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AIRLink stands for Artificial Intelligence & Remote Link. The unit includes cutting-edge drone autopilot, AI mission computer and LTE connectivity unit. Start your enterprise drone operations with AIRLink and reduce the time to market from years and months down to a few weeks.

More info: https://sky-drones.com/airlink

Sky-Drones Technologies hit their 10-year anniversary this year, so to celebrate the occasion the company decided to prolong the launch of their latest addition to the product range. This has been an entire year in the making, excitement has built up, and expectations have been implied, but the team have absolutely not disappointed!

As drones become more and more hardware-defined and software-orientated, Sky-Drones Technologies must be at the forefront of innovation. With that in mind, the company presents UAV industry specialists and enthusiasts alike: AIRLink. The artificial intelligence and remote link unit that is installed to your enterprise UAV to provide:

  1. Cutting edge autopilot: manual and fully autonomous flight capabilities for multirotors, fixed wings and VTOLs
  2. AI Mission Computer: onboard data processing and computer vision
  3. LTE Connectivity: BVLOS flights, Cloud connectivity and remote workflows

What these exceptional elements mean for the UAS industry is the start of a whole new era in UAV flight control, data analytics, and safety. Never has anyone created a product that can withstand such extreme ambient temperatures and high computational power without an overheating issue, a product that has entirely integrated hardware and software for flight and payload data analytics, a product that can be so many products in one or one product with so many cutting-edge capabilities... Until now.

To give an overview, AIRLink comes with a FPV HDR 1080p camera to provide users with a video stream that has exceptional image quality. The unit is constantly connected to the internet, has been designed with critical peripherals as an essential element for user convenience, and has built-in LTE and Wi-Fi. 

The goal with AIRLink is to integrate this all-in-one unit into the UAV designs during the manufacturing stages so as to focus the efforts and resources of the drone itself rather than avionics and connectivity. With that in mind, Sky-Drones offers a variety of options when choosing how to use AIRLink to the best of its ability:

  1. AIRLink OEM – purchase AIRLink as Sky-Drones designed it. Includes all the features and aviation-grade aluminium casing with the heatsink. The process includes simply installing the unit to your UAV.
  2. AIRLink Enterprise – Sky-Drones will provide the internal electronics of the AIRLink units, excluding the casing to reduce the size of the units and integrate them directly into your UAV during the manufacturing process.
  3. Reference Design – build AIRLink yourself in-house! Sky-Drones will provide all the relevant instructions, manufacturing material, and will be on hand for engineering support whilst you set up your operation for manufacturing your own AIRLink units.

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FlytNow support for iOS is finally here! FlytBase is excited to announce the release of the FlytNow drone video streaming and fleet management application for iPhones and iPads. Users can now connect their DJI Mavic Mini and other supported DJI drones to FlytNow Hub using iOS devices.

iOS APP Link - https://apps.apple.com/cg/app/flytnow/id1541833663

The FlytNow Mobile application acts as a link that enables internet connectivity on DJI drones. Once connected to the mobile application, users can log on to the web-based dashboard, FlytNow Hub, to monitor and control drone operations from anywhere in the world. So far, FlytNow Mobile was available only on Android devices for live video streaming and remote fleet management. 

With the latest announcement of iOS support, users can now establish a connection to FlytNow Hub using iPads and iPhones. 

The current release of the iOS application supports live video streaming, loudspeaker, spotlight and beacon controls via the mobile device. Users can also switch to thermal feed and change color palettes for supported drones. Once connected to FlytNow Hub,  users can fully automate their drone operations, from planning missions and pre-scheduling routine patrols to charging pad/drone box integrations. Businesses can also use third-party integrations with the FlytNow platform to build fully-automated solutions for security, public-safety and delivery.

Join FlytBase for their hands-on webinar, as they demonstrate how to “Get started with Remote Aerial Missions using FlytNow & SkyPort” on the 25th of February at 11:00 CST (18:00 CET). To register, please visit the following link: https://flytnow.com/webinars/flytnow-and-skycharge/

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Long Range Package Delivery via VTOL Drone

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YANGDA VTOL drone was carrying out a package delivery mission like this: it took off with the package, flew to the delivery point, and landed there. At the delivery point, the operator will take the package out and press a button on the VTOL to enable it to fly back to the take-off point. The whole process was totally in autonomy.

Or the delivery VTOL drone can do it like this: lands on the delivery point, releases the package and then flies back to the take-off point.

Please check this video link to know more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EuLftx49r8&t=28s

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Hello guys,

The YANGDA VTOL drone is demonstrating a feature like this in the video: the flight platform like a boat or a car will move after the VTOL takes off to carry out a mission. When the mission is over, the VTOL can fly back to the platform and land there, even though the platform is already far away from the original drone take-off position. The whole process will be totally in autonomy.

