Great news, we have successfully 3D-printed and assembled our third prototype! In line with what we envision for our final product, our current prototype is foldable and fits comfortably into our pocket. We are very happy with our latest prototype, with which we're able to achieve a resolution of 0.1mm.
We have been paying attention to the trend of the market and it seems that manufacturers are building progressively smaller drones. However, we cannot in good conscience say that any of these drones fit in our pockets, even with just the airframe, let alone with the extra batteries and controllers required. To that end, we are pursuing our design goals to bring you a truly portable consumer drone capable of streaming HD videos with significant flight time in a single charge.
Our team is furiously coding to improve our prototype. So far, we have successfully flown for short periods of time. We are striving for longer flights, so we are looking at methods of extending battery life and making flight more stable. We are marching towards that goal armed with code, optimism and a ton of caffeine
The Washington D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that owners no longer have to register their drones of up to 55 pounds with the FAA effective May 19 2017. The court ruling concludes that the FAA does not have the authority to require owners to register their drones, or “model aircraft”, as it directly contradicts the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act which states that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft”. The court ruled that the FAA 2015 Registration rule is a ‘rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft’ that contradicts the 2012 Act and that “statutory implementation does not get much simpler”.
As of Dec 21 2015, the FAA ruled that owners have to register all drones ranging from 0.55 to 55 pounds (0.25 to 24.95 kg) under Part 107, Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule. The lower weight limit was based on multiple studies that concluded that drones below that weight limit do not pose a significant safety threat should it stop flying in mid-air. Drones above the 55 pound threshold will still have to apply for FAA flight waivers, which are not part of the Court of Appeals new ruling. This ruling primarily applies to private non-commercial owners.
The FAA responded that they are reviewing the ruling and “are in the process of considering their response to the decision as well as any registration implications for non-commercial users”. It is noteworthy that the current ruling is binding and new owners do not have to register their drones. It is likely that Congress will have to pass a law to require registration of drones under 55 pounds. However, the legal environment is ever-changing and we strive to keep you posted.
The court ruling is good news for owners as it makes the process of owning and operating a drone less cumbersome and pricey with one less registration step. We are in favor of the tried-and-tested model of self-regulation in line with the American Modeling Association’s guidelines. Given the right education and training, we believe that owners can and will operate responsibly to continue having the privilege of flight.
We will be visiting CES 2017 in Las Vegas from January 5 - 7, 2017! CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is one of biggest consumer electronics exhibition in the world. It is often where companies introduce new flagship products and their roadmap for the future.
If you are interested in meeting us or good ol' networking, shoot us an email -- adminATxronzDOTcom
The Micro Unmanned Aircraft Systems (MUAS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) has submitted its Recommendations Final Report to the Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA). The ARC consists of 27 companies and industrial organizations and was chartered to address the flight over people for MUAS 250 grams or less.
The FAA has stated that these recommendations will be bound by Part 107 of Chapter 14 in the Code of Federal Regulations, also known as the Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The report recommends four MUAS categories as defined by level of risk of injury posed for flight over people. Category 1 MUAS are categorized as the lowest-risk and operators only need to observe operational restrictions imposed by the proposed Part 107. It was proposed that Original Equioment Manufacturers (OEM) should either label the aircraft weight as 250 grams or less, or submit a weight declaration to the FAA.
Under Categories 2, 3 and 4, the MUAS are categorized by their increasing impact energy thresholds and should comply with the proposed performance standards. It was proposed that operators of Category 2 MUAS must fly 20 feet above or 10 feet away from people. Under Category 3, operators may not fly over crowds or dense concentrations of people, with the exception of incidental overflight or in a restricted-access worksite. MUAS under Category 4 have the same performance standards and operational restrictions as in Category 2, with the addition of a documented risk mitigation plan.
The report proposed that OEMs submit a declaration that their MUAS meets the performance standards under a certain category to the FAA, label the product or packaging accordingly and include operator restrictions in the user manual. Additionally, the ARC proposed an online knowledge test for airman certification, as opposed to the in-person knowledge test and submission of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check proposed in Part 107.
Moving forward, the FAA will consider the report to develop a “flexible, performance-based proposed rule”. Upon announcement of the proposed rule, the public can comment before the FAA finalizes its rule.
