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An update from the ROS team at Willow Garage: "We thought we'd make a quick video to show some of what's going on at Willow Garage with the Kinect. We've added features like multi-camera support and control of the Kinect motors to the popular libfreenect library. We're also working on making some fun Kinect hacks of our own -- watch until the end of the video to see where we are with those. We look forward to seeing your videos as well."

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TEL Mega Tricopter

This is the last invention of FoxTeam Member : Stefano and Perry working on this great project.
See the video of first flight.
  • Using 3 standar PPM BL-CTR 100 AMP
  • 3 Electric Motors of 70 AMP
  • 1 10 Kg Servo.
  • A custom aluminium frame.
  • A custom electronic ... we're working on special version of MultiBoard with standard PPM Output and Trifox (Arducopter MP) firmware with acro and stable mode available. First fly are doing using arduino and multiwii firmware
  • Payload until 10 kg in order to fly :)
  • 3 16x10 Propeller
TEL join HG3 and FOX Hybrid FOXTEAM Special project.
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ArduIMU quadcopter part III

Hi all, I have a new drone in the family...

This tiny drone is able to do completely automatic flights, it can perform altitude hold (based on sonar sensor) and obstacle avoiding based on IR distance sensors (you could see the "black stange eyes" on the photo). It´s your personal droid...

Look at the video (the "tennis game" part it´s funny. Thanks to Ramon for the idea!!)

There are some new features in this thrid part... This is the list:

For outdoor configuration:

- GPS library support (actually UBLOX or NMEA)

- Position hold based on GPS

For indoor configuration:

- 4x IR distance sensors to detect obstacles (1.5m range)

- Obstacle avoiding (using distance sensors)


- Altitude hold based on Sonar (LV-EZ0)

- Automatic flight pattern (experimental).

--- Automatic takeoff

--- Position hold [outdoor] or obstacle avoiding [indoor] during a predefined time

--- Automatic descend

--- Automatic landing

- Added XBee for telemetry (and debug)

And some improvements in the code:

- New "radio test mode" to test radio equipment

- Revised control routines


For the GPS position hold I had to implement the navigation algorithms for the quadcopter because it´s really different that the one used for planes...For this navigation it´s necesary to have the magnetometer to cancel the yaw drift in hover conditions. One thing I have observed is that you can only fly this tiny drone on very calm days because it´s too light for the wind... so it´s better suitted as an indoor drone. Then I started to think how to make a cheap way to navigate on indoor enviroments... I have one sharp IR disntace sensor so I start making some tests mounting the sensor in a servo to make a 180º scan. The idea was to mount 2 (or 4) of this sensors in the moving head.
On the tests I found that in this little machine the moving head caused some inestability, so I decided to mount 4 sensors in a fixed way. OK, this the cheap DIY version of an EXPENSIVE laser range finder, but it works...
there are many thing to improve and test, but it´s a promising start...


Sonar module is an LV-EZ0. Because we don´t have any analog input available I use the PWM interface in a Port Change pin (PCINT20) to use an interrupt to read the sensor. (It´s recommended some solder skills to make this modification).

For the IR range finder (Sharp GP2Y0A02) I needed to use a separate Arduino Pro mini (again we don´t have any analog input free). This module connects to the ArduIMU via Serial port so we need to choose between GPS of range finder (outdoor-indoor decision).

On this III part, the hardware (ArduIMU) really show it´s limits... it´s not a problem of CPU power, it´s a problem of the limited I/O as I said before, so it´s time to move to the big brother, the new ArduPilot Mega Hardware... this new platform will be fantastic for this projects...

Behind the scenes

During the test of position hold I have some crashes (nothing important, only some broken propellers...) and there was a moment in that the quad performs not so good, so I start searching the reason. Again I suspect that it could be a vibrations problem so I decided to make a modified code to test the vibration on each motor.

As you can see I have problems on left motor, so I change this prop, also add a new layer of doubled sided foam tape to the ArduIMU and problem gone.

The code is here: (If you want to use it read the instrucctions)

Respect to the IR distance sensor, the first version was a moving head with a servo but this had some problems with vibrations that affect stability and also has a poor scanning rate, here is a photo of this prototype. Finally I decided to use 4 fixed sensors.


