Digital Artefact

Autonomous Robotics // BE UR OWN CAMERA CREW SHOWCASE

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BE YOUR OWN CAMERA CREW

 

As a media and communications student in my final year of university I’m interested in the ways collaboration between industry, emerging technology and myself as a creative can co-exist based on more than just one skillset. I started in Digital media because I wanted to innovate the filmmaking space, using drones to create a start to end video project using only drones as the main camera rig, in all sizes and methods, I wanted to use them for not only the aerial birds eye views, but the spaces at eye level for more intimate shots. Upon leaving, we’ve leveraged a blog, sometimes a YouTube channel and written essays toward topics that often get left in a subject dropbox and forgotten about. I believe new technologies such as autonomous robotics are going to help creative content producers like myself gain an exciting edge over the “creating” gap in industry and graduates.

A digital portfolio was my answer to the question of how individuals can “Be (their) own camera crew” and how a series of previous projects and indeed subject specific works can be organised to showcase themselves to industries in filmmaking and creative spaces as having experience making start to end projects. I wanted to incorporate autonomous film devices such as my drone, so that I may be not only the filmmaker, but now the technology enables us to be the subject. YouTube and consequently video as a platform allowed me to address the creative accumulation of content for a portfolio, as well as showcase the potential these devices have to make professional standard works. YouTube was chosen to continue to produce works in an openly featured platform to invite stakeholders as well as constructive comments to improve elements of a work. Using this type of device highlights my interest area as well as the space left by filmmaking theory thus; “Though there is a range of techniques to automatically control drones for a variety of applications, none have considered the problem of producing cinematographic camera motion in real-time for shooting purposes”(Q Galvane J Fleureau F.L. Tariolle P. Guillotel, 2016)

The filming process included a shot list that i’ve created below, that can all be done by myself whilst riding the board or not, the drone can be programmed to actively track a subject. This is done by clicking and dragging a box on the live video on a smartphone whilst the drone is in the air. This further amplifies the potential of creating a work that I believe can be taken to a major production company to showcase a skillset.
Upon talks with my tutor, the way i’ve presented this is in a 3 part video series titled: “Be YOUR own camera crew” on YouTube. I detailed that this would allow an accumulation of different angles of what can be showcased with a single recording device, an internet connection and a great idea. Some of the anxieties about these emerging technologies, I also wanted to lay to rest, by sparking discussion and address a tool that’s being heavily regulated at the moment. “Despite all of the new tools, drones are still only used in about 10 percent of film productions where a camera drone and crew can cost less than $3,000 compared to $25,000 for a helicopter shoot.” (A Marken, 2017) I believe will change the way not only filmmaking is approached, but also journalism and surveillance.

References:

A Dalton, 2016, This Sci-fi Film was shot entirely by Autonomous Drones, Engadget, Blogpost, viewed 1st June 2017, <https://www.engadget.com/2016/09/27/in-the-robot-skies-sci-fi-film-shot-autonomous-drones/>

A Marken, 2017, Visable Flight: Drones Raise Filmmaking Opportunities, Robotics Tomorrow, webpage, viewed 1st June 2017, <http://www.roboticstomorrow.com/article/2017/05/visible-flight-drones-raise-filmmaking-opportunities/10110>

Chris Moore, 2016, Cybercultures Week Two 2016 (w.2), Prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 8th March 2016, viewed 28th May 2017, via <https://prezi.com/poqmln3hslyh/cyberculture-and-cybernetics>

Civil Aviation Safety Authority, 2017, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems: Can I Fly Here?, Australian Government, viewed 30th May 2017, <https://casa.dronecomplier.com/external>

C Rollins, 2017, Mavic Pro – Active Track on a boosted board, May 26th, YouTube, Online Video, viewed 30th May 2017, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mXo6yz4cv4>

L Young, 2016, In the Robot Skies, Vimeo, online video, viewed 1st June 2017, <https://vimeo.com/184429206>

Q Galvane J Fleureau F.L. Tariolle P. Guillotel, 2016, Automated Cinematography with unmanned aerial vehicles, WICED ’16 Proceedings of the Eurographics Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing, Portugal May 9th, p.p. 23-30, Eurographics Association Switzerland, viewed 29th May 2017, <http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3056987&preflayout=tabs>

 

 

 

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FPV Racing League – Dossier

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Regulated First Person View Drone races around designed courses at university. The idea would be that the FPV regulations would be lifted in situations where they can be controlled and performed safely. People can bring their devices and enter a series of races and time trials as well as develop their piloting skills with the assistance of this emerging technology.