I come from the field of electronics and telecommunications. Hence, I was initially skeptical to join as a software developer intern. But I can definitely say now that I made the right decision. During my first day in the office, I realized that this company is for people who think out of the box. We had a team of engineers from different backgrounds, but we all got along very well. The support from my supervisor and my fellow interns has been tremendous. Every week, we had a weekly meeting where we discussed our progress. We all gave valuable suggestions to each other. We also went out on occasions. This helped us get to know each other better. I will definitely suggest Xronz for people who want to work in a friendly atmosphere.
My job was to design an iOS app for controlling the drone. I had some prior experience in programming languages such as C++ and Java. However, I did not have any knowledge of the Objective-C language. Moreover, I had no experience in mobile application development. Hence, in the beginning it was challenging for me. But, I found various sources online which enabled me to learn iOS programming. This internship gave me the opportunity to perform several tasks on my own, which I would have been reluctant to do earlier. After working here, I realized that one should not be being afraid of getting into unfamiliar territory. In the beginning you will feel a bit intimidated. But you should keep trying out different things and eventually you would be able to solve your problem. This experience has definitely improved my problem-solving abilities and sharpened my computing skills.
Working at a startup company like Xronz has several benefits. You are given more opportunities and you will have a lot of responsibilities. In Xronz, I was able to work with really smart people who truly believe in innovation. The company has a certain goal and I am sure it would be able to reach it. I am confident that Xronz has a very bright future.
My name is Qi Lu and I got my Master's in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida. Most of the interns in Xronz are from the University of Maryland (UMD) due to the location. I was hired as a Control System Engineer Intern for the 2014 summer term.
As a out-of-state intern, the first problem was relocation. Fortunately, I found a furnished house with reasonable rent near College Park. I drove to work every day, which took about 15 minutes. There should be lots of apartments or houses for sublease in summer since most of the students in UMD aren't taking courses in the summer.
My main project as a Control System Engineer Intern was System Identification of our quadcopter (quad). It was a really challenging job, but also very interesting at the same time. I have picked up a lot of practical skills through the process. Whenever I had any questions, my supervisor was always ready to answer them or solve them with me. He is a really good boss. First of all, I read some papers on the system identification process, but there were still many practical issues of concern not addressed in many academic papers. I conducted many experiments on different kinds of quads. We tested various quad configurations, changed the way we collected the data and controlled the quads. The experiments were the fun part of this job. If you are interested in robots or quadcopters, you should be able to have a lot of fun in this job. Every unsuccessful experiment helped us improve the design of future experiments. With these cumulative improvements, we got closer and closer to acquiring the desired data and experimental results.
The work environment in Xronz is very free and easy. You are free to come to work at any time of the day as long as you work 40 hours per work. I am kind of a lazy boy who don't like getting up early, so this policy works perfectly for me. There are several restaurants near Xronz that cook tasty food which suited my Chinese tastebuds, like the Asian Wings Cafe (Thai), Just Jerk (Jamaican) and Chipotle. My personal favorite is the Jamaican Jerk Chicken from Just Jerk, which I had at my farewell lunch. I usually brought my lunch to the office as there is a microwave oven in the pantry. The employees come from diverse cultural backgrounds so you should be able to easily mingle with everyone in such a relaxed working environment. Another perk of this internship was that the improvement of my oral English due to frequent conversations and discussions with my colleagues and supervisor.
I truly enjoyed my work experience as a Control System Engineer Intern at Xronz as the work environment was laid back, the work schedule was flexible, the office was conveniently located and the workforce was diverse and friendly. More importantly, my work responsibilities were challenging and impactful in the sense that I was solving real -life problems that were faced by the Xronz team on a daily basis, which made me feel good about contributing to the success of the company.
I’m James, a senior Mechanical Engineering major at the University of Maryland, and the Prototyping and Test Engineering Intern for the summer of 2014 here at Xronz. My summer here has been incredibly enriching and I really enjoyed my time here. I’m currently writing this at the end of my time here and I want to share my experiences with all of you.
At Xronz, 6 other interns and I along with the CEO worked on our flagship product, a small quadcopter that was designed to take pictures controlled with your smartphone. The idea was really interesting, and I really liked working with the team. Working for a startup company is a great experience. Since the team was so small, I was able to learn about more than just the prototyping and testing that I was responsible for. I was able to talk to the other interns and learn about system ID, web development, programming, and a lot more. I also realized that I had a lot to learn about quadcopters, and luckily that was my first job at Xronz; to research the other competitors in our field and see what they did and, more importantly, why they did it.
