3D Robotics


As part of today's 3DR Enterprise announcement with Autodesk, we also announced a new camera coming to Solo. This is the UMC-R10C, which is designed to be deeply integrated and fully controllable by the Solo software stack and companion computer. More details coming ahead of the launch in April. 

From The Verge:

3D Robotics partners with Sony on a drone that can map the world in 3D

The competition to capture big industrial customers is heating up

By Ben Popper

The drone business is booming, and companies which manufacture these aerial robots are increasingly trying to produce units that can straddle the divide between the consumer and enterprise market. 3D Robotics, one of the biggest US drone makers, announced this morning that it is partnering with Autodesk and Sony to create a high end version of its Solo drone. The new unit can scan a location — a construction site in progress or bridge that needs inspection — and upload a 3D model or map to the cloud from the air, allowing those files to quickly get into the hands of offsite engineers or managers.

Up till now the Solo drone worked with cameras from GoPro. Today it announced that the new Sony UMC-R10C, a camera that will be officially unveiled at NAB in April, will integrate with the enterprise edition of the Solo. That camera allows for far more detailed image capture, pulling hi-res data to the cloud without having to land and remove an SD card. The enterprise edition of the Solo will also come with a Sony tablet preloaded with Autodesk's FORGE software. "The demand is just huge," says Autodesk's Dominique Pouliquen. "There is not a single construction company we work with that does not have a UAV initiative."

Along with the new Sony camera, 3D Robotics says it is planning to introduce a multispectral and thermal camera, hardware specialized for scanning agricultural sites, chemical plants, and oil rigs.

Autodesk has been moving into the drone industry for a while. Last year it invested in SkyCatch, another company which has been using drones to create 3D maps of construction sites in real time, maps which are then used to guide robotic bulldozers. SkyCatch is currently focused on building its business in Japan, where regulations around commercial use of drones are much lighter, and where demographic trends have created a shortage of human workers.


DJI is dominating among the drones used by companies which have filed commercial exemptions in the US and it recently introduced a unit designed specifically for crop spraying. But "it's still very early days, and we're number two [in commercial exemptions]," argues Chris Anderson, 3D Robotics co-founder and CEO.

Anderson believes that DJI's lead on the commercial side is an extension of its consumer dominance, and that this advantage will fade as the enterprise market matures. "So far it's mostly consumer vehicles being used in a commercial context. There are very few large scale enterprise deployments, and the whole workflow has not been touched. The Solo is the first example of an enterprise drone that is integrated from end to end, from drone to camera to cloud."

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  • nice job 3DR. As mapping and inspection applications ramp up i think we will see some 3DR start to take some market share from DJI. No-one who knows anything about multirotors would use a phantom or inspire for mapping, but a lot of people have only used DJI and don't know any different. It's really up to 3DR to actually take some market share with these types of applications.

  • @Chris Anderson. Just curious, will the Sony gimbal and camera be for sale without the SiteScan license/subscription, like the GoPro and gimbal are sold at the moment?

  • How about Europe market? This Sony QX1 is not available in Europe. Will the new camera be available for Europe with Solo/gimbal then?
    And will it be suitable for videos, not only photos? 

    Can't wait for NAB show :D

  • T3

    Very nice!  This is exactly the type of camera integration I've been looking for, no more velcroing a Canon point-and-shoot to the vehicle.  If I'm not interested in uploading to the cloud, can I get geotagged and attitude tagged images off an SD card?

  • 3D Robotics

    @Nick. Tightly integrated via USB and Solo talking to Sony API.  Custom gimbal. 

    Sequoia/Solo support has already been announced. Works great. 

  • Nah, never seen any vignetting. I do like purposeful vignette too, just for arts sake, it also brings out the blue in the sky more if used purposefully. I also have the VCL-ECF1 adapter.

  • @benbojangles
    It is only "good" if used with f11 and closer. Anything under that (wider) lose quite a bit of sharpness and has much vignetting.
  • I (briefly) hard-mounted my sony camera & 16mm to a quadcopter a while back, totally just for the idea and to see how it manages vibration, focus, & light. I really like it, it's much better visual potential (fair enough it's a wobbly trial flight) than an action camera, but too heavy for a quad. I have a hexa now, so that's why i'm looking to the QX1 with gimbal to replace my canon sx. This is exactly one of the reasons why I love DIY drone building :)

  • yea i'm hoping to mount the qx1(v2) on my hexacopter, perhaps even print a gimbal mount if all goes well.

    Didn't know about the hasselblad thing, thanks

    Most of my lenses are old manual focus ones, (Radioactive) Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4 things like that, they're much to heavy to mount to a drone, I think if Sony release a QX1 successor which is lighter, then it's a winner.

  • Apparently the 20mm is much better.  The corners on the 16mm are pretty smeared. The best lens for these are probably the Zeiss Touit 12mm, or Loxia 21mm.  They're about $1000 though, and heavier than the 16 and 20mm Sony lenses.  The Tuoit is 260g and the Loxia is 394g, making them 200 and 330g heavier than the 16mm.  So it might be a bit much for the Solo to lift unfortunately.  This is where it's nice to have a larger machine. 

    BTW, Hasselblad is rebranding the Sony lenses, and they're actually cheaper than the Sony equivalent.

    You can do wired triggering, not via USB, but just buy any of the cheap "bulb" triggers available for Sony cameras and hack it.  With this method, the QX1 can manage an impressive 1 fps continuously!

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