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December 2, 2010 2:21 PM   Subscribe

An RC flight around lower New York City Featuring nice, close passes of the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
posted by rouftop (39 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is pretty cool. Good find!
posted by lampshade at 2:27 PM on December 2, 2010


What's the range of an RC signal?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:28 PM on December 2, 2010


shakespherian: With an amateur radio license and a good location, potentially many miles (easily all of the inner boroughs).
posted by phrontist at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2010


That's really fucking cool.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2010


Really? I had no idea. I was expecting it was more like a walkie-talkie with like at best 300 yards.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:31 PM on December 2, 2010


These gentlemen from the Department of Homeland Security would like to have a word with Team Black Sheep.
posted by briank at 2:32 PM on December 2, 2010


What makes this even more exciting for the people doing the flying is that their system incorporates little VR glasses to make it seem as though they are sitting in the plane. Some get very fancy indeed.
posted by andorphin at 2:33 PM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Now do the World Trade Center!

Oh, wait. Right.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:36 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I expect to see this video soon on Snopes, being passed around in an email forward about "Islamic terrorists using spy drones to scout Manhattan attack sites!"
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:40 PM on December 2, 2010


That's awesome. Here are some more videos from the same guy.
posted by various at 2:44 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I nominate this for December's most eponysterical post competition. Wait, what? Oh, it's not for the most eponysterical post? Okay then, carry on.
posted by Eideteker at 2:53 PM on December 2, 2010


(it's still an awesome post!)
posted by Eideteker at 2:55 PM on December 2, 2010


My first thought upon reading the title was about that crazy impossible RC helicopter mission from one of the GTA games. Yep, I'm admitting to it.
posted by Jodio at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was very impressive, but I kept hearing in my head, "Hey, you know what would be cool? If we could attach some rockets or bombs to one of those things..." And so it begins.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:16 PM on December 2, 2010


This post single-handedly validates SLYT posts. Thanks so much for letting me know about this!
posted by kavasa at 3:29 PM on December 2, 2010


Well I expect someone will get a visit from Homeland Security, and that flying an RC plane/copter will now require a background check.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:06 PM on December 2, 2010


At the very beginning it looks like a has a really bitchen power antenna on a tripod. Awesome stuff!
posted by snsranch at 4:06 PM on December 2, 2010


It's really cool at the end where he lets a (cop?) try out the viewfinder thingy.

I'm thinking those dives and close approaches on random buildings in the city don't really help this guy's chances with the police or other agencies, but then I read that he's from Austria.

Foreigners from friendly countries can usually just do whatever and move on if they get in trouble.
posted by circular at 4:16 PM on December 2, 2010


The added links in this thread are worth the visit.
posted by Israel Tucker at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2010


This video is cool. I also have to wonder about legality. Is this legal? If not, specifically why not?
posted by Nelson at 4:54 PM on December 2, 2010


Very cool.
posted by Artw at 5:17 PM on December 2, 2010


The FPS flying community seems to play it pretty loose with airspace rules. There are some great ones of a guy flying through the streets in Brazil from an apartment balcony. His landing at the end through the window is pretty crazy. And by crazy, I mean totally batshit.

To operate a UAV in US civil airspace you need at least a COA from the FAA, which will typically require a government agency to sign on as part of the project, and also require certification of some sort for the operators. Depending on the level of automation in the flight control system, this might be limited to a FAA written exam and a class two medical, but 8130.34 goes as far as to require that the operators be rated in the class of aircraft (fixed or rotorwing).

It's a real mess and doesn't distinguish 1 kg foam toy from 1000 kg full size aircraft. The UK is no where near as bad -- 7 kg and less MGTOW is almost unregulated, and less than 20 kg only requires a waiver. Operations in Australia are even easier -- 100 kg and outside of Sydney or Perth? Just be careful, mate! Note: Not the actual text of the regulation, but pretty close
posted by autopilot at 5:31 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the threat to other aircraft was my main concern watching this video. (The threat to property and people is obvious!) How big / high does something have to get before it's subject to FAA regulations? Obviously some kid's toy isn't being regulated by the FAA, is there a sensible legal boundary?

I think a COA for civilians is nearly impossible. All the UAV operations around here I know of take place in restricted or TFR airspace over military bases. I do occasionally see NOTAMs for model rockets, so maybe it's not impossible.
posted by Nelson at 5:59 PM on December 2, 2010


The Statue was closed? I didn't see any people on the ground.
posted by madajb at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2010


Yeah, the threat to other aircraft was my main concern watching this video. (The threat to property and people is obvious!)

But how much of a threat is a 2kg plane like this? Obviously, it would hurt if it hit you at 100km/h, but is it actually a significant threat to aircraft?
posted by ssg at 6:58 PM on December 2, 2010


andorphin: that their system incorporates little VR glasses

Not just that, but a fully operational HUD! Extremely impressive. I imagine the next step would be a gimball-mounted head-tracking camera.
posted by vanar sena at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2010


is it actually a significant threat to aircraft?

