What inspired me in the past few years is the quote “Be the change that you want to see in the world”. And what is a better way for engineer to change the world than technology. We waited for too long so the average person can make significant change in his and in the life of other people. The development of technology today finally allows us to achieve things that for the previous generations ware unimaginable. We have wireless communications, worldwide connectivity, smart phones, parallel computing, smart sensors, AI, and finally we have drones. Small flying platforms with at first glance no significant technical or commercial value.
Vision Dynamix is one of the companies that is trying to bring that change in the world by using drones. We are a small company that started in 2016 as a spin-off from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies in Skopje, Macedonia. The main reason that company was formed is that we think that we have a product that can change the way that drones are used professionally and on a consumer level. The product that we develop is a drone system for real-time 3D mapping with high precision. Vision Dynamix received a grant from the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development in Republic of Macedonia for this idea and for the past 6 months we are working towards the final prototype.
This type of product is not yet present in the market. Currently we have on one side digital photogrammetry that works with stitching aerial images and then creating and 3D map from the environment, which is slow and not very accurate. The other side is Lidar scanners for unmanned aerial vehicles, which has high accuracy but is quite expensive initially and for maintenance.
Our product targets bout markets. We have a system that brings the accuracy of the laser scanners for significant reduction of price and costs. And this is also done in real-time, which means that during the flight we can monitor the creation of 3D map and manipulate the result. No need to wait for post processing and data validation, and all that with the pression is in the range of a few centimeters.
The application of this system can be in variety of fields. Most common can be: geodetic, construction, mining, oil and gas inspection, through autonomous navigation, site inspection, to game development, cinematography and military applications. Just imagine how much time and resources would be saved if a whole construction project is mapped with this system that can take days if few people are doing it manually. Or make a 3D reconstruction of a bridge, that import it in some CAD software for future analysis, inspection, stress calculations, etc. Or maybe map a whole city in 3D and then import that map in a game level instead of doing it manually. Or send a drone in unknown building to make a 3D map of its interior directly on the spot in real time, this can benefit to law enforcement or military organizations. We think that this will bring benefit to a lot of professions and industries and also improve the drone industry itself.
How are we doing it? The dreams and ambitions are just a fuel that keeps us going, but the driving force is quite a lot of technology and some clever algorithms that we are working on. The back bone of the system is an algorithm for Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (known as SLAM). As far as we are aware we are the first company that uses this method to develop 3D maps directly on aerial vehicle. This allow us to improve the map during the whole time the drone is in the air. This said, can be noted that we use the whole video from the camera and not just separate images to create the 3D map. The main sensor is high resolution RGB camera. Besides this we integrate or fuse the other sensors from the vehicle like high precision GPS, magnetometer, etc., so we have better precision.
The calculations are made on embedded computer mounted in the drone. Except the computer everything else is a standard drone equipment. The computer has no separate power source and uses small amount of power from the main drone battery.
The system is consisted of drone, hexa-coper with camera, embedded computer and some additional sensors. All this is packed in nice package for easy transport and deployment. In the moment, we are building proprietary drones but in the future the plan is to integrate our system as a module to already made commercial drones.
The total deployment time is from 10 to 15 minutes including the time to set up the system and acquire good GPS lock. Acquiring GPS lock is not mandatory, which means that the system can be used in locations with no GPS coverage, but this significantly affects the accuracy.
The drone can stay in the air around 30 minutes depending of the application and the mission that it is used for. The mapping can be done manually or in automatic mode. In manual mode, the operator flies the drone and points it to the location that needs to be mapped. In automatic mode, the drone flies preprogramed mission loaded previously from a personal computer or created directly on a mobile app. In both modes the operator can monitor the flight data and the mission parameters in real time. The 3D map that is been created can be also monitored in real time. This enables the operator to inspect the map and intervene in the flight if there is a need for corrections or some improvement in the details of the map. It is important to note that the operator is not the only one that can see the map, it is streamed in real time over Internet, so anybody with access to the system can see what is being captured and the 3D map that is being created.
After the flight, the map can be exported in different formats and be used with CAD or 3D design software of choice.
The whole system is modular, and the plan is that in the future we produce separate module that can be mounted on any vehicle or used as hand held device.
In the moment, we are in a phase of advanced aerial testing, we have completed the hardware and software integration and we are working on optimization and improving the accuracy of the map.
The commercialization and market access are still a challenge for us. Also the final product design and user experience are parts of the system that we need to put some effort and resources. This will require financial and human resources that we don’t have in the moment. For that reason we are open for collaboration with any interested party. We believe that we are very close of achieving the goal of creating a drone system that is unique and will improve the quality of the work and save resources in many different industries and companies. With additional help we can do it faster and access the market in the right time which is now.
For any additional information you can contact us directly through email or by phone.