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Topic: Drone Technology (Read 23544 times)

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Drone Technology
There was a new agreement reached today between the UK and France to jointly develop Drone Technology, one aim being to replace Fighter Aircraft with Drones. See here - Cameron and Hollande finalise plans for Anglo-French drone

As an anything-that-flies enthusiast from way back I'm technically interested in the drones and in seeing how they develop and what technology they use. So it will be fascinating to see how that pans out. Fat chance that the discussion will stick to that, but I've put it in the title, so there.

The article, however, is thought-provoking at different levels, the political, the moral as well as the technological.

There is an interesting turn of phrase at the bottom of that article, namely,
A recent report by the Ministry of Defence said multiculturalism was a significant factor in the public opposition to conflict, as a war-weary public becomes increasingly uncomfortable with seeing British troops deployed to countries from which they once came. --- Lots of issues there.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #100
Btw, that reminded me of this video about the abilities of modern image stabilization systems as showcased in BBC's Planet Earth 2:
Or should I say, the abilities for fooling spectators? the abilities for controlling the weak minds? perhaps, the abilities for arresting you to the sofá?
A matter of attitude.

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #101
Drone pixels, or more properly voxels (droxels?). This is not the first kilodrone display though.

https://youtu.be/4mHDDG3FCjs

  • ensbb3
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #102
I was expecting that to be more fireworky, I guess. At least in the dazzle and pattern display of it all. There's not much wonder in a 'droxel' screen displaying characters. That's neat, but I totally get that you could do that. I suppose battery life is a big concern but a little more "wow" would of been nice. I'm sure it plays better in person too. Videos aren't known for doing such things justice.

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #103
Yes, for pure spectacle the most excessive was a mix of fairly old-fashioned fireworks, props, and a ridiculously oversized LED screen opening Shanghai Expo 8 years ago.

https://youtu.be/_1DBfe-zBzE

Fireworks is increasingly getting banned, even in China, as a fire and health hazard, so there are alternatives like laser, sound and light shows. 

https://youtu.be/z1V5H5q_gQ8
All in all a reusable, sustainable, and relatively harmless alternative. You can also project on water, buildings and other natural or manmade features, and highrises these days often have pixelated wall displays, as well as computer-operated indoor lighting. 


https://youtu.be/C6-UCkS7lKw
Is the above drone display more dazzling than that? Well, no. Isn't synchronised drone dancing overkill for essentially a voxel display? Well, yes. But being programmable, scalable, and extensible it can be both bigger and better as the drone displays are debugged and encapsulated. A million laser-equipped drones diving towards you could make for quite some experience.





  • ensbb3
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #104
Yes, for pure spectacle the most excessive was a mix of fairly old-fashioned fireworks, props, and a ridiculously oversized LED screen
For sure. A full fireworks display is quite busy but a right mix could be a great precursor to more digital shows. Drones with huge bursters in the back drop might be hard to keep track of. But drone acrobatics with concussive accents would be awesome.
But being programmable, scalable, and extensible it can be both bigger and better as the drone displays are debugged and encapsulated. A million laser-equipped drones diving towards you could make for quite some experience.
I was thinking more like that. And I was totally on board when I started that video. Them streaming up off the wall, the LEDish screen even. Then they scattered and I was expecting... well more. I mean my criticism undertandingly, tho. My first thought was the battery issue. But to get the sweeping patterns and clustered formations bursting apart or fountains of drones, that I was anticipating, may require more processing power than currently applicable.

Voxels are very cpu intensive. Keeping track of an array of boxes of a certain size and their 3D orientation on a grid with variable states is quite taxing. A battery issue is easily solved with multiple sorties but the dynamic show I had envisioned may still be a bit off. 

*mo' grammar edits.
  • Last Edit: 2018-05-11, 02:03:40 by ensbb3

  • Belfrager
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #105
Now they want to kill fireworks. These people are not humans anymore.
A matter of attitude.

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #106
There is far more fireworks in China than the rest of the world combined. The Chinese spring festival/new year lasts 15 days. Left to their own there will be fireworks all those days. 

https://youtu.be/gz8R9cEy1v4

The best view is from around the 20th floor, then the fireworks explode right outside your window. If you are higher you will be looking down on the fireworks, 
https://youtu.be/qak8OOAIzIs


However, the cost in buildings and human lives lost from firework is massive, as is the smoke pollution. Like this (almost completely finished) skyscraper fire in 2009. No doubt we've reached peak fireworks, alternatives will be found. 

https://youtu.be/U2iAfYxiET8

Speaking of firework, this drone is remote-powered, but an automated one could add some flair to a drone display. 

https://youtu.be/78jCq-PY2oQ

  • Belfrager
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #107
One of the few things occidentals credit the Chinese is for discovering gunpowder. The base of fireworks.
Now they substitute it for whatever laser manbo jambo and Jax, as always, applauds.