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Drones are eyes in the sky for firefighters. They can serve as an essential firefighting tool for people in the fire services, especially in and around urban centers, where a deadly inferno might occur in a highrise building. 

Drone for fire fighting can equip fire officials with the latest technology, and add complementary capabilities to the existing resources such as fire trucks, ladders, specialized suits, etc. Firefighters can now acquire aerial information in a quick, cost-effective manner. 

In 2016, a tragic fire broke out in a warehouse in Oakland, California. The warehouse had been converted into a living space called Ghost Ship. The fire, which claimed the lives of 36 people, is one of the deadliest in the history of Oakland. Drones, equipped with a thermal camera, were used by firefighters to identify hotspots and search the unsafe-building after the fire was extinguished.

The effectiveness of drones is rapidly catching on, as agencies around the world begin to adopt this technology. In the US, more than 900 state and local agencies related to the emergency services are using drones one way or another; out of them, approximately, 186 is believed to be related to fire and emergency medical services.

Can Drones (UAVs) Put Out a Fire?

This is a common question that people often ask. A short answer is No, drones are more useful in acquiring situational awareness about the fire and its surroundings. Firefighters can use this information to control the fire and ultimately put it off. However, there are a few companies that are equipping drones with water hoses or fire extinguishing materials.

How Are Drones Used During Firefighting?

How Are Drones Used During FirefightingSituational awareness: In a typical scenario where a fire has broken out in a building, firefighters arrive at the spot and begin their operation with limited information about the extent of the fire and damage it has caused to the structure. 

Instead, with a fleet of drones, firefighters can begin with an aerial assessment of the scene and know the extent of the fire before starting their rescue operation.

Reach difficult places: Drones are efficient in going to tight spaces since they are nimble and agile, and deploying them first avoidings putting humans in unsafe situations.

Thermal assessment: In a firefighting situation,  firefighters work against the clock to save the lives and integrity of the structure. That is why it is important to direct their efforts towards the source of a fire.  Drones equipped with a thermal camera can assist firefighters to identify hotspots inside a blazing structure. Accordingly, firefighters can direct their efforts to bring the situation under control. 

Search and rescue:  Firefighters are actively involved in search and rescue missions. A thermal camera drone can do the job of 100 people by scanning a large area and identifying people in distress. During a natural calamity like an earthquake, thermal camera drones can fly over fallen structures and identify trapped individuals, and even identify dangerous leakages.

What Kind of Drones and Payloads are Commonly Used During Firefighting?

Drones come in all shapes and sizes, but not all of them are suitable for firefighting operations. The more suitable ones are off-the-shelf drones from the likes of DJI and custom drones based on open source stacks mainly PX4 and Ardupilot. Here are some of the drones that are considered fit for such kind of tasks:

Drones are not usable without the appropriate payloads. For firefighting purposes, these are some common payloads that are used:

  • Zenmuse XT2 (a thermal camera for DJI drones) 
  • Zenmuse Z30 (a normal camera with 30x zoom for DJI drones)
  • Zenmuse H20 (A hybrid camera that combines a wide-angle camera, 23x optical zoom camera, thermal camera, and laser rangefinder for DJI drones)

How FlytNow Can Make Drone Operations a Lot Smarter for the Firefighters

Traditional Challenges in Using Drones for Firefighting

The conventional way of using drones, during firefighting, is a pilot controlling a drone using the remote controller (RC). Here, the pilot becomes the relay point of all the information collected by the drone. This method of using drones may be simple, but is not very effective, since multiple pilots are required to control multiple drones. On top of the human resource requirement, there are several other disadvantages, as follows:

  • It becomes difficult for a drone pilot to share the data with different agencies and ground personnel, which hinders coordination.
  • Difficult to archive flight data, which makes it problematic for the future analysis of an emergency situation.
  • Data collected from multiple drones cannot be stitched together for better situational awareness. 
  • Sharing live data becomes difficult, more so when multiple drones are involved. 
  • Drone response can’t be automated since they can’t be integrated with emergency response systems like the 911 operations centers.

How FlytNow Helps in Overcoming the Traditional Challenges

FlytNow is a fleet management system that helps public safety officials to overcome challenges in using drones for firefighting. 

FlytNow is a cloud-based application that provides a unified dashboard to control a fleet of drones. It has two versions (Business and Enterprise) that cater to two different use cases.

drones for public safetyHow Drones are Connected to the FlytNow Cloud Application

FlytNow is a hardware-agnostic cloud platform meaning it supports different kinds of drones. Users using DJI drones can use the FlytOS mobile app to connect the drones to the cloud application. 