DGC LA3 Individual Project Dossier PDF

 

Custom Drone Build w/ 360 Camera

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rms drone screenshot

Custom Drone Build w/ 360 Camera Prezi Here

Contextual Essay

Looking at Drones was something I initially wanted to carry into a Cyber cultural extension from their agricultural usage. I wanted to link them to human capacity and challenge the speculative narratives they carried within a local context of my hometown in relatively small rural area. General awareness of their emergence was little and therefore creating a disadvantaged implementation into the corporate sector to perhaps improve a fast-changing technological shift, especially in government workspaces.

As an aim or goal for this digital artefact I wanted to explore ways a quadcopter fitted with a 360-degree video camera could address the ways prevalent culverts (or drainage pipes under the roads) could be inspected, observed and surveyed better and most importantly safer for less costing and less time taken to do so. The artefact was to build a custom drone that hasn’t yet been seen or released in the commercial market that would be something the Roads and Maritime Services would consider innovative and consider implementing into their regular workspaces. The drone has been trialled for observation of large bridges, but not the culvert area, which is where I focussed on. The device isn’t a finished product ready for testing. However, I plan to continue working on it and taking it into future classes, projects and workspaces whilst I continually build on the expertise it’s started giving me. The drone will hover in the air, however the controls are yet to be properly configured which will be done by Rise Above Solutions (an Australian Based Drone expert dealer and service provider) along with a safety inspection in terms of motors, Lipo batteries and propellers. This is so that when the remote control is ready for take-off no unexpected breakages arise leading to an unsafe environment for those around. Once this is completed further testing and flights can be recorded.

Though the artefact isn’t complete, the achievements and overall skillset it’s proven is something that has grabbed my full attention. Firstly, the expertise I’ve gained from this build is amazing and something I’m proud of. YouTube was a great tool that I’ve used and taught myself how to use and build electronics, from soldering wires, to attachments of motors, to battery testing. Then the hardware of the cameras I’ve touched on stitching software and how it can be a timely process, GoPro usage was something I’ve learn new skills in and created other videos of the things that interest me. The lights and switch soldering to the battery was something I learnt from the original soldering tutorials as well as flight expertise, knowing how much thrust etc. to give the drone when wanted to pan or fly forwards, as well as knowing processes into calibrating a remote control, and how this is a pivotal step when buying a universal remote.

Lastly, this project has allowed a whole new aspect of networking. I’ve gained contacts within Rise Above Solutions that I’ll be able to meet with and discuss options for future builds including Rafi Mehdi, the director of the company whose detailed he’d be happy to help in future. Douglas Simkin, UOW tutor, has also detailed of his friends that would be interested in looking at the build whom he’s acquaintances with. Then there’s those I am working with at the RMS, in terms of project managers, Regional Area Managers, and Board members whom I’m giving a presentation to in Bathurst on the 17th June as a progress report on the drone project. All of these are exciting and something I put towards future career prospects. This is due to having thinking about the cybernetic relationship with the drone, the pilot, the camera lens, and the new “bubble” perspective 360 video allows users to think about new possibilities within surveillance.

References

N, Wolchover 2012, What if Humans had Eagle Vision?, Live Science, viewed 18th April 2016, <http://www.livescience.com/18658-humans-eagle-vision.html&gt;

Rothstein, A 2011, Drone Ethnography, Rhizome, Blog, 20 July Viewed 13th April 2016, <http://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/jul/20/drone-ethnography/&gt>

Suchman, L. 2009, Connections: the double interface and constructing the cyborg body. 1st ed. ebook MIT OpenCourseWare, p.15. viewed 22 April 2016, Available at: <http://mitocw.eia.edu.co/courses/anthropology/21a-850j-the-anthropology-of-cybercultures-spring-2009/assignments/MIT21A_850Js09_sw01.pdf&gt;

Chris Moore, 2016, #dronestories, prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 3rd May 2016, viewed 5th May 2016, <https://prezi.com/b9fp3pnjfqew/dronestories/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&gt;

Chris Moore, 2016, Cybercultures Week Two 2016 (w.2), Prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 8th March 2016, viewed 24th April 2016, < https://prezi.com/poqmln3hslyh/cybercultures-week-two-2016-w2/&gt;

Small UAV coalition 2014, About us/Current Rules, Small Uav Coalition, viewed April 30th 2016, < http://www.smalluavcoalition.org/&gt;

Fredrick Lardinois 2015, Talking Drones With 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson, Techcrunch, Viewed 30th April 2016, < http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/11/talking-drones-with-3drobotics-ceo-chris-anderson/&gt;

Konstantin Kakaes 2015, Drone Regulation – Privacy and Property rights, PDF, New America, Chapter 3, viewed 2nd May 2016, < http://www.iapad.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/DronesAndAerialObservation.pdf#page=29&gt;

Street Insider, 2016, 360fly Partners with Livit to Offer First Live Streaming Platform for Mobile Virtual Reality, Street Insider, viewed 1st June 2016, < http://www.streetinsider.com/Press+Releases/360fly+Partners+with+Livit+to+Offer+First+Live+Streaming+Platform+for+Mobile+Virtual+Reality/11417004.html&gt;

