Ambulance Drones Could Change The Future For Cardiac Arrest Patients

Within the next five years, the chance of survival from cardiac arrest could rise from an 8 percent survival rate to 80 percent due to drones. Graduate student Alec Momont of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands designed an unmanned, autonomously navigating hexacopter that can deliver a defibrillator to a scene in less than half the time it takes an ambulance to arrive.

The drone would track the patients location from their mobile phone signal and use GPS to get to the location. Because most deaths from cardiac arrest occur within the first four to six minutes due to brain death, the time it takes to arrive on scene is crucial. These ambulance drones can get to a patient within an almost five-square-mile zone within one minute. Essentially a “medical toolbox”, the drone is equipped with medical equipment that anyone can use. Via a live stream webcam and audio connection, the drone connects to an emergency operator who can see what is going on at the scene and provide the person there with instructions on how to apply the defibrillator.

For more information on the future of this project, click here.

Hands-On With DJI's New Inspire One Transforming Drone

DJI’s latest quadcopter is one of the most impressive flying rigs we’ve yet to see.

A couple days after last week’s announcement of the Inspire One, DJI’s Director of Aerial Imaging Eric Cheng brought one of the test units to the Make: offices to show us its capabilities. The drone is quite a step up from the ubiquitous DJI Phantom — most notably in its physical design, with an ominous white fuselage and glowing red lights mounted to an articulating carbon fiber frame. The booms are angled down as landing gear during takeoff and landing, but pull upwards into a V-shape during flight to move them out of view and lower the rig’s center of gravity.

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The Inspire sports large 13″ props coupled to powerful brushless motors. The pop-in-place battery carries 22 volts of juice – more than most cordless power tools sport. Downward-facing sensors optically track the terrain to help the craft stay in a fixed position during flight, even when GPS signals drop out, and help with soft, automatic landing and takeoff. And a bottom-mounted camera and gimbal rig allows for 4k video and 12 megapixel stills, capable of unobstructed views from any angle during flight. With its built-in Lightbridge wireless transmission capability, the footage is instantly viewable in high-definition on your radio-mounted tablet.

All of these pieces add up to an overpowered aircraft in a small, sleek package. At $2900, it’s not cheap, but it lives up to its cost with performance. During flight tests, Eric whipped the Inspire up from a low hover to a lofty perch with incredible speed. More impressively is how responsive its electronic speed controllers are, stopping the quad as quickly as it jetted off.

The company has really dialed in the camera and gimbal aspect as well. Its lightweight form means the camera needs less effort to keep steady. With the Lightbridge transmission, this becomes very apparent, especially when put into the fixed-point mode, where the camera maintains focus on a certain spot no matter how the drone moves in the air. While moving and spinning in the air, the tablet screen showed what seemed to be a still image of the neighborhood, until I realized the cars on the street were moving. We were flying on a fairly windy day, as you’ll see in our ground-based video. It took quite a bit of in-air thrashing to get the camera to register movement, and even then still kept the horizon level.

The radio has been redesigned as well. The prototype unit we saw had a black case, but the official ones will be DJI’s standard white. Two standard sticks allow the pilot to move the quadcopter as usually seen, while various pushbuttons and jog dials on the top edge interface with the camera’s position and shutter. The radio also has HDMI output, and various other connectors for tablets and additional controllers (for two-pilot use, autopilot functions, and more).

Overall, it’s a system very much geared toward professional photographers and videographers. The camera resolution is catching up with that of GoPro, but the compressed HDMI keeps it still just a tad behind — although the lens selection gives a wider, more standard and useable perspective.

The immediate connection to the maker community is a little less obvious, but with a modular, quick-release camera system, and the amount of hacking and customizing that has happened in with the Phantom users, it won’t be surprising to find people adding their own touches to this.

Meanwhile, if the high price point make you nervous, follow our HandyCopter UAV how-to project from our Homegrown Drones issue, and build your own low-cost, gimbal-mounted quadcopter.

Teaching kids to program with wooden blocks

BannerThis post is coming to you live from the Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire being held today at the London College of Communication.

The Primo robot (back) and instruction board (front).

The Primo robot (back) and instruction board (front) with commands in place (coloured tiles).

How do you teach programming to children with no prior programming experience? How do you teach programming to children that can yet read or write?

What is Primo about?

Primo kickstarted at the tail end of last year with the goal of building a robot that was programmable using a tactile interface. Children place coloured tiles representing simple directional commands (forward, back, left, right) as well as a function command—which calls the last line of commands in the board every time it is encountered.

Not only does this teach children programming, it changes their perspective on problem solving and logic in general.