In the case of custom drones, a single board computer loaded with the FlytOS operating system can be attached to the flight controller of the drone, to facilitate communication with the FlytNow application over a 4G/LTE/5G network.

flytcloud

FlytNow Business

FlytNow Business is a standard offering that provides out of the box features in the form of SaaS (Software as a Service). This version is useful in establishing a quick command center, locally, for a particular response to manage the drones in operation. 

Some of the unique features and benefits that it provides are as follows:

  • It provides a web-based dashboard with an integrated map to control a fleet of drones. Using this feature, a single operator can control the movement of multiple drones, thus saving cost and time.drone firefighting operation
  • The dashboard offers live telemetry and visual data from all connected drones, with dual control from both the RC and the web dashboard. This allows for coordinated drone operations where data from multiple drones can be stitched together and shared for better situational awareness. firefighters using drone
  • The Business edition has out of the box support for live video-streaming from multiple drones that can be shared with anyone using their email address.flytnow for remote firefighting operations
  • A viewer can switch between ‘normal’ view (RBG) and ‘thermal’ view (IR) if the drone is equipped with an IR sensor. In the case of DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual and DJI M210 V2 Dual, the FlytNow dashboard provides the MSX view that shows the lines and edges, along with the contrast, to differentiate between regions with different temperatures.using thermal camera with drone
  • Along with MSX, FlytNow gives the option to switch between different color pallets like Rainbow, Hotspot, Gray, Isotherms, Hotmetal, and Coldspot for the M2E Dual.using drones for fire fighting
  • Thermal imaging allows firefighters to identify hot spots and see whether they are hitting the fire. In a post-fire situation,  a thermal drone can carry out an inspection of the outer facades of the building, and send the live footage using FlyNow to a structural engineer sitting hundreds of miles away for a better assessment.
  • The business version has out of the box support for DJI payloads (eg. Dual Camera, Spotlight, etc) for drones such as Mavic 2 Enterprise and the Matrice 200 series. These payloads are specially designed for emergency operations.drone payloads for fire fighting
  • Apart from DJI payloads, it supports remote control of the gimbal, on which the camera is attached, via the web dashboard. This allows a remote viewer to control the camera angle for a better visual.

FlytNow Enterprise

The Enterprise version adds customization and addons to the Business edition. This version is ideal for setting up a drone-based emergency response system with the following capabilities:

  • A system that is integrated with a dispatch system like the 911
  • Integration with a decentralized network of drone stations supported by Drone-in-a-Box hardware, which allows for automated dispatch of drones.
  • A unified dashboard that can be part of a command center, which allows for the control and management of the drones over 4G/LTE/5G. 

With respect to fire fighting, the Enterprise version offers advantages such as:

  • AI-based features like object detection to help identify people trapped under debris or lost in a forest.
  • The ability of public safety officials to maintain detailed flight-record of each and every drone flight, to comply with airspace norms. All these legal requirements and complexities are solved using FlytNow Enterprise’s native support for DroneLogbook (a flight data recording service) and Airmap (a UTM service). 
  • Support for custom maps, so that operators can adjust to the terrain over which drones are flying.

Summary

In this blog, we discussed the importance of drones for firefighting and how they can be used to save time, resources, and lives. We also touched upon the kind of drones and payloads used for fire fighting operations. Finally, we ended by showcasing the benefits that FlytNow provides by allowing the usage of drones at scale with data availability for proper coordination. 

If you (plan to) use drones for public safety, then FlytNow is the right software platform to allow you to leverage cloud technology for better management and transparency of your drone operations. You can get started with our 28 days of a free trial. You can also contact us at https://flytnow.com/contact/

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Drone-on-demand refers to a service that provides a drone solution for a specified time or perpetually to accomplish certain business objectives. Such services exist because we have reached a point where there is reliable, off-the-shelf hardware and software available to create enterprise-grade drone solutions.

Enterprises who avail such services see business value in the easy availability of aerial data at a reasonable price, which was not possible a few years ago. Apart from aerial intelligence, drone-based delivery is another segment that has seen a jump in demand in recent times.

Companies that operate drones have to abide by regulatory requirements, which include airspace norms that ensure security, safety, and privacy. While there remain challenges around technology (e.g. battery life, fail-safes), this commercial drone segment is quite lucrative; according to the market research firm, Markets-and-Markets, the drone services market is estimated to reach 63.6 billion dollars by 2025 at a CAGR of 55.9% from 2019 to 2020.

Use Cases for a Drone-on-Demand Service Provider


While these services are relatively new, and people are still discovering new ways to use them, there are immediate use cases where such services are yielding tremendous commercial benefits. Some of them are listed below.

