On Saturday, Oct 26, 2019 VCS participated in a STEM activity in support of the Pensacola local chapter of the Sea Cadets – Independence Squadron. Great experience! We were one of two Pensacola local companies presenting our technologies to the Cadets. Pelican Drones and ourselves set up our presentations inside one of Pensacola’s NAS’ huge hangars and displayed our technologies.
Pelican Drones had brought in several drones for the Cadets to fly and maneuver. After some explanations of drone technology and how to control them the Cadets were off flying them. We also had drones on display, virtual drones. As some of the Cadets were waiting their turn at flying the available drones, several of them ventured over to our section and began using our 3D, virtual simulations.
After getting on base, we arrived at the NATTC building about 45 minutes before the Cadets arrived. Once we had access to the appropriate tables and power supplies, setup was quick and easy.
A group of 12 cadets were on hand for the drone demonstrations. Our purpose at this event was to demonstrate the use of 3D virtual environments which allowed them to practice flying a drone without the initial cost of investment in such a device or the worry of crashing and maybe breaking a drone or even running out of battery power. By using a virtual drone, they would be able to practice at any time, day or night to improve their skills as a drone pilot.
After the cadets were introduced to the concept of the drones they would be flying, several approached our station and asked some basic questions about the virtual drones we had on screen. They were happy to know they were able to fly our virtual drones.
We provided two demonstrations of virtual drones. The 1st was a virtual environment of a M9 Reaper drone flying within a remote snow peaked mountain range of a hypothetical country. The 2nd was flying a Quadra-copter within an obstacle course.
Virtual M9 Reaper
Using the M9 Reaper, Cadets were able to manipulate the mounted rotating camera to locate, aim at and shoot different missiles at their chosen targets. Because the virtual missiles are laser guided, they needed a little practice maintaining the aiming reticle on target especially when using the zoom in mode of the camera.
Virtual Quadra-copter Obstacle Course
An obstacle course was created to test the skills of the Cadets maneuvering a quadra-copter style drone. This virtual environment closely replicated the real-world maneuvering capabilities of the drone. Personally, I believe the course was a little too difficult to fly through however we will be replicating the obstacle course the Cadets used during the activity.
Overall, the Cadets enjoyed the use of the virtual environments. A common suggestion from the users of our virtual drones was that the controllers were too sensitive and needed to be adjusted. This is a concern we will be addressing.
We also made a commitment to further enhance the Virtual Quadra-copter drone demonstrations by adding different levels of difficulties for the obstacle courses (Easy, Medium, Hard) and release a copy of this software on our website for the Cadets to download and use at home.
At the end of the activity, all the cadets came up to us and personally thanked us for giving them access to our technology.