This 550-gram R&D drone can navigate indoors autonomously

modelai seeker drone

ModalAI, a California-based drone and robotics company that spun out of Qualcomm in 2018, has launched a research and development drone that has been specifically designed to accelerate indoor autonomous navigation missions. The 550 g Seeker drone is built on the Blue sUAS framework and is powered by the VOXL CAM perception engine, another new ModalAI product.

According to a company press release, the drone can fly for up to 27 minutes. It can also operate on a 4G cellular network, depending on the configuration. The price of the ModalAI Seeker drone starts at $2,999.

The base weight of the VOXL CAM onboard is just 57.5 grams. With the flight controller and modem installed, it weighs 87 grams. ModalAI stresses that Seeker’s carbon airframe, credit card-sized VOXL CAM, and tilted rotors make it perfect to navigate through tunnels, scaffolding, bridges, and other tight spaces.

As Chad Sweet, CEO of ModalAI, explains:

The Seeker drone is the smallest reference drone ModalAI has designed to date. It’s a true micro-drone with powerful computing in a small form factor perfect for navigating GPS-denied, tight spaces that people can’t reach. Its micro-design unlocks a plethora of use cases for developers ranging from asset inspection to mission-critical.

Also read: Autonomous drones can now zip through the woods at insane speeds

It’s worth pointing out that VOXL CAM’s computing and perception prowess isn’t limited to drones alone. The engine can also be used to develop smaller, smarter, and safer robots as well as Internet of Things (IoT) devices with GPS-denied navigation, depth mapping, uncrewed aircraft systems flight control, and cellular connectivity. Built-in sensors include:

  • PMD time of flight (ToF) module for indoor depth mapping
  • Stereo image sensor pair for outdoor depth mapping
  • Tracking image sensor for visual-inertial odometry (VIO) localization

The VOXL CAM perception engine can be purchased independently of the ModalAI Seeker drone with prices starting at $999.99.

Read more: DJI Tello drone helps visually impaired people to play badminton [Video]

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