Roof Inspection of private and commercial estates: Roof inspection is a popular application of drones because aerial inspections can do the job quickly, versus manual ones, at a lower cost. Drones also bring in a level of data sophistication in the entire inspection process. With technologies like thermal and 3D imaging, a drone combined with intelligent software can automatically detect things like water damage, insulation issues, structural damages, etc.

While a property owner/caretaker may not wish to own drones and find skilled pilots to operate them, services provided by drone-on-demand companies can be a practical and economical solution.

Aerial inspection of construction sites: Inspections are common at a construction site. But with a drone, a pilot can inspect the outer facades of such structures without the need of manpower and heavy equipment. Since operations like this require skilled pilots, specialized drones, and sophisticated software, a drone-on-demand service, customized for construction applications, can make a lot of business sense.

drone on demand for construction

Emergency Response: There are several drone solution providers that are specialized in emergency response projects. For example, a US-based company called Phirst Technologies, LLC has developed a drone-based first responder system called First iZ, using FlytBase’s technology, that integrates with the CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system which powers the 911 emergency services in Tyler, Texas, USA. This system allows emergency operators to dispatch drones from a unified dashboard to gather information on an emergency situation and pass on the information to human responders who can arrive later, better informed, and prepared.

Public Safety: Drones are extensively used in operations like search and rescue, crowd control, disaster assessment, etc. In an event, Airworks 2019, DJI had announced that drones saved the lives of 279 people. There are service providers who specialize in public safety operations.

drone on demand for public safety

Industrial inspection: Drones are an important tool in the energy and utility sectors. Drones are used for inspecting refineries and gas pipelines to detect damages such as corrosion and cracks. They are also flown over wind turbines to inspect the blades. Such activities require a fair amount of specialization in aerial navigation, which is why there are sector-focused service providers for such drone applications.

Live Video Streaming From Drones

Security and surveillance: There are numerous companies that provide turnkey, drone-based security solutions for some of the following use-cases:

  • Event surveillance
  • Crown monitoring
  • Intrusion detection
  • Border security


drone security operations

Drone delivery: The concept of using drones for last-mile delivery has been around for almost a decade. Since the technology involved is challenging, service providers in this space are highly specialized and tend to focus on a specific kind of package deliveries. For example, Zipline is a company that provides an autonomous drone solution for medical deliveries.

drone delivery operations infographics

Note: Download our comprehensive guide on how to set up a drone delivery operation using Flytnow.

How FlytNow Business/Enterprise Enables a Drone-on-Demand Service


A drone-on-demand service provider brings the hardware and software together to deliver a turnkey solution for a particular use case. FlyBase, an enterprise drone automation software company, offers FlytNow to such companies. FlytNow is a cloud-based video-streaming and fleet management solution that also provides edge-level intelligence to conduct a variety of drone operations.

How FlytNow works?


FlytNow is a cloud-based application that has a dashboard, which can be accessed from a web browser. A user can connect a drone with FlytNow either using our FlytOS mobile app or the SBC cloud connect software kit. Below is an illustration that explains the setup.

drone software

Note: we have the enterprise version that supports the integration of ground-based hardware as well.

There are two versions of FlytNow that are suitable for drone solution providers: Business and Enterprise.

FlytNow Business


The Business version is an out-of-the-box solution, with the following features:

Live video streaming from the drone to the FlytNow dashboard: Video can be streamed from multiple drones on a single screen with the ability to share them with anyone via an email. This feature is useful for commercial providers who offer services related to:

  • Remote roof inspection.
  • Construction site inspection (read our case study).
  • Surveillance.
  • Delivery.
  • Emergency and public safety.
  • Industrial inspections.


With FlytNow, a drone operator can fly a drone over a roof/construction site/inspection site and live-stream the video to stakeholders sitting hundreds of miles away. Similarly, during an emergency response or a delivery operation, live streaming can be used to gather situational information.

drone software for on demand services

Video archiving: FlytNow supports the integration with an Amazon S3 instance, which is used to store incoming video feeds. The videos are automatically stored, and the feature is useful in:

  • Surveillance.
  • All forms of inspection.
  • Emergency and public safety.


All archived videos can be accessed from the FlytNow dashboard with time and date stamps.

flytnow for drones

Thermal Camera Support: FlytNow supports streaming from a thermal camera. The feature is useful in:

  • Detecting water damage during a roof inspection.
  • Spotting structural damages during a construction site inspection.
  • Spotting leakages during refinery or pipeline inspections.
  • Intruder detection during night time.
  • Identify trapped/lost victims during search and rescue operations.


