One of the highlights of IROS 2011 was meeting up with the team from Ascending Technologies and getting to spend some time talking with them in person.
At their booth they had a Falcon 8 on display, which is an eight rotor sUAS designed for aerial photography and surveying.
Ascending Technologies also brought along some of their newer products including the Firefly and the Mastermind. The Firefly has several notable design features that make is a great research platform.
First, the Firefly includes an easy to see indicator light that can be used to determine the battery status or other alarms.
The six rotor design provides redundancy in the event of a motor or propeller failure. The IMU and 400 gram payload area of the Firefly are decoupled from the main frame of the vehicle helping to isolate sensors from vibrations. The Firefly will be available in 2012 starting at 5,695 Euros. A sales brochure can be found here.
The AscTec Mastermind is a new on-board computer custom designed for computationally intensive sUAS research. Available with processors up to Intel Core i7, the system can now handle running significantly more complex tasks than previously possible. The additional performance allows more tasks to be run on-board instead of on a ground station. This frees up communications bandwidth for enhanced teleoperation and make autonomous operation of the aircraft more stable in environments where WiFi is unreliable. The Mastermind supports Firewire, USB and Ethernet and additional functionality can be added via MiniPCI. Storage can be provided via CFast, mSATA, SATA or SDHC devices. Available in 2012 starting at 1,795 Euros.
If you already have an AscTec Pelican or Hummingbird you will be excited to know that there are significant software improvements and new firmware on the way. We got a chance to take a look at some of the code for the new communications interface, and believe that you will find the new software to be well worth the wait. Available soon for Free!
In addition to showing off all of the great new hardware and software, they also taught us the word 'Wachstumsschmerzen' which is German for what we seem to be going through right now. On that note, our regular posting schedule should now resume.