James May: James May's Toy Stories Special - Flight Club

misterpro

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I only just watched this special. Beautiful work from James and his team of boffins. Eizbaer, thanks for letting us know what that piece of music is 49 minutes in; the sight and sound together made me a bit teary-eyed.

When does James say 'awesomesauce', though? I didn't catch that!
Kinda off topic, but thanks for bumping this.

I never noticed the special. Downloading now :D
 

leviathan

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According to Shazam, it's "An American Symphony" by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

In general, I loved this episode. It's James May, it's model aviation (my big hobby since about half a year now... they even used the same autopilot on the glider that flies my quadcopter), and the music was great - I couldn't believe I actually heard God Is An Astronaut in a TV show!
 

Electric-Mayhem

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If you have watched "Mr. Holland's Opus" with Richard Dryfus, that is the song that "Mr. Holland" composes and then is played by all the pupils that he has had a positive influence on...

[video=youtube;d3t-Rldgzc4]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3t-Rldgzc4[/video]

In the Toy Stories show they add a choral part that leads in, but the main song is "An American Symphony" composed by Michael Kamen (he composed many scores for 90's and 2000's films). It says the movie version was performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, but it could have been done by the Seattle Sympony Orchestra over the years too (looks like there is a benefit concert that uses the "american symphony" name with SSO).

I've watched that episode a bunch of times and really liked it. Its probably my favorite Toy Stories episode, but they are all awesome. I was really worried that they were gonna end it on a downer, but I'm really glad they gave it another try. I thought it was a lot cooler that it was autonomous and it wouldn't have been as cool with it remote controlled I don't think.
 

leviathan

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I thought it was a lot cooler that it was autonomous and it wouldn't have been as cool with it remote controlled I don't think.
Technically, it was still remote-controlled - the ArduPilot Mega (autopilot they used) is a helper system, not a complete stand-alone autopilot. While it's capable of autonomous waypoint navigation and general independency from user input in flight, it requires that an R/C receiver is connected, and said receiver is at the very least used to arm the system and activate the autonomous controls. It can and probably did fly outside the R/C range, but I'm sure they had an option to use the manual controls as a backup from the chase helicopter, and they definitely did the landing in the end manually - I'm not even certain whether the plane firmware for the APM has an autoland function, and would be pretty impressed if it can land a bird that size so smoothly.
 

eizbaer

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I'm not even certain whether the plane firmware for the APM has an autoland function, and would be pretty impressed if it can land a bird that size so smoothly.
i'm sceptical as well. for a function like that, you'd have to have a very detailed knowledge of the height you were flying at and the ground coming up / surrounding you. and i don't think there were any sensors involved that could possibly do this, at least with this project?
 

leviathan

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i'm sceptical as well. for a function like that, you'd have to have a very detailed knowledge of the height you were flying at and the ground coming up / surrounding you. and i don't think there were any sensors involved that could possibly do this, at least with this project?
You can use a sonar sensor with the APM for very precise altitude readings. Also apparently, at least in the current version the Arduplane firmware does automatic takeoffs and landings, and can even automatically deploy flaps: https://code.google.com/p/ardupilot-mega/wiki/AutoLand
 

leviathan

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I'm pretty sure it's something by God Is An Astronaut, as their music was used extensively throughout the episode, and the sound is very like the band. However, I can't find the specific track on Spotify. Could be something unreleased or otherwise rare.
 

nickgeorge25

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I'm pretty sure it's something by God Is An Astronaut, as their music was used extensively throughout the episode, and the sound is very like the band. However, I can't find the specific track on Spotify. Could be something unreleased or otherwise rare.
Just listened, and that particular track wasn't GIAA.
 

t.small

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Technically, it was still remote-controlled - the ArduPilot Mega (autopilot they used) is a helper system, not a complete stand-alone autopilot. While it's capable of autonomous waypoint navigation and general independency from user input in flight, it requires that an R/C receiver is connected, and said receiver is at the very least used to arm the system and activate the autonomous controls. It can and probably did fly outside the R/C range, but I'm sure they had an option to use the manual controls as a backup from the chase helicopter, and they definitely did the landing in the end manually - I'm not even certain whether the plane firmware for the APM has an autoland function, and would be pretty impressed if it can land a bird that size so smoothly.
This man is absolutely spot on. I was in control of the whole system with a transmitter. While the 'autopilot' could provide guidance I still had to essentially fly the Swallow and the landing was definitely done under my control (you can see the control inputs I'm making, especially with the rudder, on the last few metres of the approach). The Swallow never flew outside of control range; we were operating 2.4 Ghz anyway and being located in the chase heli meant that I'd always have eyes on anyway. I've got to say, landing the glider from the helicopter was a bit of a challenge but overall I was very pleased with how it went!
 

leviathan

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This man is absolutely spot on. I was in control of the whole system with a transmitter. While the 'autopilot' could provide guidance I still had to essentially fly the Swallow and the landing was definitely done under my control (you can see the control inputs I'm making, especially with the rudder, on the last few metres of the approach). The Swallow never flew outside of control range; we were operating 2.4 Ghz anyway and being located in the chase heli meant that I'd always have eyes on anyway. I've got to say, landing the glider from the helicopter was a bit of a challenge but overall I was very pleased with how it went!
Awesome, thanks for the response! Very interesting. A modern APM/Pixhawk could probably do the flight fully autonomously, including the landing; they've got the software pretty damn far by now. But back in those days, I guess mostly manual control was a much more reliable option. Can't quite imagine how it'd be to fly the glider from the chase helicopter either - I mostly fly FPV myself, not much of a line-of-sight pilot, much less so when my reference point is moving independent from what I'm flying :)
 

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You're very welcome. It's been particularly interesting seeing everybody have discussions on here and seeing what you all thought of the programme.
There was some very clever editing on the actual programme, the 'autopilot' was very temperamental at times and we didn't have any time to test it at all, believe or not the first day when the glider ended up in the sea, was actually the first time I'd engaged the system in the air, and in this instance it was programmed to fly back to the rugby field at Ilfracombe for some reason, so I had to fly that entire flight manually! You can see the point where it is about to hit the water I'm constantly trying to flare but it's very difficult to judge how far off the water the glider is. At the time the heli must have been sat between 50-100 feet and that's vertically, I can't remember how far laterally.

The second day when the weather was much nicer worked out better, I engaged the system and it did seem to hold a relatively steady course to the Isle of Lundy, however, once reaching I had to fly the glider manually again as we actually arrived with more altitude than anticipated so I flew it around the island to get some absolutely stunning aerial footage (which I could see in front of me on the screens in the chase heli) followed by actually landing the glider myself on the island.

I've always wanted to get into FPV but never really had the opportunity.
 
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