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Golf Channel Testing Out New Octo-copter Drone To Film Golfers This Weekend 97

Posted by Soulskill
from the hey-why-not dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In what seems like a surreal mixture of life imitating art, the Golf Channel has taken the wraps of a new camera drone. The hover camera appears to have 8 independent rotors supporting what looks like a gyro-stabilized HD camera. Though it is far from silent, the new drone will be on the course this week at the PGA Tour event taking place at Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Florida. No word on whether or not Lord Vader will be using these to monitor rebel activity on Hoth."
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Golf Channel Testing Out New Octo-copter Drone To Film Golfers This Weekend

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  • I don't care what it looks like, I'm calling it Cambot.

  • Screw golf, this is Slashdot. I want a how-to for building a personal octo copter like the Velo: http://www.e-volo.com/ [e-volo.com]
  • Does the golf channel realize that commercial use of UAVs is illegal?

    • Do you realise it isn't?
    • by Fritzed (634646)
      They are totally fine since this is line of sight and they have permission to operate it over this private land.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        It is illegal to fly a commercial UAV for any reason in the US...mostly. The FAA has not yet (or may never) issued a COA (Certificate of Authorization) to a civilian company. Mainly just government agencies, etc. Everything else you read about line of sight, and a pilot at the controls at all times does pertain, but it is mostly for hobbyists out on a weekend as long as they stay below the ceiling height which can vary from place to place. One way we have gotten around this rule is to have an actual hel
      • by asynchronous13 (615600) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @09:30PM (#43219823)

        I'll refer you to Public Law 112-95 [gpo.gov] - note the bold section.

        SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.

        • (a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—
          • (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
          • (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community- based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
          • (3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
          • (4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
          • (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).
        • (b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
        • (c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘model aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—
          • (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
          • (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
          • (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.
        • Dude, I'll see your PL 112-95 and raise you HR 658. [gpo.gov] :) Make sure you check out section 332. This bill has already passed, btw -- it's the law of the land. The FAA has until 2015 to come up with rules to integrate civil drone use into US airspace. Until the FAA does that and publishes them, the commercial use of drones can't be characterized as illegal or legal. But that's okay, when it comes to liability torts -- liability can be established independently of the legality of the act that caused the dama
        • by jon3k (691256)
          Holy shit, thank you so much for this. I've been trying to find the actual law that regulates model aircraft forever. All I could ever find was the AMA "guidance".
    • by skitchen8 (1832190) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:16PM (#43218831)
      Do you know the FAA has no legal authority over what happens below 400' above private land far enough away from an airport. I can say posting ignorant bullshit on Slashdot is illegal, that doesn't mean I have any authority. Did you know that there are guys that operate those little 2/3 channel helicopters inside of malls every day for commercial purposes? Correct title for article: PGA uses camera to film things. Or: Someone flies RC helicopter. Troll article is troll.
      • by Jinker (133372) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:52PM (#43219147) Homepage

        The 400' exemption in the FARs is *specifically* for hobbiest use. Commercial use is plainly not 'hobby' use. The National airspace system, and all the craft operating within it, and the FAAs authority to regulate its use do not magically start at 400 feet.

        • The FARs do not ever specify 400' for anything. That comes from safety guidelines published by a big model aircraft club. It has no weight of law.
          • by sjames (1099)

            In a sense, it does: SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT. (a) (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community- based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;

            It's just not the only possible set of rules.

      • Do you know the FAA has no legal authority over what happens below 400' above private land far enough away from an airport.

        You should really let the FAA know that. Four days ago they grounded an aerial photographer in Minnesota for using an r/c aircraft commercially. FAA grounds Twin Cities aerial photographer over use of drones [bizjournals.com]

        • by Kozz (7764)

          Do you know the FAA has no legal authority over what happens below 400' above private land far enough away from an airport.

          You should really let the FAA know that. Four days ago they grounded an aerial photographer in Minnesota for using an r/c aircraft commercially.
          FAA grounds Twin Cities aerial photographer over use of drones [bizjournals.com]

          It makes me think that hiring an aerial photographer would be like hiring an escort. Someone would find a photographer with whom they can share common interests, maybe have them over for dinner, become friends, and then maybe if the photographer really likes you, he'll leave you with a parting gift of some photography...

          • There's actually, AFAIK, companies doing this to avoid this "law." Basically you pay a guy for unrelated consulting services, he then flies just because he wants to and gives you the video. By law there is nothing wrong with that, as the flight was for fun and not for commercial purposes and is unrelated to a separate business contract.
  • by addie (470476) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @06:58PM (#43218661)

    "Golf Channel has taken the wraps of a new camera drone"

    And camera drone wants its wraps back!

