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Wireless Networking Software Toys Hardware Linux

Unmanned Aircraft Clustered via Bluetooth 189

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Essex are using Linux and tiny embedded computer modules to build fleets of unmanned aircraft that fly in flocking formations like birds, while performing parallel, distributed computing tasks using Bluetooth-connected Linux clustering software. The Gridswarm project includes model trainers that can fly 120mph, while a parallel Ultraswarm project uses co-axial helicopters. A prototype of the later is believed to the world's smallest flying web server. The aircraft will run Linux on embedded computing modules from Gumstix."
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Unmanned Aircraft Clustered via Bluetooth

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  • Real boids? (Score:4, Informative)

    by davi_bock ( 582213 ) <davi.bock@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @01:26AM (#12551598)
    I wonder if they base their algorithm on Craig Reynolds' boids []?
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @02:52AM (#12551967) Homepage Journal
    Because a flock of small, redundant machines is more reliable than a single one that fails all at once. And more scalable, especially in smaller increments. And more adaptable to multiple simultaneous tasks, as the real world often demands. And possibly cheaper to produce. The same architecture and economics that have multiplied smaller, cheaper networked machines on the ground is also compelling in the air - maybe more so, given the extra risks.

    Oh, and the MPUDs you mention are also a much better way to get DoD funding than Blimps of Doom (which are also getting funded, I believe).
  • Re:Want funding? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:10AM (#12552029) Journal
    Because they were developed in UK, not US, the land of Freedom.
  • by hopethisnickisnottak ( 882127 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:28AM (#12552096) Homepage Journal
    You can't make a shaped charge like that.
    It has to be homogeneous and it has to be solid.

    Kind of like this....
    **/ - Copper or other fast forming metal in front
    | of a lot of High Explosive

    If you try to make it from many different masses (as your post seems to say), then the energy developed will bleed away through the gaps making it highly inefficient (and maybe useless).
  • Re:Want funding? (Score:2, Informative)

    by eagles-wings ( 650048 ) <richardsouth.blueyonder@co@uk> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:30AM (#12552100)
    I believe that's the University of Essex in the UK - we went on a tour there to see their robotics dept. The helicopter is hovering above their powerd floor so that robots can re-charge whilst on the floor (that's how I could tell it was the UK Essex)

    Pretty cool idea though - wish I'd gone to that campus now instead of the Southend one.

    Oh well...
  • by zerbot ( 882848 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @03:35AM (#12552114)
    Yes, I see great applications in public safety. There are traffic speed sensors on the highways, and a sudden slowdown is often the first indicator of an accident. There are cameras but they don't cover end-to-end. Nest one of these every few miles and you can launch to investigate traffic slowdowns or confirmed accidents. Pipe the video to emergency response and they can dispatch exactly what resources are needed and paramedics can get a heads up on the kinds of injuries they are likely to be dealing with.

    Call 911 and get an automatic dispatch of one to your location, arriving within 30 seconds in an urban location. Gives police and fire a heads up on what they will be facing when they arrive a few minutes later. Use them to monitor views of fires that can't be seen from the ground.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"