DroneDeploy has acquired robotic software company Rocos

DroneDeploy Rocos Robots

Drones and ground-based robots are starting to work together. When it comes to enterprise work, particularly industrial inspections and surveillance, you just can’t beat the combination when it comes to some applications. And so it’s both not surprising and pretty forward-thinking that DroneDeploy has acquired New Zealand-based robotic software company Rocos.

We already know that drones can do amazing work on the job site. Photogrammetry, surveying, volumetric calculations, and more. But there are some things they can’t do, like walk around the inside of a power plant – as just one example.

But as autonomy and automation continue to prove themselves as breakthrough technologies in multiple sectors, we’re starting to see companies begin to integrate ground-based robots with drones. To do that right, you need good software. And Rocos apparently is one of the leaders in this field.

DroneDeploy

We’ve covered DroneDeploy before, and recently had a briefing from the company. It specializes in making digital twins of structures, which can be used to track changes over time and help with inspection and maintenance. Its software also allows the integration of imagery captured on the ground with smartphones and even 360° cameras.

So it comes as no surprise the company is looking at the next big thing: The use of ground-based robots such as Spot, from Boston Dynamics.

A pack of Spot ground-based robots. Good, efficient dogs.

DroneDeploy + Rocos: Robotics rule

Being able to dispatch and gather data from flying and ground-based robots makes sense, and this is very much a forward-thinking move. Here’s Mike Winn, CEO and cofounder of DroneDeploy:

Companies are undergoing a digital transformation accelerated by challenges surrounding labor shortages and COVID-driven remote operations. As a result, the market demand for automatic site documentation and digital twins has soared. With the Rocos acquisition, we are enabling our customers to automate ground-level data capture, moving several steps closer to a complete automation solution.

Here’s how aerial and ground-based robots can work together

There are many examples that immediately come to mind, but here’s one included in the release – and a use-case we did not happen to think of:

DroneDeploy is already the market share leader in drone software, powering the world’s largest companies to capture an instant understanding of their assets and operations through aerial imagery. Now, with the extension to on-the-ground robots, workers will soon be able to establish automated routines within the platform from both the air and the ground. For example, a solar technician could program a drone to fly over a solar power plant, identify thermal hotspots, and automatically activate ground robots to walk under the hotspot to identify the exact problem – no human intervention needed. This process will save time, resources and human labor, freeing workers to focus on other tasks.

The evolution continues

Just as drones have come to the forefront in recent years, so too are ground-based robots about to explode on the scene. Here’s David Inggs, former CEO and cofounder of Rocos, now DroneDeploy’s head of ground robotics:

A few years ago, drones made the leap from hobbyist toys to enterprise tools. Now, ground robotics is on a similar trajectory. With the addition of Rocos’ ground robotics technology, DroneDeploy can now automate critical data workflows across both air and ground use cases, enabling greater safety and efficiency for the whole worksite.

DroneDeploy + Rocos ups the robotic game

Anyone watching this industry at the enterprise level can see that the integration of ground-based robots with drones makes a lot of sense. We look forward to seeing DroneDeploy integrate the expertise (and code) from Rocos into a single solution for dispatching missions, data acquisition, and analysis.

Robots – whether they fly or walk or crawl – get the job done, and nearly always with greater efficiency and accuracy than human beings.

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