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Intel Touts Drones for Inspection

Monday, May 15, 2017

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Intel Corp. CEO Brian Krzanich told attendees of a robotic and unmanned systems conference in Dallas on Tuesday (May 9) that his firm is fine-tuning its drone technology in an effort to help make infrastructure safer.

Intel Corp.

Intel Corp. CEO Brian Krzanich told attendees of a robotic and unmanned systems conference in Dallas that his firm is fine-tuning its drone technology, including the F-8+ model, in an effort to help make infrastructure safer.

In his keynote address to attendees of the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International Xponential annual three-day gathering, Krzanich detailed how the Santa Clara, California-based company has developed commercial drones to perform safety checks on bridges and other structures via inspections and close-mapping, which would preclude using human inspectors and placing them in dangerous scenarios.

Drone Capabilities

Krzanich presented a simulation video showing a bridge inspection that trumpeted the abilities of Intel’s Falcon 8+ drone.

The drone is equipped with two cameras: a front on-board model, and a digital SLR device. The SLR camera is affixed to a gimbal, which allows it to rotate and capture images from any angle. For example, it can spin and take get photos underneath a structure such as a bridge. The images’ millimeter resolution provide detailed mapping for inspections.

Krzanich noted that with standard processes, inspections often have to be carried out every six to 12 months. But the Falcon 8+, equipped with Intel’s Mission Control software, takes care of flight-planning, management of the drone and subsequent data processing.

The software would immediately provide analysis, data and insight into a structure’s integrity, and could produce 3D images when paired with other software.

Digesting Data

But, Krzanich cautioned, it’s what you do with drone-supplied information that’s crucial.

"Data is the new oil," he said, explaining how like oil, crude data needs to be refined and delivered, or it's useless. "Flying a drone and capturing images is not where the true value is found," he said. "You have to process it.

“The data rate is going to explode on us in the next few years,” he added.

A Falcon 8+ can be operated with Intel’s Cockpit Ground Control Station, a joystick-controlled, waterproof pilot system integrated with an Intel tablet. The system matches video payloads delivered in 1080p video streams in real time.

Faith in Its Product

Anil Nanduri, Vice President of Unmanned Systems for Intel, said in an editorial on the company’s website that the firm plans to ramp up production of the multi-rotor Falcon 8+ drone in North America. The Falcon 8+ drone retails for about $35,000.

“Conventional methods of inspecting or surveying sites typically result in hours of downtime, revenue loss, delayed work and sometimes even an increased risk of injury when inspectors or surveyors need to access unusual or hard-to-reach places, such as cell towers, bridges and wind turbines, just to name a few,” Nanduri wrote. “Deploying a drone to capture aerial data for the same purpose is safer and more effectiveallowing the job site to continue in full productionand can take as little as 15 minutes. Because of its ease of use, drone technology can deliver high [return on investment] from the first flight.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Conferences; Drones; Inspection; Inspection equipment; Safety; Technology; Video

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