Remember that video that was making the rounds? You know, the one with the chimpanzees flying the drone? Well, we debunked that one. Now, there’s a new video making the rounds. It shows a dog flying a drone. What???
Did that get your attention? It certainly grabbed ours. Of course, we didn’t think that a dog could possibly pilot a drone. But if the drone is being operated by sophisticated AI software with a high degree of autonomy, you might argue it’s so simple even a dog could fly it. And that is precisely what’s going on in this example. A news release from Exyn, which specializes in autonomous drones for GPS-denied industrial environments, states that Kody learned how to launch its drone and then did so inside a coal mine in Lansford, PA. In doing so, it launched the ExynAero on a flight where its LiDAR was scanning and mapping the interior walls of that mine.
Sound interesting? It is – though we’re not entirely convinced that Kody actually launched the flight.
Video of flight launch
Conveniently, Exyn had a video crew down in the mine for Kody’s big debut. We’d feel more confident if the shot were a little wider and we could see the whole process. But we get what’s happening here… and the LiDAR-equipped drone, which appears to be a modified DJI Matrice, does look pretty slick:
Exyn is a new name to us. But based on what we see, there’s a clear demand for this kind of software/hardware combination. LiDAR is super-useful for accurately scanning millions of points in a short period of time. This provides a high-resolution 3D model of the scanned objects/space. What’s more, the Exyn system is capable of mapping in a GPS-denied environment. According to the company’s news release:
Working with Kody on this project was incredibly exciting. This successful flight proves the strength of the intelligence of our autonomous technology as demonstrated in our new product line. After a very brief training period, Kody pressed the launch button and the ExynAero successfully flew through a complex, underground environment, collecting millions of data points and building a complete 3D map.
Jason Derenick, PhD, CTO, Exyn Technologies
The flight – along with the appearance of Kody as a marketing hook – is intended to promote Exyn’s latest line of products. They include the ExynPak and the ExynAero, which is the drone you see in operation. More deets direct from the news release:
The ExynAero is a fully autonomous cutting-edge system that maps industrial environments without the need for a pilot (or a dog), keeping employees safe and maximizing beyond-line-of-sight data collection. The ExynPak enables users to unstrap the autonomy and capture data via other modalities such as hand-carried or vehicle-mounted for situations where autonomy is not needed or practical. The ExynPak will extend the potential use of Exyn’s core technology into new applications and environments that don’t require an aerial or autonomous component… The data captured by any of Exyn’s platforms can be merged together via their automated software to build robust and complete maps of large or complex environments in real-time, even with multiple units running simultaneously. Exyn’s intelligent, autonomous robot systems are currently used for industrial applications such as mining, construction, nuclear power, and military surveillance/reconnaissance.
The three Ds
You’ve perhaps heard the saying that drones are the perfect tool for work that is Dirty, Dull or Dangerous. It’s a great saying, and very true. However, in this case we’d add that autonomous drones are the ideal solution for “The Three Ds.” Because really, would you want to be manually piloting a flight deep in a mine if you didn’t absolutely have to? Wouldn’t it be better to leave this task to a robot? You bet (though, of course, someone would have to there to monitor the flight. But you get my drift…)
Exyn’s advanced autonomy software, ExynAI, which powered our successful test flight with Kody, represents the future of data collection in multiple environments, many too dangerous for humans or dogs to tread. Real autonomy allows the opportunity for maximum data collection, and while Kody was a pleasure to work with on this launch, the reality is that the ExynAero really does fly itself.
Nader Elm, CEO, Exyn Technologies