Wired asks: Why are Occupy not flying their own drones?

Occupy the Skies!

It's too bad the AR.Drone only has a battery life of 10 minutes...

Though I suppose that for this, where you want it staying in pretty much the same place for many hours, you really want a Terror Blimp instead of a copter.

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19 Responses:

  1. Tom says:

    It would be interesting to see a solution that is adapted to an urban environment. If we assume that the protest lines are mostly fixed, and the area is surrounded by (tallish) buildings, then the challenge isn't so much to keep a drone in orbit above, but rather to get a camera to a static location with good sight-lines from where it can broadcast.

    I.e. fly a camera over the scene & find a ledge to land on & film from. Decreased flight time means more payload available for batteries, and therefore more broadcast time.

  2. Devon Dossett says:

    I did see one guy at oakland with a camera on a 15' pole. tethered balloons with cameras would also give some additional intel, and could be ground-powered.

  3. Neil Girling says:

    Yes! I have asked the same question, since an eye-in-the-sky would be mighty useful not just from an observatatory point-of-view, but a photographic one as well.

    As to battery life... Perhaps a camera-toting blimp? Or dirigible? Seems a panorama camera made of cell phone cameras could easily be hoisted aloft by a few regular balloons, even.

  4. Owen says:

    I think the reason "why not" is because it would confirm every pants-wetting police-state fantasy that the authorities probably have about the protesters. Citizens are barely allowed to carry "professional-looking cameras" anymore. I can easily imagine the trumped up charges and right wing mania that would be unleashed in response to "unmanned drones." "According to our experts such a device could be carrying chemical or biological weapons and there's no way to know!!!!"

  5. relaxing says:

    I was just wondering last night how much amateur UAV activity takes place at Burning Man...

  6. Andrew says:

    Those gas powered model airplane guys are probably more Tea Partiers than Occupyers, but you never know...

  7. mack says:

    Whoever is flying that AR Drone in the video has added a thrid party spy cam to the drone & isn't using the built in. How do I know? As far as I've been able to research, there no iOS or Android app that provides for recording of both audio and video. There is an iOS app to record video (no android one yet) but it doesn't record audio. The drone itself with no extra batteries costs $300 so add extra batteries, an additional 3rd party spy cam with mic and software capable of capturing/recording the flight and you're probably looking at close to an $800 investment. Maybe that's why you don't see a lot of occupy protesters with their own spy drones!

    • jwz says:

      There's nothing in that video that says it was shot by an AR.Drone. It's also only using one camera, and the AR.Drone has two (forward and straight down). But, if you wanted audio out of an AR.Drone (which means "if you want a soundtrack of unrelenting prop noise") you could just duct tape a 2oz audio recorder to it, for the 10 min that it will fly.

      • mack says:

        I can tell by the sound that it's an AR Drone, and realistically, you probably cannot tape a mic to the bottom because the Parrot FAQs actually advise against attaching anything to the drone (they said, no matter how small) because it makes it unstable and can cause it to crash. For that same reason, it's probable the user made some custom modifications to either allow for recording of sound & audio with the supplied camera(s), with ability to toggle them on/off separately, and/or they modified the unit itself to accommodaye the extra weight of a 3rd party spy cam.

  8. unholyguy says:

    doubt it's an Parrot AR drone, they are pretty hard to fly that high and they don't deal at all well with wind. It's probably one of the more expensive kit based quadcopters

    The reason why you don't see more of them is a good quadcopter spydrone, one that can stay up for hours not minutes and won't get blown to hell and back by the smallest breeze, costs $5K+ and doesn't seem to be available to civilians

  9. Alex says:

    Two of the OWS livestreamers are planning to deploy ARDrone. Occupy Air Force >> Occupy Signal Corps.

  10. lairdb says:

    Hmm -- offtopic, but I wonder if you could attach some lift assist (i.e. balloons) to an ARDrone to extend the flight lifetime.

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