Learn how FlytNow can enhance night time surveillance.

drones for search and rescue

Map annotation: FlytNow dashboard has a built-in map that shows the real-time location of drones that are online. The map also supports adding a description in way-points. The feature can be used to record information during.

  • An inspection of a roof/building.
  • Pipeline/refinery/wind-turbine inspections, to record useful findings.
  • Surveillance.
  • Record situational information during an emergency mission.


Mission Planner: It is an advanced feature that allows an operator to define a route from point A to point B with waypoints for a drone to follow. This feature can be useful in:

  • Surveillance operations, where a drone can be made to go on a patrol on a predefined path.
  • Public safety and emergency operations, where a drone can be programmed to go to a location and monitor the situation.
  • Industrial inspections, where a drone can complete a pipeline inspection autonomously over a predefined path.
  • Defining a delivery route for drone delivery.


Support for custom drones: FlytNow supports enterprise DJI drones and custom drones based on PX4 and Ardupilot. Custom drones are required for specific tasks like delivery which requires long-range and heavy payload carrying capabilities. This means a service provider using FlytNow is not restricted to a particular drone hardware platform.

FlytNow Enterprise


The Enterprise version covers everything that the Business version has to offer, plus customized modules for large scale deployment of drones with extensive flight automation. These include:

AI-based features: FlytBase provides an operating system (FlytOS) that is installed in a single-board computer, which is fitted on a drone. This makes the drone capable of performing the following things under the Enterprise plan:

drone in a box solution

  • Precision landing: Allows the drone to land on a machine-generated tag.
  • Object detection: Allows the drone to classify ground objects using the on-board camera.
  • Obstacle avoidance: Allows the drone to navigate around obstacles automatically.
  • Custom payload integration: Allows remote operation of custom made payloads as well as payloads from DJI for Mavic 2 Enterprise.


Integration with ground-based hardware: The enterprise version comes with the option to integrate with various ground-based hardware like:

drone in a box

  • Charging pad: A platform that charges a drone when it lands on it. The Enterprise version can be easily integrated with charging pads from Skysense.
  • Drone-in-a-box hardware: A docking station that completely houses a drone and keeps it fully charged.


Integration with third-party software: The Enterprise version also supports integration with third-party applications for the following:

  • UTM Intelligence: It is required to acquire airspace information so the drone does not interfere with manned aircraft and complies with legal norms. FlytNow Enterprise has native support for Airmap.
  • Logging applications: Such applications capture the flight data for a drone. FlytNow Enterprise has native support for Dronelogbook.


Advanced flight planning: FlytNow Enterprise has features to precisely control drone flights and ensure the safety of drones around human populations. Some of those features are:

  • Advanced geofencing: Precisely defines the area of operation of a drone with the help of polygons.
  • Custom NFZ integration: It is the ability to define No-Fly-Zones for drones.
  • Advanced failsafes: It refers to the ELP (Emergency Landing Point) feature that allows a drone operator to define emergency landing points alongside a predefined route. ELPs come in handy when a drone in a BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) mission has to do an emergency landing.


The Enterprise version is ideal for service providers who are into making systems where drones can takeoff autonomously after receiving a command, automatically go to a location and perform their mission and come back safely after complete the mission. In a nutshell, it provides customization, automation, and scalability.

Summary


In this blog, we learned about drone-on-demand services and the use-cases they are relevant. We also learned about FlytNow Business and Enterprise editions, what each has to offer, and how each can enable drone service providers.

[vc_row type="in_container" full_screen_row_position="middle" column_margin="default" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3" shape_divider_position="bottom" bg_image_animation="none"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" column_link_target="_self" column_shadow="none" column_border_radius="none" width="1/1" tablet_width_inherit="default" tablet_text_alignment="default" phone_text_alignment="default" overlay_strength="0.3" column_border_width="none" column_border_style="solid" bg_image_animation="none"][vc_row_inner column_margin="default" text_align="left"][vc_column_inner column_padding="padding-5-percent" column_padding_position="all" background_color="#ffffff" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" column_shadow="medium_depth" column_border_radius="5px" top_margin="10" bottom_margin="10" column_link_target="_self" width="1/1" tablet_width_inherit="default" overlay_strength="0.3" column_border_width="none" column_border_style="solid" bg_image_animation="none"][vc_custom_heading text="What's Next?" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:center" use_theme_fonts="yes" css=".vc_custom_1591346290188{padding-right: 10px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 10px !important;}"][vc_column_text]Deploy drones in 5 easy steps and leverage the power of FlytNow to create a network of drones for On-Demand-Drone services with capabilities of automation and AI.  To experience FlytNow, sign up for our free trial for 28 days using this link: https://flytnow.com/pricing/

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Object tracking demo on VTOL

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It is essential to lock and track the target that you are trying to monitor when you are conducting an aerial surveillance task through the fixed-wing plane or VTOL because your camera can quickly lose the target if it is not tracked. Luckily more and more drones are applying this feature. This video shows how we realized this through an affordable and easy to use solution. Please check this video to learn more: https://youtu.be/MrZkVPpl9nY

Anyway, please comment if you have better solutions.

