3DR Announces the Official Launch of New Mapping Platforms

3DR is proud to officially announce today’s launch of its new Mapping Platforms, the fixed-wing Aero-M and the copter X8-M. Both models come in a package that also includes a Canon SX260 camera -- which is controlled by the autopilot to take the right pictures at the right time and automatically geotag each -- and professional Pix4D image processing software, which we partnered with Pix4D to develop in a special 3DR edition. The software is a complete and fully automatic mapping and modeling solution that can convert and join thousands of those geotagged images into highly accurate geo-referenced 2D mosaics. 

Additionally, a Pix4Dmapper Pro upgrade is also available for 3DR mapping platform customers, in which users are enabled to exploit full 3D capabilities as well as agriculture-specific tools. The Pro version can generate point clouds, digital surface and terrain models, create vector objects (polylines, surfaces, stockpiles) and create index maps (e.g. NDVI).

A note about our price point: In keeping with our commitment to democratization and community, 3DR wants to make the most advanced aerial technology available to as many people in as many places as we can. Thanks in no small part to the open global innovation engine of our community, we’re able to deliver these advanced mapping capabilities at a price five times less than that of our nearest technological competitor. We did this to revolutionize the aerial mapping price point, offering advanced and serious aerial data acquisition capabilities at a level of accessibility that will redefine not only the UAV industry, but will help as many people as we can to redefine their industries.

If you’d like to learn more, visit http://3drobotics.com/mapping-drones/ where we also offer a contact form for a free consultation.

About the vehicles and package:

The Aero-M is an all-in-one solution for creating high-resolution visual-spectrum aerial maps. The fixed-wing platform offers endurance and scope of coverage, with 40 minutes of flight time and up to 250 acres of coverage area. It’s a great platform for regularly acquiring highly detailed and actionable data for large-scale operations such as farming, construction and conservation, as well as search and rescue and emergency response. The lightweight and robust foam frame translates to less risk and cost per flight and multiplies the cost-effectiveness of our platform.

Price: $5400

Includes: Aircraft, transmitter, two batteries, spare parts, high-resolution camera, hard case

Software Included: Pix4D Mapper LT

Options: Ground station frequency (413 or 915), FPV (optional), upgrade to Pix4Dmapper Pro 3DR Edition (optional), extra batteries (optional)

Autopilot: Pixhawk autopilot system

Flight time: 40 min*

Area coverage: 250 acres*

Map ground resolution: 2 inches per pixel (5 cm per pixel)*

Orthomosaic accuracy: 3-16 ft (1-5 m)

The X8-M is the perfect tool for creating high-resolution visual-spectrum aerial maps. The platform offers low-flying and high accuracy mapping, with a fully redundant propulsion system for increased reliability. Easy to fly and simple to operate, the X8-M can take off and land even in the tightest areas, which makes the vehicle compatible with just about any type of terrain. And because the X8-M can fly at low altitudes and at slow speeds, it can capture images with a level of detail and precision that’s impossible to acquire with manned flights or satellite imagery.

Price: $5400

Includes: Aircraft, transmitter, two batteries, spare parts, camera, hard case

Software Included: Pix4D Mapper LT

Options: Ground station frequency (413 or 915), FPV (optional), upgrade to Pix4Dmapper Pro 3DR Edition (optional), extra batteries (optional)

Autopilot: Pixhawk autopilot system

Flight time: 14 min*

Area coverage: 25 acres*

Map ground resolution: .7 inches per pixel (2 cm per pixel)*

Orthomosaic accuracy: 3-16 ft (1-5 m)

Views: 7486

3D Robotics
Comment by Brandon Basso on October 14, 2014 at 2:50pm

Replying to David's comment from the other thread.


The triggering is done by a relay signal off of the aux port.  This was a bit more robust to noise than PWM triggering.  As for tagging you can use one of two methods:

  1. Use the onboard camera GPS, which is not great, but gets the job done, and can produce an orthomosaic in the neighborhood of 5-10m accurate.
  2. Pix4D parses arduplane and arducopter dataflash logfiles, so you can grab those and use the built in parser to get an orthomosaic closer to 1-5m accurate.  The end ground-truth accuracy is mainly a function of overlap.

Ultimately we'll have much more automated ways of syncing images with a logfile.  Using a tlog directly in Pix4D is around the corner.  Other cameras are possibility too.  We tested all of the higher-end Canon point and shoots and had the best results with the SX260 among other GPS cameras.

And yes, other systems of comparable functionality are on the order of 2x to 10x more expensive--Trimble, Topcon, and Sensefly, to name a few.

Comment by Hugues on October 14, 2014 at 3:19pm

Although this second post provides more info on the scope of delivery, unless the inclusion of the Pix4D in the package represents most of the cost, I still find the price carried away, knowing what each individual elements really cost. And this is certainly not justified by an outdated canon sx260 camera...

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on October 14, 2014 at 4:23pm

Will Pix4D LT be available separately for use with other platforms?

Comment by Cala on October 14, 2014 at 5:59pm
I watch for this tree years ago but it didn't exist in low cost so I had to learn how to build a plane, a copter, how to tune, to fly, try different cameras, softwares, etc.. Late but shure ;) ; I'm going to recomend in my comunity.
Comment by Mark Bateson on October 14, 2014 at 6:30pm

Rob, Pix4D Discovery is free and available for download from the wizards at Pix4D. Brandon can comment on whether there are any differences between Discovery and what 3DR is calling Pix4D LT.


Comment by mP1 on October 14, 2014 at 7:15pm


Its hard to know what non branded version of Pix4d, the 3DR edition is equivalent too, as there is no details on the license and featureset.

Comment by mP1 on October 14, 2014 at 7:17pm

Especially for another $5000 you can upgrade to another edition of Pix4d in the 3dr store. It almost makes one think the bundled edition is the free version.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on October 14, 2014 at 7:20pm

@Mark: As mentioned, before Pix4D Discovery is just for evaluation; you cannot export files. Pix4D LT is has full file save and export.

Comment by Scott Penrose on October 14, 2014 at 9:08pm

So. I have an X8. I have an SX260. Is the only thing I need to buy Pix4D LT? Some form of upgrade kit?

Comment by M C on October 14, 2014 at 10:36pm

Overall I think this is a pretty good deal, but having more flexibility in options for sensors and software would be ideal. I also question the need for a slimmed down version of Pix4D Mapper. 

We've been working with custom built Skywalkers with the Canon SX260 as well as the Sony NEX-7. We found that the latter's larger sensor size and better lens options were necessary to produce higher resolution (1 cm GSD) orthomosaics. We've also tested the full version of Pix4D Mapper, Agisoft Photoscan and Icaros Photogrammetry Suite. Each has its own advantages, depending on hardware configuration, data volume, image quality, and overlap/sidelap requirements. 


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