POSTING VIDEO: How to Play the 'Game of Drones'
Probably the best thing about this whole entire multirotor FPV project – apart from how it solved a problem that I was having with too much free time and too much extra money – is all of the great people we've met because of it. Three of them – Aaron, Amber and Kyle – run a high-tech company here in Portland called Geoloqi.
They have created a software package that provides very high-speed and high-precision geolocation services using common personal electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers. Honestly, the technology is a bit over my head, so I'd suggest you visit their website to find out more.
What brought us together was a game they created using their system, called “MapAttack!” It's kind of like a real-life game of PacMan. There is a playing field – such as a college campus or a public park – populated with invisible “gates.” Each gate is assigned a point value.
There are two teams on the field, and each player carries a smartphone with the “MapAttack!” app running on it. The app shows the location of every player in the game, as well as the locations of all of the gates. When a player passes through one of these gates, they claim the points for their team.
The two teams run or bicycle or <gulp> drive around, gobbling up points until there are no more gates left to claim. The team with the most points wins.
This was all well and good, but Aaron and Amber and Kyle had another idea. They wanted to play “MapAttack!” in the sky – with multirotor FPV aircraft zooming around, but they weren't sure where to start. About this time, they participated in the 2011 Providence Bridge Pedal. While waiting at the starting line, they heard a peculiar buzzing noise overhead. Looking up, they saw our birds, capturing this video:
Some clever online sleuthing put them in touch with us and we met a couple of months later at a local pub, in the midst of Portland's dreary, rain-soaked winter. This was back before we had even begun to discuss weatherproofing our birds, so we agreed to wait for the sun to return to our skies before getting back together to actually play the game.
As anyone who lives in Portland can tell you, it was a long wait.
However, we persevered and finally, in April, we played our first game of aerial “MapAttack!” Afterward, Amber decided that it should be called the “Game of Drones.”
In May, we arranged for our good friends from MediaFX Video Production to come out and document our next session, as you saw for yourself.
We put this video together in the sincere hope that other FPV pilots would get together with their friends and play the “Game of Drones” for themselves. You can set a game up over at the “MapAttack!” website, and download the required app to your iPhone or Droid OS smartphone, all at no charge.
It's a lot of fun to play. The fact that you have to work as a team – with a pilot controlling the aircraft and a navigator calling out directions to the next gate – is a very cool, like something out of an action-adventure movie. Also, as I say in the video, I think this has real potential to serve as a training tool for a future cadre of public safety drone pilots.
So, get out there and give it a try. Send us some video of your adventure – we're looking forward to seeing it.
The folks at Geoloqi (who, again, are much smarter than I am) seemed to suggest that this might be possible using some sort of Augmented Reality tool. It would be really cool.
I also think it could be enormously powerful in public safety applications. Imagine if the incident commander could just click a point on his or her screen, on a map of the location, and a marker would show up in the pilot's goggles -- they could just fly to the indicated position and get the view required. Very powerful!
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