The company that rose to fame with its nearly crash-proof, truly “follow-me” drone, Skydio 2, is now making mapping software that’s just as smart. Silicon Valley-based drone maker Skydio today announced the general availability of Skydio 3D Scan, which is an ‘adaptive mapping software’ that’s intended to better automate data capture with drones.
The purpose: to allow drone operators to easily capture inspection data — and use that data to automatically generate 3D models. With it, pilots could automate photographic data collection and mapping tasks like infrastructure inspections or accident scene reconstructions.
“Manual drones lack the ability to see and understand the 3D nature of the world and, as a result, can’t provide a scalable solution to replace traditional methods of inspection,” said Hayk Martiros, VP of Autonomy at Skydio. “With 3D Scan, we are turning Skydio drones into intelligent scanning robots that can build real-time flight plans optimized to each scene, and generate the best possible photographic datasets.”
What Skydio 3D Scan means for commercial drone applications
Skydio 3D Scan marks another example of how drones may be a valuable tool for commercial drone applications including visual inspections.
While old means of inspections involved putting workers on bucket trucks and sending them up ladders — systems that were slow, unsafe and often dangerous — drones can conduct those same visual inspections and gather data without putting operators at risk.
But these days, it’s not enough to just gather aerial images from a drone. In fact, many enterprise operators have been using drones to replace humans doing visual inspections for years now. The issue these days — in many ways — is too much data.
In 2021, drone pilots can easily and quickly capture data; that’s the easy part. These days, the challenge is managing, storing and interpreting that data. That’s why Skydio 3D Scan would be important in not just gathering the data via the Skydio drones, but interpreting it with this new software.
“These capture workflows are especially critical as the industry transitions from providing inspection reports consisting of handwritten notes and photographs of structures to fully immersive, annotated 3D models that enable measurements and continuous status tracking,” according to a prepared statement from Skydio. “Manual drones require cumbersome mission planning, constant access to GPS, and intense focus from an elite pilot to avoid collisions–when inspection teams should be focused on how to capture the best data instead.”
Skydio said it estimates that its new 3D Scan software makes inspection jobs up to 75% faster.
Among the features found in Skydio 3D Scan software:
- Rapid Field Assessment: Within minutes, the software can generates photosets that enable photo browsing in the field for real-time inspection and decision-making.
- Digital Twin Generation: With this, data can be ingested to create 3D models, which are capable of integration in VR, game engines, and cultural heritage sites.
- Inspection Reporting: Drone operators can conduct standardized inspections.
- Crime and Accident Scene Reconstruction. Users can create quick, comprehensive documentation of crime and accident scenes (and allow those scenes to be cleared faster).
Who is using Skydio 3D Scan?
Skydio 3D Scan has been tested in trial runs for the past few months by major organizations including Sundt Construction, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), and the Boston Police Department.
Skydio also today announced a partnership with Bentley Systems. Bentley, an infrastructure engineering software company with more than 4,000 employees worldwide and annual revenues of more than $800 million, is a leader in the photogrammetry industry. Skydio, which already partners with other big mapping players like DroneDeploy and RealityCapture, will now be the Bentley’s preferred photogrammetry solution for 3D Scan datasets under the partnership.
All of the latest Skydio 3D Scan news was announced today at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. That’s the largest space museum in the world and highlights America’s spaceflight progress with items including the first American satellite, Explorer I, original capsule trainers for the Mercury and Gemini programs, design modules for the International Space Station and next-generation vehicles, such as Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser Current models for SLS. And by launching the news in such a place, it seems like Skydio boldly sees its AI-powered autonomy as a groundbreaking change, setting a new standard for the broader aerospace industry.
How to get your hands on the new drone software
With today’s news, Skydio 3D scan is now available for the company’s $1,000 Skydio 2 drone. It’s set to eventually be compatible with the higher-end Skydio X2 drone — which is designed specifically for commercial use — soon.
3D Scan is available for the Skydio 2 drone now, with Skydio X2 availability coming soon. The software can be purchased as an optional add-on to any Skydio 2, starting at $2,999 per drone per year, or as part of new vehicle and software bundles.