This man will go far. Chinese are known for paying well.
A matter of attitude.

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #108
Outdoor fireworks is going the way of indoor smoking, nothing you or I can do about it, if we wanted to. If you live far enough from built-up areas you might be able to fire up a cigarette or a rocket, as long as you won't set off a forest fire. In Northern latitudes the ground wouldn't be dry around (Western) New Years Eve. I don't know if there are any fire restrictions in the US around 4th of July.

This trend is not Chinese-led, quite the opposite. The Chinese Communist Party is often presented as this all-powerful institution, but they recognise that there are forces more powerful than themselves, and that includes the Chinese need to burn money. (Let's not kid ourselves, Chinese men's need to make a bang. Chinese women fire up too, but not nearly with the same fervour.) Fireworks were banned, but the authorities gave in. The subsequent fires, fatal accidents and maimings, noise and bad air have made them roll back.

Among the odder experiences of my life was living in a technicolor war zone a fortnight a year (the money runs out so there were far less of it by the end than the beginning, but there was always something being blown up). Air pollution comes from power plants, factories, construction and cars, all of which there are far less of during Spring Festival, and the air clears up a lot. But then the fireworks start and you breathe sulphur for the next couple days.

Nothing exceeds like excess, but traditional self-fired fireworks have had their day. Peak firework is behind us. Admittedly laser drones are the fireworks equivalent to vaping, but in time it should be more spectacular with a lot less dying. At least until the first major programming error.

  • ersi
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #109
Not sure if this is topical, but Alexei Navalny enjoys droning a lot above oligarch and high-up state officials' estates.


  • Frenzie
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #110
I wonder how you furnish so many rooms. :P

  • Belfrager
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #111
Drones and kites fly over Gaza protests.

Israeli drones launching gas over manifestants against Palestinian kites with incendiary tales.

Just search in the internet.
 Aren't drones such a good thing?
A matter of attitude.

  • rjhowie
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #112
You are being brained. Israel is the dangerous lot.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #113

  • ensbb3
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #114
Swarm of flying dicks, fml.


  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #115
Flying pricks, even... 

https://youtu.be/J8fFVOoqepc?t=180
  • Last Edit: 2020-10-18, 21:14:05 by jax

  • rjhowie
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #116
I am not impressed with that  Alexei Navalny.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #117
This drone tracks human screams (to save lives)

Quote
A team of researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer FKIE institute has created a drone that can locate screaming humans. While it sounds like the stuff of dystopian fiction, it's actually something they set out to create to make it easier for first responders to find survivors following a natural disaster.

"(Drones) can cover a larger area in a shorter period of time than rescuers or trained dogs on the ground," Macarena Varela, one of the lead engineers on the project, told The Washington Post. "If there's a collapsed building, it can alert and assist rescuers. It can go places they can't fly to or get to themselves."

To create their drone, the researchers first recorded themselves screaming,

  • ensbb3
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #118
The article covers the obvious doubts you'd have about sound detection capabilities but doesn't say much towards if it is actually a good idea. Sure, some way to search over a devastated area could be useful but is this that?

How long will it linger listening to tapping or some animal moving around before moving on to useful targets?
Will it make some noise to let people know to scream or whatever? (only to get a false positive from my first question coincidentally.)
If there's a TV left on with a horror movie playing are emergency services on the way?
Why keep the drone lite? Infrared cameras, big mics or whatever it could use to actually confirm should be on there, right? (I know, budget for the project. Just don't act like that's a positive feature.)

I'm just busting balls. I'm sure it has some benefits at flagging areas and whatnot. It's just an article. I'm sure the smarties screaming in a field that picture shows have got this. And my dumbass can't be bothered to look up anything else, assuming there is anything in English anyway.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #119
Why keep the drone lite? Infrared cameras, big mics or whatever it could use to actually confirm should be on there, right? (I know, budget for the project. Just don't act like that's a positive feature.)
Less budget than physics I'd think?

  • ensbb3
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #120
That's a fair point.

There's a natural gas pumping station not too far from here that uses drones with infrared cameras to check their pipelines. They used to use a helicopter to do this at night but last year or so they seem to use two fairly large drones to do it now. The drones they use would have to have the range that would be useful in search and rescue as well. I'm sure they aren't cheap however clearly there's an advantage to a helicopter crew's cost.

