IBM’s Sherpa Drone: “Fly, my pretties, fly!”

There is a WW2 story about a boy who guided a munitions truck up a treacherous road to get to the front lines in the middle of a rainy night. The driver, unable to use headlights for fear of a sniper, followed the only thing visible to him: the boy’s white towel. This patent application is kind of like that, but instead of a boy it’s a drone, and the towel is the drone’s array […]

Smart Drone Tracks, Anticipates Target’s Movement

The scenario is nothing new: a drone to follows its dongle or transmitter, capturing video or photos of its user. Lily, or most higher-end quads offer this feature. However, as the present patent application illustrates, drones do not anticipate their target’s movement. For example, suppose you want a video of you surfing. Here is the relevant paragraph from the application: “After powering on the autonomous vehicle, a user may paddle out and begin to surf. […]

Survey Drones Collect Seismic Data, Save Environment

In the surveying world, seismic data can reveal a plethora of valuable information. For example, the oil and gas industry heavily relies on seismic data to determine where the good stuff is buried. Seismic data in remote areas is sometimes difficult to collect. As this patent application observes, “if seismic equipment has to be deployed via a land vehicle, roads may be employed. If there are no roads, creating them can be time consuming and […]

Drone Assists Horizontal Directional Drilling

In the drilling world, sometimes you don’t drill straight down. If you need to create an underground passage for utilities under a road, river or obstacle, or to drink someone else’s milkshake, you can drill horizontally. How do you know if your cutting tool is at the right depth or on the right path? You have a person follow the underground drill bit over the surface with a special tool that tells you where the […]

UAVs Assume the Most Dangerous Work

How can drones help society? Let me count the ways. For the linesmen who have to climb power-transmitting pylons in remote areas, this invention will be a lifesaver. Why climb when you can send a drone? This patent application relegates the most dangerous tasks to machines. Sharper Shape Ltd. of Helsinki proposes to mate ground and airborne units into a lean, mean, surveying machine. Using the latest technology, maintenance of a power line network is […]

Amazon’s Narrow Patent Application for Drone Delivery

It’s been the talk of the town since Amazon ‘leaked’ its drone-delivery service, but in reading the patent application for this invention, there is plenty of room to maneuver around Amazon. The application is well-written as far as understanding the concept of drone delivery: “The final, or last mile delivery of physical items to a user specified location is traditionally accomplished using a human controlled truck, bicycle, cart, etc. For example, a user may order […]

In-Flight Sandbox for Foreign Software

It should come as no surprise that there will be an app store for drones soon. Third-party software may bring new and unexpected uses for the Inspire1 or the Solo. An unforeseen software glitch can be an issue. “An example issue is that a UAV can receive data or instructions from an unreliable program executing on the UAV. The unreliable program can provide erroneous data that can cause the UAV to be lost, damaged, or […]

Pusher-Prop Quad Will Save the Ceilings

In the early days of aviation, planes used pusher propellers. A pusher prop is typically behind the wing, and the concept probably came from boating, with the ship’s screws located on the stern to push the vessel through water. It took a few years for aerospace engineers to realize that puller props (mounted on the nose of the airplane) were superior because they spun through clean, not dirty air. The air behind the wing is […]

DJI’s Answer to EM Interference: No Touching

Straight from the depths of ‘duh’, comes this peculiar patent application for separation of electromagnetic interference-causing flight controllers and sensitive sensors that would be useless if in proximity of EM interference. DJI proposes to distance the guts of the controller from the sensor between 3 cm and up to 50 cm away, even if that means putting the sensor on a mast (or an “extension member”). According to the application, “operation of navigational, surveillance or […]

DJI’s Inspiring Patent Application

We’ve all oohed and awed over DJI’s Inspire’s 360-degree camera pan without the gear getting in the way of the shot, but did you know that the design can also “increase the functional space of a coupled payload”? From the reading of the patent application, the camera is only a part of what this thing can do. As the patent says, “existing unmanned aerial vehicle designs can be less than ideal for providing unobstructed viewing […]

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