Ballesteros, A 2014, DJI F450 Quadcopter Assembly, online video, 30 March, YouTube, viewed April 10th 2016, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3noy4Dhvhx0&gt;

MultiRotors, M 2014, How to Build the DJI F450 Flamwheel Drone With Naza Flight Controller and DT7 Radio, Online Video, 18th April, YouTube, viewed april 12th 2016, < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ER2GxMo0X3E&gt;

360fly Support, 360Fly and Livit Team Up to Offer live Streaming of 360 degree video, 360Fly, viewed 1st June 2016, <https://support.360fly.com/hc/en-us/articles/218071267-360fly-and-Livit-team-up-to-offer-live-streaming-of-360-video&gt;

Parrot Mini Drones, Maclane Airborne Night Drone, Parrot.com, viewed 1 June 2016, <http://www.parrot.com/usa/products/minidrones/airborne-night-drone/mcclane/&gt;


 

360 Heros Vs 360Fly For Custom Drone

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The software that comes with the 360heros camera mount is a software called 360CamMan v.2 that is a stitching application that allows the user to format all 6 SD cards before using them in the go pros. This allows the GoPros to have a unique camera number up to 6, that then corresponds with a position on the mount, me trying to work this out is shown in the video below.

 

The idea is to rename the SD cards, clear them of content, then using another software (Vahana VR or equivalent) then input each recording together to create the immersive 360-degree camera. This, upon research and trial testing, is very advanced programming and is used for 4K resolution footage. For the projects I’m undertaking, this has proved to be more advanced than its worth. For the drone 360 recording of an inside of a culvert, the results need to be instant. The 360 video doesn’t need to be published, rather it needs to be played-back at an almost instant timeframe for the convenience of the workers. The stitching, the formatting and then finally the importing of the footage and rendering together is at least an hour long job that has proved to be highly inconvenient for RMS commercial use.

Though this could be achieved with more time and understanding of the problem, I’ve further researched into readily available cameras that have the mounting capacity of a GoPro 360Heros mount, as well as convenient self-stitching programming and I found a device called the 360fly. Added bonus of this device, is that it’s water resistant, shock absorbent and ultra-lightweight. The 6 GoPros and 360heros camera mount added around 1.2kg to the drone which then had to be taken into consideration when choosing a battery, which had to be powerful, which then added more weight. A loop that I think can be overcome with this new lightweight device in the 360fly. The water resistant and shock absorbent features have their advantages within a culvert that’s usually full of water and has the potential to crash in early flights, something the GoPro’s were exposed with the original mount.

https://360fly.com/videos/C683xVN33RaHQLUkoJYUub/

This footage showcases firstly the device and its features, and secondly the test flight of the 360fly on a DJI phantom. The way I’d incorporate this onto my drone that I’ve got, would be to use the mount it has from the 360heros mount, that the 360fly replicates in terms of its screw on system, and mount it on the top. The 360 fly doesn’t have completely 180 degree view up and down, however the bottom roughly 60-degree radius of the culvert doesn’t need to be in shot, which is why mounting it on the top will suffice. The 360fly also comes packed with an included VR headset specific to the product. This for me was an interesting exploration in observing the footage acquired by the drone. Basically the workers could wear the goggles and look to any part of the culvert, (Instead of click and drag on a computer screen) even though this option would be still available to them.

This is the progress with purchasing the 360fly with the RMS;

360fly talk 1

360fly talk 2

 

Drones & 360 Videos

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Link to 360 Degree Drones Prezi

Transcript

Cyberculture can be referred to as the “response to the ubiquitous presence and use of computers and networks for aspects of contemporary social life” for example entertainment.  I wanted to link ‘computers’ to a broader extension of what is thought of, in a PC or laptop, to a motherboard of controls to Arduino to robotics, thus drones and their hardware.

Over the last year I’ve built an expertise looking into Drones In Agriculture as well as Production, Consumption and Representation of Drones in China.

This allowed me to then extend the interest into First Person View (FPV) Drone viewing and 360 degree cameras, modding quadcopters for performance and overall extending their immediate and obvious tasks, then their implication to the way the drone is represented to a wider consumer. Initially I set out to study the use of FPV goggles in racing situations and the cybernetic relationship between the craft’s lens and the human eye and then link the research into the Game Cultures class looking at a FPV league at university.

