Quadcopter Free-Fall Testing From 4,000 Feet Is Destructive Fun

What happens when you drop a quadcopter from thousands of feet up?

1 min read
Quadcopter Free-Fall Testing From 4,000 Feet Is Destructive Fun

What happens when a quadrotor loses power a few thousand feet in the air and plummets back to Earth? I have no idea. You probably have no idea. But someone has a very, very good idea, because they've done some experimenting. RcTestFlight built a quadrotor, slapped a camera on it, sent it up to over 4,000 feet (1,220 meters), and then cut the motors just to see how it fared.

Quadcopters, like anything else, tend to fall like rocks when they lose power in the air. Unlike rocks, however, they have props, but this isn't necessarily going to save them. When unpowered and falling, the props spin in the opposite direction as they're supposed to, which does sometimes add a bit of lift and stability (this is good), but can also prevent the motors from being restarted (this is bad). And larger props seem to offer greater lift at the expense of passive stability. I love the idea of those passive flaps, but what I really love is that some guy just decided that he'd figure out what happened to quadcopters in free fall, and then went out and actually did it. We salute you, Mr. RcTestFlight guy. Well done.

Also, we should mention that doing this is almost definitely illegal in the United States, since you're not supposed to exceed 400 feet (122 meters) with a quadcopter. So if you try this, be safe and don't get caught. And then send us video.

[ RCTestFlight ] via [ DIY Drones ] and [ Hackaday ]

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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