Swiss confined spaces inspection specialist Flyability has launched the updated Elios 3, the world’s first collision-tolerant drone equipped with a LiDAR sensor for indoor 3D mapping.
The drone is powered by a new simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) engine called FlyAware, that lets it create 3D models in real time as it flies using LiDAR data. FlyAware also gives the Elios 3 groundbreaking stability, combining data from the drone’s three optical cameras and its LiDAR sensor to catch the tiniest unpredictable movement and instruct the flight controller to compensate for it. New pilots can be trained in just one day.
Elios 3 also has a new version of Flyability’s software for inspectors, Inspector 4.0. This allows inspectors to visualise points of interest (POIs) in a high-resolution 3D map, supporting planning, monitoring, and maintenance efforts.
The Elios 3 comes with an Ouster OS0-32 LiDAR sensor, allowing inspectors to collect data for the creation of survey-grade 3D models using software from Flyability’s new partner GeoSLAM. Mapping areas that are out of reach or too dangerous for humans is very difficult, yet critical to support operational decisions. By combining the best of confined space drone data capture and 3D geospatial software technology, Flyability’s partnership with GeoSLAM enables professionals to produce survey-grade point clouds of the most inaccessible places in their workplace. In addition to carrying a LiDAR sensor, the Elios 3 can accommodate a second payload that allows it to be customised for each individual user’s needs.
Flyability has been working on the Elios 3 for four years, with engineers performing more than 200 missions in the field to collect feedback, learn what clients want, and refine the technology. As part of the effort to make the Elios 3, Flyability collaborated with top universities around the world by joining Team Cerberus, which won DARPA’s multi-year Sub-T challenge for autonomous robotics in underground environments.
‘The Elios 3 is the single biggest project that Flyability has ever undertaken,’ says Adrien Briod, CTO of Flyability. ‘If you think of the Elios 2 as your classic flip phone, only designed to make phone calls, the Elios 3 is the smartphone. It’s made to be customised for the specific demands of each user, letting you attach the payload you need so you can use the tool as you like, and allowing it to grow and improve over time with new payloads or software solutions.’
Flyability’s original Elios drone won the Global Tank Storage Award for Most Innovative Technology in 2017.