Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Consequences of open software and hardware

Maybe some of you believe I'm some kind of blind fanatic , and that's not true. I recognize when a closed program has details that I like (my friends have seen me praising some little details I like about Vista). Nontheless, I can't stop seeing along the things I like those other things I dislike and I can't change because it's closed software. That lack of freedom is the main reason why I keep on writing about open stuff, things that give us the freedom to change them the way we want. There I see the future.

Let's start this article after the necessary introduction. A little time ago, I wrote about Open Hardware. You'll recall there was a special mention to the Arduinos, because there were a lot of them and I didn't want you thinking there were the only things in that page.

Today something surprised me in a pleasant way, and it was related to those Arduinos. I found a webpage called diydrones (Do It Yourself Drones) which basically deals with unmanned vehicles we can build ourselves, in a reduced scale.

There you'll find a lot of different projects with different types of hardware, but there are two that receive special care in the site: ArduPilot and BlimpDuino. I think you'll understand why those names rise some special emotions in me.

BlimDuino is in development stage, soon it will be released, with kits for sale, and release of the arduino hardware modifications back to the comunnity. ArduPilot is already on production, with kits on sale and open hardware released.

What are this two projects for? ArduPilot is a authomatic pilot for miniature planes which handles navigation by GPS, control of the ruder (direction) and throttle (altitude by speed control). There's more coming through, a new version is being developed, called ArduPilot Pro, and this one will also control ailerons.

BlimpDuino is just fabulous. It's a control for blimps (small dirigibles, or small airships, as you prefer). There's a demo video of a blimp being indirectly controled with infrared markers in the room. In the video you can see the way the motors tilt to gain or loose altitude, how it makes them turn in one direction to gain speed and in other to loose it, how it uses them to turn. It's wonderful to think how little it takes for this blimp to take it's own decisions based on the situations we put it through.

I don't know if this is havving any effects on you, but after seeing this I've gained a lot of respect for the Arduino platform and it's possibilities. Besides, I can't stop noticing what can be achieved with open hardware and software and inventiveness. Don't you see a small scale glimpse of the future in this developments?

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