This week I spent the beginning in San Francisco getting some formal training to be a safe and skilled Octo-Copter pilot. I am a designated tandem pilot for the Octo-Copter for some research projects and need to have my skills and training near levels of our veteran pilot Gonzalo Martinez.
The Octo-Copter is a large 8 rotor unmanned aerial drone from which we can mount a 2kg payload of cameras to capture video and photos to create 3D terrain using 123D Catch (Aerial Capture of 3D Geometry) and other methods. After testing many copters we found this one to be the most stable and powerful to carry payloads of equipment and not worry about them being destroyed or the video being unstable.
We have some pretty existing research project's going on this year with aerial capture of imagery in remote places where a telescopic camera boom or manned aerial aircraft are impossible logistically or cost prohibitive. We can be on scene with a small case of equipment and be in the air in a couple hours and fly up to 3500 meters capturing photo and video imagery in very high resolution. The possibilities are really quite endless from capturing terrain and objects in 3D textured models to searching for things on the ground that might not be seen from the ground.
Some images from the air above Autodesk San Rafael HQ.
Here are photos from the flight training which also includes a realistic simulator I need to drill on daily now.
The batteries for the Octo-Copter are big lithium batteries and not allowed to be in checked luggage, But I am not too keen on how these will look in my carry-on luggage to a inspector especially overseas. They would look even worse if I carried them in my travel jacket vest pockets. I will need plenty of documentation showing what they are before I get thrown in a security room.