LiDAR + Long Time No Talk

Welcome Back

Hello friends - long time no talk! I'm going to try not to use an overlong silence as an excuse for an overlong update, but we do have a lot of cool stuff going on.

So - TL;DR: What have we been up to?

  • Presentations out the wazoo (great opportunities to get the word out on K2D)
    • Juneau economic dev council
    • The Alaska Forum (for rural entities)
    • Multiple presentations around Anchorage
    • The Seattle Chamber of Commerce (Alaska Biz Forum)
  • We're in the Launch:Alaska Pre-Accelerator
    • An exciting opportunity to keep validating our assumptions
  • New website up
    • Check it out at http://k2dron.es/ (I guess if you're reading this you're already here).
    • Shoot us a message and let us know what you think. What's good/bad/missing?
  • The Great FAA Wait of 2015 Continues
    • Last communication last month, they claim it's not 120 days total but rather 120 days from when they first acknowledge receipt. This took 2 months! So we are going to be pushed well over 6 months that we've been waiting.
    • They stressed to us that they are very busy. I politely stressed back that we'd sure like to be! :)
  • Chasing them leads
    • We have a number of really strong leads and plan to fly our first mission in early April. Whether or not we charge for it is up to the FAA. But we will be getting data with our prototype LiDAR system!

Well, It's Called Hardware Not Easyware

Soooo speaking of that LiDAR system - we got out and flew with it a few times to qualify what data we'd get. It generates a CSV file of about 50,000 cells for a 20 minute flight. I tried to just fly flat across the lake to make sure we could get fairly flat data. I also changed altitude a few times to ensure the LiDAR reporting distance tracked well with rapid altitude change so our models don't get screwed up.

Ok so Y-axis is altitude in meters (reading directly from DJI drone flight computer) and the X-axis is just the time in milliseconds, so whatever it's essentially an index.

Okay so for comparison here is the altitude for the same flight as reported by the GPS unit. Of course, we all know GPS is a vicious liar when it comes to altitude reporting BUT at least it's a consistent liar unlike our friend the barometer.

Okay so for comparison here is the altitude for the same flight as reported by the GPS unit. Of course, we all know GPS is a vicious liar when it comes to altitude reporting BUT at least it's a consistent liar unlike our friend the barometer.

Alright team - a free and stylish K2D hat to the first person that can tell me what's wrong with this data. Here's the scenario - I flew this drone steady at ~20 feet above Island Lake on a gorgeous winter day. There are a few altitude spikes, seen most easily in the GPS data (@ times ~90,000ms, 110,000ms, 175,000ms, etc.). You can see the spikes aren't well represented in the barometer data, excepting the large spike.

As you can see, the barometer altitude data isn't flat, there's a distinct "U" shape to it which is mostly missing from the GPS. I do believe I have a very good explanation for why the data does this. BUT the hat goes to the lady or gent whom first emails me back with the correct answer. A tip of my K2D cap and free beer to whomever can explain the difference in the y-axes between the two altitude plots. The bad news to my more liberally educated friends, you're up against SpaceX Launch Rats on this Blog distro that dissect data trends for breakfast. But they're super busy so maybe they won't write back. I'm excited to hear some theories!

Cool Thing of the Moment

Let's take a break from the heavy thinking now and enjoy something light and cool. I have a ton of neat links that I've been aggregating. But the winner has to be the drone bazooka. All hail the drone bazooka.

The Future of Drone Hardware

Something we're always looking for is our first scalable data or hardware opportunity. Well, DJI may have an SDK for mobile/desktop however I think 3DR is going to ultimately win with the Made for Solo program. This is very exciting - it's a way to cheaply and reliably distribute flying hardware, while collecting and processing the data gathered via their more open-source SDK. We have a few really cool ideas we hope to share soon, but I think the impact of a cheap drone that is infinitely expandable through plug-n-play hardware modules resonates very strongly for us folks focused on scalable opportunities in the remote corners of the world (Arctic and dev nations).

What ideas strike you? Shout at us!

Wrapping Up: More Cool Links

Well everyone, that's about all I have to share this time. But I wanted to leave a few neat/important links down here for your enjoyment and consideration:

All the best! I hope you're well. Call us, email us, tweet at our snapchat or instagram to our telegraph wire or whatever kids do these days.

Ben