What can AI offer to the Commercial Drone Industry?
The artificial intelligence revolution is here, over the past weeks and months, the world has woken up to AI and the advancement in AI technology!
But what is AI, how does it work, and what can it offer us in the commercial drone industry?
In this post, we will look at the advancements in AI, the future of AI, and how it can change the drone industry as we know it.
What is AI?
AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence to complete.
These tasks may include learning, problem-solving, decision-making, understanding natural language, recognizing patterns, and perceiving and interacting with the environment.
So when it comes to offering advancements in the drone industry we would be looking at generative AI, using large language models, like the internet, to learn and identify patterns.
AI and Drones
So, how would drones benefit from the use of AI technology?
Drones collect a huge volume of data from their flights, whether this be from photogrammetry, inspection work, or filming...
Once collected this data can be used to train AI and help it learn.
So where do we go from here and how can we put this into practice...
Automatic Anomaly Detection
So the first use case for automatically checking for anomalies will be 'Automatic Defect Detection'
This is where AI can automatically detect where there may be a defect and make the user aware. This process can already be done without the use of generative AI.
Automation of the Human Review
This is where AI will take over from the data being reviewed by human interaction.
Generative AI will automate reviewing of every single image, assessing that image and learning from what it finds.
You will be able to ask the AI questions in relation to your collected data, questions like:
“what is wrong in this data?” or “please summarise the most important issues”
AI for Predictive Maintenance
So given the above, the removal of human interaction to review the data, once AI has enough datasets it might well be possible to learn where predictive maintenance needs to take place...
This would be a cause-and-effect relationship where the AI would look at the data collected over a period of time and understand where there may be defects or anomalies occurring.
From here the AI would be able to make an informed decision, for example:
"A crack is developing" - how long does it take - when would be the best time to act?
This information would be very informative to the end user and may prevent further issues in the life of the structure or building.
Alongside the growing advancements in AI, we also have a revolution in the form of robotics.
Drones are indeed a form of robotics and are commonly being used not only in the filming and consumer industries but in many commercial and military markets too.
DJI, the largest consumer manufacturer of drones in the world, has been producing drones since 2013 when the original consumer drone, the Phantom, was released...
Since 2013 the industry has boomed with other manufacturers, including Autel, Yuneec, and Parrot, releasing drones to try and rival DJI.
With the advancement in technology, drones have come a long way from the early days. We now have consumer drones that are capable of flying for up to 45 minutes, shooting 6K video, and taking photos up to 100 Megapixels!
And that's just the start, we already have automated flight and data collection but the next big thing is the 'Drone in a Box' format...
The 'Drone in a Box' is an emerging form of autonomous technology that uses drones that deploy from and return to self-contained landing “boxes.”
This technology alongside developing AI technology would be a huge advancement in the way we use drones in the future.
Drones aren't the only robotic technology to have taken a huge leap in their advancement.
Companies like Boston Dynamics and BladeBug are at the forefront of robotic tech, with Boston Dynamics developing the likes of Spot the robotic dog.
Spot is an agile mobile robot that navigates the terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing you to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently.
Credit: Boston Dynamics
Like Boston Dynamics, BladeBug has developed a robot that 'crawls' a wind turbine checking for damage and anomalies, making it safer for inspection and taking out the human risk factor.
As you can see, the robotic revolution is happening in tandem with the AI revolution, with these two technologies inevitably joining forces the future is looking exciting.
So what would that look like?
AI & Robots
We are now living in an age where AI will be able to understand issues and define how or when those issues would need to be fixed.
AI will be able to come up with the best options for repair and maintenance and furthermore it will be able to automatically assign those workflows to a fleet of robots...
Credit: Boston Dynamics
The future is certainly exciting!
Key developments will be in the industries where data is transformed into actionable information and with the uptake in the digitization of assets this will only grow.
AI is here to stay, whether that be in the form of an internet-based platform or a fleet of automated robots carrying out daily tasks, the future can only bring more advancements and greater learning...
If you'd like to learn more about how to capture high-quality data and get the most out of your drone flights using our cloud-based platform, please feel free to visit our learning resources.
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— Team at Hammer Missions