
Earlier today, we published my story
"By His Things Will You Know Him," which is from the forthcoming Institute for the Future
anthology "An Aura of Familiarity: Visions from the Coming Age of Networked Matter
." I've read the story aloud for my podcast
, if that's how you prefer your fiction.
TRAQ is a senior project from a group of Northeastern University engineering students; it's a quadcopter that seeks out and homes in on radio signals. As they write, "The quadcopter's potential applications include disaster relief, surveillance, search-and-rescue, and stolen goods recovery."
I'm interested in the technology as a way to get cameras automatically directed to hotspots in places like Gezi Park -- the drones could automatically focus on police based on their emergency radios, ensuring that the cops were always in shot.
The Hubsan X4 quadcopter is a tiny, cheap copter with enough power to
do flips, enough smarts to stay level and pointing right, and enough
tough to drop from 50 foot onto grass without damage. It flies for ten
minutes or so and recharges from USB. The separately available spares
package include copious spare blades, a spare shell and a spare
It's cheap (under £30), includes a remote control and is an absolute
blast to fly. It can handle quite a fresh wind and is fast enough that
it's best fun outdoors, though it appears that people more skilled than
I can also fly it indoors. Without hitting things.
BTW, important hint: connect the power when the copter is on a level
surface. If you don't, it's impossible to fly.
Hubsan X4 H107 R/C Micro Quad Copter
2.4GHZ [Amazon UK]
The Hubsan X4 H107 Quadcopter Crash
Pack [Amazon UK]
Hubsan X4 H107 R/C Micro Quad Copter
2.4GHZ [Amazon US]
The Hubsan X4 H107 Quadcopter Crash
Pack [Amazon US]
"Hi, and welcome to Game of Drones, the new show where we design, build, and fight unmanned aerial vehicles." A fun show with a lot of good info for budding drone enthusiasts.