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Comment: Re:Cool, but... (Score 1) 66

by clolson (#39564041) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>
A) do you own a reaper? (a global hawk would be ok too) B) do you own a flir? C) if the answer to both A+B is yes! then do you mind dunking your whole setup in salt water and flying it 1000 miles from the nearest point of land? D) do you enjoy staring at a flir image for hours on end trying to pick out something that isn't endless water? If you answered yes, yes, yes, and yes to all of the above, then please call me. :-)

Comment: Re:SkyNet VS The Matrix (Score 1) 66

by clolson (#39563759) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>
Simulation is useful because the "Great Pacific Garbage patch" is about 1000 nm miles from the nearest point of land (draw a line straight north from HI and straight west from LA/San Fran and you'll be right about in the middle of it.) But you can't just pick a nice afternoon and run out there for a quick test flight. :-)

Comment: Re:Excellent! (Score 2) 66

by clolson (#39563695) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>

Simulations are great for quick development, but at some point you need to move into the real world.

Absolutely. The ideal situation would be to develop with simulated and real world testing together, comparing and validating your simulated results against your real world results. The original article isn't advocating for 100% in-a-vacuum simulation-based development, but rather trying to show how much you can do with carefully applied simulation -- using a cool, real-world project as an example. For what it's worth, this is just one small slice of a much larger marine debris effort that involves modeling and prediction based on satellite imagery, hours of close-in imagery captured from "manned" aircraft, as well as several at-sea tests of UAV's and UAV imagery. http://highseasghost.net/

Comment: Re:This isn't exactly new... (Score 3, Interesting) 66

by clolson (#39562653) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>
"There is nothing new under the sun." :-) However, within the context of FlightGear, the ability to draw realistic seascapes with waves, swells, sunglint, seafoam, ship wakes, etc. is relatively new. This graphical capability is what enables this particular use of FlightGear -- aiding the development and testing of AI/Computer Vision software for the ultimate purpose of automatically locating ocean debris. Paparazzi is good stuff, their hardware/software seems to often do well at UAV competitions. :-)

Comment: Re:Excellent! (Score 3, Insightful) 66

by clolson (#39562481) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>
Ultimately the point of robotics and AI is to accomplish some useful real world task. The question to ask is what is the best, fastest, most economical way to build a system? A UAV mishap could set a small program back by months and 10's of thousands or 100's of thousands of $$$ (or a whole lot more if you look at the flag ship military drones.) The point of the original flightgear.org article is to show an example of how it is possible to construct a simulated environment and then leverage that to accelerate the development of a complicated and tricky collection of software.

Comment: Re:Simulation (Score 4, Interesting) 66

by clolson (#39562411) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>
pitchingchris: exactly. No simulation is perfect, but is the simulation useful? If the simulation allows you to develop and test the bulk of your code in a comfortable environment, it may just be useful. No one wants to be in the hot seat chasing down a segfault while the ship is costing $20k per day just to idle and drift, and then you have a crew of 20-30 folks sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for your code to compile -- you are supposed to be flying and working. The other question to ask is how well do the simulation results translate to the real world. Here is where savvy engineering enters the picture. A savvy engineer will use the simulation as a *tool*. They will know and understand what aspects apply to the real world and what aspects don't. They will probably have already done some validation testing to help them determine how well the simulation does match up with the real world -- which parts they can trust and which parts they should ignore. You obviously wouldn't want to optimize your computer vision algorithm for FlightGear computer generated imagery, but you can see your algorithm running, you can test things like saving and loading video, communication with other hardware and software components, user interfaces -- there is a ton of stuff that you can do when you have a plausible simulation on your desk that you really don't want to be wasting your time doing at sea when you are borderline seasick and everything is 10x more difficult.

Comment: Re:Drones get seasick? (Score 3, Insightful) 66

by clolson (#39562285) Attached to: Testing AI Methods With <em>FlightGear</em>
There are really really expensive drones that can fly for days on end, but the folks that typically are interested in environmental issues and searching for marine debris (even NOAA.gov) have trouble affording to buy them. From a practical and economic standpoint it makes much more sense to focus on smaller, less expensive drones that operate near the ship (and there for would be launched from the ship and recovered back to the ship.) Also consider a ship that travels at most about 10 kts. If you fly more than 20 nm from the ship and spot something, that's two hours of ship time to drive over and check it out.

If it is a Miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact, proof is necessary. -- Samuel Clemens

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