A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Helicopters and Patent Notes

We demo’d the Autonomous Rotocraft Project at Moffett Field today–not just any demo, but the “5 year demo,” the capstone of the project. I was a bit nervous, since I had a major role to play in the demo script, but hadn’t actually been able to practice with the real helicopter. There was a tricky bit where I had to induce a simulated ‘communication fault,’ so the helicopter could respond in a useful way–but it had to be done at just the right time; that is, where a communication fault could occur and be successfully taken care of. But our part of the demo went flawlessly. Rain yesterday, rain tomorrow, but no rain today–although it was a bit cold and we had to wait a bit for the weather to warm up. We flew a five point mission, then a five point mission with different flying/sensing maneuvers, then a fifteen point complex mission, all at NASA’s DART site, a disaster training site with towers, a collapsed building, and lots of obstacles and rubble. Kudos to my boss Mike Freed and colleague Robert Harris–and of course to the whole ARP team, especially Matt Whalley, the project lead.

Early American tunebook compilers came out with a variety of shape note systems, and eventually hit upon the idea of having seven shapes (Sacred Harp, which I usually sing, uses only four). In the past two days, I’ve sung using three different shape note systems. I led two songs from Funk’s Harmonia Sacra at the Berkeley singing last night, and tonight I sang (for the first time) in Santa Cruz. There, we sang some white gospel tunes set in Aiken shapes, and one tune set with Swan shapes, probably from New Harp of Columbia. The Swan shapes may be the ‘ most readable seven note system ever published,’ but they sure look strange.

One response to “Helicopters and Patent Notes

  1. Michael Hannemann February 1, 2006 at 11:59 pm

    That’s great, I’m glad to hear everything went swimmingly. (Hoveringly?)

    Looking at the site, and the APEX screenshots, that looks awfully familiar. Except with a way better interface. =)

    I’ll have to check out the movies later!

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