Drone parts aren't bleeding edge tech and small lite drone parts are cheap and easily available. Using microphones that come with SBC kits, similar to cell phone mics, are nothing fancy and anyone thats tried to talk on one in loud conditions can probably see the problem. My phones mic, noise cancellation included, doesn't hold its weight compared to my PC's mic. Expectedly of course.

I guess my thoughts were to doing the job the best and lite low cost wasn't what I found important. Spend time cancelling sounds vibration using a low grade mic or put a better one suspended below? It's now a heavier rig, sure. bigger motors, batteries, cameras... stop me when emergency services can only buy two for the price of a chopper that they still have to crew and still can't do what the drone can do kinda thing. That's not saying I'm looking at it right. I got a little amused by the screaming in a field thing, I admit. And cheap lite drones anyone can deploy seems like a good idea when you hear it. I just think the article focused on silly aspects, mentioning dystopian sci-fi and comparing it to a dog's capabilities at the same time, while ignoring some of how it compares to what there is now and how it would fit in with examples that feel more serious. But, I'm still just arguing what an article said. 

  • Frenzie
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #121
I mean, it's audio people making an audio thing. I'm sure that once they have a working system it'll be comparatively peanuts to combine it with a few other systems. :)

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #122
Run-of-the-alibaba drones are noisy little buggers, and their name notwithstanding the noise drones make is far from monotonous.  As an uneducated guess it will take some brain power just to cancel that out together with microphone artefacts.

I am no sound engineer, but I would think you'd need at least three microphones. Two to provide a binaural recording, one as a control. You might manage with less if you have several synchronised drones. Indeed (at least) a pair of drones should perform much better than a single drone, given that you have the time, the locations and the relative speed (and thus Doppler effect). Near-perfect noise cancelling seems achievable. Another option would be quieter drones, which I imagine there would be a significant market for in surveillance. A zeppelin or blimp drone would make a lot of sense to stay up longer, and stay silent when not needing to move. Presumably they already exist, and a quick google showed that they do. Curiously silence is not highlighted as a selling point.

Any case, the pair/swarm would have to keep synchronised and know the others' position for mapping the soundscape as well.  And they should preferably not move in formation, so as to take advantage of the Doppler effect. Sound has some advantages over vision. For us vision provides far more information, but only in a narrow field, while we can hear sounds from any direction. That advantage is less obvious for drones. Wide-angle cameras are freely available, and what you can't solve by that you can solve by adding more cameras, or failing that buzzing more energetically around.

Whether visual or aural, it would be advantageous to have mapped the area before, because then you can focus on what have changed since earlier. For the flying sonar probes that could be fallen trees, fallen buildings, moving cars. This is the first advantage of sound, far less data to process (and to filter out). The second advantage is that sound carries through air and other mediums, and reflects from (or affect) surfaces. Even the better radio/radar frequencies don't do quite as well. 

Using these tricks to filter/augment sounds, I don't know how well the sound profiles perform. I assume it would be difficult. At least I find it hard. There is quite a lot of animal activity outside my windows, and if I open them I never can tell if somebody is being dismembered outside, or if it is a particularly horny crow. Maybe machines can do better. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X_WvGAhMlQ

So summing up, I'd use several drones or at least microphones to self-cancel. Preferably with a system knowing the landscape and what to expect so that the unexpected becomes more salient. Triangulate what might fit the profile. Circle back to points of interest to filter out some false positives and maybes.

  • jax
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Re: Drone Technology
Reply #123
All this and I didn't bother to RTFM (or paper in this case), even though it was the first link in the article. It seems the cleverness is in the sound processing, and "situational awareness" is not required. 

In that regard it is a little reminiscent of the Bruitparif Medusa (Méduse), though that system is tasked to detect (and locate and photograph and fine) high sound volume sources, not to detect signs of distress.



Major cities are introducing noise radars that automatically issue fines to loud vehicles to combat noise pollution

Stationary and mobil drone systems are complementary auditory approaches to e.g. an earthquake or a building collapse. In the former case, or in a search for a missing person, a stationary approach may not be practicable. Then it might be better to
train humans to yell Alexa! or Siri! (depending on the tribe they belong to). In yet other scenarios, e.g. an avalanche, any sonar approach is unlikely to succeed, but infrared or radar drones might.

Rescue is not the only use case. Crime fighting might benefit from drones (or stationary sensors) listening in to the sound of gun shots, possibly followed up by a scream.  If there has been a gun shot without any registered gun nearby, or if a gun has been fired in built-up areas, police (or more drones) might be dispatched.

The sound profile of a gun fired should be recognisable to a neural network, probably not enough to id an individual gun, but possibly the brand. This I did not find in a cursory google search, so either the idea is not common, or it doesn't work.