Saturday, July 19, 2014

FreeFem++ Topology Optimization Scripts

There are lots of open source topology optimization options out there (e.g. 99 line code, ToPy) that I've written about before. One that I haven't posted about yet is a collection of FreeFem++ scripts by Allaire, et al. that illustrate a variety of topology optimization approaches and problems. FreeFem++ is a partial differential equation solver based on the finite element method. FreeFem++problems are defined in scripts that use a high level language. FreeFem++ itself is written in C++.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

UAVs for Film and Profit

Yesterday's AIAA Daily Launch had a great round-up of some recent UAV news:
  • Wall Street Journal (6/27, Nicas, Subscription Publication) reported on the ongoing fight over U.S. unmanned aircraft rules, which is pitting high-tech entrepreneurs against major aerospace and defense companies.
  • Washington Post (6/28, Whitlock) reported that a majority of U.S. military UAV accidents occur abroad, but “at least 49 large drones have crashed during test or training flights near domestic bases since 2001, according to a yearlong Washington Post investigation.”
  • AP (6/28, Jelinek) reported that the Pentagon announced armed UAVs are “flying over Baghdad to protect U.S. troops that recently arrived to assess Iraq’s deteriorating security.”
  • South Florida Sun Sentinel (6/29, Anthony) reported that Boynton Beach is dropping plans to ban drones in order to boost its “fledgling image as a technological hot spot — a place that welcomes engineers and innovation.”
  • South Bend (IN) Tribune (6/29, Sheckler) reported that as UAVs become cheaper and more available to the public, and their popularity grows among hobbyists and entrepreneurs, “they will increasingly raise questions about how to best regulate them, and how to balance concerns about safety and privacy.”
  • Hollywood Reporter (6/27, Giardina) reported that Hollywood movie studios are interested in using UAVs in filming “because they hold the promise of new creative options, real cost savings and possibly even safer sets.” Federal law prohibits the commercial use of UAVs, so filmmakers choose to shoot in countries with lax UAV laws to get the shots needed for their films.
Most interesting are the petitions of the seven aerial photography companies for exemptions for commercial filming operations. As the FAA press release says, the seven Section 333 Exemption Applications for Commercial Operations of Unmanned Aircraft are available on I think it is interesting that these companies are taking this approach, because in some fillings by Pirker they specifically call out historical use of remote control aircraft for movies and TV (one of four broad categories of commercial use they cite). The applications have 18 "limitations and conditions" under which commercial operations will take place. They also make this interesting claim: "These limitations provide for at least an equivalent or even higher level of safety to operations under the current regulatory structure because the proposed operations represent a safety enhancement to the already safe movie and television filming operations conducted with conventional aircraft."
To drive that point home they show a couple pictures of a manned helicopter filming as it currently occurs.