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5-Pound UAV Flies For 50 Minutes, Streams HD From Over 3 Miles 115

Posted by timothy
from the so-much-better-than-model-rockets dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Looks like those guys from Aeryon Labs are at it again. Today they announced the SkyRanger a bigger brother to their Scout drone (the one that the Libyan rebels used back in 2011). This one claims flight time of close to an hour, streaming 1080p30 HD video, a range of over 3 miles and a camera that can shoot 15 Megapixel stills and thermal video simultaneously. Not only that but it pops out of a backpack and is ready to fly instantly. It ain't cheap, but it can fly at 40 mph!"
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5-Pound UAV Flies For 50 Minutes, Streams HD From Over 3 Miles

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  • Bad guys (Score:1, Funny)

    by zaft (597194)
    So what happens when the drug cartels get this?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm surprised they don't already. It's much easier to build UAVs if you're not encumbered by stupid legal complications like intellectual property laws.

      It's sort of like with gun control. Making it harder to get guns will only make it harder to legally get guns.

      • This looks like a great project to develope on my 3D printer. Only maybe put a solar cell on top?
        • This looks like a great project to develope[sic] on my 3D printer. Only maybe put a solar cell on top?

          It'd be a very poor tradeoff between power and payload. You'd need to increase the battery size and motor size to offset the increased weight from the solar cell and charging electronics. Both of the modifications will increase weight further and reduce your flight time more than the in-flight recharging could possibly increase it - not to the mention the loss of payload storage space for sensors. If you're looking to recharge in the field, just have a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery on the UAV with a l

        • by azav (469988)

          You'll need a much greater energy density for the solar cells. You can use the 50% ones that NASA uses in outer space that have a fresnel lens over the cell to increase efficiency per square inch.

      • Dude, they have submarines. There's no doubt they have UAVs.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      not much, with that limited range and weight limit

      • Re:Bad guys (Score:4, Informative)

        by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:37PM (#43807303) Journal

        And pretty easily trackable if they're broadcasting with enough power to send HD signals 3 miles.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by BlueStrat (756137)

          And pretty easily trackable if they're broadcasting with enough power to send HD signals 3 miles.

          Tracking down radio-frequency sources, especially low-altitude, low-power, mobile transmitters, is not so easy. Just look at the equipment and infrastructure used by the British to track the RF signal emitted by TVs (for licensing fees/penalties) and pirate FM broadcasting stations. Even with all that equipment, manpower, and infrastructure, their track record is far from stellar.

          It's not something that most local or even most State police forces will have. The Feds don't have the resources and manpower to

          • by troon (724114)

            Tracking down radio-frequency sources, especially low-altitude, low-power, mobile transmitters, is not so easy. Just look at the equipment and infrastructure used by the British to track the RF signal emitted by TVs (for licensing fees/penalties)

            They used gullibility, which is much cheaper. There never were any functional TV detector vans.

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            but it is easy, head of physics department of U. I attended had worked on such a system the military uses for enemy walkie-talkie four decades ago: difference in arrival time of signal at two locations produces hyperbola on map of possible origins. third transmitter makes 2nd hyperbola and bomb is sent to intersection of hyperbola if it was an officer (had different kind of handheld in cold war days). and all the poor sap did was push the transmit button.

            • by BlueStrat (756137)

              ...difference in arrival time of signal at two locations produces hyperbola on map of possible origins.

              One big problem is multipathing...signals (particularly with typical low-powered VHF/UHF tactical radios) in urban and rough country with plenty of mountains, caves, hills, valleys, cliffs, or conversely buildings, bridges, power lines, etc etc all splitting and bouncing the signal randomly in a continuously-changing manner (especially if the target is moving as well), resulting in multiple randomly-time-delayed and phase-shifted signals arriving at the radio-location receiving antenna(s) from one source.

              A

              • by iggymanz (596061)

                this was air force system, in use decades ago in cold war era. not used in cities as far as I know, though. no link, but then most human knowledge is not on internet.

