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What happens when you combine an aircraft carrier, hundreds of self-professed nerds, and 3D Robotics copters and planes?

Back to back fully autonomous missions. And it was smooth sailing the whole night.

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, 3D Robotics presented at Nerd Nite at Sea. Our team sent an autonomous plane to capture aerial images of the USS Hornet in Alameda, Calif., a carrier that earned its stripes in W.W. II and the Apollo program.

A milestone event, this is perhaps the first time civilians have launched an autonomous plane off the deck of an aircraft carrier.

All of our aircrafts took off and landed autonomously — no RC transmitter required (except as a backup, of course). The 3DR team simply programmed their missions, set the planes on the deck, pressed go, and then kicked back to enjoy the show.

“I think it demonstrates the maturity of the platform that in less than an hour we can takeoff and land fully autonomously from the deck of an aircraft carrier, and do it multiple times,” senior R&D engineer Brandon Basso said. “What could be more awesome than that?”

Here are some of the night’s top highlights:

  • Repeating the same autonomous mission multiple times
  • Performing an auto takeoff and landing — no hands on the RC transmitter
  • Creating a 3D model of the ship

As the sun set, we projected our flight paths on the side of the ship and demoed our products, including our new Iris quadcopter. Best of all, we got to hang out with some really cool Bay Area nerds.