So this is where my investigation began and along the way evolved. The FPV goggles I believed served as an extended lens to the iris to view a particular moment in space that I alluded to a “disembodiment gaze”. photo Iris > Lens

You can’t see those around you at this point without the assistance and view of the drone, and if there is a monitor connected picking up the analogue signal then this further develops this as those around can see you and the view you have, yet you can’t see them. The idea of having complete freedom in FPV goggles to view whatever the drone saw fascinated me, but didn’t satisfy until I came across an FPV race flight that had a 360-degree camera attached, which ultimately left the flight path viewing in complete user control. 360 Degree video has been used for another extension of what I touched on regarding FPV flight.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOwDxVUyTUY

This drone racing with 360 video adds a whole new element to the displacement of the viewer. It has little alteration to the pilot, however this kind of thinking works its way into the world of invention drone narratives

This idea of viewing spaces without having to physically move, linked nicely with an external project I am working on for the Roads and Maritime services (formally RTA) about the use of drones for observation and surveillance not seen yet in technological trajectory. Drones entered the consumer world without the slightest hint of public awareness and it’s a positive direction for the technological evolution of the device. Building on the extension of the eye, 360 Video Technology has integrated its way onto the drone for a more immersive and natural viewing angle ever.

One particular device that I’ve managed to get my hands on is the 360Heros camera mount, that acts like a human extension of the skull or neck. The user is able to click and drag viewing any part of the footage they desire. This extends the original narrative of the commercialization of the drone in organisations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by8ob_oGbdk 

Traditionally, the surveillance of the inside quality of a prevalent culvert has required a physical exploration by an employee to get inside and make observations. These areas are often wet, dirty/muddy, unhygienic in terms of syringes as well as infested with bugs, spiders and other unwanted inhabitants. By sending a Drone inside this area, the user is able to control a constant altitude as well as 360 degree swivel option to view all parts of the inside of the pipe.

 

Something that’s facilitated the use of 360 degree cameras as a consumer friendly entity, is the idea of the drone casting narratives from its invention to present day availability. Chris Moore delivered a lecture #dronestories that discussed the idea that all drone types, whether they be quadcopters I’m dealing with, RC Model planes or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), all devices have a story that dictates a stigmatic association and comfort in space. The Internet is already a widely accepted use of technology, no one has any problems with it but it hasn’t always been the case. Connections can be drawn with how our obsessive use of the internet is linked to why we as a participatory culture are subconsciously becoming a drone enthusiast society. If we look at the drones characteristics and then we look at current technological consumption, we can see the definitive overlap.

Drone Technology characteristics

  • UAV
  • Geographic information systems
  • Surveillance
  • Sousveillance – that is an activity is recorded by a participant in that activity.
  • Mediation platform – its own experience

Now if we look at the consumer side of technological consumption we see

  • Mapping programs (I a likened to GPS)
  • Location aware pocket software ( iphone > then using location services)
  • Public sourced media data base (YouTube is the big one for footage)
  • Apps and algorithms that navigate (this link from Facebook can be used in software such as A.R. Free Flight 2.0)

Therefore, these characteristics are both key components that make up the drone, from which were already in existence before the commercial drone was released. So I’m of the belief that the technological make up isn’t where the anxiety lies, it’s what people are doing with the devices which calls for the urgency for regulation separate and exclusive. Discussed heavily by Adam Rothstein that I would like to draw into using Chris Anderson’s idea that the drone is at the level of a 1970s personal computer. The computer and later the internet become socially and commercially a phenomenon that is something we’re all connected to and have access to. I like the idea that the drone will merge its way through regulation and defeat the mythos accompanying all new technology.

Drones come with a certain technological mythos, a speculative narrative that is slowly being integrated into commercial uses and the features of 360 video is something I believe is helping the changing speculation regarding them. 360 video gives complete control to the viewer on where they want to look spatially within the video experience. Mount the camera to a drone and all of a sudden new perspectives and narratives are drawn, and possibilities both human and technological are seen.

The FPV research from game cultures had its own study path, which lead me into areas of design, modification and expansion. This facilitated my own drone build to which I could study and aim for in a drone that carried another new camera narrative in 360-degree video. Not only has the viewer now have access to complete freedom with the video viewing position, they now have an added perspective from a drone. The extension from the human and in particular the eye, lead me into some slightly left field research but I found interesting none-the-less.

Man’s link to human enhancement is through tech with animal characteristics and in particular the 360 degree camera attached to a drone presents an eagle like advantage. The idea is that an FPV goggle mount is fixed with a 360 camera, the human has ultimately enhanced themselves based on animal, specifically predator, advantages. Predatory eyes in front for perceptual jumping, the idea is that aggressive immanence only requires a forward view. Then if you think about the prey collection of creature’s eye sight, they’re designed to sense the prey 180 degrees around them with the 90-degree forward view access by constant movement.

 

This quote debates the idea of humans being fitted with eagle vision, however it clearly resembles that perspective of a drone attached with a 360-degree camera.

With an eagles 20/5 (four to five times greater than human) vision also have nearly double the field of view. With our eyes angled 30 degrees away from the midline of our faces like an eagle’s, we would see almost all the way behind our heads with a 340-degree visual field (compared to normal humans’ 180 degree field); this would confer a clear advantage in hunting and self-defense.”