        • by jon3k (691256)
          You watch way too much TV.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe drugs will finally be legalized, saving billions of $ and millions of families

    • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sarten-X (1102295) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @04:33PM (#43806789) Homepage

      The drug cartels have submarines, railroad tunnels, aircraft, and an army of expendable humans to move drugs. Why would they bother with a little drone with a small payload and a range of only 3 miles?

      We should worry more about other bad guys, like oppressive governments, whose goals are less "move stuff somewhere" and more "control people everywhere".

      • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JackDW (904211) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:41PM (#43807331) Homepage

        Hmm, seems to me that an oppressive government would probably start by legalising drugs. How better to control the population than by limiting their desire and ability to rise up in revolt? The best sort of slavery is voluntary. Why imprison the people, when you can get them to imprison themselves?

        As an evil dictator, your first move should be to legalise as many drugs as you can get away with. This will win you a lot of popular support in the short term, and in the long term, the people who might have become well-educated and clever opposition leaders might instead end up as poorly-educated drug users with severe mental health problems. You may commence your evil laughter now.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Most people would just use marijuana, a safer alternative to alcohol. Your scenario sounds like the ravings of a drug warrior.

          • Marijuana is not a real drug, though. I don't crave it. It's too powerful though, makes me lose my day or evening, makes me feel angry and oppressed around people, makes me smoke all my tobacco till I'm out of tobacco or paper.

            If weed becomes legal (and cheaper by a factor of 20 or 50) then I may consume some of it at some times but most times I will not want it, thanks.

          • by JackDW (904211)

            Now you mention it, "the ravings of a drug warrior" actually is a pretty good description of Huxley's "Brave New World"...

            As an evil dictator I would not particularly care which drugs people took, or what they believed about the safety of those drugs. From my perspective, the effect would be the same - the people who might otherwise have resisted my power would happily stay at home instead.

        • by pantaril (1624521)

          As an evil dictator, your first move should be to legalise as many drugs as you can get away with. This will win you a lot of popular support in the short term, and in the long term, the people who might have become well-educated and clever opposition leaders might instead end up as poorly-educated drug users with severe mental health problems.

          I doubt it. More people are actualy dying on drug overdose because drugs are illegal and no consumer protection is in place. Drug users are never sure about the concentration of their stuff bought from some random guy on the street. If you legalised drugs proper identification of various drugs and their concentration would be required and fewer people would die as a consequence.

          • by JackDW (904211)

            That would be a flaw in the plan, if the plan were to kill people. But it isn't. The plan is to turn them into passive supporters of the regime, unwilling to offer any resistance, and quite possibly unable to comprehend why resistance might be important.

        • by sudon't (580652)
          The only flaw in your plan is that few drugs cause mental health problems, (coke and speed can do this through sleep deprivation), and only enslave people under black market conditions. And even then, it's only a minority of users whose drug use becomes excessive, much as with alcohol. As you learn more and more about dictatorships, the one thing you begin to notice is how important "morals" are to them. They don't tolerate "deviance" of any sort. No dictator is going to legalize drugs because:

          1.) drugs g

          • by JackDW (904211)

            Ha! Very good. I think you're making my point better than I did. If I ever decide to become an evil dictator, I'll recommend you for a job at my propaganda ministry, so you can share this sort of thing with a wider audience.

    • They'll be able to see for up to 3 miles. Scary stuff. Law enforcement will also be able to track the signals from the UAVs.

    • by azav (469988)

      Just what you expect.

  • by Sla$hPot (1189603) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @04:30PM (#43806745)

    5 Pounds is incredible cheap i would say

  • by Anonymous Coward

    AT 40 mhp the flight time is arond 13 mintes if they have a 5000mah Li-Poly battery on board.
    It is 2 pounds, doubling the battery means losing payload.

    • by anagama (611277)

      hmmm ... I don't see where it says it goes 40. It does say this:

      40/55 mph (65/90 kph) sustained/gust wind tolerance,

      which is clearly different than going 40mph.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Arg cought by the summary.
        My point is that the absolute maximum flighttime for electric UAVs is less than one hour, in a lab, draining the battery to death(literary).
        In practice electric UAVs have a flight time of 12-25 minutes depending on payload.
        Saying it will fly 50 minutes is just wrong.

