Martin Brandenburg on The Power Of Autonomous Drones – WebSummit 2021
They we live the way we work the way we make business or make friends or travel, but when products are first introduced in many cases, theyre pretty flawed, it sometimes takes decades a really really long time. Until they reach a level of maturity, that really makes it possible for everybody to use, take the motor vehicle, the automobile, for instance, i mean talking about a feature gap. When it came out, it only came with three wheels. It really took decades until it was finally possible for pretty much everybody to drive. You didnt have to have an engineering degree to really get from a to b in an efficient manner, the same with a phone believe it or not. This was invented in 1876, even 10 years earlier than the automobile, and, to me it more looks, it looks more like a microphone that you could buy today from a diy store. It certainly is very, very far away from the phones that really help democratize how we communicate with each other and eventually ended up with a wire device in most homes in most offices. But then there was another step that that kind of had to happen. You cut off the rope, you cut off the wire and it ended up being a mobile device and by adding intelligence all of a sudden. It became a device that fits in our pocket and that really makes it possible to communicate with pretty much anybody on this planet now today, im not going to talk about cars or phones.
Today i want to talk about drones. Obviously, drones havent been around for quite as long as cars or phones. However, there is a big expectation of what drones should deliver manual. Drones that we can buy today have proven that there are a lot of good cases for drones being usage today, where drones can do good, but how come they havent really taken off the way that mobile phones or cars have how come they havent become mainstream. So what is that feature gap? What is missing? Well, it turns out the majority of todays. Drones are actually pretty dumb, theyre easy to crash theyre difficult to operate, theyre, not as straightforward as you may want, and specifically in enterprise applications, whether its film video or, if you want to get a job done. For instance, if you want to inspect a cell phone tower, you need an expert pilot, but wouldnt it be great. If we could get rid of that. If we, anybody could use a drone and anybody was able to fly like an expert without the fear of crashing wouldnt. It be awesome to create content like this very easily very cheaply. Very fast respond to crises, situations get data from the sky to really enable your business to scale and equally cut down the cost. So how do we do this? Well lets hold the video right here. It turns out the answer to all of those questions. The answer to what the missing link might be is autonomy.
Autonomy is the answer. Skydio is the world market leader for autonomous drones. All of our products are smart, whether its the entry level skydio2 for the enthusiast of the prosumer or the x2 for first responders and enterprises. From the moment you take off the autonomy. Engine is working and is there to support you, so you no longer have to fly the drone. The drone flies itself. You just simply have to tell the drone where you want to go and the drone will figure out the best, the most efficient way of getting you there. Scotty drones can fly anywhere. They can fly indoor outdoor underneath of any structure around an object above or below doesnt make any difference even without gps. So in a nutshell, our drones can fly where nobody else can so lets. Take a closer look at how autonomy works chapter one. The drone needs to be able to see, and this is where the complication starts. Our drones are packed with a total of six navigation cameras. We dont have to rely on gps. We dont have to rely on magnetometers or compasses. Even if we have no gps, we can fly with full confidence with full autonomy, so six navigation cameras, each has a resolution of 4k and all of them combined create about 500 million data points. A second, so thats a lot of data thats a lot of information. Thats coming through three cameras on top and three on the bottom, and each of these six cameras have has a field of view of 200 degrees and all cameras combined, give you an omnidirectional perception of the world.
It really doesnt make any difference. You fly forward backwards. Up down left right, if you turn around just imagine you had six eyes in your head. I know it would look probably interesting or strange, but you could see the world around you without even moving your head and thats exactly what the drone does. It sees the world in real time so again, theres a lot of data that is being fed into the drone, and everything is happening on the drone itself. So you need to understand what to do with all of this data. So chapter two after c after getting all of the information in with your camera, is to understand to interpret the data and were using a very high performing nvidia tx2 processor on board that is capable of computing 1.3 trillion operations a second, so all of the computing Power that is required to interpret the data that is being fed in from the six cameras is done on board. There is no data link between the uh, the ground controller and the drone that tells the drone okay. This is what you need to compute. It all happens on board so think of a pilot that sits inside the drone. So the drone uses nine real time neural networks to really interpret that data. It can help the drone to track up to 10 objects, while flying at speeds of about 50 kilometers an hour and whats amazing about it. It is so smart that in most cases it actually knows where you will go without before you know it, so it can do predictive path planning of about three seconds in advance.