Some parts of this codes are still experimental but you can get it here:

Outdoor code (GPS): . GPS libraries :

Indoor code (IR sensors): External Arduino pro mini code:

Old posts of this project:


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First Acro Test with Arducopter MP Quadfox V3

European FoxTeam are doing the first test of Quadfox in Acro mode. We're doing some looping. The Quad Pilot is Giuseppe D'Angelo FoxTeam member the Father of HG3 .

In the video He explain how is possible to do looping with QuadFox v3 . At the end of looping for stabilize Quad he use switch to put quad in stable mode.

Happy vision


Roberto Navoni (Redfox74)

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Quadcopter . . . On The Moon!


Known as the Terrestrial Artificial Lunar and Reduced Gravity Simulator, or Talaris, the three-foot-wide vehicle is a smaller version of a hopper that would be used in space. It is designed to go about 20 meters per hop; space-based hoppers might cover tens of kilometers--or possibly more--in a single bound. The team that built Talaris wants to use it on Earth to test guidance, navigation, and control software developed by Draper that would allow the space-based hopper to navigate autonomously.

The prototype was developed as part of MIT's effort to win the Google Lunar X Prize, a $30 million competition to get a privately funded spacecraft to reach the moon, travel 500 meters across its surface, and transmit video, images, and other data back to Earth. Both MIT and Draper are members of Next Giant Leap, one of about 20 teams registered in the competition.

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Leaps and Bounds - Technology Review

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From Xconomy: "A couple of startup companies set a world aviation record last night.

But they were pretty low-key about it. As I walked into the Future of Flight Aviation Center in Mukilteo, WA, a half hour north of Seattle, I saw little activity. It was after hours, and the hangar-like building was nearly deserted except for the futuristic planes suspended from the ceiling—Burt Rutan’s “Quickie” and a Beechcraft Starship—and part of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner fuselage on the display floor. It was a bit like “Star Wars” meets “Night at the Museum.”

Tom Nugent, the co-founder and president of Kent, WA-based LaserMotive, greeted me and said they were almost ready for showtime. A small team of engineers divided its attention between the back of a command truck and the adjacent trailer that held the laser optics equipment that would make the show possible. Two German guys who hadn’t slept in days (and were still on Munich time) were sprawled out on deck chairs in front of computer monitors like they were playing a video game. One held a remote controller that he used to guide a “quadrocopter”—a small, 1-kilogram, square-shaped flying contraption with blinking lights and four spinning rotors—made by their company, Ascending Technologies.

Jan Stumpf and Michael Achtelik, the co-CEOs of Ascending Technologies, partnered with LaserMotive to perform this feat last night. The goal: to use a laser to power an aircraft in continuous flight for about 12 hours (far longer than its battery would last without recharging, which is only about five minutes). That would be a world record, by a long shot, for the longest free flight of an electric vehicle.

Indeed, this demonstration is a big deal for the future of electric planes, said Barry Smith, the executive director of the Future of Flight facility. Imagine putting a laser on top of every cellular tower, he said, so that certain types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would never need to land to recharge or refuel. That could potentially revolutionize communications, surveillance, and security and defense applications. Longer term, it could even impact the long-held dream of powering manned aircraft with electricity instead of jet fuel—though that is very far off.

For now, Nugent says, “The significance is we’re going to show this quadrocopter, and any aerial vehicle [of this size], will be able to fly effectively forever. It’s no longer limited by battery capacity.”

LaserMotive has done smaller flight tests before, but not on a free-flying vehicle like this. The company is best known for winning the $900,000 NASA Power Beaming Challenge last year, in one of the levels of the “Space Elevator Games.” That involved using a laser to power a climbing robot up a cable to a certain height (1 kilometer) at a certain speed (about 9 mph). But lately the company has been targeting UAVs as a big commercial application of its wireless power technology. (The next level of the NASA challenge, which was supposed to happen later this year, is still up in the air, so to speak.)

