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Airdog Airleash - How does this even work?


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There is this awesome kick starter about a quad following you in 3D space. They have something known as "airleash"

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/airdog/airdog-worlds-first-auto-follow-action-sports-dron

 

Anyone know how they can triangulate at a point using only one reference? Is it radio RSSI? There are no visual fiducials/trackers. (scratch head )

 

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Magnetic compass for its own orientation, GPS derived vector between it and you for pan; tilt can can be determined from GPS elevation data with at least 4 satellites locked.

 

Alternately, steering a directional antenna for peak RSSI could work for pan and tilt.

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Now that sounds like a story filled with intrigue.

Not sure why. Take a distant fix from the ground and align antennae to that... if possible.

Care to enlighten us about those 'certain' compasses?

Calibrated on the ground, away from the towers and structures, they compensate for external fields when placed on / near the tower.

It also helps taking a fix from the ground, pointing back at the tower and/or at some distant object on the horizon (as mentioned above), from 1/4 mile away or so... but that's hard to do from the top of a hill.

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The first thing you need to know is that these demo video very likely were done using a human operator of the drone.

 

There are many ways to get a solution for this problem.  In my opinion, a well-thought image processing stack on the drone could do 90% of the job required, here.  This is probably the part of it that has the most work complete.

 

Given the large size of the wrist unit, I'm guessing there are quite a few components in it.  It is indicated to contain a Bluetooth Class 1 transceiver, which also necessitates it containing a large battery to source the heavy current demand.  But these things still don't justify the huge size of the unit.  I suspect they may use GPS, gyros, and accelerometer/compass to derive a motion vector, and this is used to instruct the drone where to go.  I would have gone for a different design approach using a dead-simple wrist unit with an RF beacon, angle-of-arrival RF detection on the drone and from there the rest done by image processing on the drone.  But there are usually many ways to skin the cat.

 

The fact that it has Bluetooth Class 1 indicates to me that these guys are not RF guys.  BT Class 1 has been around for a long time, and it never really caught on -- for good reasons, it doesn't work very well.  Getting >100m range is unusual, there are all kinds of asymmetric issues, etc.  With a "closed loop" app like this and so many long range RF modules popping-up these days, it kind of blows my mind they went with BT -- so I expect the rationale was simply to focus on the other areas where the team has expertise (i.e. not RF).  That's a sensible approach.

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My initial thoughts (which may be way off):

 - GPS won't be accurate enough. It can typically gives position down to a few metres. If there's this much error for both the user and the drone then the video would be awful.

 - It's on Kickstarter. It probably doesn't work yet, and maybe never will.

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The BT might be to connect to the phone application,not sure if it connects to the UAV. Waiting for someone to take this apart.

There is no point of using BT Class 1 if the goal is to connect to the phone, because the phone does not have BT Class 1.  The range of Bluetooth to a phone is always the same: usually 15m or less.  BT Class 1 is not a single-chip solution.  The cost is less and size is less to use a sub-1GHz long range SoC in addition to a regular Bluetooth SoC (or BLE SoC).

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If it knows its altitude and it and you are both on relatively flat ground it could take a radio direction finder reading on something the watch is broadcasting. Some triangle math would give it a rough distance to you.

I don't know how small radio direction finders are these days, though.

I suppose you could make one with a sensitive enough loop antenna and rotating the quad to rotate the antenna.

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