‘UVM Start’ups: Feats filmed by flying robot
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 00:10
We are not quite the Jetsons yet, but a small-scale flying robot developed by five students can take videos of anything from weddings to ski jumps.
Senior engineering students Julian Tryba, Cyril Brunner, David Bernstein, Nicholai L’Esperance and David Hinckley have turned their senior project into a company called Eleview Technologies to develop, engineer and sell the robot they’ve created.
The robot will be able to follow and film someone from an aerial perspective that they can control with a smartphone or Android app, Tryba said.
The filming aspect of the robot will be made possible by attaching a GoPro, a small, wearable, waterproof and shockproof camera, to the flying device that will be controlled through the phone either hands-free or manually.
If the buyer already has a GroPro and an Android phone, the buying process will be simpler and cheaper, as these items are the main components of the technology, Tryba said.
“The Android phone is essentially the brain of the robot and will be used for the tracking system, and the GoPro is the camera,” Brunner said. “So if you have the brain and camera, you just need the frame for the camera, which is what we are making.”
Tryba said he first thought of the idea when he was at Jay Peak during a snowstorm the week of Feb. 26, 2012.
“I remember thinking to myself at the end of the day, I wish that something could have captured my experience today,” he said. “I realized it wasn’t really possible with the GoPro, so it got me thinking what you could create that could really show this.”
The team received a $2,000 grant from the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to make the project a reality, and hopes to use funding from the UVM Start crowdsourcing website to cover the remaining expenses.
“Our goal is to raise $3,000 through UVM Start, and that money is going to go into making the first prototypes we can sell through the general public,” Brunner said. “Through the money we can start making products and developing an online store, as well as explore all the different markets and try to get our products out there.”
After working with UVM Start for a month, the Eleview Technologies team decided they wanted to take the idea further than a senior project.
“Through our mentor Jeff Frolik, we got connected to MITRE [a federally funded research program],” Tryba said. “We are collaborating with them on the technology side, and hopefully the money we get from UVM Start can be invested in creating a product that we can bring to the mainstream commercial market.”
Although the idea was initially thought of solely for skiing purposes, the technology could also be used for viewing commercial real estate, mountain biking, self-shot films, farmers reviewing their land and different forms of cinematography, Tryba said.
“We are trying to keep our minds open and not limit the people who we market the product to,” Brunner said.
When the project reaches the selling point, between February and April 2013, they hope to make it available for under $1,000 and as simple to use as possible, Tryba said.
“We want to make it so user-friendly that you can buy one of these from us and have no experience with electronics or anything, and you can just turn it on and click ‘go’,” he said.
The team said they plan to constantly improve the technology.
After developing a robot that is stable in flight and a tracking system that connects to a phone, they will then move on to more complicated things, Tryba said.
“The next things will be object detection and more complex things like doing dynamic camera sweeps around someone, maybe going off a jump skiing so it can fly around you,” he said.