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.cTWAINom minus author> on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:03PM (#43218711) Journal

    That thing's gonna be loud, so unless it's really far away and they have huge long glass on the camera, the players aren't going to have any part of it.

    • From the video on the page, the sound roughly equals about 10,000 angry hornets. No way anyone could focus on a golf swing with that thing hovering right behind them.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Kind of a loud, droning noise...

        • Kind of a loud, droning noise...

          Which is why golf commentary is usually done in a studio far, far away from the game.

      • From the video on the page, the sound roughly equals about 10,000 angry hornets. No way anyone could focus on a golf swing with that thing hovering right behind them.

        In pro football, you're trained to ignore the sounds of fifty thousand screaming fans, which on the field can be louder than standing next to a DC-10 at lift off. That's true of just about every other televised professional sport, to varying degrees, except Golf, where apparently the players are incapable of tolerating even minimal amounts of noise.

        • I would argue that golf requires a level of focus when you're hitting that those other sports do not require. A wide receiver needs to know his route, a linebacker or tackle needs to know who his man is, etc. They aren't thinking about their foot placement, balance, hand position, the power they're going to need, which direction they're aiming for, the amount of curve or backspin they need to put on the ball, etc. If you disagree though, go out golfing with a group that goes regularly and start talking w

          • by riverat1 (1048260)

            I think a steady droning noise is something you can tune out without much problem. It's the sudden or variable noises in the middle of your swing that are going to cause the problems.

            • by wagnerrp (1305589)
              That's just the problem. It's not a steady droning noise, because maneuvering is done through variable rate motors, as opposed to traditional helicopters which use a single-speed motor and variable pitch.
          • I would argue that golf requires a level of focus when you're hitting that those other sports do not require.

            You're saying that it takes less concentration to throw an oddly-shaped chunk of leather at an erratically moving target, in a wide variety of weather conditions, while a half dozen people who are built like a brick house try to attack you, while wearing a face mask and forty pounds of protective gear, and quite possibly doing this while in a degree of physical pain that would cause many to curl up in a corner and whimper "make it stop", than it does to hit a ball with a club on a warm sunny day, wearing na

            • It also has to do with each shot taking place from a stand still, very different to many other sports.

              It's not just golf - watch what happens in tennis when someone calls out during a serve.

              • by isorox (205688)

                It also has to do with each shot taking place from a stand still, very different to many other sports.

                It's not just golf - watch what happens in tennis when someone calls out during a serve.

                Golf, Tennis, Snooker are the ones that come to mind as requiring silence.

            • You're saying that it takes less concentration to throw an oddly-shaped chunk of leather at an erratically moving target, in a wide variety of weather conditions, while a half dozen people who are built like a brick house try to attack you, while wearing a face mask and forty pounds of protective gear, and quite possibly doing this while in a degree of physical pain that would cause many to curl up in a corner and whimper "make it stop", than it does to hit a ball with a club on a warm sunny day, wearing naught but some light cotton clothing and a hat?

              Yeah, pretty much. It takes less focus to run a pattern or throw a ball in football (where you're surrounded by your team), than it does to estimate range, power, spin, curve, etc when it's just you versus the golf course. Football players have a pretty wide margin of error compared to needing to put a 1.6 ounce, 1.5 inch ball within feet of your 4.25 inch target that is 300 yards away. The receiver is also not erratically moving, they are running a specific play and the quarterback expects the receiver

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          Even professional football players were complaining about having to play under the drone of 10,000 angry bicycle trumpet blowers during the South African World Cup.
    • by PPH (736903)

      F* the noise. Golfers are a bunch of pussies. You don't see the officials hushing the crowds during a free throw at an NBA game.

      I say put a camera up in an army surplus Vietnam-era Huey gunship.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Heh, not sure the NBA is the best place to go looking for non-pussified athletes.

    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      Noise may be a problem, but I think the propeller wind is probably a even bigger issue. I own an AR drone and it's 4 relatively propellers are already enough to blow all the dead leafs away from my garden. I wouldn't be surprised if this drone actually moved the ball or, at least, blows away someones hat. BTW, golf is one of the last sports that need a camera flying over the players. I know there is a risk of breaking the drone during the game, but I think soccer, football, baseball, rugby and all team spor
  • If its armed with Air to Surface armor peircing armament I'm so watching the show...
  • OT: TFA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Geste (527302) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @07:31PM (#43218957)
    I am looking at how many cookies and scripts NoScript thinks I need to OK in order to get the full BusinessInsider.com experience. As they say: *plonk*
  • This is clearly commercial activity. How'd they get around the FAA ban?

    http://www.businessinsider.com/faa-ban-on-commercial-drones-2013-3 [businessinsider.com]

    "However, the FAA currently bans all commercial use of drones pending regulatory rules scheduled to be published sometime in 2015."