        • by dougmc (70836)

          Arg cought by the summary.
          My point is that the absolute maximum flighttime for electric UAVs is less than one hour, in a lab, draining the battery to death(literary)

          Um, no.

          First, UAV is a mighty broad brush. An inexpensive electric glider with a motor on it and big battery can fly for literally hours -- without even using thermals or other lift, and they can increase it further -- and the battery will be just fine when you land, just recharge it.

          Now, this is a multicopter -- far less efficient. Still, with good batteries, keeping the weight down as much as possible, and just sitting there (using as little power as possible) -- 50 minutes doesn't surprise me at all.

          • by rsborg (111459)

            First, UAV is a mighty broad brush. An inexpensive electric glider with a motor on it and big battery can fly for literally hours -- without even using thermals or other lift, and they can increase it further -- and the battery will be just fine when you land, just recharge it.

            Now, this is a multicopter -- far less efficient. Still, with good batteries, keeping the weight down as much as possible, and just sitting there (using as little power as possible) -- 50 minutes doesn't surprise me at all.

            So this device will play the "Protoss" interceptor to the larger UAV's Carrier role? Imagine a large UAV that can launch these on demand, and then imagine if these can come back into the mothership to recharge ... [shudder]

      • by dougmc (70836)

        hmmm ... I don't see where it says it goes 40. It does say this:

        40/55 mph (65/90 kph) sustained/gust wind tolerance,

        which is clearly different than going 40mph.

        If the pilotless plane/multicopter cannot go faster than the sustained wind, it cannot tolerate it, as the plane won't be able to come back to its starting point -- it'll drift downwind no matter what it does, and you'll never see it again (unless you go looking for it.)

        Still ... while 40 mph isn't much for a R/C plane, it sounds fast for a multicopter. But after looking it up, I guess it's not that exceptional after all [rcgroups.com]. Still, if you're going full throttle just to hover in the wind, you're probably goin

      • If it can remain in a relatively stationary position in sustained 40mph winds, it is by definition going 40mph. To stay stationary it would have to match the speed of the wind, and if it can do that then in calm winds it would still be able to go that same speed (and groundspeed at that). It is the same reason a fixed wing aircraft can hover or perform STOL maneuvers.

        If it were moving with a tailwind, it could travel significantly faster over the ground than their specifications even mentioned.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      Max speed and duration are not generally used together when doing specifications. Everyone knows that range will be reduced the closer to max speed the item goes. Duration is usually calculated under standard operating conditions and not extremes.

  • by Ginger_Chris (1068390) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @04:37PM (#43806831)

    5 pounds is dirt cheap. Not even enough to buy a pint in central London.

    • by tag (22464)

      5 pounds is dirt cheap. Not even enough to buy a pint in central London.

      No, no, no. The pound is a unit of mass.

      • by ryanmt (2634725)
        If you are going to go "symantics" on him... you should probably declare "The pound is a unit of force or mass"
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The pound is a unit of weight; weight varies based on gravity.
        The kilogram is a unit of mass.

        Your body mass is X kilograms. Your weight on earth, at position Y is Z pounds.

      • No, no, no. The pound is a unit of mass.

        Try again. The pound is a unit of *weight* (or force, since weight is a type of force).

  • An ad? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:03PM (#43807067)

    Is this an ad? There's no story to go with it, just links to their website...

    And even then, says it's expensive, but doesn't give a price. WTF slashdot? How much did they pay for this?

  • But what kind of armaments is it equipped with?

  • Rescues.. but once these puppies have camouflage and/or stealth capabilities, they better not get in the hands of criminals and/or terrorists.
  • Quad copters with these capabilities and better can be purchased by ordinary people for a few hundred $$ from several hobby vendors. There is no excuse for charging as much as these guys do, other than they are selling to military and gov't agencies who don't care what they spend.
    • by s2jcpete (989386) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @05:32PM (#43807259)
      Stabilized video gimbals with thermal capabilities are not a few hundred dollars.
      • The video gimbal for that particular quad copter costs extra.

