I'm sure you have seen the news today about Skydio receiving $100 million in funding and their launch of the Skydio X2D and X2E commercial drones today. In case, you haven't read this article here. What I would like to talk about in this post though is the future of 3D modeling, which it seems, according to Skydio, will be performed by semi-autonomously flying Skydio 2 and Skydio X2 drones. Check out this video below of a bridge inspection done by a Skydio 2 drone.
Skydio says that their 3D Scan software solution is a first of its kind general-purpose digital scanning software for inspections of complex industrial structures. Sure, bridge inspections are one example, and it is the one that Skydio uses in their video, but you can use this solution to inspect building facades in NYC for example (if they ever do away with that decade-old-law that prohibits drones from taking off and landing within city borders), or energy infrastructure, or even crime and accident scenes.
Now keep in mind that the Skydio 3D Scan software solution is NOT meant to be a survey-grade mapping solution. For that, you would need ground control points and far more precise software. No, Skydio's solution is more geared toward inspections and quickly creating 3D maps so that you can show to other people in your organization what the situation or status of a scene or structure is. What you lack in accuracy, is what Skydio makes up with easy-of-use and quickness. At least that is what they promise.
The Skydio 3D Scan is 'powered by a new real-time visual 3D reconstruction layer built on top of Skydio Autonomy Enterprise Foundation,' is what it says in the release. Using its famous obstacle avoidance capabilities, the Skydio 2 and X2 will be able to fully autonomously scan any kind of structure (provided there is enough light available for the six 4K cameras to do their magic). The drone does not need any prior knowledge of the structure, nor does it need a GPS or Internet connection to do its work. The drone operator simply indicates in the software what part or section of the structure needs to be inspected, the resolution, and the Skydio drone will find its way, building a 3D map in real-time. I honestly can't wait to see this in action. The US drone maker says that 'the resulting imagery has no gaps in captured data, and is optimized to ensure effective photogrammetry.'
Both the Skydio 2 and X2 have gimbals with a full range of motion so all areas, even underneath a bridge, for instance, can be scanned and 3D mapped. There will also be another software solution made available in Q4, 2020 which is called Skydio House.
“Skydio HouseScan is a game-changing capability for residential inspections. Thanks to these market-leading capabilities, Skydio drones can automatically perform context-aware 3D scanning of residential properties. Delivered as part of EagleView’s enterprise solutions, Skydio HouseScan allows insurance inspectors to capture more precise data, efficiently and safely.” Bill Banta, General Manager — Enterprise Solutions, EagleView
Skydio 3D Scan and Skydio House Scan will become available for the Skydio 2 and Skydio X2 drones in the fourth quarter of this year.
What do you think about these new software solutions? Let us know in the comments below so we can have a constructive conversation about the future of 3D modeling and inspections done by drone.
Haye Kesteloo from DroneXL.co
If you do want to know (and learn) what it takes to becomes a proficient drone mapping expert who can safely and responsibly fly a drone and accurately map a building, be sure to check out these excellent training modules from The Drone U.
Stay up to date on all the latest content released on the Drone U site by getting our weekly newsletter. It's informative, helpful, and easy to get through.