I talked to Valeria Leonardi from Primo about the robot, and why they brought it here to Maker Faire.

Talking to Valeria

The Primo is available for pre-order and should be shipping in April next year, but if you can’t wait that long all the instructions, source files and other things you need to make your own are available online.

The Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire is being held at the London College of Communication from 10am till 6pm. Entry is free to children (under 16) and students, tickets are £5 otherwise and available on the door.

Engadget Expand: Pensa Labs DIWire

Marco Perry tells us about the DIWire, wire bending machine. Showing off some of the first prototypes, he takes us through the history of the design.


Engadget Expand: Beam Robotic Telepresence

The Beam robotic telepresence system allows you to be in two places at once. Running on wifi or 4G, you can see the robot allows for moving around, talking easily, and possibly even dancing!

Engadget Expand: Poursteady, A Robotic Pour-Over Coffee Machine

This machine makes coffee. It isn’t just your typical coffee machine though. The pour steady replicates the process of pour-over coffee, a method that yields incredibly tasty results. Baristas can control many aspects of how each batch is made, allowing for fine tuning the results for your customers. Made in Brooklyn the Poursteady coffee machine has been a big hit at Maker Faire New York for a couple years now.

Easy Aerial Drones Talks to Engadget Expand

Ivan Stomatovski had time on stage to show off his Easy Aerial Drone system, a drone that snaps together with no wires. He took a few moments though to remind the audience not to forget the good that drones can do. Pointing out that the press likes to tell stories of drones being shot down or being used for bad things, he reminds us that police use them to find criminals, firefighters are keeping humans out of danger with the use of drones, and in some cases drones are even helping endangered species be protected from poachers.


Rana: A Biologically Inspired Hexapod

Rana, which is Italian for “frog,” is really an interesting six-legged robot design. The locomotion, which according to their writeup, has never been used before and combines the walking methods of an ant and a frog.

This kind of locomotion, as opposed to three-servo based ‘bots that simply rock back and forth allowing the front and back legs to move, requires ten servos. Two servos are attached on both pairs of front and back legs, while the middle legs receive only one servo each.

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Although the robot’s motion is complex, the mechanical housing and legs are kept simple.  Pieces of wooden rod are used for all the legs, while a larger piece of balsa wood (presumably for weight savings) is used for the body. As no other linkages are used, this may be a surprisingly easy walker build for those wanting to build one.

Although it looks like there is a plan for the robot’s walking gait, the code is not released yet. As the write-up states that “programming is one of the hardest steps,” the code is apparently not done or not to a state that the author is ready to let others look at. Hopefully we’ll see some further development on this interesting project!


How To Make A Silly String Candy Trap For Halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays for one reason. Candy! However by the end of the night, the neighborhood kids have usually picked over my candy bucket. This year I’m going to change that! To keep kids away, I’m going use an Arduino to detect when someone has their hand in the candy bowl, and use a solenoid to shoot silly string at the candy thief. To detect when a hand was in the candy bowl, I used an infrared LED and infrared sensor to create an invisible beam on the opening of the plastic pumpkin.

Pumpkin with IR Beam

When the beam is broken the Arduino will send a command to a power switch tail which in turn makes a solenoid push down on the silly string can.

Silly String Spraying

I mounted the solenoid and silly string to a few pieces of foam board so the solenoid hits the silly string every time.

To allow for easy connection of the solenoid and IR LED and sensor, I mounted a terminal block on a project enclosure. The Arduino and 9V battery sit inside the project box and the terminal block connects to the Arduino through short jumper wires.



The Arduino code for this project can be found at my GitHub page

Printing On The Floor With A Roomba


This printing robot allows one to print on the floor using an iRobot Create combined with an old Epson Inkjet printer. The Roomba allows for forward motion, while a carefully stripped-down printer allows for horizontal motion and something to attach the printing device to. As described, this allows “the robot to print a virtually unlimited size.”

Besides the reused printer, another clever aspect of this design is the print head media dispenser. This consists of a plastic funnel, a drill bit, and a small DC motor. The bit, which is sized very close to the funnel’s opening, is spun by the DC motor for each pixel. The assembly releases a measured amount of the printing media, and from the video this technique seems to work quite well.

As this ‘bot originated at Georgia Tech, nearby rivals such as Clemson and UGA will have to be on the lookout for a swarm of these printers on their football fields. On the other hand, they’re not that fast (yet), so it will take a while for a large Yellow Jacket logo to show up.

Much faster, though a little bit less automated, this ChalkJET writer does a similar function to this using a quite different setup.