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How to Improve Drone Ground Control Station

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It's a drone ground control station with video receiving and radio controlling.

The system is integrated inside a Pelican suitcase, which is shockproof, waterproof, and convenient for carrying.

Two joysticks and screen integrated. One is for camera controlling and video receiving, another for flight controlling, and mission planner.

The video system is adopted the latest COFDM technology. It can send stable video signal in a moving condition or non-line-of-sight environment.

What else can be improved for ultra long range, like 100km?

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long range drone ground control station

Ground Control Station for Drone

 

It's a drone ground control station for long range video transmission and controlling.

The system is integrated inside a Pelican suitcase for shockproof, waterproof and convenient carrying.

It's the COFDM modulation for video transmission, with stable, moving and non-line-of-sight receiving features.

Two joysticks integrated, one for camera controlling, another for flight controlling.

What else can be improved for ultra long range transmission, like 100km?

 

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I have upgraded my quadcopter XJ470 with a Skydroid T12 radio, an OAK-D depthAI stereo camera and a Raspberry Pi 4 companion computer. This configuration enables state-of-the art artificial intelligence drone piloting. The skydroid t12 enables long distance telemetry and video. The OAK-D combines depth measurements and artificial object detection. The RPi 4 has an WiFi access point enabling remote desktop communication by means of VNC. Avoidance python scripts are uploaded to the RPi 4, generating mavlink drone messages controlling the quadcopter. A test video demontrates the new features.

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Inverted pendulum on a drone

From Hackaday:

[Nicholas Rehm] works during the day at the Applied Physics Laboratory at John Hopkins, Maryland, so has considerable experience with a variety of UAV applications. The question arose about how the perseverance mars rover landing worked, which prompted [Nicholas] to hang a rock under his drone, attached via a winch. This proved to be interesting. But what is more interesting for us, is what happens when you try to attach an inverted pendulum to the top of a drone in flight? (video embedded, below)

This is a classic control theory problem, where you need to measure the angle of the pendulum with respect to the base, and close the loop by calculating the necessary acceleration from the pendulum angle. Typically this is demonstrated in one dimension only, but it is only a little more complicated to balance a pendulum with two degrees of freedom.

[Nicholas] first tried to derive the pendulum angle by simply removing the centering springs from an analog joystick, and using it to attach the pendulum rod to the drone body. As is quite obvious, this has a big drawback. The pendulum angle from vertical is now the sum of the joystick angle and the drone angle, which with the associated measurement errors, proved to be an unusable setup. Not to be discouraged, [Nicholas] simply added another IMU board to the bottom of the pendulum, and kept the joystick mechanism as a pivot only. And, as you can see from the video after the break, this indeed worked.

The flight controller is [Nicholas’] own project, dRehmFlight (GitHub), which is an Arduino library intended for the Teensy 4.0, using the ubiquitous MPU6050 6-DOF IMU. [Nicholas] also made an intro video for the controller, which may prove instructive for those wishing to go down this road to build their own VTOL aircraft. The code for pendulum experiment is not available at the time of writing, perhaps it will hit the GitHub in the future?

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Hello all,

I have a question. Could anybody direct me to where I can find learning material or some schematics on long range FPV communicarions? I mean any online class, book, website is welcome at this point... I'm trying to learn design principles for 10km or above Video/Data link electronics.

Thanks in advance.

Umur

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Hi, my name is William. I am developing a large unmanned VTOL aircraft similar in function to the Convergence RC model. The 2 tilting motors in front motors run on 14S batteries. The one in back needs a 28S battery. 

I would like to operate the motors using only two 14S batteries. My idea is to connect the 2 batteries in series for the back motor and tap off each battery for the front motors. I will be using Opto ESCs, so that the input signal ground is issolated from the power ground.

Has anyone tried this before? Does anyone think it will not work?

Thanks, William

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3D Robotics

Making a custom drone navigating without GPS

From DroneDJ:

Nicholas Rehm may be a full-time aerospace engineer, but his success in constructing a DIY self-flying drone that avoids obstacles without standard GPS tech aboard still merits a standing-O. He also gets a deep bow for describing the serious wonkitude involved in a thoroughly entertaining way.

