Solar-powered launch system allows totally unattended operation

Amazing product from H3 Dynamics in Singapore. We've always dreamed of drones that could be deployed like sprinkler systems -- place and forget, and they just do their job, sending data to the cloud. Looks like we're almost there. 

From Gizmag:

The proliferation of drones for a multitude of tasks has led to improved autonomy, and reduced the level of human intervention. On the flip side, however, people are still needed to physically wrangle drones to a site whenever they are required, and much time and expense is spent deploying them. To help reduce this burden, the new Dronebox nesting platform has been created to provide 24/7 autonomous capabilities to drones. It provides an automated recharging and storage station that can be left on site so a dedicated Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can be deployed on-call or routinely for many months at a time.

Touted by the makers as an all-inclusive, self-powered system that can be deployed anywhere, the Dronebox designed as a UAV solution to follow on from the likes of remote monitors and camera systems used today. As such, the creators envisage the replacement of these fixed monitoring methods with deploy-on-demand or programmed-cycle UAVs to provide a more flexible and intuitive way to keep an eye on things.

With batteries automatically charged within its shelter system using solar panels, the Dronebox can also be upgraded using a product known as Remobox to provide a small back-up fuel cell system to extend remote deployment for a year or more. The Remobox also provides add-on communications features and environmental monitoring to ensure a nested drone is operating in optimal conditions.

Dronebox also provides the ability to link drones and Droneboxes in a similar fashion to the Internet of Things (IoT), where varied and disparate devices are interconnected to collect and exchange data. In this way, arrays of wirelessly linked Droneboxes and their associated UAVs operate through a central hub, where all of their sensors are channeled through a unified analytics system to create what the makers call a "sensor fabric" that provides real-time, overall situational awareness of everything under surveillance.

As a connected network, Dronebox's effectiveness using collaborative technologies means that a UAV nested and deployed automatically could also offer a line of first response in forest fires, chemical spills, earthquakes, and other disasters before humans arrive. With multiple sets of drones monitoring all aspects of a catastrophe via the previously mentioned sensor fabric, the situation could be assessed and actions planned and resourced well ahead of any response, thereby saving what could amount to many critical hours of time on the ground for rescue teams, firefighters, and disaster recovery personnel.

The creators of Dronebox also believe that mobile sensors hosted in networked Droneboxes could help transform border and perimeter security, wildlife protection, critical infrastructure maintenance, telecommunications tower and wind turbine maintenance, oil and gas asset inspection, and precision agriculture.

On display for the first time at the Singapore Air Show this month, Droneboxes, Remoboxes, and their supporting technologies are slated for launch in the commercial marketplace some time within the next six months.

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Comment by MarioSpeedwagon on February 17, 2016 at 6:55pm

I normally try to keep my cheesy jokes to myself so that I don't make an ass of myself here, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let someone else steal this opportunity from me....

Will it cook a steak, too? 

Comment by HyperGuy on February 17, 2016 at 7:04pm

costs more than the drone you think?

Comment by UAVIA on February 17, 2016 at 7:28pm

Ahem... Looks familiar... At least they could have changed that headline.

Comment by Thomas Stone on February 17, 2016 at 7:42pm

Nice job, H3! This kind of stuff gets me super-stoked.

I recognize the Precision Landing sensor (*pats self on back).  :)  And as always, congrats to the APM:Copter team. 


Comment by Randy on February 17, 2016 at 8:20pm

Looking good.  A few things aren't quite there (for APM anyway) but as a minimum it's a good video of where we're headed in 2016.  For example, the the automatic download of logs.  It's not hard, just a bit of GCS work, but I haven't seen anyone actually do it yet.

Comment by Mike T on February 17, 2016 at 8:49pm

oh noes! an unsupported iris+ hope they don't crash and need new parts.... ruin the whole project

Comment by Thomas Stone on February 17, 2016 at 9:47pm

To add on to Randy's point regarding APM, the 'precision land-on-box' is a bit tricky because the landing altitude is offset from the ground, which directly affects the target offset calculation. This degrades the controls performance. 

But there are various tools available: we suggest a laser rangefinder in the docs. Or, a wide-angle sonar is typically a better match for the box landing. Or, better yet, fuse barometer data w/ a rangefinder. :) 

Comment by davidbuzz on February 17, 2016 at 10:01pm

it's good that they get the power from the panels into the box... but unless there's wireless charging capabilities squeezed into the drone that I can't see, it's not going to get charged by itself.   :-)

Comment by Fnoop on February 18, 2016 at 12:14am

So cool, it must be inductive charging then?  I think they should make the landing platform a bit bigger though, even with precision landing it might get blown off by a tiny puff of wind at the last second during landing if it's that small.

Comment by DavidJames on February 18, 2016 at 12:55am

IRIS+ is amazingly adaptable.   Shame 3DR is discontinuing it.


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