Unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, are revolutionizing warfare. Now, some of that technology is coming home from the war, to amuse us and give us an aerial perspective on our surroundings.
I’ve been trying out a helicopter-type drone called the Phantom this summer. It’s been an eye-opener in many ways. It’s easy to see these agile, relatively stable aircraft being put to a number of uses, from aerial photography to package delivery—at least once the dangers can be managed and the legal issues worked through.
The video camera on the phantom also lets me see in a new way a patch of Swedish countryside that I’ve been to every year since I was a child. It wasn’t a huge epiphany, but it was interesting to see a well-known place from a completely new angle.
The $700 Phantom, made by a Chinese company called DJI, is at the forefront of bringing drone technology to the masses.
Roughly a foot 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter, the four-propeller craft is sold as a complete unit with only minimal assembly required. This hasn’t been the norm in the industry. The Phantom could be to drones what the Apple II was to computing more than three decades ago—offering one of the first complete, integrated PCs. In any case, some drone enthusiasts consider the Phantom a major milestone.
The Phantom doesn’t come with a built-in camera, but it does have a holder for a GoPro action camcorder, which is what I used. These cameras cost about $200.
Remote-control aircraft have been around for decades. What’s different this time around?
First, the aircraft are much easier to fly, thanks to battery technology, electronics and GPS. The Phantom uses a GPS chip to stay steady in the air, even in a wind, and can stay up for nearly ten minutes on a single charge of its battery, which uses the same energy-dense technology as smartphones.
Read more at: Phys.org