Aerial mapping with AR.Drone? Autonomous flights using O.S. software

Could this be the cheapest aerial mapping platform ever?  It is now possible to configure the AR.Drone 2.0 for autonomous flight using open-source "Paparazzi" software developed by students at TU Delft:  http://paparazzi.enac.fr/wiki/AR_Drone_2/getting_started

The challenge:  Acquire a set of photos over an area of 100 x 100m or larger with 75% overlap and image quality suitable for Ecosynth 3D reconstructions using a camera set at nadir (downward).  

This will almost certainly require a better than stock battery (2500 mAh now available), and a better than stock camera (this one?). 

So- is anyone interested in trying to make this happen?

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Comment by Jonathan Dandois on October 18, 2013 at 6:02pm

Sweet!  

I would try to cover a 100m x 100m with a 125m x 125m square with tracks spaced 25m apart at 80m above the average maximum canopy surface. That comes out to about 1000m flying distance.  If we assume it travels at about the same speed that our current rigs travel at, that is about a 5 minute flight.  Amazon says that the 2500 mAh battery gets up to 20 minutes of flight, but with a regular 130 gram camera I bet you would be looking at more like 10 minutes tops.  

I would want to take away some of the extra housing and body on the Parrot to reduce flight weight to accommodate the camera too.  I'd go with the Canon ELPH 520 HS that we have currently been working with for the same price.  It's 10MP instead of the 16MP on the ELPH 130 you listed, but the 520 HS has a nice 2 f.p.s. continuous shooting mode, whereas Canon lists the 130 as having 0.8 f.p.s. -- and you know how we like overlap!

$300 for the Parrot

$60 for two 2500 mAh lipos

$150 for a camera plus spare batteries and SD cards

And I guess I can fly it from my Android phone as well, pretty nice.  

Round it out to an even $1,000 with a second Parrot, a second camera, and spare parts (props, etc.), and that is a nice little field kit for personal remote sensing!  

I want one!!!!

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