Microcopter Surveillance

March 30, 2011 by Nathan Miloszewski

Rising from the ground using eight rotors, a micro-helicopter goes undetected to transmit GPS coordinates and images of sensitive locations to soldiers or SWAT team members ready to strike.

If you think that microcopter surveillance in this age of UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles) being used by the Air Force and Navy doesn’t sound far-fetched, you’d be right.

A graduate student at Florida Tech is working on just that for his master’s degree project.

Patrick Lewis has strapped a smartphone to an Oktokopter that’s programmed to send video to a laptop that then calculates the GPS coordinates of objects and people:

Sounds pretty simple. The complicated part will be merging the video signal with a computer program so the coordinates can be viewed.

“There are a bunch of mathematical transformations that you have to make,” said Lewis, a licensed pilot. “I’m learning a lot about the geo-referencing program. I didn’t know a lot of the stuff about latitude and longitude conversions or aerial photography concepts.”

Lewis’ work will be useful to Radiant Blue Technologies, a small defense contractor with an office and eight employees on East New Haven Avenue. Radiant Blue has funded the work by purchasing the $6,200, battery-powered microcopter.

While this project definitely has military and law enforcement potential, Patrick Peterson of Florida Today states that unlike UAV’s it is also being viewed as a low-cost solution for “security and surveillance, building and shoreline inspections, surveying, crop monitoring or inspection of nuclear power plants.”


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