back to article Missile tech helps boffins land drone on car moving at 50 km/h

Robotics boffins have landed an autonomous quadcopter on a car moving at 50 km/h and think doing so might just change the drone business. As explained at arXiv by a group of researchers from Mobile Robotics and Autonomous Systems Laboratory at Polytechnique Montreal, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, aka drones) look handy for …

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Wasn't there

An SUV with a drone built into the roof, I think they marketed it as you could fly ahead and see how far the traffic jam ran for, with the feed showing in the dash screen.

This would be useful for its retrieval.

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Re: Wasn't there

Yes, yes there was: http://www.caradvice.com.au/460804/chinese-company-creates-worlds-first-smartcar-with-roewe-rx5-suv/

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Re: Wasn't there

see how far the traffic jam ran for, with the feed showing in the dash screen.

But this is already commonplace on ordinary cars, and smartphones. Google Maps (among others) and switch on traffic mode. That's if your Sat-Nav hasn't already diverted you around the problem.

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Coat

Re: Wasn't there

I suppose that would be better to have the drones OUTSIDE of the SUV for once ..

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Re: Wasn't there

Renault had a concept car with a drone called the KWID

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Re: Wasn't there

I suppose if it's for checking traffic jams, it's not really a moving vehicle problem.

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Trollface

Re: Wasn't there

There was an even older working prototype: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mach_Five

Although I believe some of the other features were far more useful.

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Re: Wasn't there

So? Dudu had gadgets like that, and then some!

Ah, sunday movie matinees in the early 1970ies as a kid... that was the life...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wasn't there

An SUV with a drone built into the roof, I think they marketed it as you could fly ahead and see how far the traffic jam ran for, with the feed showing in the dash screen.

Sure. At which point you'd have a drone-jam instead, prolonging the time you'll be stationary.

Somehow, the people that come up with these ideas are nothing short of fanatic in avoiding the consideration of possible downsides.

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Trollface

Re: Wasn't there

Simples... start arming the drones to a) clear the skies of the other people's drones and b) to clear the cause of the traffic jam. Still a few bugs to work out like filling craters, debris removal, and drones falling out the air causing more traffic jams.

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I thought you could only fly a drone within the direct line of sight of the operator?

Or does that only apply to personal use, and not to commercial operators?

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Depends on the jurisdiction: that's the UK rule certainly but there's no saying it's the same the world over. Also, they may well have conducted the research with line of site, in the, quite reasonable, hope that rules will change in the future.

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142

You can get exemptions, though they require masses of proof and paperwork.

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Anonymous Coward

I thought you could only fly a drone within the direct line of sight of the operator?

I think the correct phrase is "you are only allowed to fly a drone in direct line of sight of the operator, and therein lies the rub: as various airport incidents demonstrate, you cannot outlegislate stupid..

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Anonymous Coward

Roost spots

Some of the early stragglers developed long distance travel patterns by attaching to diesel electric trains and then finding spots to perch on overhead high voltage cables to recharge at night.

We should have worked out the significance of car HT coils failing to be delivered and their reverse use, but this was in the days before a true grasp of iVolution.

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Coat

Instead of flying home, the authors envisage drones hitching a ride on buses, delivery trucks or boats,

The RAF tried that years ago:

https://66.media.tumblr.com/1231151a77bed9e3792a7493f88ca9f2/tumblr_nl82xyoP121r94kvzo2_1280.jpg

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"the authors envisage drones hitching a ride on buses, delivery trucks or boats"

I envisage fitting my car with a point-defence-system to keep the pesky freeloading drones off it...

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Maybe an airship?

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Anonymous Coward

This seems like a continuation of the failure to grasp that there *isn't* a good use case for having large numbers of drones that can't be done in a more energy efficient manner in some other way.

And if the "sharing economy" means that one hitches a lift on my car, I'll bungee it on and maybe let it off a couple of weeks later. (yes, I know there will be a percentage point or two increase in fuel consumption...)

Apart from surveillence work or for use as camera platforms, most drones are either toys or weapons. I can only assume we're never going to learn from the last dotcom bubble, which seems to have taught us nothing about investing in technology.

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I would believe that if one comes to roost on your car, it's yours. Salvage it for parts, bury it, whatever. But there's some would take umbrage and start a massive lawsuit....

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Anonymous Coward

Just put a large magnet on the roof...

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Amazon's drone delivery system

Vertical launch drone deployment and delivery system (VLDDADS).

Delivery trucks drive along your street (probably taking video for Streetview), launching drones as it goes to deliver your packages. Drones return to the host truck to recharge, and reload with the next package. The truck never has to stop, avoiding a nuisance to local traffic, and eventually the driver will become obsolete as the system moves to an autonomous vehicle.

