This page contains some information about the P9000 project and my personal review of a test-stage P9000 unit. Please do not bother me sending email asking for more information: except my personal opinions, what you find here is just what Baracca 9000 authorized me to publish.
Update (late 2007): a French UAV, "Paparazzi project", developed at ENAC University, definitively obsoleted this project.
What's the P9000?
Baracca 9000 is proud to present its first MAV (micro air vehicle) P9000. This remotely controlled air vehicle has these capabilities:
Some of the possible usages include: military reconnaissance operations, search and rescue helper, photo-reporting for news agencies, ecology data collecting, weather forecasts, etc.
The P9000 has two operating modes: a "standard" mode (which allows up to 104 grams of payload for extra equipment) an "endurance" mode (the payload is almost totally used for a second LiPo battery). In the "standard" mode, the suggested extra equipment is a couple of compressed gas "jet-jumpers" which dramatically reduce the needed space area for take-off and landing. An optional GPS module is in development stage.
The P9000 is built around the Sony Ericsson P900 cellular phone; this means:
The use of a mass production core unit allows the customer to develop and debug its own programs in C or C++ or derivatives (like Ada, Fortran, etc) while being able to use all data without problems on any low-cost computer (collected data are in WAV, JPEG and MP3/MP4 common formats). Also, the collected data and usage configuration can be operated on the P900 screen/speaker itself (no need to transfer to another computer) allowing immediate ground managing and maintenance.
While in real-time controlled mode, the P9000 is continuously connected to the internet (at least in GPRS-covered areas) and can accept/exchange data with the ground operator. The connection is either a low-traffic mode (only real-time navigation) or high-traffic mode (immediately send collected data). One of the demo application examples waits for a JPEG image to be received while in flight, analyze the image and get the main patterns, and then look for that patterns in continuous-shot mode while flying.
(*) Measure taken under these conditions: forward flight in endurance mode, with preprogrammed navigation data, collecting 40 photos, no audio/video data, no data exchange;
My personal notes after two flight-tests
I was eventually able to operate two test flights (without any extra operator assistance) but I was not able to try the "jet-jumpers" feature. Anyways, I was very happy with the results; it's even safer than the above technical specifications may let you think.
While suffering from high winds (as any other MAV and UAV unit), in future it will be equipped with a GPS receiver, to allow self-correcting navigation without ground operator assistance. I had the two flights always in low altitude (not more than 50 feet AGL) without fearing for losses. The electrical engine is surely the most silenced and reliable type: the engine will loose performance only after some battery failure; the LiPo battery gives out the required power up to the last milliampère (like the old NiCd type) and can safely operate even in the worst climatic conditions. I think that it will exceed at least 20ºC the declared temperature range because all critic stuff is well protected.
My only note of concern is the camera sensibility, which allows maximum performance only on good lighting conditions. It will have a difficult time operating while in the rain - also, the "rain performance" will be less than normal conditions performance. An infrared-camera will surely dramatically improve the fire reconnaissance and search-and-rescue operations.
About the Baracca 9000 company
The company is named after the Italian aviation hero Francesco Baracca and is located in Marranzago, Italy, where it has also a flight facility field. Founded in late 2004, it has four employees, and is currently in high development and research for commercial and military "micro air vehicles" (MAV) and "unmanned air vehicles" (UAV). A project has started also for a single-man VTOL-class high-endurance highly-silenced electric-driven aircraft.
Its first experimental MAV, the P9000 shown above, has completed a number of successful flight tests and is near to "demo" stage; in next months will reach the production stage. Soon after will follow the P9100, an unit with more memory (up to 21 Mb core memory + 1024 Mb storage).
WARNING: for safety reasons the image below is a rendered image (anyways quite near to one of the actual successful tests).
Sony Ericsson P900 index - send e-mail - home page