(http://www.livescience.com/18658-humans-eagle-vision.html)

This exploration has added a cybernetic comparison to human enhancement as an extension of our current capacity. For this to be even more cyborg-like, I think a live 360-degree feed directly to a monitor or screen that the user could control in real time would be the closest thing to an eagle eye transplant.

So, where to now? I’m going to continue the exploration into the 360-degree video unboxing as I’ve been building a knowledge base from various sources including YouTube tutorials, forums such as reddit and whirlpool as well as trial and error, all while filming “Stark” style videos that showcase the complete start from scratch approach I have. I hope to have a 360-degree video from the 6 GoPros and mount, and If time permits, I’ll attach it to the drone and do some tests there. The drone will be ready for when the 360 video works, otherwise I’ll build the camera expertise alone.

N Wolchover 2012, What if Humans had Eagle Vision?, Live Science, viewed 18th April 2016, <http://www.livescience.com/18658-humans-eagle-vision.html>

Rothstein, A 2011, Drone Ethnography, Rhizome, Blog, 20 July Viewed 13th April 2016, <http://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/jul/20/drone-ethnography/&gt;

Suchman, L. 2009, Connections: the double interface and constructing the cyborg body. 1st ed. ebook MIT OpenCourseWare, p.15. viewed 22 April 2016, Available at: <http://mitocw.eia.edu.co/courses/anthropology/21a-850j-the-anthropology-of-cybercultures-spring-2009/assignments/MIT21A_850Js09_sw01.pdf&gt;

Chris Moore, 2016, #dronestories, prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 3rd May 2016, viewed 5th May 2016, <https://prezi.com/b9fp3pnjfqew/dronestories/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&gt;

Chris Moore, 2016, Cybercultures Week Two 2016 (w.2), Prezi lecture, DIGC335, University of Wollongong, 8th March 2016, viewed 24th April 2016, < https://prezi.com/poqmln3hslyh/cybercultures-week-two-2016-w2/&gt;

Small UAV coalition 2014, About us/Current Rules, Small Uav Coalition, viewed April 30th 2016, < http://www.smalluavcoalition.org/&gt;

Fredrick Lardinois 2015, Talking Drones With 3D Robotics CEO Chris Anderson, Techcrunch, Viewed 30th April 2016, < http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/11/talking-drones-with-3drobotics-ceo-chris-anderson/&gt;

Konstantin Kakaes 2015, Drone Regulation – Privacy and Property rights, PDF, New America, Chapter 3, viewed 2nd May 2016, < http://www.iapad.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/DronesAndAerialObservation.pdf#page=29&gt;

Culvert Inspection

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Traditionally, the surveillance of the inside quality of a prevalent culvert has required a physical exploration by an employee to get inside a make observations. These areas are often wet, dirty/muddy, unhygienic in terms of syringes as well as infested with bugs, spiders and other unwanted inhabitants. By sending a Drone inside this area, the user is able to control a constant altitude as well as 360 degree swivel option to view all parts of the inside of the pipe. Drones today are no larger than 1m x 1m in size, and continue to go smaller to the user’s needs, which is ideal for a space such as these. As the quality of the drone moves up, so does the accessibility of useful functions such as maneuverability of the camera separate to the drone itself, which allows a view of the top of the pipe to be captured and inspected. This eliminates health and safety hazards with all kinds of materials dropping from the roof of the pipe. Being inside a condensed space also provides a shelter from the elements of weather that affect some budget drones (such as wind speed affecting stabilisation or stationary ability of the drone, which allows easier piloting and better quality footage.

drone in culvert

These simple drawings show how the drone could be piloted into the culvert from a distance without the need for the inspections requiring people to physically go inside.

culvert view

culverts-for-stream-crossing edit 2

This shows the materials (water, dirt) that are often present when workers have to climb in and inspect the culvert. As shown, the drone hovers above this, which improves on current ideas of remote controlled devices such as cars that have trouble getting through if its thick.

The drone is shown above it from the view of the inside of a square culvert, showing the potential to capture footage and photos from al views depending on the camera angle and size of the drone in comparison to the area space. If an accurate scale can be modelled from the view of the drone (for example height and length of the damage within the pipe) then the amount of resources allocated to its repair can be fine-tuned to improve sustainability of materials used (eg. Supports).

An overview of what I need includes:

  • A 360 degree device for filming (this has to include the mount & cameras) – this will then be run through some kind of Software to analyse and utilize “click and drag” 360 degree viewing. I’ve found the software package that comes with the cameras and has excellent reviews, to which I’ve already started watching the tutorials to get an idea on how to convert footage to data useful for direction.
    This could be from a company in America Called 360Heros:

http://shop.360heros.com/PRO6L-360-VIDEO-360-HEROS-p/pro6l.htm
– Software 360CAMMAN-V2
– H3Pro6N 360 Plug-n-Play™ Holder
– 6 Go pros (Purchased Separately)

Eg.

