have dominated headlines where Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are the subject because they are
highly stable and precise platforms that require almost no interaction or flying ability by the
user. They are being used by law enforcement, private companies, and by well-heeled hobbyists
and for photography and surveillance. For as little as a thousand dollars you can buy a gyro stabilized,
autonomous platform for taking pictures of your neighborhood, house, or club flying field. While
they are capable of hovering stationary over a target, the disadvantage of quadrotors is that
they are slow-moving and therefore have limited range. Conventional airplane configurations don't
suffer the speed and range problem, but they are always in motion.
pricier than many lower end quadrotors (higher end model run above $10k), the
eBee flying wing platform
from senseFly, at about $12,000*, not only
incorporates many advanced sensing and monitoring systems, also removes the requirement for piloting
ability because it is capable of landing autonomously. I'm guessing the
senseFly still needs an operator smart
enough to hand-launch it since it has no wheels.
Uses for the senseFly include 2D and 3D mapping, surveillance, and commercial photography.
Keep in mind if you buy one that the Academy of Model Aviation (AMA) membership insurance does
not cover for-hire activities.
Check out the senseFly website for full
details or watch some of their videos embedded below.