Daily Illuminator

February 22, 2009: Drones? Drones!

One element of cyberpunk gaming (like Shadowrun) is the availability of high quality drones: little semi-autonomous robots that crawl and fly to do recon for their operators. But that's military hardware -- how does that get to the streets?

Chris Anderson has created the answer (although he was just being a hobbyist -- really!): a $25 autopilot chip. Combine with an off-the-shelf GPS, an remote control stabilization module (common in RC planes), and some open source software, and you've got a do-it-yourself Unmanned Aerial Vehicle . . . DIY UAV for the acronym obsessed. So, for around $500 and some elbow grease, you can build your own RQ-11 Raven (which the miliary paid about $25,000 for).

From the perspective of a DIY enthusiast, this is very cool. I'd love an "eye in the sky" for . . . well, I have no practical use for it, I admit. But for law enforcement . . . or avoidance . . . there are many, many uses.

-- Paul Chapman

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