Rehm is no neophyte to homemade drone projects – with or without GPS assistance. Given the education and experience required for his day job, no doubt, his DIY endeavors tend to be a great deal more complex than the typical amateur craft that get (as woebegone Soviet citizens used to put it) “snotted together.” His YouTube page contains over a dozen instructional videos of how he devised and assembled his way-complex UAVs, usually relying on wry understatement or irony to cut the thickness of complex processes he’s detailing. 

Quite clearly, Rehm not only brings his work home with him, but indeed creates additional labors of love to infect others with his passion for drones and other aerial craft.

“I am a full-time aerospace engineer, but I like to work on interesting flying projects in my free time: drones, airplanes, VTOL, and everything in between,” he says on his video page. “My goal is to share what I learn along the way and make advanced concepts less scary.”

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Which is exactly the miracle he pulls off in this video describing how he made a DIY drone that avoids obstacles without using the standard GPS tech aboard most UAV – and without even needing to be connected to outside communication feeds. Which not only makes his autonomous vehicle immune to collisions or outside jamming devices, but immeasurably cool to boot.

Rehm’s initial idea was to find a viable alternative to habitual autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance systems. Those require a pre-planned flight path to be entered on a map, waypoint-by-waypoint, that the craft follows in sequence until it reaches the designated destination.

“The drone is actually quite dumb in that it can only fly from one point to the next with no real perception of the world around it, needing to be told what to do for every step of the way,” Rehm explains in the video. 

To remedy that, he replaced the foresworn GPS with algorithms powering Google Maps. Those interact with data picked up from the drone’s onboard internal measurement unit, cameras, altitude gauge, position and movement detectors. All of that, orchestrated by a Raspberry Pi 4 using a Robot Operating System, allow the craft to find the way around obstacles it encounters as it advances.

Unlike sequentially progressing as in waypoint-based systems, Rehm’s drone is only told where to go and eventually return to, and is on own from there. As the video demonstrates, when the UAV encounters an obstacle, its programs detect a clear but limited area to either side to take to avoid them. That confined free space detection range is used each time the advancing UAV encounters an obstruction, taking a baby step route around each, but otherwise flying freely until it reaches its destination.

YouTube Poster

Rather breezily brushing aside the formidable math and engineering needed to pull a feat like his off, Rehm reminds viewers his DIY project is just one of many they can take to greater heights.

“Once you have the building blocks in place for a complex project like this, it’s pretty easy to go back and expand on those individual elements to make the overall system more capable,” Rehm says at the end of the video, his GPS-less drone hovering a few feet away. “For example we could swap out that AprilTag detection algorithm I used for something more robust to maybe detect buildings; or we could expand our motion planning from two dimensions to three.”

Easier for Rehm to say (and believe) than most, though it’s clear he’s sincere in closing out by expressing the motivation for his cutting-edge “snotted together” drone videos.

“I hope you learned something interesting.”

Read more…

DIY - Open Board Architecture for Linux - OBAL

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This board is one of many Linux-Based boards that run Ardupilot. What is spepcial about this board is that has very simple architecture. Only necessary components has been added. No extra or redundant components. However it is still expandable and more sensors can be added if you want to.

The PCB shield is designed to use simple breakouts available in the market. No special soldering skills or components are required. You can build from scratch your own board using this PCB and learn the basic architrecture of Ardupilot boards and move to next step where you add extra sensors and ending by building your own board.

Yes this board acts more like a developing kit rather than a ready-to-fly board. Again if you want to fly with it you can but then do not use pin headers and solder the breakouts directly on the board.

On the software side. OBAL board does not have special drivers. All you need to do is to clone ardupilot repository and compile the code. Nothing special, nohting hidden , completely open source.

 

 

 

For more information please check Ardupilot Documentation. Also there are some videos that describe in details how to build it, compile and deploy the software. Have fun :)

 

 

 

 

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Flying drones over long distances or scanning large areas is always challenging. One of the biggest problems is the limited drone communication range. Of course, a drone can fly along the route pre-developed in UgCS, but receiving drone telemetry or sending commands over long distances is not always possible.

For DJI, one of the most widespread drones in the world, the problem is aggravated by the fact that nearly all models require a remote controller with a very limited communication range.

To tackle this problem, we came up with the following ideas:

  1. communicate with a drone via the LTE/4G/5G mobile network
  2. use an antenna with a narrower radiation pattern
  3. use more powerful transmitters and wider communication channels

We investigated each idea and this is what we found. 

1. Communication with the drone via the LTE/4G/5G mobile network

That sounded promising since mobile networks are expanding all over the world and mobile communications are covering more and more territory. Of course, flights sometimes take place in remote areas without LTE/4G/5G, but mobile network communication is OK for most use cases. So, we chose this option as the main one.

