Sunday, March 24, 2013

Precision RC airplane dances to classical music in balletic performance

It makes sense that in the future we’d make breakthroughs like bionic hands and space elevators, because those are goals we’ve been working towards since people were first capable of imagining them. But remote control airplanes? It’s odd to see a renaissance in such an old area, like a sudden resurgence in HAM radios. It seems that even older technologies can benefit from the newly empowered enthusiast technologist class.
Using user-edited software and an ultra-light fuselage, Dutch RC plane enthusiast Nando Te Riele was able to make an airplane responsive enough to coordinate its movements with music. Without breaking its smooth path through the gymnasium air, the plane can bank or roll with enough precision to literally dance along to classical music. Riele set up a lights show to augment the plane’s graceful movements.
The performance took place at this year’s Electric Indoor Masters meeting, an event that brings together some of the best indoor plane pilots in the world. The competition was for experts in so-called “F3P”, a seemingly meaningless acronym that refers to the practice (sport?) of precision indoor aerobatics in a highly restricted space. With a focus on maneuverability and precision, the practice seems well matched to the sorts of aerobatics research that currently occupies the security community.
Keep in mind that Riele, and the performance in the video below, took just 7th place in the top tier of the competition. The technical skill on display here is only half the reason Riele has gotten most of the attention, following the show. When the precision of competitors reaches the level on display at meetings like the EIM, the differences become hard for most people to spot. These days, it’s creativity that jumps out most powerfully at lay-audiences.

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