As commercial UAV hardware platforms become increasingly powerful with self-positioning, collision avoidance, and autopilot capabilities - that enhance usability - several industries are seeing widespread adoption of drone-based systems for use cases such as security, progress monitoring, emergency response, asset inspection.
However, the crucial process of frequent data collection, common to most applications of such systems today, has long been a daunting task to automate.
While a significant aspect of the flight can be automated using an autopilot, a human operator is still often required to manage the drones, swap batteries, etc.
Modern Drone-in-a-Box (DiaB) solutions have been designed to overcome this limitation. However, the market primarily comprises monolithic solutions (with proprietary components), which have prohibitively increased the cost and lead time of transitioning to these systems.
We, at FlytBase, are on a mission to change this. We believe that a modular approach, consisting of a low-cost, reliable drone, a compatible docking station, and a hardware-agnostic automation software, can make this technology highly accessible (available at 1/10th the cost) and thereby increase its adoption across industries and applications.
We have been building FlytBase to provide businesses with an all-in-one, user-friendly software to manage drones, docking stations, payloads, flights, and all of the data captured in the process, while ensuring reliability, safety, and security throughout.
This article will help you gain a better understanding of the FlytBase product for automating drone workflows and simplifying aerial operations.
The Drone Autonomy Spectrum
As quite popularly known, the term ‘autonomy’ in the drone industry has been used fluidly in different contexts with varying degrees of pilot involvement, which experts have attempted to identify and categorize.
Similar to the standards set by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) for driving autonomous cars, roughly 6 levels have been defined for uncrewed aerial systems in increasing order of autonomy.In essence, Level-0 systems would require complete pilot control and Level 5 would comprise fully autonomous UAVs that can fly themselves under all conditions, sense and navigate their environment in 3D space, and alter or replicate previous flight paths to successfully complete a mission without human intervention.
As our world moves closer to Level-5 autonomy, FlytBase, as a solution, aims to make the transition smoother for businesses at any stage - with its plethora of plans, offerings, and integrations.
The majority of use cases that involve drones today - asset inspection, site security, and progress monitoring - comprise frequent and repetitive operations. Standard, off-the-shelf drones such as the DJI Mavic series have long been used to perform these operations; however, there exist certain disadvantages in piloting and operating them.
One of the most significant problems is battery life; such drones are lightweight by design and cannot afford to have big, chunky batteries supporting hours of flight time, let alone powering a wide variety of payload components.
Additionally, several operational inefficiencies occur in travelling to and from points of interest to collect and transfer the required data within a short period of time to the relevant stakeholders. Hence, the transition to Level-4 drone autonomy would be practicable only with the existence of a secure endpoint: an automatic docking, cooling, and housing station to which your run-of-the-mill drone can return when it requires refueling or simply when it is not in use.
Enter docking stations—a smart, metallic box with the ability to autonomously charge, cool, and remotely communicate with drones. These boxes provide interfaces to open/close the drone bay, report weather data, and start/stop battery charging and/or swap the batteries.
FlytBase Auto has been designed to help automate DiaB systems. It provides an integrated user-experience and various workflows that control not just the drone, but also the docking station to make them work in unison. A range of failsafes, rule-engine, and user-configurable settings are available to help ensure that the entire operation is safe and reliable.
All the features of FlytBase Live are, of course, included, which help in controlling and monitoring the entire DiaB system from a remote location.
FlytBase Auto supports a wide range of drones and docking stations. This ensures that you are able to configure and customize your DiaB deployment based on your requirements and budget.
In addition to all the features of FlytBase Live, the following are the main modules offered by FlytBase Auto:
Remote drone & dock control and telemetry: Control your drones and docking stations remotely using onscreen controls, keyboard & mouse, or USB joysticks. View live telemetry and vitals from the dashboard.
DiaB fleet management: Add and connect unlimited drones and docking stations by establishing secure remote connections for each DiaB unit.
Autonomous precision landing: An advanced computer-vision-based module that helps your drones precisely land autonomously onto the docking stations.
Weather station integration: Integrate weather modules to monitor ambient temperature, air pressure, wind speed, humidity, and much more from the dashboard.
Failsafes: Configure actions to be triggered during low/critical battery or internet, GPS, FlytBase, or RC link loss. Available actions include land, hover, and RTH.
For more information on the specific features offered in different FlytBase Live & FlytBase Auto plans, visit our pricing page.
Get Your Free Drone Autonomy Guide Today!
As a Marcom Manager at FlytBase, Baisali oversees the content strategy, creation, and management! With over 7 years of experience in the drone industry and 3 years at FlytBase, she’s a self-proclaimed drone fanatic and is obsessed with all things geographical. When she’s not busy hosting FlytBase’s webinar series or coordinating NestGen, you can find her exploring the Patagonian Desert, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, or the Yellowstone Caldera on Google Earth.