Drafted by Kerry Gibson

Militarism is forefront in our current norm, with Harper dragging us back into war we cannot help but see it at every turn. It is no wonder we are so apprehensive of anything vaguely resembling what we perceive to be devices used for aggression.

Sure, some numbnuts continue to give drones a bad rap by flying irresponsibly.  One guy flew too close to an airplane.


Don’t do that.

However, it wasn’t weaponized, it was just a big boy toy flown by an idiot. These toys are sold at Toys R Us for thirty bucks and up (although you rather get what you pay for, the cheapies cannot stand a stiff breeze). Or if you are a supergeek and want to create something magnificent, you can build your own for several thousand, once you’ve added gimbals and fancy-schmancy camera capabilities. However, unless they are toting armaments, they are just toys for hobbyists.

WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM IMAGE CREDIT Noel Rubin http://instagram.com/teknoelogy

Cool toys though! These toys have their uses, they are a slick version of something my long-time friend Matt jimmied up using an iPod and an RC airplane , with which he can check up on his cows without leaving home. Ingenious! A beautifully creative group of students captured a special tribute on the centenary of the WW1 conflict in the Berkshires.  The kiwis, always remarkably ahead in R&D intend to use unmanned aerial vehicles for Search and Rescue missions in the next two years (they are more liberal about the use of their airspace, they were the first to licence jetpacks for human testing).  A bloke in Mumbai thought he could deliver pizzas without leaving the shop too, however that didn’t bode so well for him. Mumbai police weren’t in favour of multicopters buzzing around that particular city, toting yummy cheesy goodness or not. I’m wondering how many pizzas actually made it to their destinations before they were “intercepted”…

Let’s discuss the educational value of these.

Getting munchkins away from their computers, or even finding new ways to interact with them doing practical programming.

Pull the controller from the living room out into the sunshine for today’s version of kite-flying. 

Learning basic electronics.

Enhanced motor skills and eye-hand coordination so that you don’t crash your copter and learn safe flying techniques.

A plethora of physics lessons; do you recall the gyroscope and its uses? This simplistic looking invention is the reason airplanes can maintain level and true flight, and through innovation is now the size of a computer chip. Smartphones have a “gyro chip”, allowing us to flip the screens and reorient the display.  Video game controllers like the Nintendo Wii use this microchip which reacts to our movements.  Our Emmy-award winning friend Noel Rubin shows us what these instruments are in this simple Instagram . It is a “fully mechanical artificial horizon gyro from 1972 versus a microelectromechanical (MEMS) Inertial Measurement Unit silicon chip from today. Some old avionic gyros were driven off of air flow only, no electricity required. Drones use an IMU to sustain flight and wouldn’t exist without such technology. The IMU in this video has three gyros and three accelerometers and is used to stabilize a camera gimbal.” (@teknoelogy ).

WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM IMAGE CREDIT Noel Rubin http://instagram.com/teknoelogy

Conspiracy theorists calm down, we certainly don’t have to be concerned just yet about our over-eager drone users spying where they shouldn’t…battery powered drones have a very short fly-time, due to existing battery technology. We are still using twenty-year-old lithium ion tech that has its limitations. They are short-lived, large, and potentially dangerous if mishandled. The Electrochemical Society that oversees new battery developments doesn’t hold out much hope for there being a brilliant solution anytime soon. Despite there being amazing developments like graphene supercapacitors , production costs would be astronomical without further innovation. There are larger gas-powered work horses that last a fair bit longer and can heft some good weight…however you’d hear those coming.

That is why Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition Systems (LMAMS) are used only in military applications. These are the uber-pimped version of our Toys R Us model…weaponized, equipped with rather pricey long-range battery power, and specifically targeted to maximize the cost to benefit ratio. These specialized machines are in no way affordable to the casual Peeping Tom and are strictly controlled (as are the armaments used to equip them).  So, unless you have a secret life as a superspy and are in the possession of state secrets that may lead to the end of the world as we know it, I’d relax.

WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM IMAGE CREDIT Noel Rubin http://instagram.com/teknoelogy

The latest buzz about multicopters reports of successful manned flights on much larger vehicles.  As exciting as it would be to join the Jetsons and buzz about town on a hoverbike, we are sadly a few years away of both refining the tech and negotiating the rules with air traffic control regulatory boards. Optimistic corporations advertise that vehicles like the Aero-X will be available in 2017, and in some more lenient countries perhaps their use would be possible if the technology passes muster, however in Canada the regulatory powers would be cautiously prohibitive and would require the generation of miles of protocols and licencing processes in order to allow their use.  However, the quest for such abilities continues, excitement pounding in the hearts of these engineers who are fulfilling their childhood dreams, beaming in pride at each hurdle surmounted. And we, the tech enthusiasts, will cheer them on as their ingenuity takes us into the future.

If you are curious as to how you can learn more about drones/multicopters/UAVs, there is a wonderful place you can visit which is happy to share just that. The Vancouver Hack Space is a wonderful world of tools, electronics, and creatives who live all things techporn. I would recommend you get yourself a membership and join in on the grassroots wonder that stimulates collaborative ventures and technological creativity. 

Just pretty please be smart about playing with your toys and don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

Don’t be a doofus.

Read More By Author Kerry Gibson:

What Cheek! Musings on Vancity’s Cultural Scene…

TechTalk: Why LED Lighting?

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