360 camera mount drone

360 camera mount drone 2

 

 

A flashlight option – I’ve included what I’ve found, but I thought you might have some ideas on a small and powerful light attachment that could possibly be integrated into the body of the drone. These being a singular bulb instead of say a flashlight that will add weight and size to the drone. If you look at the http://www.parrot.com/au/products/airborne-night-drone/ parrot night drone it has small LED lights. I was thinking something similar but more exposed perhaps all the way around the drone. So getting up to 10 and place them in spare space around the drone.

 

  • The drone itself – being small enough in size yet still the ability to attach the components needed for the research. The smallest available would be ideal, and culvert sizes can be seen in a second attachment

The aerial drone technology solution must meet the following requirements:

  • able to operate within an unlighted enclosed space of width 0.5m wide by 0.2m deep by 30m long.

 

  • capture visual images of culvert cell soffit, walls and base slab to a resolution which would allow 0.2mm wide concrete cracks to be identified
  • capture visual images of culvert cell soffit, walls and base slab to a resolution which would allow 0.2mm wide concrete cracks to be identified
  • able to inspect multiple (up to 20) bridge size culverts per day (without the need to return to an office/depot for battery charging during the day)
  • Procure aerial drone technology for a field test trial.
  • Perform field test trial of aerial drone technology solution.
  • Record observations and evaluate performance against objectives

 

 

Drones In Agriculture Project

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The ‘Drones in Agriculture’ concept stemmed from my part time employment on a property in central west NSW where I undertook many hours of labour and observed where a drone would help combat what’s known as ‘dead man hours’, that essentially mean something that needs doing but can often be time wasted as it doesn’t need attention, for example checking fence lines, water and food supplies. This started my thinking into how I could improve yield and time management for farmers by gaining a drones view of crop infection areas, weed spraying paddocks (the idea being that specific parts needing attention can be identified and only that amount of pesticide can be purchased, instead of using on the whole paddock), fence lines and livestock numbers as well as food checking from an aerial view. I saw the idea being done with the use of UAV drones that have a continuous flight pattern, however knew the quadcopter would be able to give a greater visual representation as most farmers can identify problem areas with just video footage.

I was able to bring this technology to a rural area, whereby most people were still unaware or extremely uneducated about the products. Firstly, I had to obtain a drone as the university ones weren’t covered by insurance and I didn’t trust myself to take them so far away. So I bought a Kaiser Baas Alpha Drone, that proved to be faulty and a waste of money. So I saved up and invested in a A.R Parrot Drone 2.0 Elite Edition. This was a great ‘low budget’ drone that allowed me to get my concept across. Not the greatest stability or features but the idea was able to be showcased. Next I had to travel 6.5hrs home to Parkes and obtain enough footage to make a YouTube Video detailing my theory. I reviewed this footage, edited out the shaky film and various points of the camera pointing to the sky, to showcase crop surveillance, weed spraying areas, livestock checking, aerial photography for house planning and fence areas that needed attention, all areas I wanted to showcase. I then used a backing track of a popular song to invite people from all interests to partake in my hope for a phenomenon.

As mentioned above one of the many problems and useful learning curves I encountered was the use of an effective drone with the initial one being faulty and un usable due to a video recording malfunction. From the drone I did end up purchasing the camera stability and overall capturing wasn’t at the standard I needed for effective and clear footage. This being said, the one I had fitted my budget and demonstrated how with the right equipment (i.e. 3 axis gimbal camera, longer flight time battery life, increased range) the results would follow. Adding to the problems, I flew my drone too close to a tree and it ended up dropping out as a result of being caught, and I managed to snap the central cross which attached to the wings. This meant that I had to superglue it and leave it for 72hrs, which greatly affected the time I had for footage capturing. Matched third party content on YouTube was another problem area, whereby the videos were unplayable on some devices (such as tablets, consoles). This was okay as long as I agreed to the conditions which I did, however when the idea starts making inroads into a career I’ll have to consider this for next time.

The prosperity of this project is exciting with the RMS (formally RTA) keen to have me on board for their bridge inspections and surveillance. They’ve agreed to trail my ideas of using the drone to inspect bridges above and below without the need for scaffolding that’s both costly and time consuming. They’ve agreed to a grant and a trial run and if they like the idea and can see it being innovative in their organisation, I could well be contracted to work for them alongside university research into the utility of the technology. I also plan on taking this concept of aerial surveillance to council areas for the purposes of rooftop maintenance, roads and even plantation. Agriculturally, the project was great in identifying ways to use a quadcopter that haven’t already been done. Thus, the crop inspection and data around that is covered extensively by the UAV drones, what the quadcopter can do is provide a more close vision of livestock numbers, feed and water supplies and aerial view of the crop, not an analysis but an observation.  This project has opened opportunities in terms of business proposals, self organisations and direction for future DIGC subjects at Uni.