  • It's also part of a gopher erradication system(Cue "I'm Alright" song)
  • For those that haven't been following the tremendous rapid development of multi-rotor craft lately, and the stabilizing techniques that go along with it, here's a video showing the latest generation of actively stabilized camera mounts. It's incredible, really. And much of it is developed in an open source fashion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6daC4T_Qlpk [youtube.com]

    It was only a matter of time before, much to the horror of the industry, hobby stuff starts to supplant the full-scale traditional photography of years

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)
      I honestly haven't been following the development of multi-rotor craft, because I just don't see the point. What advantages do they actually have over traditional single-rotor helicopters? As an aerospace engineer, the only one I can think of is that at the extremely low end of the market, variable speed electric motors are cheaper than a mechanical swashplate. Is the industry just based off a bunch of amateur hobbyists that got into multi-rotors because of the extremely low barrier to entry, but don't u
      • by caseih (160668)

        Think again. These craft are being used more and more professionally. And since there's a huge demand for aerial shots at low altitude, there's a huge market for these smaller devices. Even full-scale aerial photography is under some threat. Why hire a full scale heli to make a pass at 400 ft over a campus to do a shot when a couple of multi-rotor RC craft can do the same job, without requiring special permits, and do it faster, cheaper, and safer.

        The advantages over a conventional RC heli are numerous

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)

          Why are any multi-rotor craft easier to fly than a single rotor with a swashplate? Fly-by-wire means nothing. It's merely the replacement of old mechanical or hydraulic control linkages with electronic ones. Pretty much all RC aircraft are fly-by-wire, and always have been, with electric servo motors directly attached to the control surfaces by an arm.

          Are you referring to electronic stability augmentation, control remapping, and autopilot systems? There is absolutely no reason why those systems hobbyist

  • "100 bucks says I can hit that little fucker with this shot from my five-iron."
  • The design (Score:4, Interesting)

    by K8Fan (37875) on Tuesday March 19, 2013 @09:01PM (#43219639) Journal

    Look closely at the image. This thing was designed by someone very dedicated to steampunk aesthetic.

  • Could that picture be any more fake? You've been trolled.

  • There's a short video clip of the drone in TVA.

    Unless that thing is going to be pretty high up, that is a loud, annoying sound for a place that asks for quiet when a player is about to take a shot.

  • by Cyfun (667564)

    I'm all for this idea, but only because I wanna see how many golfers manage to "accidentally" whack the UAVs with a stray ball.

  • This could spice up the golfing action...
    Once the guys get pissed with the noise, and start packing shotguns in their golf bags.

    Whole new meaning of "getting a birdie".

    Actually, I might pay to see that..

  • Can someone explain to me why everyone seems so gung ho about these multi-rotor aircraft? Seriously, I feel like it's the early 1900s, and all the amateurs are coming out of the woodwork with the foolish believe that if one wing is good, and two is better, then twenty will be amazing, and anyone trying to use the legendary twenty one wings must be sabotaged.

    The ONLY redeeming value of multi-rotor craft is that they are mechanically very simple. All you need is three static propellers, three electric motors

    • by Alioth (221270)

      Doing stuff electronically complex is really cheap. The electronics cost for a single rotor (flybarless) RC helicopter and a hypothetical 200 rotor helicopter would hardly be any different - since the same actual electronics are needed, just with more outputs and fancier software. However, something mechanically complex isn't like this - increasing electronic complexity (especially if most of it is only in software) doesn't make much difference to the unit cost, but mechanical complexity very rapidly increa

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)

        Doing stuff electronically complex is really cheap. The electronics cost for a single rotor (flybarless) RC helicopter and a hypothetical 200 rotor helicopter would hardly be any different - since the same actual electronics are needed, just with more outputs and fancier software. However, something mechanically complex isn't like this - increasing electronic complexity (especially if most of it is only in software) doesn't make much difference to the unit cost, but mechanical complexity very rapidly increases the unit cost of your aircraft.

