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SenseFly’s eXom Drone Uses Vision and Ultrasound to Fly Precisely, Safely

SenseFly's eXom Drone Uses Vision and Ultrasound to Fly Precisely, Safely From IEEE Spectrum:

Since Parrot acquired senseFly back in 2012, we’ve been looking forward to seeing what the EPFL-LIS spinoff would come up with next. If you were paying close attention a few weeks ago, you noticed a little teaser for a new drone called eXom. It looked awesome. Turns out, it is awesome, and here are details.

First, let’s have a look at the eXom drone in (admittedly quite limited) action:

Several things are being demonstrated here:

In this clip eXom is flying 100% autonomously, without being remotely controlled and without the use of GPS. It is using its onboard vision and ultrasonic proximity sensors to stabilise, hold and correct its position, while the artificial intelligence built into its autopilot enables it to execute pre-programmed movements in sync with the music.

So the demo is of the fact that the drone can “dance” around while maintaining its position in the air, without the aid of external tracking or GPS. This is where you can see some of Parrot’s influence, because this software and sensor-driven inherently stable behavior is one of the things that makes the AR Drone so easy to fly.

The eXom drone is fusing inputs from multiple sensors for position holding, but just like the AR Drone, it’s depending primarily on two: downward-facing sonar to maintain altitude, and a downward-facing camera that’s doing optic flow tracking on ground features to maintain x/y position. This, incidentally, is likely why the surface underneath the drone has that tile pattern: more unique features means better tracking, and it’s possible (even probable) that the drone would drift a bit above a featureless surface like solid carpeting.

While Parrot’s drones (including the new Bebop) have just one of these modules that fuse vision and ultrasonic sensing, eXom has five, for optimal coverage in 360 degrees, not just downward: sensor module locations include left side, right side, underbelly, rear, and built inside its forward/upward facing camera head.

SenseFly had two goals with eXom. The first was to “create an autonomous quadcopter that is highly stable in the air,” and the second was to “produce the safest system on the market by giving the user full situational awareness.” With the comprehensive coverage from these vision and ultrasonic sensors, eXom can detect obstacles just about anywhere around it.

The company says that the user will have several options on how to leverage this with different flight modes of various levels of autonomy:

Interactive ScreenFly mode – click or tap the on-screen video feed to define an object of interest. eXom’s intelligent autopilot moves the drone into position and directs its TripleView head automatically. Autonomous mode – define the area to map using the drone’s eMotion software. The software automatically generates the drone’s flight plan, then eXom takes off, flies, acquires imagery and lands itself (similar to senseFly’s fixed-wing eBee drones).

These capabilities are very cool, especially if they can compensate for bad piloting when in manual mode. Some drones can do this with GPS to a limited extent (like, you set up a safety box of GPS points somewhere in midair), but I’d absolutely love a drone that could use onboard sensors to prevent me (one of those aforementioned bad pilots) from running into any obstacles or the ground. And also, you know, the whole delivery drones thing: any reliably safe urban delivery drone would probably need a sensor package a lot like this.

Now, let’s talk about that crazy looking camera head. While Parrot’s Bebop drone relies on software to provide active stabilization while simulating a pan/tilt camera, eXom does it the old-fashioned (if you want to call it that) way, with a camera system that is hardware stabilized and can physically move to look around. The camera head itself has a 270 degree vertical field of view, meaning that it can look both straight up and straight down and even slightly behind.

In terms of actual cameras, you’ve got two: a HD video camera that can also capture ultra-high resolution still images, and a thermal camera. You can record all of these data at once, meaning no landings to switch sensors. With a drone that can safely get very close to objects and take high resolution images of them, we’re probably looking at a drone that’s optimized for civil infrastructure inspection.

In other words, this drone is more like a tool than a toy, and as such it will not be an inexpensive piece of hardware. Were we to guess wildly, we’d put the cost of eXom somewhere in the very low five figures, partially because as with senseFly’s other drones, you’re not just paying for the hardware, you’re also paying for the spectacular control software and the reliable out-of-the-box workingness. And from the look of things, it’ll be worth every penny.

[ senseFly eXom ]

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UgCS 2.0 public Beta is out!

Hi,

I wanted to let you know what UgCS 2.0 Beta is now available for download at our site www.ugcs.com !

UgCS 2.0 now supports Ardupilot, Mikrokopter, Microdrones, ARDrone and DJI (Naza-m, wookong-m, A2) autopilots.

As shown in our teaser, UgCS 2.0 has now real 3D globe map engine and capability to search for locations for quick navigation.

 

Please feel free to download it and see the beauty with your own eyes :)

As always your feedback is greatly appreciated, as together we can build really one of the kind ground control software!

Thank you!

UgCS Team

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THE NEW CONCEPT UAV

some day ,i have a new idea to design this uav

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The Pilot Viper 300

3D FPV, dynamic driven landing gear, tail to have dual purpose for the aerial... more to come, parts in process.. 

The landing gear assembly inspiration was the trap jaw of the South Carolina "Cottonmouth" , I will render out more pictures of the linkages, however It will probably be better to just wait for the video.. digi-dna.net

"I know the props are on the wrong way, had been in virtual model land long enough"

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In Canada…Simpler rules for small unmanned air vehicles

Transport Canada makes it easier to fly small UAVs for work and pleasure

November 5, 2014, 2014 – Montréal, Quebec – Transport Canada

Transport Canada today announced, at the Unmanned Systems Canada conference in Montréal, two exemptions that simplify small unmanned air vehicle (UAV) operations and safely integrate UAVs into Canadian airspace.

Under the new exemptions, a Special Flight Operations Certificate will not be required for UAVs under 2 kilograms and certain operations involving UAVs under 25 kilograms. The new approach will apply to commercial operations and contribute to a strong safety regime for those on the ground and in the skies.

Once the changes come into effect later this month, operators must check on Transport Canada’s website if the exemptions apply to them and respect specific safety conditions, including requirements to operate within visual line-of-sight, maximum altitudes and away from built-up areas and aerodromes. In addition, Transport Canada is simplifying the application process and reducing the time it takes to issue Special Flight Operations Certificates for larger UAV operators.

In October, Minister Raitt launched the Government of Canada’s national safety awareness campaign for UAVs, which aims to help Canadians better understand the risks and responsibilities of flying UAVs. For more information, please visit www.tc.gc.ca/SafetyFirst.

Quick Facts

Transport Canada regulates the use of all aircraft, manned and unmanned, to keep the public and our airspace safe.

Canada has had safety regulations in place that govern the use of UAVs since 1996.

Operators must still apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate for UAVs weighing more than 25 kg.

If a UAV is operated without a Special Flight Operations Certificate and should be, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company.

If an operator does not follow the requirements of their Special Flight Operations Certificate, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a business.

Quotes

“Transport Canada has requirements in place for aircraft of all sizes. For businesses, these changes will make it easier for their small UAVs to take flight sooner, while maintaining the safety of those on the ground and in the skies”
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

“This approach will dramatically improve the ability for Canadian businesses to safely make use of this extremely capable technology while substantially reducing the time it takes to get authorization for more complex operations. Coupled with the safety awareness campaign announced two weeks ago, I believe that Canada now has one of the most effective and progressive UAV regulatory frameworks in the world.”
Stewart Baillie
Chairman, Unmanned Systems Canada

Contacts

Ashley Kelahear
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
613-991-0700

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055

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