“Goggles on!” someone shouted, and we all complied. That meant the infrared laser, which puts out about 200 watts of light power, was switching on. The beam was directed using a series of mirrors and optics and shot out the top of the trailer. You couldn’t see it with the naked eye except for a reddish halo on the 50-foot ceiling. At the same time, the quadrocopter lifted off (under its own battery power), guided by Stumpf, and floated up to meet the beam, about 30 feet off the ground (see left).

“Not centered,” Nugent said. Then the computer vision system of LaserMotive’s setup kicked in. Software and cameras aligned with the path of the laser beam tracked the vehicle’s position, and positioned the beam so it hit the photovoltaic cells on the underside of the craft; those solar cells transformed the laser’s energy into electricity to continuously charge the quadrocopter’s battery.

With that, all human corrections fell away, and it was just a drone hovering eerily in space, rotors humming quietly. It swayed a few feet from side to side, and the laser tracked it. It was about 7:40 pm.

This is the boring part, Nugent said. And boring is good. Exciting is bad. For the next 12 hours, if all went well, nothing more would happen. The craft would stay up all night (as would the crew),and sometime after 7:30 am, it would come in for a choreographed landing in front of 50-odd media and dignitaries. But anything could happen overnight—mirrors in the optical system could overheat and malfunction, or something in the craft or its solar cells could break, or software could crash. There’s no way to know except to do it.

In the meantime, Nugent filled me in on the business prospects of LaserMotive, which he co-founded in 2007. The company is out fundraising—talking with angel investors, angel groups, and venture capitalists—as well as trying to land more contracts with corporate and government partners. One new market has emerged: beaming power to cellular communication towers in places where running a new power line or otherwise upgrading power equipment is too expensive. As for UAVs, Nugent said, the plan is to show potential customers (presumably UAV companies and government labs) that the power-beaming approach works in flight—perhaps at distances up to a kilometer or two. The first applications might be in disaster relief or military scouting operations.

I also took the opportunity to ask Jordin Kare, the co-founder of LaserMotive and a laser expert who worked on the “Star Wars” missile defense system in the 1980s, about the broader significance of what he was watching. “This is the first combination of power and control and duration,” Kare said. “What it really marks is being able to take an off-the-shelf vehicle and power it with a laser so it can do a lot more…The prospect of being able to keep airplanes and communication systems up in the sky forever is an amazing thing.”

On the practical side, Kare said an important factor in all this is how efficient laser systems have become. Although the current demo only converts about 10 percent of the power needed to drive the laser into flying the quadrocopter, it could be more like 20 percent once the team optimizes the technology. And beyond that, Kare thinks there might be some new way, some approach he hasn’t thought of yet, to make the craft’s solar cells better at squeezing more electricity out of the beam.

Until then, this world aviation record will have to do. This morning, in a quintessentially rainy Northwest setting, the quadrocopter came in for its landing a little after 8 am to a chorus of applause. Now maybe these guys can get some sleep—and get ready for the next big challenge in power beaming, whatever that might be."

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125 milligram optical flow sensor "TinyTam"

As an exercise in size reduction, we have prototyped a complete optical flow sensor in a 125 milligram and 7mm x 7mm package. This mass includes optics, image sensing, and all processing. Below is a video and two close-up photographs. In the video, note the green vector indicating measured optical flow as a result of image motion.

Image sensor: Centeye Tamalpais 16x16 pixel image sensor (only an 8x8 block is being used), 1.3mm x 4.1mm, focal plane about 0.3mm x 0.3mm.

Optics: Proprietary printed pinhole, about 25 microns wide

Processor: Atmel ATtiny84

Optical flow algorithm: Modified "Image Interplation" algorithm, originally developed by Prof. Mandyam Srinivasan (well known for his research on honey bee vision and navigation).

Frame rate: About 20Hz.

This work is being performed as part of Centeye's participation in the Harvard University Robobees project, an NSF-funded project to build a robotic bee. The final target mass for the complete vision system (including processing) will be on the order of between 10mg to 25mg, and will include omnidirectional sensing as well as algorithms to detect flowers. Obviously we still have some more work to do!

We documented the construction of this sensor, with lots of photographs, in case anyone is interested.

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