(Nuclear) safety first

The nuclear power station just up the road (the only nuclear power station in Africa, nogal) has just suspended its Safety Officer.

Oops.

Fortunately (I think, anyway) the reasons behind this are “merely” that when a drone crashed within the grounds of said power station, the security staff gave it back to the people who crashed it and didn’t report it, prompting the suspension of their boss and this quote from spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe:

Possibly they thought maybe it was just a small thing. And maybe it was a small thing, because we just don’t know.

I love this sort of blunt honesty from spokespeople.

To be fair, a couple of guards handing a drone back to some errant teenagers who were playing on the beach nearby is fairly low down the list of terrible things that a nuclear power station’s Safety Officer could be suspended for.

Although, of course, to be fair, a couple of guards handing a drone back to some potential terrorists who are planning an attack on the nuclear facility nearby is slightly higher on the list of terrible things that a nuclear power station’s Safety Officer could be suspended for, I suppose.

Anyway, all will be fine, because:

The police are investigating the matter, though, to see as to what went wrong and what can be done to make sure that something like this does not happen in future.

So that’s all ok then. Unless the terrorists teenagers have already got all the footage they need.

No Lily

After a million* broken promises and several (or more) independent warnings of doom and, indeed, gloom, I have finally run out of patience and goodwill and cancelled my Lily order. Their “support” team’s pathetic reply to my email on the shipping fiasco was the final straw.

Essentially, what has happened is that I have given the Lily developers a 13-month long interest-free loan. That would suck a huge, huge amount, were it not for the fact that I paid in US dollars and, thanks to JZ’s ridiculous shenanigans in the intervening period, I will have made a healthy profit in Rand terms.

Everyone wins then, save for the developers (who lose a sale), me (who gets no Lily) and the South African economy, which is up Kak Creek with no paddle in sight.

I’m now saving up for a DJI Phantom 4. It may take some time**.

 

* conservative estimate
** conservative estimate

I will wait, I will wait for you

And I will wait, I will wait for you…

So sang banjo enthusiasts and all round folk rockers, Mumford and Sons.

Now, I’m no fan of Marcus Mumford and his merry band of men, but they hit the proverbial on the proverbial with this one. As did I in this post, because my Lily drone is now overdue.

This isn’t a surprise to me. They let me know, in a characteristically transparent email [I’ve PDF’d it here] which they sent before Christmas. My Lily is now due sometime in Summer 2016 (the Northern Hemisphere version thereof, of course).

We’re still ironing out logistics for our new shipping timeline. We expect to fulfil all of our pre-orders in the Summer 2016. Details will be shared as soon as they are available. We promise 🙂

The open-ended nature of that “Summer 2016” promise is mildly concerning, but hey, we’ll get there.

What is disappointing is that between the previously promised shipping date and this new one, I’m doing two overseas trips – one a once-in-a-lifetime one, including some prime Lily-playing territory – and I’m rather sad to be missing that opportunity.

Sognefjord_norway1

The crew at Lily continue to stay in touch just about weekly, informing me of latest developments, test results and new staff. I still believe that this is going to happen (although some on Facebook are more dubious) – I just wish it had happened already.

On Lily

(Thankfully) before the Rand went really bad, I ordered a Lily. Not the flower of death, but the super cool drone which follows you around like a beagle expecting a snack. The waiting time before shipping was 9 months, presumably because they needed orders to make money to make drones. But they promised that they would keep in touch during the process and, I have to say, they have. I get an update about every two or three weeks on average. Sometimes they introduce new members of staff, sometimes they tell me about some robotics conference they have been to, and sometimes the updates are rather more technical.

Here’s a sample from the one that arrived last night, all about a pre-production take off, landing and camera test.

As you can see in this footage, there are three image quality issues: fisheye distortion, wobble, and stabilization. The team is on it, addressing each issue as follows:

  • The current dampening and wiring cause internal vibrations, resulting in wobble. We are adjusting the durometer of the vibration dampening system and re-assembling the wires to ensure this wobble is removed.

  • The unbalanced fisheye distortion is caused by a mistuning of the external polycarbonate lens. We have already re-tuned the external lens and this issue will not appear on the production version.

  • Our electronic stabilization software (EIS) was not used in this video. We will be porting this piece to the unit in the coming days and expect much better performance. More on that soon. That’s all for now!

So glad that they are adjusting the durometer of the vibration dampening system. Heaven only knows why the durometer of the vibration dampening system was unadjusted in the first place. Rookie error, guys. Even I know to adjust the durometer of the vibration dampening system before I do pre-production tests. (I would also probably have mistuned the external polycarbonate lens though. That’s always a tough one to remember.)

The Lily people say that they are still on schedule to ship in February, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a couple of delays. We’ll see. The thing is, the communication process has been so open and transparent, that I think I would be rather understanding if things were to run a bit late. And there’s a lesson for a lot of companies in there.

Up where?

Here at 6000 Towers, we love drones and we love wind turbines (is this right? – Ed.). So just imagine a story which contains both of them. Well, stop imagining. It’s here.

It’s 2015, so no matter how much privacy you think you may have, there is always a chance that a drone is lurking nearby, ready to invade your seclusion.
Drone pilot Kevin Miller was capturing some footage of a wind turbine in Rhode Island, when his craft accidentally revealed a man that was attempting to catch some rays on the deck of the turbine, the Daily Mirror reports.

Initially, the man didn’t seem too pleased about being discovered, and it appears that he even flipped the drone off. But Miller told the Mirror, “Upon landing he saw me bring the drone down and was leaning over the edge. I looked up and wave to him and he waved back.”

Nice. And yes, there’s some video:

Weird, hey?

But then, there’s this line:

It is still unclear who the man was, or if he had permission to be on top of the turbine.

Wait. That’s it? That’s all you’re going to ask about that bit of the story?

Because, let’s be honest, wind turbines are wind turbines, drones are great and it’s quite cool to see the latter filming the former. That’s because it’s quite cool to see the latter filming most anything right now.
That’s not the interesting bit here. The interesting bit is what appears to be a middle-aged man, whose identity is a complete mystery, apparently sunbathing on top of a 200ft wind turbine. That’s the interesting bit and you’ve glossed over it in 20 words? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?

FIND the man.
FIND out why he was up there.
And REPORT THAT – not “Oh. I saw a man and I don’t know who he was or why he was there.”

Seriously. So many sleepless nights coming up til we find out what was going on here.