Friday, June 5, 2015

2015-06-03: Autonomy Incubator UAV Test and Calibration Flights

Our resident UAV pilot, Zak Johns, performed test flights on both the Incubator's Hex Flyer and one of his own professional cinematography rigs to ensure that new hardware on both flyers functioned smoothly. The excitement drew an enthusiastic crowd of both interns and staffers alike, so Zak brought his camera gimbal to the other side of the net for a hands-on demonstration.  A gimbal makes sure the camera stays steady and the shots come out smooth while in the air-- no matter what maneuvers the vehicle does, the gimbal adjusts in every direction to keep the camera level. The interns tested this hypothesis, like the engineers they are, by shaking and swiveling the gimbal with great gusto while everyone watched a live video feed from the camera on Zak's iPhone.  Nothing the human testers dished out could make the video so much as jitter.  Once the interns had exhausted themselves, the gimbal was returned to the UAV for its test flight.

Here's a clip from the camera on top of the Hex Flyer during its flight. Viewers who get motion sick easily may choose to look away; Zak pulls some spins in here that make the roller coasters at Busch Gardens look like merry-go-rounds.

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