eye3: An Affordable Flying Robot
For those of you who are aspiring aerial photographers, there is a new Kickstarter project looking to help you get the equipment you need to send your camera rig soaring into the air. Called the “eye3″, the project hopes to create an affordable hexacopter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can be used without any special training. UAV enthusiast Kellie Sigler and her husband are looking to cut out the middleman between the photographer and their equipment by creating a UAV package that uses open source software combined with Google Maps.
The first goal for the eye3 project the Siglers focused on was the need to make the vehicle lightweight, but powerful enough to be able to support a payload consisting of a professional-level DSLR camera and lens, which can get in the range of 5 to 10 pounds. To meet this requirement, the couple designed the six arm structure of the eye3 out of carbon and glass fibers, both of which offer strength without having to add weight to the frame. For the lifting power, each arm was outfitted with a 350W motor capable of up to four pounds of vertical thrust. With a combined capability of 24 pounds of thrust, the hexacopter has more than enough muscle left over after taking into consideration its own four pound weight.
Along with the vertical lifting power, having six motors gives you some redundancy. The Siglers claim that two of the rotors could fail and the eye3 could still remain in the air, allowing to land the UAV safely and make repairs. Because the kit is modular in nature, replacing parts is less expensive and it is possible to replace just what is fault as opposed to the whole assembly.
The eye3 also makes use of some excellent open source software called APM Planner that is built on the APM2 platform. APM Planner is an autopilot software that allows you to use Google Maps to plot out the path of the UAV, allowing you to dictate the speed and waypoint’s around an area. The software takes care of the takeoff, flight path, and landing, allowing you to focus on the photo’s you are trying to get. This along with the auto-stabilization features that have been built in make UAV flight incredibly simple.
The eye3 is powered by three CPUs, with a board that has additional I/O ports to add your own customizations. One of these will be needed for a live feed of what the camera is seeing, so you can make sure you are framing your shots correctly. – source
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