Practical use for a drone

Update 16 August 2013

A hexacopter with a camera was allegedly used to spy on MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong’s bungalow in Bukit Tiara, Cheras. It was controlled from an outdoor basketball court to record video footage of the houses of Wee and his neighbour. It hit a lightning rod of his neighbour’s house, fell onto the rooftop, and laid there for 3 days before it was discovered on 8th August.


Update 12 Oct 2012

Currently the French-made Parrot AR Drone is the only toy-category UAV on wikipedia. For the next stage, serious “droners” might want to have a look at Zephyr’s “Small Unmanned Aerial Systems For Personal Use – Small Zephyr UAV Package Is Perfect For Any Purpose”. Apparently costs around RM30,000.

3 Oct 2012

The Parrot AR Drone 2.0 became a topic of discussion several days ago.

Parrot AR Drone

It’s not a remote control flying toy in the traditional sense, for the quadcopter (basically a copter with 4 propellers) has 2 cameras that streams live video, and you control the machine with android or ios devices.

It auto hovers, and is self stabilising.

At the RRP price of RM1,500, I’m sure RM100 imitations from China will flood the market soon enough. In fact, someone mentioned that they’re already here, at RM300-RM400.

Apparently it has an anti-wall ramming feature i.e. it knows there’s a wall in front, therefore stops automatically.

Once out of range of the WiFi control system, the drone will simply hover.

It only has 15 minutes flying time per charge, but some of the hacks are truly fascinating and ripe for prankfests – eg make it track objects or follow you like a pet.

I envision that this thing would be truly useful in scenarios like this:

Wondering how the traffic is like in KK, I let my drone fly from my house in Penampang, and it follows a predetermined route. Once it reaches the places that I ask it to watch, it will inform me, then I can see for myself, in real time, what the traffic is like, then plan my journey. That means this thing must have a further range, longer running time, GPS capability and perhaps internet connection.

It can even be used to carry small things back and forth from points A to B. So if I wanted to borrow a DVD from Tim, I’ll get my drone to go over to his house to fetch it, then it comes back to me – all automatically!

At some time in the future, there will be even “charging points” along the way, where my drone can “fill up” before continuing on its journey.

I think there might be already an aftermarket for higher-capacity batteries & solar power modules.

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