Flying robots. Auto-follow Selfie drones. Delivery drones. You name it. We are entering an era where UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) a.k.a drones are easily accessible to public and not only being utilised solely by the military.
There are, in fact, commercial drones being used by large companies that can often cut tedious, manual jobs down significantly. These drones are working autonomously in many sectors of industries such as mining and agriculture.
A company based in Newcastle, Australia, specialises in custom UAV development and designs drones that do much more than taking selfies in HD.
Robotic Systems have been working with many major companies such as Orica and CSIRO in the commercial sector for quite some time. Their custom-made commercial drone, a.k.a the “Titan”, can be equipped with different tools for:
- Finding gold deposits over a large area (such as in Laos) to know where to start digging. A drone can cover and scanned the terrain quickly and safely.
- Identifying crop stress and health by taking high quality photos which will then be analysed and acted on.
- Air sample testing
- Mustering cattle
- Doing a quick sweep like running a fence line, ensuring no fence is broken
These custom tools on the drone can be switched for different purposes as needed. For example, the team at Robotic Systems can attach a camera for doing a fence line run, but switch to a laser range finder for another purpose.
Obviously, this is a highly expensive piece of equipment. Losing a high-end commercial drone just because it’s running out of battery or signal is not funny. As such, intelligence needs to be part of it obviously, and that’s how the Intel Edison chip comes in.
Intel Edison is a tiny module that acts as the brain for the Robotic Systems’ drone. The processor monitors all the auto-pilot mechanism of the drone at all times, communicating with all hardware ensuring everything is running smoothly.
The Intel Edison is a powerful iOT chip with dual-core CPU and a single core micro-controller, smaller and consumes far less power than the Raspberry Pi, and also lightweight. It has all the perfect attributes to be embedded on small drones like the Robotic Systems’ Titan.
With this power, a drone can easily be customised and adapted to solve different problems each time, even problems that we thought could have never been solved before. Or at least, not easily. The Edison, for example, can handle all the safety features needed on a drone and manage communication between devices effectively through its built-in Wi-Fi and low energy Bluetooth.
Check out our interview with Cameron Owen from Robotic Systems on their Titan drone and Intel Edison: