Keeping drones airborne at CES

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Drones were one of the big areas of technology on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which draws to a close today. Imaging plays a role both as a way to get aerial pictures and in the ability of the drone to navigate around its environment.

Qualcomm Research introduced its Snapdragon Cargo, a flying and rolling robot designed for carrying freight and other items. Qualcomm was showcasing its computer vision algorithms for robot navigation.

The algorithms included Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO), which tracks the 3D position and 3D orientation in unknown, feature-sparse environments, using both inertial sensors and a camera; Vision-only Simultaneous Localisation And Mapping (VSLAM), which tracks 3D position and orientation in texture-rich environments and is used for 3D reconstruction; and Depth From Stereo cameras (DFS), which provides depth information used for collision avoidance and 3D reconstruction.

Swiss company, SenseFly, was showing its eXom drone that provides high resolution imaging, video and thermal imaging. It is designed for civil engineers and other surveyors and its imaging capability can show millimetre-wide faults in structures like bridges. As well as preventive fault inspection of structures like bridges, it can provide detailed 3D maps and has potential uses in agriculture, surveying, mapping, mining and humanitarian aid.

There were also products on display from Hexo+, which offers a UAV that can fly 60m in the air and circle the user to capture a 360° selfie, and SkySpecs’s drone, which has the ability to automatically avoid obstacles.

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