Thursday, 19 May 2016

Cameras & Drones

Cameras & drones, commonly used by window cleaners.
DeHart: Gutter maintenance using camera-assisted vacuum - Grant Baudais has started a new property maintenance service business, Select Property Maintenance Services. Their focus is on gutter cleaning, power washing, window washing and other services around the home or business. 

They use unique equipment in their business, including a vacuum system that allows them to clean gutters from the ground using a commercial vacuum system with minimal use of ladders with a remote wireless camera system which aids in monitoring the cleaning of the gutter to ensure all materials are removed. A surface cleaner power washes decks, patios, sidewalks, driveways and other hard surfaces cleaning ground in dirt, moss and other stains. Their website is active and changing daily as they add more information, pictures and videos.

Window cleaner, Sam Luff with his drone.
Redhill window cleaner captures stunning aerial photos of Surrey with drone: These pictures were not taken from a helicopter or a fancy Google satellite, but by a Redhill window cleaner with his feet on the ground. Sam Luff has shot these stunning aerial images thanks to a drone – a light flying robot with a built-in camera – which he has used to capture East Surrey from a different perspective.

The 31-year-old, of Rathgar Close, first picked up the hobby two years ago when his girlfriend bought him a toy drone which could fit into the palm of his hand. After mastering the controls, Sam invested in the hobby-grade Phantom, which he now uses to photograph some of Surrey's most impressive landscapes and buildings, from sprawling Royal Earlswood Park to a calm and reflective Watercolour estate. Even Redhill and Reigate at night could be mistaken for inner-city locations.

Sam, who ditched a desk job after 13 years in favour of a working life outdoors, told the Mirror: "Being my own boss means I get to plan my own days. I take my drone out with me. Whenever I get half an hour or there's something interesting, I just throw it up and see what's there." He added: "I like photography anyway and the drone is an extension of that. You have full manual controls on the camera, shutter speed and exposure value – it's not just a phone camera. "I don't think most people care if I accidentally take a photo of them. If I'm hovering near their windows, that's a different thing altogether."

Reigate at night.
The device, which resembles a space probe, is limited to travel 400ft up in the air, 500m away from the controls, and move at a top speed of 30mph. Civilian use of drones has been growing, leading to the Civil Aviation Authority, which polices UK airspace, to draw up regulations.

Sophisticated models like Sam's, which are synced with a mobile phone app, have GPS technology which stops the drone from entering no-fly zones. He said: "If I take off from Horley and try to fly towards Gatwick, once it gets within 4 or 5km the whole unit restricts itself. It knows it's at Gatwick and restricts how fast and how high and how far it is from the controller. When you get to within 2km, if I was going to be careless and stupid, it would hit a geofence and it won't fly any further."

And with a live video feed to the mobile, drone controllers know exactly where they are. There's even a button to press to bring the drone back to where it took off. Sam said it means there is "no excuse" for reckless drone users.

Sam Luff, inset, takes stunning images of Surrey with his drone.
Last month, a police investigation was launched after a British Airways pilot reported a possible drone strike on a plane landing at Heathrow. Sam said: "It upsets me more than anything. It's idiots like them that may destroy the hobby. I do everything by the book. It's upsetting that anyone would fly a drone at a commercial airline."

He added: "You should know exactly what it's doing. It tells you if you're in a restricted area. There's lot of information and maps and where exactly the no-fly zones are. There's actually quite a lot of intelligence in it."

Also see:
Cumbrian Business is in the Gutter
Drones Cleaning Windows
Umbilical Drones For Window Cleaning & Painting
Drones - Window Cleaning Add-On

The insect-like micro aerial vehicle (MAV) generates a static charge for attaching to surfaces, similar in principle to static cling from a balloon. Video here.
Flying Mini-Robots Can Cling to Your Window - A new type of micro aerial vehicle saves precious power by perching on leaves or walls instead of hovering: Birds and bees make perching look easy, but creating a tiny aerial drone that can land on—and then re-launch from—a wall, tree branch or other surface takes a lot of work. Such micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) have previously used spikes or magnetic landing gear, and expend a lot of precious power to take flight again. But researchers from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several other institutions have created a minuscule wing-flapping robot that literally turns the problem on its head—with a disklike top that can cling to most surfaces using static electricity, much like rubbing a balloon and sticking it onto a wall.

The “electroadhesive” MAV can hang from the bottom of a wood or glass surface, or even a tree leaf, by creating electrostatic attraction between the surface and the electrode in its head. The power needed to maintain the electrostatic connection is “three orders of magnitude” less than that required to keep the MAV in flight for the same amount of time, the researchers wrote in a report published Thursday in Science. “Running out of power becomes a bigger problem the smaller the vehicle is,” says Moritz Alexander Graule, one of the report’s co-authors and a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The ability to hang from a structure rather than rest on top also provides the MAV with a less-obstructed view of the area below and protection from extreme weather conditions during long perching sessions. The headfirst electrostatic approach works by changing the charge distribution of the material to which it is clinging, Graule says. This works best with a smooth texture, so the drone can adhere better to something like a window than to a rough or porous surface. The MAV’s electroadhesive connection is not particularly strong, however, which means the drones need to weigh in at roughly 84 milligrams—less than a bee. In order to relaunch the drone cuts power to the circular copper electrodes in its disk and restarts its wings.

Other aerial mini drones under development use more mechanical approaches to perching. Stanford University’s scansorial UAV uses onboard sensors to detect a wall, for example, and then performs an inflight maneuver to land and cling using microspines on its legs, according to Mirko Kovac, an engineering professor at Imperial College London’s Department of Aeronautics. Kovac’s article in this week’s Science analyzes the latest developments in MAV flight. In terms of energy conservation other ideas under consideration include leveraging wind gusts to alleviate flight strain on batteries or even developing ways for smaller MAVs to perch on larger ones midflight so they can travel greater distances without using additional energy, Kovac says.

The big remaining challenges for the researchers involve integrating a battery and microprocessor that can make their MAV more autonomous. The current mini drone relies on a wire tether to deliver power and data from external sensors to determine its position while flying but the researchers want to build a battery-powered version with enough onboard power and intelligence to fly untethered. They have also considered the possibility of enabling the drone to stick to vertical surfaces as well. The ability to cling to a wall requires not only more adhesive power but also a way for the MAV to orient itself so that its wings do not interfere with the landing.

Such a drone might be one or two years away in the lab, and as long as a decade away from being ready for more widespread development and use, says Robert Wood, the project’s principal investor and a professor at Harvard’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “I see applications in search and rescue, hazardous environment exploration—basically any situation where you want to have low cost and distributed sensing [that] would be too difficult or too dangerous for a human,” Wood says. He believes more immediate benefits from this research will come from solving the technological challenges of developing devices at this scale from scratch. Wood and his colleagues now use the microfabrication techniques developed to build their MAV to likewise create articulated and sensor-laden microsurgical tools geared toward minimally invasive surgical procedures.

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