3D Robotics


A great announcement from DroneDeploy, whose cloud-based drone management service is optimized for APM and Pixhawk-controlled drones. From sUAS News:

Today, DroneDeploy launches their web-based drone control platform,  enabling users to control drones over the internet. The software is designed to simplify drone workflows, making it easy to create high-precision surveys, agricultural maps, and point clouds.

The cloud-based software is enabled by their Copilot – a smart cellular telemetry radio, which  makes it possible to control drones, directly from a smartphone or any internet connected device.dronedeploybox.png?width=250

The Copilot not only controls drones, but controls the sensors. According to Mike Winn, CEO, “the Copilot can control several types of cameras, and can upload the data as it is collected, enabling automatic processing of the data. Drone operators can get stitched maps produced within minutes of landing, and share it with others instantly. Previously this would have taken hours!”

The DroneDeploy software can enable control of multiple drones, or in fact have many people collaborate in the operation of one drone. Jono Millin, CPO, explains “You can imagine a wind turbine inspection where engineers back in the office can get imagery back in real time, and  coordinate closer inspection of turbines with potential problems.”

Nick Pilkington, CTO continued, “While there are so many applications of this technology, and we’re actually looking to create more by working with partners and specialists to enhance our workflows for more drone use-cases”.

The product launches today, with an “Explorer Program”, giving access to just 50 teams to start using their product. The device is $299, and applications start today onwww.DroneDeploy.com

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  • The biggest questions in my mind are bandwidth and data cost.  My average survey flight with an NEX6 (shooting compressed JPGs, not RAW) produces 4MB/sec of image data.  The fastest LTE upload speed is 1MB/s...  Unless I'm missing something it doesn't seem possible that the Copilot could keep up.

    As for costs, my twenty minute survey flights produce around 4GB of image data, which I would consider to be on the low-end for real world cases.  If I fly once a week (16GB/mo), this will cost $130 from Verizon, or $160 from AT&T.  That's certainly doable for larger operations, but I don't see many individuals justifying this in addition to the DroneDeploy service fees.  But hopefully DroneDeploy has some secret sauce that will make their offering accessible to all of us.

  • Moderator

    That's a really good question.  I have been interested in Skydrone for a long time, but have not pulled the trigger and bought one.  I'm very concerned that the latency will make it useless and don't want to pay $500 to find out.  I'm experimenting with using Raspberry Pi for a simpler lower resolution FPV camera, but haven't built anything useful yet.

  • Well, that's good, I hope it works. This sort of technology is the next logical step for personal UAVs. On a related note, does anyone know if http://www.skydrone.aero/order-now are being shipped, and whether they work?

  • Moderator

    ...and my finger is itching to press the BUY NOW button as soon as Mike Winn sends me the link to buy it as part of their explorer program. 

  • Moderator

    The Drone Deploy folks are real and have a real product.  I also held it in my hand at the AUVSI Show in Orlando this May.  This OSRC thing looks like vaporware.  

  • 3D Robotics

    Aaron. I've held it in my hands and know the team well. I haven't used the device so can't vouch for its function, but the DroneDeploy folks are top-notch and I believe that they can deliver.

  • Chris et al -- you guys have a responsibility to help steer the community away from scams and vaporware / vapor hardware. Do you think this is actually a viable product?

  • Can you provide any evidence that you've actually built or programmed something?

    I don't know when it became OK to use present tense to advertise things that haven't been created yet. I'm sort of interested in this product but I'm not going to pay $299 for a CG-rendered box with two random black squares on it (what are those?)

    But then again, I've always wanted to be an "explorer" so tough call!

    "OSRC is HERE!"

  • @Roberto Not only the drone flying rules but also radio transmittion rules, you are not allowed to use the mobile phone frequencies from the air.

  • Hi Mike! Can you control the UAV through internet or you can only see the camera live?

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