Flyability recently unveiled the Elios 3—the world’s first collision-tolerant drone equipped with a LiDAR sensor for indoor 3D mapping.
The drone is powered by a new SLAM engine called FlyAware that lets it create 3D models as it flies and accompanied by a new version of Flyability’s software for inspectors, Inspector 4.0.
Flyability pioneered confined space inspection drones with its first product in 2016. With the launch of the Elios 3, it continues to create cutting-edge technology designed to keep humans out of dangerous places to perform the most demanding inspection tasks.
The Elios 3 was made to address the need companies have for reliable inspection tools. As industries around the world scale up their use of drones, they need technology that is easy to use, performs the same way every time, and remains stable when working inside highly sensitive assets.
"The Elios 3 has some of the very best stabilization in the world, a modular payload, the ability to create 3D models in real time while in flight, and it paves the way towards an increasingly autonomous future,” said Patrick Thévoz, co-founder and CEO of Flyability. “For industrial inspections, the Elios 3 is a key enabler of Industry 4.0, presenting an inspection solution that can make inspections safer, more efficient, and less expensive than ever before."
The Elios 3 comes with an Ouster OS0-32 LiDAR sensor, allowing inspectors to collect data for the creation of survey-grade 3D models using software from Flyability’s new partner, GeoSLAM. Mapping areas that are out of reach or too dangerous for humans is very difficult, yet critical to support operational decisions in many industries.
By combining the best of confined space drone data capture and 3D geospatial software technology, Flyability’s partnership with GeoSLAM enables professionals to produce survey-grade point clouds of the most inaccessible places in their workplace, completely removing the strain of approximations and guesswork from their operations. In addition to carrying a LiDAR sensor, the Elios 3 can accommodate a second payload that allows it to be customized for each individual user’s needs.
The Elios 3 is powered by Flyability’s new proprietary SLAM engine FlyAware, allowing it to turn the drone’s LiDAR data into 3D models in real time, while the drone is in flight. FlyAware also gives the Elios 3 groundbreaking stability, combining data from the drone’s three optical cameras and its LiDAR sensor to catch the tiniest unpredictable movement and instruct the flight controller to compensate for it. This stability and other ease-of-use features make the Elios 3 incredibly easy to operate, so that new pilots can be trained and perform their first inspection in the same day.
Above: Live mapping.
Using Flyability’s new Inspector 4.0 software made for reporting with the Elios 3, inspectors can now visualize Points of Interest found during an inspection in a high-resolution 3D map using Inspector 4.0’s 3D Map Viewer. This feature lets stakeholders navigate from POI to POI in a digital representation of their assets, providing a clear visualization of the defects found within them to support planning, monitoring, and maintenance efforts.
"The Elios 3 is the single biggest project that Flyability has ever undertaken,” said Adrien Briod, CTO of Flyability. “If you think of the Elios 2 as your classic flip phone—only designed to make phone calls—the Elios 3 is the smartphone. It’s made to be customized for the specific demands of each user, letting you attach the payload you need so you can use the tool as you like, and allowing it to grow and improve over time with new payloads or software solutions. .”
Flyability has been working on the Elios 3 for four years. In that time, its engineers have spent thousands of hours on research and development and performed over 200 missions in the field to collect feedback, learn what clients want, and refine the technology in order to make the most reliable indoor drone on the market.
As part of the effort to make the Elios 3, Flyability collaborated with top universities around the world by joining Team Cerberus, which competed in—and won—DARPA’s multi-year Sub-T challenge for autonomous robotics in underground environments.
Looking into the Future
Flyability sees the future of the drone industry heading more and more toward autonomy. For the company, this means creating an indoor drone that can fly into a confined space, collect inspection data, and fly out without the need for a live pilot. The drone is a data-collection tool, maintains Flyability, and the more quickly and easily it can collect data, the more useful it is for inspectors.
According to Flyability, the future will also see more drones created for specific tasks and industries, as well as flexible platforms that can meet the needs of multiple industries. In developing the Elios 3, Flyability knew it would be important to make the platform as flexible as possible, and this is why it has a modular payload to allow inspectors in different industries to attach the specific sensors they need for their work.
More About Flyability
Flyability pioneered confined space inspection drones, creating new technology that allows inspectors to collect data remotely inside dangerous confined spaces instead of in person. Since launching in 2014, Flyability has become a trusted provider of internal inspection solutions, enabling remote data collection with cutting edge hardware and software for inspection professionals to help them improve safety, reduce downtimes, and cut costs for their internal inspections. Today Flyability has offices in Switzerland, China, Singapore, and the U.S., with almost one thousand clients in over 60 countries. Flyability works in every industry that requires internal inspections, including Power Generation, Oil & Gas, Mining, Wastewater Infrastructure, Chemicals, Maritime, and Infrastructure & Utilities.