2. Antenna with a narrower radiation pattern

Using an antenna with a narrower radiation pattern can increase the communication range, but not dramatically. This option has an inherent challenge: a narrow pattern antenna must track the drone position and rotate accordingly. We began working on it because it seemed interesting, so we will publish a post about it in the future. Stay tuned!

3. More powerful transmitters and wider communication channels

Officially there are no devices yet that are compatible with DJI's most popular drones, so this option was discarded from the very beginning.

Controlling a DJI drone via 4G

To try creating a LTE/4G/5G-controlled drone, we opted for DJI as one of the most common drones on the market. We decided to place a 4G modem on the drone and connect it to an automatic flight controller. The analysis showed that there was only one way to do this: use DJI OSDK (https://developer.dji.com/onboard-sdk/documentation/introduction/homepage.html), an additional on-board computer (for example, Raspberry PI or NVidia Jetson Nano) and 4G modem plugged into it.

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The DJI OSDK requirements specify the list of compatible drones: all Matrice models and those based on the A3 flight controller.

We assembled an A3-based test bench for local development and debugging. And after successful tests, assembled the full system. The photo with the equipment installed on M600 is provided below.

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We also decided that the application should not only ensure integration with DJI OSDK, but act as a full-fledged UgCS onboard VSM (vehicle specific module). That is, the application should allow the drone to connect to UgCS directly via LTE/4G/5G.

As soon as the prototype was ready and debugged, we performed some test flights with Matrice 600.

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Moreover, one of these flights included crossing the border, and during it, we tested the switching between two mobile operators. For details, see https://sph-engineering.com/news/first-cross-border-drone-flight-on-the-mobile-network-with-ugcs

As a result of all the experiments, we had an application that meets the following requirements:

  1. The application can be installed on the drone using an additional Raspberry PI computer.
  2. The application allows controlling your DJI drone directly from UgCS without additional remote control or mobile app.
  3. The drone connects to an UgCS server via a LTE/4G/5G network.
  4. UgCS onboard VSM behaviour can be modified to support specific requirements: for example, to add some actions during takeoff or manage a non-standard payload.

Considering that our solution could be useful to others, we decided to make it publicly available to simplify the development and use of various solutions based on UgCS and DJI OSDK. You can download the source code here https://github.com/ugcs/dji-onboard-vsm

Here are possible use-cases for the application:

  1. The drone can be managed via the LTE/4G/5G mobile network, which significantly expands the range of drone use cases in areas covered by mobile Internet.
  2. This solution can help air traffic control bodies to easily track the drone, thus replacing ADS-B to some extent.
  3. Additional payload management features can be added.
  4. Instead of mobile communication channels, you can use any other data links that support TCP and UDP packets for video transmission.
  5. You can use our source code as an example and develop your own solution based on the DJI OSDK and UgCS.

 

 

Read more…

Hi everyone, 

I am Michal Weiss, and I'm currently working on a new product with my team to enable remote access and control for any Mavlink vehicle through a web browser. 

Our product makes it easy to see the video, telemetry  and manual control your vehicles from the browser.

I wanted to reach out to the community to check if anyone is interested in trying it out.

If you are interested, I'll be able to provide you with free access + hardware to start playing. (No commitment or assosiated costs) 

Please feel free to reach out via email or message me here.

michal.weiss@advancednavigation.com

 

For more info : https://www.cloudgroundcontrol.com/

Here's a screenshot from our platform:

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Michal

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Taking aim at the growing connected drone market, MMC has recently announced its “Feitian (meaning Flying Apsaras) Cloud” series of products and services to all UAV manufacturers. “Feitian” is specially designed and developed for not only government entities, enterprises but also individual UAV users. MMC will keep bringing the latest UAV-based cloud computing, big data and AI technologies to all customers in the world.

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Empowered by continuously scientific and technological innovations, “Feitian Cloud” UAV-Based Data Computing System offers more sufficient UAV industry solutions, which makes contributions to build an opening Cloud-based ecosystem, promoting industrial network construction and facilitating the accomplishment to digital transition for entire industries.

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As of now, “Feitian Cloud” UAV-Based Data Computing System has linked Public Security Cloud, Huawei Cloud, and etc., boosting profound development to UAV-based services and applications among MMC, law enforcement in Ministry of Public Security and large enterprises.

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DIY Robocars via Twitter
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All 191 music tracks on my Funny pages are now available as higher-quality Ogg downloads. You can download them individually or all-at-once as a music pack.

Here’s the link:
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From Hackaday:
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