        But anyway, here's one for about $40.  It can be gyro stabilized on 3 axes through the flight controller.
        http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__24714__Camera_Gimbal_Tilt_Mount_for_Bumblebee_Quadcopter_Frame.html
      • Not to mention - it's generally the hobbyists that don't care (as much as the military). The military buys gears that's got to be packed and unpacked and shipped across the country or around the world (sometimes many times over the life of the gear), has to operate in all kinds of weather, etc... etc... The hobbyist looks out his window and if it's freezing or raining he just goes and plays WoW or works on his next project or whatever.

    • A few hundred dollars will get you a quadcopter that flies for ten minutes, flies at about half the speed of this, and won't carry anything like its payload, and you'll have to supply any payload yourself.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      I always love people who do not understand the difference between a toy and a piece of equipment that one's life may rely on. A toy can break down and one loses a bit of fun. A vital piece of equipment breaks down on the battlefield and people can die.

      Here are some things that increase prices of military gear.
      1. Higher specifications. They must operate in much greater temperature and weather ranges. This causes the components to need to be much more rugged.
      2. Higher damage resistance needed. If you toy brea

    • by dcw3 (649211)

      That's just an ignorant commentary. You're either trolling or have no idea WTF military requirements are like. Go get an education.

    • by jon3k (691256)
      Link please. Needs 3+ mile range, fly in 40mph sustained winds, fly for 50 minutes, weigh 5 lbs, have GPS, 1080p video streaming, 256bit encryption, infrared camera and touch based control system that allows flying by waypoint. Please show me the 'several companies" that sells these for "a few hundred $$".
  • I'm all happy when my hexacopter gets me 10 minutes in the air!
  • Only 5 pounds?

    How are you gonna deploy a reinforced squad of X-Com operatives [ufopaedia.org] from that?

  • Where can we see the price?

    (forgive my incompetence if it is easily found)
  • Flying drones outside of visual range is illegal where I live, so I would not be able to say anything if I was to have have seen HD footage filmed from a home-built fixed wing drone that has flown on autopilot for 60 minutes, at 60km/hr and then landed back at the starting point entirely on autopilot.

    • Recording HD video on a Quadcopter for later transfer after landing (using a Hero camera for example) is much easier than sending HD video back to the operator in real time from 3 miles away. In fact an HD video link with a range of more than 100 feet is not a hobby-level device. I would expect the military version to be encrypted as well (our guys don't want the other guys to see what we are looking at).
  • It can stay in the air for almost an hour?!? My ARDrone battery lasts for about 1/5 of that time. If possible, I'd happily pay a bit extra for a longer lasting battery for my flyer.
  • I've been watching for the unmanned aerial technology to develop sufficiently so they could eliminate TV helicopters from the Tour de France and other televised bicycle races, before the inevitable flaming crash, and also so that the energy use is more in line with what the riders are outputting. With a UAV they could also eliminate those pesky motorcycles (not all of them, just the TV ones the riders draft off of) and get some great new angles.

    Now, if we eliminate the team cars and replace them with slight

  • Would be the likely market for these I think.

    50 Minutes and 3 miles doesn't really sound like enough time or distance for military or police operations really.

    However if you know of some celebrities sunbathing nude in a secure compound...

    Fits into a backpack eh? So you can sneak right up to the edge of someones property to launch, get all the shots you need to hit pay dirt, and get out before anyone can locate you. Privacy folks are going to have a field day with this... Or high end gated communities with s

    • Quad 'Rotor Online Watchers...otherwise known as crows.
    • by jon3k (691256)

      50 Minutes and 3 miles doesn't really sound like enough time or distance for military or police operations really.

      Huh? 50 minutes is an insanely long time for a 5lb quad copter and 3+ miles is a fantastic distance. Most consumer grade multicopters use 2200ish mAh batteries and fly for about TEN MINUTES. When would police ever be 3 miles from something? What possible purpose would an infrared camera serve for the paparazzi? There are MUCH better MUCH cheaper alternatives for the paparazzi.

  • Really. Don't post that it's expensive and then not list the price.

A LISP programmer knows the value of everything, but the cost of nothing. -- Alan Perlis

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