When sUAS News started closed source autopilots cost at least $10,000 USD. There was no cheap telemetry and tablet control.
Now, on sale for a price of $469 you can buy an airframe with autopilot fitted that will lift a pretty large payload. On top of that the autopilot runs the Opensource Ardupilot project code which allows for automated grid flights suitable for survey.
Moores law seems to work overtime in the unmanned aircraft world. At this price its just not worth the hassle of putting it all together yourself.
Also at this price you could buy in three or four airframes for those unexpected arrivals and eventualities and still have lots of change against systems from the likes of Trimble.
I have been saying it for a while, what used to be hard, the flying part is now simple. When Opensource post production tools catch up, OS might just pull the rug from under high ticket price vendors. That software and workflow is the advantage the the large vendors have at the moment the flying platforms are simple.
The more accurate way of doing things, RTK GPS will be much cheaper and available for all within two years.
The airframe itself is available in several forms from various factories in China I have the 2.4m version with a uThere Ruby in it and it flies very well. It will certainly lift a Canon SX230 and the like. Mine has flown more than 100 times for the tracking project.
As with all Chinese RTFs the servos and linkages might need looking at. Replacing cheap servos with better metal geared digital ones if you want to use the platform frequently. That still won’t take you over $1000 USD for the package.
You will also need to buy some telemetry radios if you want to use a tablet to follow the flight.
It’s not an ideal first airframe simply because of its size. You should be confident in launching one of its smaller parents either the original Easystar, Hobbyking Bixler or also from Nitroplanes the Skysurfer 1400 for just $99 RTF.
There has never been a cheaper time to start autonomous flight.
I wonder who will bring out the first APM equipped RTF wing.
The AeroSky RoboSurfer is designed for pilots who are looking for all the benefits of a large wing spanned aircraft that is inherently more stable and can stay in the air longer. It is also an excellent platform for FPV pilots due to the abundance of FPV specific features.
The RoboSurfer is designed for supreme gliding and provides an excellent FPV platform. It has a wing that stretches 78inches. A large clear dome takes place on the nose of the plane for camera mounting. The clear dome has impressive clarity and low distortion . The power system consists of a an efficient 1200kv brushless out-runner motor juiced by a 30amp ESC and 11.1v lithium power system.
The RoboSurfer is a unique machine. It comes equipped with an APM 2.5 flight controller that delivers flight enhancing systems such as gps, auto pilot function, return home function, loiter, air speed sensor, altitude sensor with altitude hold, and self stabilization mode. All these features come installed and ready to go once the user has completed initial calibration.
The RoboSurfer will never get lost with its GPS and auto pilot system. With the assistance of GPS, the RoboSurfer is fully capable of returning to its starting point on auto pilot. To activate the GPS home function all you need to do is hit a switch on the transmitter.
The self stabilization mode acts like a gyro and allows the plane to fly extremely smooth and stable. Tired of flying the plane and just want to focus on your mounted FPV system? Utilize the loiter function and allow the aircraft to patrol a specific area on its own, have a large property and need aerial surveillance, the Robosurfer is the platform. The on board system will utilize airspeed, altitude and GPS positioning to achieve this feat.
As the old saying goes, the bigger they are, the better they fly and with a large wing span, the RoboSurfer provides a high lift and stable aerial FPV platform thanks to its generous wing area and effective pre-installed flaps. The powerful brushless out-runner and 8 inch prop combo offer an excellent climb rate while the effectively control surfaces provide precise control at varying speeds. This incredible model delivers an excellent FPV/Camera platform in a simple to build format that is totally affordable and perfect for pilots of all skill levels.
Tough EPO construction
APM Flight Controller
Easy to build configuration
Large wingspan ideal for flight in varying conditions
Clear and distortion free nose mounted dome
Large magnetic canopy
Powerful and efficient brushless out-runner motor
Large payload capacity
Material: Durable EPO
Wing span: 2000mm(78.7in)
Weight:1350 g(47.6 oz.)
Total surface area: approx. 46.3 dm2
Prop Size: 8*7 2 Blade
Battery:11.1v 2200mAh(20C) (Li-polymer battery Maximum 11.1v(3s) 8000mAh battery)
Motor:3536-KV1200 Powerful Out runner Brushless Motor
ESC: 30A Brushless ESC
Required to Fly:
Minimum 6 Programmable 6 Channel Radio System
8 AA batteries for the Transmitter
LiPo Charger capable of 11.1v Lipo Charging
Foam Glue or CA/Kicker