        If you're talking a hobbyist, sure. A hobbyist isn't likely to have access to a high end machine shop with the kinds of tools necessary to fabricate their own rugged swashplate. On the other hand, they can just slap on a speed controller with more channels, and spend their time coming up with a more complex flight control program. Buying a swashplate costs money, but a hobbyist's time is free. That's the low barrier to entry I was talking about. It's easier for the hobbyist to tinker around with these

    • by jon3k (691256)
      Maybe it's much easier to write software to stabilize a multirotor copter so the video is better? Possibly less vibration from lots of small rotors? I don't know, it's a really good question actually. It seems like multirotor copters are the vastly preferred platform for video.
      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        With a multi-rotor, you've got several motors all running slightly different RPMs, and you've got to deal with the variable resonance coming off them. With a single rotor, you only have to deal with a single motor that only ever runs at a single RPM. Surely that would be much easier to damp out.
        • by jon3k (691256)
          I did some googling around and found a couple possibilities.

          http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/micro-pov-camera-systems/488817-r-c-helicopter-vs-quad-fpv-camera-flight.html [dvinfo.net]

          Being both a bit of a cinematographer and an R/C heli pilot, let me see if I can clear this up. As far as consumer-level helicopters go, the multi-rotor copters are much easier to fly and much more stable. However, their stability works against them outdoors when you need a fast, responsive helicopter to deal with any wind. While the multi-rotor helis can fly outdoors, they will fly ONLY if there is ZERO wind. (Trust me; I know.) The multi-rotors are good for first learning how to fly, but they get boring fast once you get good on the sticks. The key thing to remember with helicopters is that they are inherently unstable. This means if you take your hands off the sticks for even one second to scratch your nose or slap a mosquito, you WILL crash. (Trust me; if you think I am kidding, go fly a single-rotor helicopter outside and just see if you can scratch your nose!) Therefore, unless you are getting into the commercial end of the market, the only helicopter that will work for your purposes is a single-rotor with the traditional tail rotor blade. Consumer-level multi-rotor helicopters will NOT work unless all your flying is indoors. The other thing to remember is that learning to fly a radio-control helicopter is actually HARDER to fly than the real thing. (I fly both.) The learning curve is VERY VERY steep. Most people try it, crash a few times and give it up. It takes a LOT of work. (It is a lot like learning to ride a unicycle ... blind ... with a nest of wasps on your head ...) The nice thing though is that once you start to 'get' it on the controls, it is a lot of fun ... and next thing you know you will have 10 different helicopters in your basement and try to think of ways to sneak your latest purchase past your wife. (Wife: "Why do you need all these helicopters for anyway? You can only fly one - badly, by the way - at a time?" Moi: "Well, you have more than one pair of shoes don't you, and you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time?" Wife: "Call me when you can fly as good with your helicopter as I can walk with my shoes!" Moi: "D'oh!") There is a reason why the helicopter is referred to as the "crack cocaine of the R/C world."

          As someone who owns a couple of RC Helis (including a blade eflite 450) I can absolutely back up what's he's saying. Literally scratching your nose can result in a crash if you're not careful. I've never flown a multi-rotor copter, so I can't comment on that.

        • by jon3k (691256)
          Here's another one:

          http://www.helifreak.com/showthread.php?t=376123 [helifreak.com]

          Pluses for the Quads are: they fly very much like a coaxial machine, they have the "do it yourself" build element that you can't achieve with a helicopter, they are a good stable aerial photography platform at a reasonable cost, the control software is open source (have a look at the diydrones.com or multiwiicopter.com sites), they can be fitted with a variety of low cost sensors (GPS, Magnetometer, Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro etc) to link with the Aurdino board, they can take off and land on a dime, are somewhat insensitive to wind, and finally they gives a good flying platform to experiement with FPV and autopilot programming to make it behave like a drone. A well built Quad should give you a 10 min flight time. On the minus side, they are not really for doing serious aerobatics like a collective pitch heli ( though you can see people looping them) and when a motor craps out it all falls out of the sky. A 6 or 8 motor multicopter is less sensitive to the motor failure issue. Finally the visual cues are a real bugger with a multicopter. What is forward and what is backwards, sideways. It is easy to get it wrong. All good fun though. Phil

          That's a good point about motor failure. Not only is the vehicle itself expensive, so is the camera it's carrying.

  • Saw one of these filming crowd shots at a music festival I went to in Madrid last September. And they even used one on the latest Top Gear episode (Africa/Nile special).

  • Its golf, why would you waste hours watching men drive their balls into a hole.

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