3DR Releases the New Aero-M & X-8M Mapping Platforms

3DR’s Aero-M and X8-M are fully automated and intelligent tools: drone mapping platforms for easy, fast and accurate aerial data acquisition that will enable you to take informed and targeted action. They provide a level of insight that’s invaluable to industries like agriculture, construction, mining, and land and resource management, or for gathering data for any area that needs to be looked at closely and often. They allow you to get this data cheaper, easier, quicker, with less risk and more frequency and detail than manned flight or satellite imagery.

Our mapping drones come bundled with a high-resolution Canon SX260 visible-spectrum camera, but the payload system is interchangeable so you can swap your own cameras or sensors for shooting IR, hyperspectral or other imagery. The package also includes Pix4D professional image-processing software, a version developed specifically for the 3DR platform by Pix4D, the leading image post-processing company.

Our three-step workflow is fully automated: Plan, fly, process. Select the area you want to map, and the drone computes the flight path that will cover it. While in flight, onboard software automatically captures all the right photos for you and geo-tags where each one was taken; takeoff and landing are also both automated, with built-in flight protections like Return-to-Land. Finally, our custom Pix4D post-processing software stitches these photos into a crisp, high-resolution map, down to an amazing one cm/pixel, depending on the height of your flight. Zoom in from the sky down to the grape.

Additionally, you can save and repeat any flight with as much frequency as you need, and you can compare and overlay that data across time.

Imagine the advancements you might make if you could get accurate and immediately actionable information about your land as frequently as you want. You’ll see more, see better, and save money, and once you see your operations from the air you’ll never approach work the same way again. There are two options for included Pix4D software, designed specifically for 3DR mapping platforms. Capabilities include creating 2D maps in the Standard version, and the Pro version can also create index maps (e.g., NDVI) in a single workflow, perfect for crop stress differentiation. In addition, you can “fly through your map” in a software-generated 3D movie, complete with waypoints. And we’ve made all of this available at a price up to five times less than that of our nearest competitor, which will revolutionize the commercial UAV industry.

Image processing for our mapping platforms is powered by Pix4D, the leading provider for professional UAV processing software. The Pix4Dmapper software included in your package is a complete and fully automatic mapping and modeling solution that can convert and join thousands of images into highly accurate geo-referenced 2D mosaics. The software can also generate fly-through animations from original images in a single workflow. The software is suited to beginners as well as professional photogrammetrists: Create the project and get results with one click.

A Pix4Dmapper Pro upgrade is also available for 3DR mapping platform customers. With Pix4Dmapper Pro 3DR Edition 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).

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Comment by AKRCGUY on October 13, 2014 at 7:36pm

@Guy, Thanks for pointing that out, I'll let 3DR know.

Comment by OvakiSan on October 13, 2014 at 11:31pm

Is it possible to buy platform only, without the PIX4Dmapper?

Comment by Harry on October 14, 2014 at 12:49am

Wow, $5400.  Hobbyists are shuddering at where this has gone.  

Comment by sixtimesseven on October 14, 2014 at 2:10am

why is this thing so expensive? I mean there is no gimbal, the payload of 500gr isn`t that great and a canon 260 isn`t top notch either...

Comment by Matthew on October 14, 2014 at 2:57am

Pix4D has a lot to do with the price and its another $5000 to do everything Agisoft does.

Can you go into detail on the geo-tagging process?

Comment by OvakiSan on October 14, 2014 at 3:08am

If Pix4D is free why such price...

Comment by John C. on October 14, 2014 at 8:57am

Pix4D Discovery is free.  It does not allow exporting of data.  It is included with the Mapping Electronics Package.  

The Aero-M and X8-M mapping platforms include Pix4D LT, which is a version tailored for 3DR that allows you to produce and export highly accurate, georeferenced and orthorectified mosaics.

Comment by David Locascio on October 14, 2014 at 1:17pm

@Matthew, I'm assuming they're running a servo cable to the camera's usb port and triggering with the flight controller. The pictures are then later tagged with the dataflash log.


This system is expensive because it is highly automated - requiring little user knowledge to produce a relatively expensive product. Other systems cost around $10-20k for a similar product. Yes, you could build your own and buy your own software and learn how to do everything - or you could buy this RTM product.

I do think the SX260 is vastly underpowered for this application, especially since there are mirrorless cameras that offer way better performance with small increases in weight requirements. My X8 carries around a NEX 5T which blows an SX260 out of the water - and we're still looking to upgrade even more. While the CHDK is nice, it's not worth the handicapped performance of a Canon P&S. I would not be surprised if 3DR already has plans to release an RTM with a NEX 5 or 7.

3D Robotics
Comment by Brandon Basso on October 14, 2014 at 2:36pm

@David...thanks for the comments.  I'll reply over in the announcement thread:



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