My suggestion for a dissertation project has been accepted as a potential idea. Because of how the University runs dissertation projects, I need to submit 3 projects (1 will be my idea, 2 from their suggestions list), and one of those will be assigned to me.
My project idea is to buy a kit UAV, and make a few modifications. I would like to add some sort of opaque box to the bottom of it, which can then be opened while the UAV is in flight with the press of a button. I was hoping to use this for falconry. My idea is that a bird could be trained to circle the UAV, and then chase a chunk of meat which is dropped out of the UAV. I think that the resulting swoop would look quite good for falconry shows. I would also like to add a small camera (perhaps my GoPro) to the UAV, to try and get some action shots of the bird catching the food. As the GoPro communicates via Bluetooth, I could perhaps communicate with it from the ground. Alternatively, as the flights will be quite short (maybe 20 minutes tops), the memory card/battery of the GoPro should be capable of making a recording for the entirety of the flight.
I would also be looking to create a simplified controller for the UAV. Perhaps I could still buy an off-the-shelf controller, which the UAV would have as it’s first choice of controller. I would have a “basic” controller, containing only up/down and release buttons, as well as a small screen displaying the height of the UAV. This could perhaps be accomplished by GPS or maybe even a sonar pointed at the ground to calculate range. I would be able to use my 3D printer to create the housing of this. This controller would be the second choice, so that if needed the more advanced controller could take over.
I’d perhaps make an attempt at bird-proofing the UAV, although it will be made of plastic and so probably not of too much risk to damaging a bird. Birds will probably be capable of avoiding the UAV with little trouble however. If the bird did collide with the UAV, it would be preferable for the bird to come out of the collision rather than the UAV. If I choose to use a quadropter style UAV, I could put some wide tubes over the blades (a bit smaller than the width of the bird’s shoulders), which would prevent the bird contacting the blades while hopefully not hindering the UAV’s ability to fly.