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.