What's more, packages will continue to be dropped over your side gate, ensuring the contents are smashed, keeping up Amazon's current delivery standards.

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I'm looking forward..

..to flocks of the things squabbling for 'roosting' space or hanging around motorway junctions looking for a likely truck. (I'm not really !)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm looking forward..

Do they poop?

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No video?

As an RC Helicopter person I would have loved to see a video of this, I wonder how heavy the touch down was?

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Mushroom

Re: No video?

The car might have been going 50km/h at touchdown - but it wasnt after!!!! --->

(j/k)

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Re: No video?

I was hoping that the drone would take control of the car.

A bit like the drones used here...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/10/iot_worm_can_hack_philips_hue_lightbulbs_spread_across_cities/

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Actually, there might be some uses.....

Active IR/Radar chaff/flares. It woul dbe essential for next gen tanks and support veichles. Enter a hot area, deploy a continuous swarm of drones to act as chaff/decoys, recharge and redeploy.

Ships could use them too for point defence - possibly helicopters.

Even further - use drones as micro, disposable weapons platfrorms to deploy, and return if not used. Indeed - why bother with batteries - you could host more weight efficient powerplants, if you could automatically redock to refuel...

Knife missile, anyone?

Scary thaught.

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Pint

Re: Actually, there might be some uses.....

"Knife missile, anyone?"

Have a pint and a point for the "culture" reference!

Still, we have a way to go before we get the force-field technology down, so I think we're safe for a while yet.

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hitching a ride on buses

Good luck with that round here. You'd get faster deliveries using a team of arthritic donkeys rather than trust the local bus (dis)service.

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"Instead of flying home, the authors envisage drones hitching a ride on buses, delivery trucks or boats"

Until the bus or truck goes under a low bridge.

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Joke

Span net --> Profit

Just span a net over the only clear stretch of road in the area frequented by heavy vehicles once this is established in the database --> Instant profit. You could haul them off by the dozen!

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Kalman filter...

This is already in use in any flight controllers running the Arducopter (or similar) software, such as APM and Pixhawk, called the "EKF" or Extended Kalman Filter. Essentially it takes inputs from multiple sources (1 or more of the following: IMUs, more GPS, barometer, compass...), assigns a "trustworthiness" rating to each one based on how far it said the machine was from the previous estimate, then uses that info to estimate where it is now. It works incredibly well.

It should also be able to cope with hardware failures, but my experience says a bug in the code means it can't - it appears to assign a minimum trustworthiness, which is still a long way above the deserved "0" rating. Which can lead to some interesting maneuvers.

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Anonymous Coward

Kalman filter

"a Kalman filter, an algorithm commonly used in robotics to determine useful trajectories for an autonomous device to employ"

That's very much the Stephen Fry method of describing a Kalman filter. It's more accurately a way of measuring predicted state vs actual state, removing sensor 'noise' and unaccounted variables in the process and refining the estimate. In the case of landing on a car, they would no doubt be useful in smoothing the tracking process of the car's tracked position and the drone's.

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WTF?

At the absolute most I can maybe (big maybe) envision this being used by an actual delivery van and the drone just goes from truck to door with the delivery. Saves the Driver dragging his ass out of his van all day.

But what I still dont get with any of these would-be drone delivery services, is how you obtain the signatures you Need in order to prove delivery? Maybe the drone carries a touch pad that you have to somehow sign without getting your fingers chopped off by the rotor blades? But seems like a deal breaker to me. Plus how does it ring your door bell?

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Look out, Low Bridge !

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The next big thing!

If this concept takes off* I can see pigeon racing becoming a thing of the past, the traditional truckload of cages to be replaced by trucks carrying racks of drones to distant release points.

All of the fun but without having to field complaints from the neighbors about vast quantities of flying-rat shit on their car/washing/kids.

* Yes, I know.

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Re: The next big thing!

Pigeon racing? No, it's all about the fox hunting:

https://youtu.be/zryW3mGUsa0

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Stealing fuel

Unless these drone operators have permission, "hitching a lift" on the roof of another vehicle is going to add drag and increase fuel consumption. Only a small amount I'll grant you, but that seems to be the way so-called "disruptive" business models are heading. They take a little from everyone and claim it's not a problem because it's such a small amount. But it all adds up,

Then we get to the recharging facilities. To be even slightly viable, this is going to require large numbers of buses and trucks to be adapted with some sort of standard charger. Or maybe each participating bus and truck company will need to choose an ecosystem to become part of. Need to land a drone and recharge it? Gotta find a compatible truck. Everyone has seen Apple get rich from their walled garden and their own standards, so all these new start-ups want to create their own proprietary standards and be the next Apple.

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