Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) maker 3D Robotics has launched a new line of drones that come with all-in-one 2D and 3D mapping features. The California-based company says its new Aero-M (fixed wing) and X8-M (multi-copter) devices offer the most cost-effective, accurate and repeatable aerial perspectives for farms that could give producers images so good they could see right “down to the grape.”
Each platform is bundled with both hardware and software solutions, including a high-resolution visible-spectrum camera, protective hard-case, auto-pilot controlled image acquisition and professional image processing software powered by Pix4D, 3DR’s newest business partner. The starting price point of only $5,400 is the new industry leader, with the nearest competitor’s option at nearly five times the cost.
The new 3DR Mapping Platforms have a simple, fully automated three-step workflow: plan, fly, process. The flight planning software computes flight paths over a selected area to survey and calculate exactly which pictures to take and when. While in flight, the drones automatically capture those images and geo-tag each capture to note the exact location. When the drone lands, the user immediately has a series of crisp and accurate images that can then be geo-referenced by the Pix4D software to automatically create a high-resolution, ortho-rectified 2D mosaic map (or 3D model depending on chosen edition) that delivers accurate and immediately actionable data.
“With 3DR Mapping Platforms, you’ll simply reduce your costs and increase your yields,” said Brandon Basso, senior R&D engineer at 3DR. “That’s what makes this platform a real tool. We’ve automated all the hard parts. So it’s not the future of work, it’s here now, and frankly it could cause a revolution through the price alone.”
The company goes on to say that farmers should find the aerial perspective invaluable, as it enables enhanced crop and water usage understanding. In addition, in conservation and land and resource management applications, 3DR Mapping Platforms can increase understanding of how we use precious land and water resources.
Officials add the X8-M offers low-flying and high accuracy mapping, with a fully redundant propulsion system for increased reliability, while the Aero-M fixed-wing platform offers incredible endurance and coverage area, with 40 minutes of flight and 250 acres of coverage.