After that, I had a plethora of jobs that kept me busy throughout the summer. Some of these tasks included actually coming up with a design for the second prototype of our flagship product. This was a lot of fun for me, because I was able to find a sweet-spot between engineering and aesthetics. This involved looking at a lot of interesting designs from places like concept cars and futuristic artwork, and figure out a sleek new design for our quadcopter. Being asked to design our actual product was an amazing opportunity that not many interns can get, but at Xronz that was possible.
Another great thing that I enjoyed at Xronz was the ability to use my technical engineering skills that I got from university in a hands-on environment. I was able to develop a lot of tools that we still use in our workstation and lab at Xronz, and it made me feel like I was making a real difference in the company. That’s something you just can’t get from a big, already well-established company. At Xronz, I worked hard the whole summer because I wanted the company to take off and be able to provide personal drones for everyone, because at Xronz, we ask for more.
Ladies and gentleman, Xronz is proud to announce the successful first flight of our prototype! The day was like any other, yet another day testing and flying. The early versions of the prototype had vibration issues, which were solved with more rigid airframe materials. The prototype had been spending much time on the test stand, with its control gains and other parameters being tuned. The prototype seemed to be rolling and pitching to one side even after being trimmed significantly, but it clearly had sufficient thrust to hover, was able to correct for small perturbations to fly level and could roll and pitch well. As such, we decided to bite the bullet and fly untethered.
As we revved up the throttle, we held our breath. The rotors spun up and it hovered off the ground with a leap, and just like that, many, many nights of worrying and headaches was replaced with sheer joy and pride. After more tuning, the prototype no longer vibrated at high throttle settings and maneuvered smoothly, as if sailing from roll to pitch and even climbed gracefully. More trimming yielded better results such that the vehicle wouldn't drift.
We are making good progress on the avionics and software side too. The avionics hardware is all about electronics components sourcing, PCB design and also integration of multiple subsystems. Software wise is mainly on embedded system coding as well as the firmware optimization. There are several systems that need to be included such as Inertia Measurement Unit (IMU), Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), wireless module, camera module and also the main control unit. Our aim is to build the drone to be as small as possible, thus all the components need to be carefully tested and integrated onto a single flight control board. At the moment we have developed the IMU and ESC boards that can drive our drone but more optimization is needed. Next, our aim is to develop an embedded system that includes the wireless transmission and video recording function, which includes an application processor, b/g/n Wi-Fi module and a HD camera module. Stay tuned for more information.
The prototype was built as a proof-of-concept to verify our various design decisions and test our control system. Moving forward, we are aggressively developing and integrating critical subsystems. We are invigorated by the successful first flight of our prototype and will work harder to bring our dream of personal flying things to the market. Finally, we can say, “It works!”
As the summer draws to a close, we are going to definitely miss our interns, who have done great work, ranging from app development to redesigning an entirely web platform.
Our Best Intern Award is awarded every academic semester to the highest performing intern. The recipient of this award exhibit the trait of punctuality, responsibility, being enthusiastic with their work, play well in teams and frankly speaking, just kick butt! The Best Intern Award comes with a certificate and a prize of choice, which is the Raspberry Pi along with an SD Card, case and power cable.
The Summer 2014 Best Intern Award goes to James Whipple, Prototyping and Test Engineer Intern. James is a rising Senior in the B.S. Mechanical Engineering Department in University of Maryland, College Park. His work here in the Department of Airframe & Propulsion consisted of designing and fabricating our test stands, setting up and rendering high-quality images of Prototype I, conducting tests of our rotor-motor pairs and even initial design of Prototype II. James has even been selected for the Tohoku University Junior Year Program in English for a semester, whereby he’ll be mentored by the leading roboticist in Japan. Congratulations James!
This is our first blog post, so it’ll be a summary of what we’ve done so far.
Here at Xronz (pronounced Zrones, as in extreme drones) we design and fabricate consumer Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Our flagship product is a quadcopter that can be controlled by a smartphone. Its primary function is to capture high definition videos and pictures. We have yet to settle on a price for our flagship product but it will be pretty affordable.
The drone is currently in the testing phase. We have already built the prototype and are rigorously testing it everyday. Another current development is that we have the first version of the smartphone application (app) up and running, which will act as the controller for the drone. The underlying firmware and control systems are being designed and tested as this blog is posted. After the prototype has been successfully tested, we will optimize it for production. Stay tuned for more updates.