So after c, you got to understand the data and the most important bit is: what do you do? What do you do now? What is next, so you got to act. You got to respond, so the drone will respond. Coming back to this mountain biker, the drone sees understands and acts accordingly, and it will follow the mountain biker with full confidence flying through this dense environment. So autonomy really is that missing link it revolutionizes. The way drones can be used pretty much everywhere, but pretty much. Anyone now this mountain biker uh example, is pretty nice. I think we can all relate to it, but there is many, many more use cases and very impactful skills that skydio drones can do, and one of them were calling 3d scan now put yourself in the shoes of having to do an inspection work. So lets say you run in an energy company utility company and obviously your assets need to be inspected so far its been very manual, its been very manual labor that had to be done. In most cases it was pretty expensive, it was sometimes harmful. It was dangerous. Now, just imagine you had a smart drone that could do the job for you, so you simply tell the drone what you want to inspect and the drone will help create a 3d image fully autonomously of that acid. You simply tell the drone what you want to scan in, and the drone will do the rest and were now down to a precision level, a resolution over ground of less than one millimeter, just by using photogrammetry data and whats great about it is you dont have To go to that site two three four five times to just make sure you got enough data.
The drone will actually tell you if the data that you collected is good for what you want to do its even going to tell you how many batteries youre going to need and how many pictures its going to take. It is remarkable, so i have chosen two use cases specifically where 3d scan, where smart drones and software can really make a big difference. So staying with the field of inspection, we all know that our infrastructure is critical to how we all operate, how we work, how we get to work and back how logistics is being done and so forth. So inspecting your critical infrastructure, like roads, railways, tunnels, bridges and so forth is critical. Its got to be safe because all of these assets need to be maintained properly. Otherwise, we know what happens if a bridge collapses its a major tragedy, so at any cost. We need to avoid that and with the help of smart drones, we finally have a solution to really scale these type of operations make them safer, better, cheaper and faster. So how 3d scan works is the drone will explore any complex structure by itself and it will create a rough 3d model already on site and then its going to go into the details once it has understood what that object looks like it will then go into The details and well take a photo of the object of the structure from multiple angles and its fully autonomous.
So you dont have to fly the drone anymore. The drone flies itself. You dont have to take manual pictures. I dont know how many of you have ever tried to take a 3d scan of an object. It has been extremely difficult. It had to require a great pilot in order to do that, no more, the drone does it for you and it doesnt matter. If its a bridge, a transmission tower, a cell phone tower, a windmill or even the roof of your house – and this can be documented like this – so this is a digital twin of a bridge we created this summer and were going to zoom in a little bit And, as you can see, this bridge was built in 1925, so its almost 100 years old. So you better make sure this is maintained. Well before it collapses. You want to make sure its safe right, youre, not limited anymore. So once you have your 3d scan, you can come back to this image as many times as you want. You can zoom in you can check if theres everything, okay with it im, not not an expert on on bridge design, so it doesnt tell me much, but obviously the expert will be able to say: oh theres a crack. We better get that fixed. So you can fly to any spot for close inspection at any time by pretty much anyone, so the entire site, this 3d scan can be organized.
The damages can be marked, it can be. Referenced can also be measured. Now trust me when i say this is a real game changer in that industry. This is a huge leap forward for the inspection industry and were not going to stop there. I have another example equally critical to all of us. I want to show you how drones smart drones, autonomous drones, can help first responders in law enforcement, whats really critical when youre out in the field, you want to reduce cognitive load. The last thing when youre on a mission you want to think about is, did i just calibrate that drone? Is it working okay or is maybe the only firefighter person who is able to fly a manual drone not on site? Maybe he or she is sick or on holidays, so that the drone stays grounded wouldnt, it be great if anybody can fly that drone and get the data that you need to make the right decisions, ideally to save lives, so heres an example of an accident that We all know happens way too often, so how do you best reconstruct what happened believe it or not? In most cases, police forces today use mobile phones to capture photos of the accident site and trust me when i say its: never enough photos in most cases that critical piece of information, maybe isnt there, the the right type of photo wasnt taken now with 3d scan Its a lot easier, its very simple, you tell the drone what you want to scan in, as you can see in this in this video and its really taking all of the three dimensions not just to all three.
It flies around the object and helps to create a 3d image, and this scan this particular scan, as you can see here on the screen took just 10 minutes, so its extremely fast extremely efficient, its really astonishing, because anybody can do this, so we believe at skydio Autonomy is the missing link its like the fourth wheel on the car or its. What makes a smartphone a smartphone autonomy is the answer to many many use cases out there. It helps to scale drone operations. It puts the hands the the drone in the hands of virtually everyone to create value. So autonomy, we believe, is the missing link and were going to continue to innovate because we believe autonomy will address many of todays operations and unleash hundreds of new use cases in the future. So id like to invite you to try to take that step with us. Think about where autonomous drones can do good can help you and your businesses so get creative. The future of of drone industry will be autonomous, so please follow us at skadio and for now thank you so much and have a great web summit.