To build a GPS-assisted, cloud-controlled quadcopter, for consumer-friendly aerial photography.
We will be building a quad from the frame up. The four motors will each have electronic speed controllers,to balance and handle control inputs received from an 8-bit microcontroller(AP),required for its flight. The firmware will be tweaked slightly to allow flight modes that our project specifically requires. A companion computer such as the Erle Brain will be connected to the AP and to the cloud(EC2). We will build a codebase for the flight controller to navigate the quad. This would involve sending messages as per the MAVLink spec for sUAS between the companion computer and the AP to poll sensor data , voltage information , etc. The companion computer will also talk to the cloud via a UDP port to receive requests and process them via our code. Users make requests for media capture via a phone app that talks to the cloud via an internet connection.
Why is it worth doing:
There is currently no consumer-friendly solution that provides or lets anyone capture aerial photographs of them/their family/a nearby event via a simple tap on a phone. In fact, present day off-the-shelf alternatives offer relatively expensive solutions that require owning and carrying bulky equipment such as the quads/remotes. Our idea allows for safe and responsible use of drones as our proposed solution is autonomous, has several safety features, is context aware(terrain information , no fly zones , NOTAMs , etc.) and integrates with the federal airspace seamlessly.
Quads that are ready for the connected world and are capable to fly autonomously, from the user standpoint, and can perform maneuvers safely with a very simplistic UI for the common user. Specifically, quads which are deployed on user's demand, without the hassle of ownership.
Similar products and comparison:
Current solutions include RTF (ready to fly) quads such as the DJI Phantom and the Kickstarter project, Lily,that are heavily user-dependent or user-centric.The Phantom requires you to carry a bulky remote with multiple antennas. Moreover,the flight radius could be reduced by interference from nearby conditions.Lily requires the user to carry a tracking device on them. You can not have Lily shoot a subject that is not you. Lily can have a maximum altitude of 15 m above you and that is below the tree line,prone to crashes.
Our solution differs in several ways.Our solution intends to be location and/or event-centric. We propose that the users need not own quads and user can capture a moment with a phone.As long as any of the users are in the service area and the weather conditions are permissible, safety and knowledge of controlling the quad are all abstracted. The only question left to the user is what should be in the picture at a given time.