Watch a video of the Hamilton Quadcopter

Hamilton is now the proud home of a DJI Phantom 2. The device is a “high performance, reliable, and easy to use small unmanned aerial system (UAS), [designed] for commercial and recreational use,” as the product’s website states.

The drone, which was purchased by Library and Information Technology Services, is an impressive example of quickly developing intelligent technology. Although it can be controlled manually, the pilot is also able to use the iPad to set GPS waypoints that the drone can navigate to unsupervised before returning home. It is also equipped with an intelligent battery system that monitors power levels and returns the drone to the take-off location when energy gets low.

Throughout its flights, the quadcopter records the surroundings with a GoPro HD camera supported by a gyroscopically stabilized gimbal arm. The camera’s direction can be controlled independently of the quadcopter itself, and the feed can be watched in real-time on a handheld monitor. The drone is equipped with a quad-rotor system that allows for “precision flight and stable hovering,” allowing for smooth, sweeping footage. 

Multimedia Systems Technician Graham Espe revealed that apart from capturing stunning aerial shots of campus and the surrounding landscape, Audiovisual Services will also be able to record events like sporting competitions and the annual Class & Charter Day concert. The driving force behind purchasing the drone, which was acquired at the end of June, was Multimedia Systems Technician Forrest Warner, who is “enthusiastic about the future of audiovisual technology” and is excited to have this technology at Hamilton.

The Library Information Technology Services (LITS) is not the only department that plans to utilize the drone, however. Admissions has already approached AV about creating a promotional video, while Physical Plant hopes to inspect roofs and buildings for needed maintenance and repair. The office has been using the drone as regularly as the weather has allowed; Molly Root ’15, an audiovisual technical assistant, said that she’s enjoyed watching the construction progress on the Kennedy Center for Theatre and the Studio Arts, which will open this month.

AV offers classroom and conference room technical support, as well as video and audio recording of lectures, presentations and performances. Hamilton’s LITS department is continuously updating and expanding and is excited to have yet another service to offer to the campus community.

Editor's note: This story has been edited for clarity and accuracy.

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