The Content Follows:

prezi Click the picture for a link to prezi !

RMS Project Proposal

The potential for drones to be used as surveillance tools for bridge maintenance is very real. Some bridges have a span of only 5m in width (meant for one car to travel over at a time) which makes it very difficult for an inspection to be made. Flying a drone above the bridge giving a bird’s eye account of it would allow for a quicker and cheaper process. Access to the sides of the bridge railing is limited to its height of around or over 2m, to which inspection is unavailable, a drone can sit a few metres or even centimetres above to get a detailed photo or video footage along the top.  Another element of drone potential for a bridge is underneath, especially when surrounded by river flow or materials making it impossible and unsafe for human activity.

The following bridge is located at Gooloogong and is the Holman bridge which has recently been updated, yet acts as a great example of the uses for a UAV.

HolmanBridge1 edit - rails 1

Holman Bridge, Gooloogong.

This indicates the top part of the bridge railing that could potentially have a drone flown above it to inspect any damage areas in need of attention. This wouldn’t threat any human safety, yet still providing instant feedback with detailed photos or video footage to the inspector’s discretion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Perhaps the greatest asset to the RMS with a drone would be the accessibility of the underside of a bridge such as this one. With a river underneath and no access from land to inspect underneath, the current methods are to erect scaffolding around the areas along the bridge. With a simple drone, photos, live feeds and video footage can be captured and recorded instantaneously. This would be a huge saving on resources and funding for a simple inspection as the drone could hover underneath at a constant height and speed taking as many recordings as deemed necessary, as well as a live viewing.

Current regulation states that a drone cannot be flown within 30 metres of cars, boats and buildings, however with correct permission this is possible. Even if the road was required to be closed for this to happen, the exciting factor is that it would take approx. 20mins to record and capture photos necessary for a thorough inspection, in contrast to a scaffold.

holman-bridge-banner underneath 2

Culvert Inspection 

Bundaberg-Ring-Road-Culvert edit 1

Traditionally, the surveillance of the inside quality of a prevalent culvert has required a physical exploration by an employee to get inside a make observations. These areas are often wet, dirty/muddy, unhygienic in terms of syringes as well as infested with bugs, spiders and other unwanted inhabitants. By sending a Drone inside this area, the user is able to control a constant altitude as well as 360 degree swivel option to view all parts of the inside of the pipe. Drones today are no larger than 1m x 1m in size, and continue to go smaller to the user’s needs, which is ideal for a space such as these. As the quality of the drone moves up, so does the accessibility of useful functions such as manoeuvrability of the camera separate to the drone itself, which allows a view of the top of the pipe to be captured and inspected. This eliminates health and safety hazards with all kinds of materials dropping from the roof of the pipe. Being inside a consdensed space also provides a shelter from the elements of weather that affect some budget drones (such as wind speed affecting stabilisation or stationary ability of the drone, which allows easier piloting and better quality footage.

culverts-for-stream-crossing edit 2

This simple drawing shows how the drone could be piloted into the culvert from a distance without the need for the inspections requiring people to physically go inside.

culvert view

↑ This shows the materials (water, dirt) that are often present when workers have to climb in and inspect the culvert. As shown, the drone hovers above this, which improves on current ideas of remote controlled devices such as cars that have trouble getting through if its thick.

The drone is shown above it from the view of the inside of a square culvert, showing the potential to capture footage and photos from al views depending on the camera angle and size of the drone in comparison to the area space. If an accurate scale can be modelled from the view of the drone (for example height and length of the damage within the pipe) then the amount of resources allocated to its repair can be fine-tuned to improve sustainability of materials used (eg. Supports).

  • Timeframe

1 year should be sufficient to conduct all the data records necessary to make a clear judgement on the usefulness of the drone technology. This allows for a trial and error period, to determine which devices are suitable for certain tasks, eg. Smaller drones to get into more confined spaces, and looking at the possibility of using a ‘one drone suits all’ methodology. This will take the year to try different ones and see which are the most effective.

  • When it’ll be available to start testing

As soon as the proposal is processed and reviewed, the immediate use would be up to the jobs that need working, which I presume would be by the end of this current (2015) year, early 2016. Once the required equipment is chosen and deemed useful to use, the tests would be subject to the inspector’s advice.

  • Examples of its use in other industry

At the moment, drones have been used for a number of precision surveillance purposes that regular human viewing is limited to. One example is the area of agriculture, to which I’m currently studying its potential now. Crops can be seen from a birds eye view above the paddock that can identify areas that need pesticide spraying or watering, instead of having to do the whole crop. This saves on resources and time, much like it would assist in the area of surveillance at the RMS. Lately reports have also indicated that ‘traffic watch’ jobs are set to evaporate as these UAVs (un-manned aerial vehicles) do it better and cheaper.

