Affordable Virtually Indestructible Drones
Last spring, Parrot released a cool slow motion video (see Video 1) featuring the famous AR Drone flying through water, fire, glass and crashing into a wall. While this video is really cool, it was performed under controlled conditions (see Video 5 for the making of). Still folks from Game of Drones took the idea seriously and decided to build a robust low-budget drone. Checkout Videos 2, and 3 to see them torturing their quadrotor. Their drone is virtually indestructible! The frame remains fine even after getting hit by a baseball bat or after a gun shot. So, all parts inside the frame remain protected.
Carbon Fiber Frame
The Game of Drones quadrotor was the reward of backers of the Game of Drones Kickstarter project. Now that the project is over, the alternative is to get a carbon fiber drone. Those are the ones used in FPV (First Person View) drone racing. They exist in different sizes. The small ones, called mini-drones, are smaller and cheaper (without the accessories for FPV) compared to the Parrot AR Drone or the DJI Phantom, the number one drone for hobbyists.
FPV Drone Racing: How to Ensure the Best Experience?
One of the most exciting application of drones is FPV racing. To get a glimpse of what pilots see, watch video 5 below. It feels like riding a speeder bike in the chase scene of the Star Wars Episode VI (Return of the Jedi). To race a drone in FPV, beside the drone and its remote, you need FPV goggles or a monitor that will display the video stream from the camera of the flying robot.
The quality of the experience, depends of course on the quality of video. Obviously, the resolution of the goggles and the camera is critical. Going HD is the best option. The video should be at at least 25 frames per second. Another critical component is the wireless link. You need a video transmitter onboard and a receiver on the goggle side. They should provide enough bandwidth to transmit the video at maximum resolution and frame rate. The video wireless link should also operate at a wide range, compatible with the range of the remote control of the drone. Last, don’t forget to take some spare parts. At least some extra propellers, and one battery. The props are not protected by the frame and are likely to break often. The extra battery allows an extended flight time, and having fun for a longer period. A cool option is to have a drone with white LEDs at the front an colored ones at the back. It allows for brighter videos and cool visual effects to spectators, if you plan to fly by night or simply in a shady place.
Video 1: AR Drone Slow Motion
Video 2: Drone vs. Aluminum Bat
Video 3: Drone vs. Shotgun
Video 4: Making of AR Drone Slow Motion
Video 5: View of Camera Embedded in a Racing Drone
I run a small non profit humpback whale research project in Hawaii. Aerial footage would be incredibly useful to us. I’d like to get one of the waterproof drones. When will they be available? The whales leave Hawaii by the end of March / early April.
Production will start second quarter of 2014. And of course backers will be served first. So, We guess it will be too late for you. The best option is to order another drone. If you have a tight budget (approx. $350), the AR Parrot is the right choice. It has an embedded webcam so you can take pictures. Consider however buying also a high capacity battery for longer flights. If you want better shots and stability, you should go for a Phatom Drone that can carry a GoPro camera. The camera can be move alone while the drone is hovering. Expect approx. $1250 Euros for a ready to fly package.
Both drones are available in our Amazon Associate store.
BTW, we are really interested in robots for non-military applications. Please keep us informed on your use of drones.