Construction drone company uses Pixhawk-powered tech

Construction drone company using Pixhawk-powered technology gets a nice write-up in TechCrunch:

Mapping a job site – be it a construction site, oil field, or giant human battery pod factory – is a tough job. That’s why Identified Technologies’ Dick Zhang wants you to send in the drones.

His company, which is funded to the tune of $2 million, allows you to send a quadcopter around your job site to create a topographical map of the situation. It is completely autonomous, and the batteries can be hot-swapped as the drone maps. The system comes with a base station where the drone comes to roost when its done.

3d Volumetric

The company is already profitable with a number of contracts in Pennsylvania.

“We have a heavy focus in the Marcellus Shale region, which delivers over 40 percent of this country’s natural gas. We’ve experienced consistent growth every month. We are forecasting 10x growth in our deployments and revenue over the course of the year,” said Zhang.

2D Distance Measurement

Normally jobs sites like this hire planes to fly over the job site and take photographs. However, because this turnkey operation can be launched anywhere and by anyone you can map your site far sooner and far quicker than traditional methods. Instead of months of processing, job sites can be mapped in six hours.

Obviously the system is pricey and Zhang expects to offer subscription and paid services using the tool. However, if it saves time and money in your next major construction project/secret underground lair it will end up being a real hit.

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Comment by Doug Walmsley on April 28, 2015 at 6:39am

Nice project.  The video shows auto battery swapping and flight demo but why need a auto battery swapping process when you still have to have someone push the arming button to active flight.  So if a human is required to do this, why couldn't they just swap the batteries themselves?  I like to see a full video of the copter flying a profile, land, swap batteries, and then take off with no human intervention at the airframe.  Also like to know how they were able to land with precision when the GPS unit can be off as much as 9-10ft.  What was used to allow copter to land within centimeter precision?

Comment by Trevor Duke on April 28, 2015 at 8:35am

Looks a LOT like Skycatch :)

Comment by Artem on April 28, 2015 at 10:09am

Doug, I disable the arming switch on most of my copters, these guy doing the same thing most likely. Also, imho, auto battery swapping is purely for marketing purposes :) It was clearly a manual landing during the filming... 

Comment by Mamoon Syed on April 29, 2015 at 2:46pm

I like the way they implemented battery swapping, but my only qualm is that the drone seems to power down completely during the swap. I think it would be neat if you had an intermediate power source that powered the drone while the battery was being swapped out, which I don't think would be incredibly difficult as the docking station seems to put the drone in a fairly uniform location each time so I would imagine that a mechanism that would expose a set of contacts when pressed would suffice.

Just my two cents.

Comment by Trevor Duke on April 30, 2015 at 6:45am

I think that rather than an intermediate source, like a plug, it might be possible to have a tiny (600mah?) battery elsewhere onboard, that was only connected to pixhawk, and that could keep it logging, even while 'drive' battery switches. I bet a battery that size could last a day easy if it was only powered on during transitions, and though it would not be the same size as 'drive' battery to be plugged in series, maybe it could somehow suck out a little balance charge to keep it topped off. 

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