Maintenance personnel at the University of Wollongong have also approached me and my fellow teachers when we were developing an expertise of them one day, above the possibilities to use the technology to inspect and observe the roofs of building around UOW campus. Things like gutters and tiling on the rooftops require, at the present time, workers to climb on top of buildings to make the observation. With this technology a quicker and easier way to do this would be to send a drone and detail the results .

I see a potential for council organisations being able to harness the potential of drones for similar processes. Surveillance or observation of plantation in council areas of tree growth is a perfect job for aerial photography. Buildings that are of council importance can be checked for maintenance with a birds eye account of the premises.

Aerial photography today is still an expensive endeavour, however with the quality of the cameras ever improving, the potential to use a drone to take photos for council promotion and marketing of a city or town is a cost effective trade. The flight height of a drone can match the previous technique to get a broad wide lens shot of a population, and this idea has been used by cinematographers in landscape shots for film.

  • 1 or multiple devices to use for the job – so whether one could be done for all or need multiple (perhaps smaller for smaller area etc.)
  • Estimated costs
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of it
  • Culvert heights – spreadsheet comparing sizes of different ones (look at minority of big and small culverts)

Processing of Data

The great asset of drone footage and photo processing is that it’s as simple as copying the data onto a USB memory stick and viewing them in simple PC viewers (ie. Windows media player, VLC etc.) That way, anyone is able to be educated and can analyse instantly, even on site. The option is there for the user to record data onto a smart phone or tablet, however, the USB recording option allows the results to be determined as useful or not within minutes of landing the drone. Distributing these results are just as easy as simple files eg. in the mp4 format.

Estimated cost & Product Features

DJI Phantom 3

DJI

– a personal choice of drone in terms of cost, features and flight training. This drone costs around $1500-$3000 depending on the bundle of extras wanted, or unwanted. The higher price would include things like a carry case, extra batteries, spare propellers, protective guards. All of which increase the price according to the extras one wants.

-4K video at up to 30 frames per second and capturing 12 megapixel photos, 3 axis gimble which stabilizes your video on all 3 axis (yaw, pitch and roll), 3-axis gimbals are able to greatly reduce and sometimes completely eliminate jello due to a third motor that helps absorb unwanted movement in the yaw axis. Using 3-axis gimbals will result in shorter flight times so to solve this problem, simply bring along extra batteries when you go out flying, extra batteries range from $150-$250, depending on strength with the $250 option giving approx. 25mins extra flight time. This gimble ultimately gives the user the opportunity to control the camera without moving the drone, or rather, while it’s stationary hovering in the air.

-record over distances up to 2km and in real time, simply by connecting a smartphone or tablet a 720p (High definition) view of everything your camera sees as the drone is flown, displayed live. This immersive view streams with absolute clarity enabling the perfect angle/shot of the target.

– Phantom 3 fully under your command while accessing the
most-used features on the included remote controller,  giving you full control and manoeuvrability through un-manable terrain.

– A unique Beginner Mode helps you learn how to fly in a safe, limited area. Your Phantom 3 can be set to fly only within a given distance and altitude from you, protecting your Phantom and making it automatically stay inside your desired limits. This invisible, GPS-enabled “geofence” prevents you from accidentally flying into unwanted areas or obstacles, and helps to learn at the same time.

– a safe auto piloting mode thus: Auto-take off With one tap in the DJI Pilot app, your Phantom 3 will turn on its motors and rise to a pre-set height. It will then hover perfectly in place until you direct it where to go. Auto return-home When GPS is available, your Phantom 3 remembers the exact spot that it took off from. Wherever your aircraft is flying, tap a button to have it return right back home. And Failsafe If the Intelligent Flight Battery is running low, or if your Phantom 3 loses the connection with your remote controller for any reason, the aircraft will automatically return to the takeoff point and land safely.

Battery power

High voltage,  energy, and power combine to give you a great flight experience. This Intelligent Flight Battery has built-in sensors and bright LEDs that let you know the status and remaining power of your battery in real time. Your Phantom 3 continuously calculates its current distance from you and the amount of power needed to return, so you always know how long you can continue flying and when it is time to recharge.

Assessment of effectiveness

To determine if this product is right, field testing is vital. The results are efficient and won’t be completely wasted if some things can’t be recorded, because the practicality is obvious. Drone technology has not yet released a product that has a completely vertical camera view and is unable to use the camera underneath and fly upside down. This can be prototyped further in terms of a 3D printer, a go pro (or small portable camera alternative) and a zip tie facing upwards. This being said, development in the demand and usefulness of this product in the services of the RMS and other groups would see the Drone manufacturing companies respond accordingly.

For the purposes of bridge maintenance however, this particular drone has the optimum flight time/recording features for the most cost economical price on the market. As the more money is invested into the product, the more increased these to variables are.

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