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Customer Success Story

Skyfish develop smarter drones

Background

Skyfish is an American company operating out of Stevensville, Montana. The team at Skyfish has developed what they call “a deep drone platform technology stack.” This includes the design and manufacture of custom drone onboard computers, remote controller, carbon composite airframes, battery charging system, ground station, flight planning and navigation software, as well as 3D modeling, mapping, and data analytics software. Their objective is to build a smarter drone capable of high-precision data capture.

Skyfish operates as a key supplier of drones for the inspection and monitoring of cell towers and powerlines, as well as wind turbines – replacing the need for more traditional roles and maximizing methods of inspection. Skyfish drones also survey customers to map areas previously deemed inaccessible by traditional means. This means Skyfish helps its enterprise and government customers to reduce costs and time spent in the field, allowing for more and higher quality data collection.

Skyfish also produces a rapid “firefighting and monitoring” drone. This specialized drone provides situational awareness and geographical information for emergency response teams to help identify fire survivors and hotspots, inspect damaged infrastructure, as well as generate 3D models and maps.

The problem

Accurate, engineering-grade data collection requires a highly specialized type of drone. These drones must be autonomous and “think” for themselves by processing data in real-time, using AI and advanced machine learning algorithms. Given the various industries that Skyfish serves (i.e., cell towers, powerlines, wind turbines, surveying, fire response, and more) there is no room for costly errors – to either drone (in the event of a crash) or damage to surrounding infrastructure. Also, with the size and scale of industries that Skyfish serve, it’s essential to roll out large fleets of drones able to reliably inspect and monitor potentially thousands of critical infrastructure assets.

On top of this, using drones with a payload inclusive of both LiDAR and cameras to monitor assets is still a disruptive, new technology. The team at Skyfish quickly realized that it was imperative to demonstrate how they could build and provide such a service. Skyfish’s end goal is to free customers from existing, laborious manual rope and climb processes, and establish scalable drone programs with teams of drone pilots. Skyfish is out to prove that its drone platform – characterized by accuracy, reliability, and scalability – is the current market’s most effective solution for inspecting, managing, and modeling critical infrastructure assets

 

The solution

Skyfish started as a software company planning to produce high quality 3D reality models. They soon realized that building drones with components gathered from multiple sources was not feasible. Skyfish now designs and manufactures their own drones – the Skyfish M4 and Skyfish M6 – using carefully sourced components that are tested rigorously. As a value add, Skyfish also offers data collection as a service for pilots flying Skyfish drones.

The Skyfish M4 and Skyfish M6 drone platforms include a custom onboard computer, a ruggedized remote controller, carbon composite airframes, battery charging system, links to ground station, flight planning and navigation software, as well as 3D modeling, mapping, and data analytics software. It also includes a camera and two LightWare microLiDAR™ sensors.

 

Skyfish uses the LightWare SF11 microLiDAR™ sensor mounted in a downward facing orientation for precision take off, hovering and landing. They also use the LightWare SF45 microLiDAR™ sensor set up in a forward-facing orientation for accurate obstacle detection and collision avoidance. These LiDARs also conveniently integrate to a customized version of the Arduino Arducopter firmware using mavlink protocols.

 

 

The outcome

Through drones and drone-based technologies, the world of asset inspection and monitoring, surveying and volumetric measurement is experiencing a fundamental shift. As these disruptive technologies become widely accepted and prove their usage, traditional, labor-intensive methods will be replaced with more sustainable, scalable, and accurate drone-based solutions.

The SF11/C is a long-range and lightweight laser altimeter. It has a 100-meter range and an update rate of 20 readings per second, providing accurate and fast altitude AGL measuring capability.

The SF11/C is the ideal choice for automated landings, precision hovering, and terrain following.

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Skyfish develop smarter drones
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