Somewhat useless idea I just had

Lately I’ve been using my cellphone to connect to the internet. It works really well, except for the lag. The lag is annoying, but at least it’s fairly constant. That aside, it occurs to me that it would be really interesting to put a small computer, GPS receiver and a cellphone into a model airplane. You’d have a truly remote controlled machine.

Its only limits would be fuel and cell signal availability (which should be fairly good 100 feet off the ground).

I’m sure something like this would have benefits beyond the wow factor. For one thing, it would be possible for a news agency to stream video from a much cheaper platform than a helicopter. Things like traffic watch, OJ chases and flood recon all come to mind. Another possible application would be an intra-metro delivery service?

The remote newscam idea actually seems plausible. Wish I had the time to develop that one. (:

  1. They have mini RC helicopters for such things already. Autopiloted, GPS, the works.

    http://www.steadicopter.com/index.html

    Pretty awesome!

  2. in the latest “Design News” mag. there is an article on using solar or fuel cell small aircraft to create autonomous planes that can fly for weeks. One of the ideas is to use them as basically really really low orbiting satellite repeaters. Pretty cool stuff.

  3. Well, there WAS an Aerial Robotics club at Rose. I quit because no one wanted to listen to my ideas as a lowly freshman…I discovered that Harris had just developed the first 11Mbps 802.11b PCMCIA cards and I wanted to look into scrapping the helicopter’s several-pound 9600bps radio modems. They eventually, much much later, arrived at the same idea without me. Coulda been cutting edge in 1998! Oh well.

  4. The new sprint cellular cards have quite a bit of throughput. The ones I implemented for my previous company were capable of 896 Kbps. Sprint was saying they would have a 1.5Mb model by the end of the year, but I haven’t looked into it since I left.

    I thought about this a while ago, I scrapped the idea of an aerial unit because of fuel consumption. It would need several cameras to drive it effectively; witch might cause bandwidth problems, not to mention the delay.

    It would make for a great urban reconnaissance unit, and wouldn’t be all that expensive to build.

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