A 1 kg gull made of flesh, feather and bone caused enough damage to force Sully Sullenberger's heroic mid-Hudson ditch, so it probably is a threat to some degree, though perhaps not significant.
posted by breezeway at 8:22 PM on December 2, 2010


vanar sena: I imagine the next step would be a gimball-mounted head-tracking camera.

It seems they've got that covered.
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:45 PM on December 2, 2010


A 1 kg gull made of flesh, feather and bone caused enough damage to force Sully Sullenberger's heroic mid-Hudson ditch

Only by "a 1kg gull' you mean "multiple 3-6kg geese."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:56 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now do the World Trade Center!

Oh, wait. Right.


what the fuck..
posted by odinsdream at 9:10 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the threat to other aircraft was my main concern watching this video. ... How big / high does something have to get before it's subject to FAA regulations?

New York metro has specific airspace rules as of last year, following that midair collision that killed nine people.
posted by dhartung at 9:28 PM on December 2, 2010


Every single goddamn thing about this is awesome. From the obviously-great visuals to the syncopated 808 snaredrum, it all seems deftly crafted so as to maximize contextual appropriateness. Great care was taken to bring you this amazing end-product.

My hat's off to 'em. Job well done.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 12:05 AM on December 3, 2010


I think I saw my building!

(Just kidding, but that video made me go, "Damn, that's where I live!")
posted by functionequalsform at 6:00 AM on December 3, 2010


I did about 10 minutes of research and didn't find a clear answer on current FAA regulations for model aircraft. FAR part 101 covers kites, balloons, and rockets, but maybe not model airplanes. AC 91-57 dates from 1981 and basically says "stay under 400 feet and away from airports", but I think that's advisory, not regulatory. The Academy of Model Aircraft has their own guidelines the community is supposed to follow, but again, I don't think that's regulatory.

There's a lot of regulatory activity right now with new rules coming June 2011, driven by military UAV work on one side and increasingly capable models on the other. Whatever the FAA niceties are, there's enough federal and local law about endangering people and property that anyone trying to make a video like this could be shut down.

And absolutely, a 2kg aircraft could totally fuck up a conventional aircraft in a mid-air collision. Significant risk to helicopters (which may actually be this low) and non-trivial risk to fixed wing aircraft. The underlying issue is that the way we avoid mid-air collisions in airplanes is primarily "see and avoid". The camera systems on UAVs are impressive, but lack the peripheral vision and responsiveness to perform as well as a pilot sitting in the cockpit. There's a lot of fascinating work in this area, mostly military, it'd make a good post for Metafilter.

Now that I'm all bummer, let me say again, this is a really cool video.
posted by Nelson at 9:20 AM on December 3, 2010


Very neat.

I'm skeptical that this was done in one continuous flight, though. (Not sure if they're claiming that or if it's just an assumption some people are making, here and on Reddit.) It's not the radio control range that seems like it'd be the difficult part, but the fuel-capacity "range" ... most small R/C hobby planes only fly for a few minutes before you bring them down for refueling.

While you could put bigger-than-typical fuel tanks on one, I'd imagine that you'd start to lose maneuverability pretty quickly as a result of the added weight ... and the plane looks pretty maneuverable from the video (although I guess they could have done the more acrobatic flying on near-empty tanks).

It seems more likely that the video is a compilation of short flights done from various locations around Manhattan; it's not one continuous flight. (Although that would be a good goal for a future team, or for their next project.)

The U.S. Army has an electric UAV that's small enough to be hand launched which claims a 6 mile range; that would almost be long enough for a roundtrip from the Brooklyn or Queens waterfront across Manhattan to the Hudson and back, I think, flying along one of the streets... and that's electric, so it'd be pretty quiet.

The military have satellite up/downlinks for control and video backhaul that most hobbyists don't have, unfortunately, although with 3 or 4G cell coverage you might be able to put something together that would be almost as good, if not better.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:38 PM on December 3, 2010


Now do the World Trade Center!

Oh, wait. Right.
what the fuck..

@odinsdream: Believe it or not I had the exact same thought. I left NYC in May 2001 after living there for four years and still cannot get used to seeing images of lower Manhattan without the towers.
posted by rouftop at 1:47 PM on December 3, 2010


He thanks the NYPD and TSA in the end... is he being ironic or did he get authorization for this video?
posted by falameufilho at 6:20 PM on December 3, 2010


Only by "a 1kg gull' you mean "multiple 3-6kg geese."

Oh yeah, it was a flock of geese. I'm sure the plane poses no threat at all.
posted by breezeway at 6:29 PM on December 3, 2010


was going to create my own FPP on this but I got beat to it.. so here's a little more to the story.

A lot of RC pilots in the USA are basically flipping the fuck out over this stunt. My own personal opinion is neutral on it, but the FAA is already writing regulation on use of remote controlled aircraft in US airspace and they are not going to view this in a favorable light.

The American Modeling Association today released this statement about the video.

The FPV forum on RCGroups has pretty much gone into total meltdown over this incident. More than one American hobbyist has threatened to beat the living shit out of Trappy should he ever set foot in the USA ever again, that is, if the FBI doesn't arrest him first.
posted by smoothvirus at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


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