Watch Skydio’s slick 3D Scan launch event, with context, here

So Skydio pulled off the company’s largest event so far: A launch presentation that featured a demo of its powerful 3D Scan software, along with examples of how real-world clients have demonstrated its effectiveness in the field using a Beta version.

If you haven’t yet heard, it’s a huge day in the history of Skydio. The company released its pricey but powerful 3D Scan software earlier today, at 9:00 ET. You can read our story based on the company’s news release here, and check out our longer story about actually using the beta software here. The tool is aimed at Enterprise users and First Responders…and Skydio had a lot to show those potential clients during a pretty polished launch video pulled together at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

It’s definitely worth watching, and we’ll get there in a sec.

The future is autonomous

If there was a theme to the Skydio presentation, that would be it: Drones that can carry out tasks efficiently and autonomously are the future – with an emphasis on autonomy. Such platforms, says the company, offer greater efficiencies for clients (faster, more accurate scans) with the drone basically doing all the work. And, as a leader in AI drones, Skydio believes it has the best tools for the job. As Skydio CEO and co-founder Adam Bry put it: “3D Scan is a breakthrough autonomy product.”

It then offered a demonstration to prove it.

Three, two, one…

The highlight of the event was a near real-time scan of rocket engines on a suspended Saturn V (or that’s our recollection) rocket. That’s a significant and complex structure to scan.

That guy in the photo above? That’s Alden Jones, Skydio’s VP of Customer Success. Alden already had a deep background with drones, including overseeing a program for scanning thousands of towers in a single year. He walked through the process of setting up a scan, and made it look simple.

And you know what? That’s because it is. Using 3D Scan’s Augmented Reality user interface, he was able to quickly establish a “floor,” a “ceiling” and some “pillars” – all in AR. Those virtual borders enclosed the area of interest that Alden was about to scan, the rocket engines.

(It’s worth noting that many inspections rely more on still images than on full 3D models/digital twins. The 3D Scan software includes some powerful tools that allow someone in the field to quickly locate and examine photos from specific points of a structure, without having to go hunting.)

Augmented Reality

The augmented reality part of this exercise is super intuitive (we’ve used it, though we couldn’t locate a rocket anywhere nearby). But, as you’ll see in the next two photos, Alden quickly build that virtual box:

The floor is shown in yellow, the ceiling in green

Then it was time to add some pillars:

See how this is coming together…?

After establishing these parameters, it’s really as simple as pressing “GO.” The Skydio 2 (or Skydio 2X) flies a quick exploratory mission to get a sense of the shape of the structure. And then it’s off to the races. These little pyramid-like structures indicate the various points from which the Skydio 2 was capturing images:

And yes, though I didn’t manage to grab the full frame, you’re reading that figure on the lower left correctly. The Skydio is capable of sub-millimetre resolution per pixel. Impressive.

And clients?

Well, a number of firms have been testing out this software during its Beta phase. And they say they’ve seen tremendous efficiencies and really high-quality results. Dean Miller is a Virtual Design and Construction Engineer with Sundt Construction, one of the largest employee-owned construction companies in the US. He produced this scan in – wait for it – 30 minutes:

Scanned in 30 minutes, no waiting…

So. Does Sundt Construction see a role for these drones and this software in its future? Apparently so:

“We are taking 2021 to transition from manual drones to Skydio Autonomous drones,” said Miller.

The full enchilada

We were about to start diving into more quotes from the event, when we realized that Skydio had uploaded the video to YouTube. So we suggest you take the time to hear what CEO Adam Bry had to say in more detail…and absorb the powerful capabilities of 3D Scan:

Trust us on this: The video is very much worth 23:45 of your time.

And finally

The company’s VP of Autonomy, Hayk Martiros, went into some pretty cool details about computer vision and the “deep neural network” the Skydio combo uses for these missions.

“Every flight plan is tailor-made,” he said. “All you have to do is just press ‘Go.'”

And that’s very, very true.

Well, actually you’ve got to shell out some money first. The software is $2999 US per drone, per year. That’s a lot of dough – but you also get a lot of power.

Finally, choosing a location with rockets was quite appropriate. Because, by all appearances, this company is on one.

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