New data collection software and hardware for the Elios 3

There is no doubt that the Elios – a sturdy drone by Swiss manufacturer Flyability – has changed the game when it comes to inspections in confined spaces.

This could be one of the few industrial applications where drones from the ubiquitous DJI are not the answer; except maybe to handle the candle that has the Elios in the spotlight.

Flyability’s flagship Elios 3 drone has flown down drains, underground tunnels, shafts, towers and a whole lot of confined spaces where there is no GPS – and the drone has returned, with the data it was sent down to collect in tow.

And it has done so without posing danger to itself and the human professionals it is working with. It has made certain jobs safer than they previously were.

But is seems Flyability are not looking to stand still when it comes to innovation in data collection in the dark places: for the company has just announced the release of a new Surveying Payload for its Elios 3 drone.

Launched at the InterGeo event in Germany, and in collaboration with FARO Technologies, the new payload is called the Ouster OS0-128 Rev 7 and Flyability says it will enable safe, centimetre-accurate scans of hard-to-reach areas, in fulfilment of Flyability’s overall mission to keep people out of hazardous environments.

“The key features of the new payload include greater precision and accuracy, a wider range, higher point density, and improved photon sensitivity,” said Flyability in a statement.

“The new LiDAR payload for the Elios 3 is an alternative to the existing Ouster OS0-32 Rev 6.2, and targets professionals seeking survey-grade results in hard-to-reach, inaccessible spaces.

“The enhanced features include volumetric measurements that are accurate to within one percent of terrestrial laser scans, distance measurements with centimetre precision, and more detailed point clouds with sharper definition.

“In addition, the Surveying payload is better suited for symmetrical environments, appealing to inspectors of wastewater pipes and sewers.”

The payload comes as part of a bundle that includes induction and training, reflective targets, and specialised processing software, FARO Connect.

Obviously as its name suggest, the processing software will be provided by FARO, a company that has been one of the top players in reality capture since its founding 40 years ago.

The company works to bridge the digital and physical worlds through data-driven reliable accuracy, precision, and immediacy, through the provision of technology solutions that enable customers to measure their world and use that data to make smarter decisions faster.

In its description of FARO Connect, Flyability said it was a powerful software solution with SLAM (Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping) presets that are optimised for data gathered with the Elios 3.

During processing, Connect will automatically interpret reflective targets as ground control points to geo-reference Elios 3 point clouds, as well as filter them for noise. With these targets, Connect can also align multiple point clouds to create a single, clean result for clear visualization.

The outputs can be exported in industry-standard formats, enabling smooth transfer of data and further work.

“The new Surveying Payload is a great step forward in enhancing the data quality achievable with a drone survey,” said Adrien Briod, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of Flyability.

“We’re especially excited because this is a second payload for the Elios 3 and supports our long-term vision of routine drone inspections with minimal hardware turnover.”

While Leo Martinez, Director Mapping Products, FARO Technologies added; “The new survey package from Flyability represents another leap forward in their drive to make surveying easier and safer.

“FARO Connect combined with the increased range and precision from the updated payload is a compelling solution offering and we’re confident this will make a significant impact on customers mapping inaccessible environments.”

With this addition to the Flyability portfolio, users can decide on the level of precision they require from their Elios 3 according to their specific industry needs.

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