Tech Innovation

You can fly the RealSense Yuneec Typhoon H with your eyes shut

The next generation of drones will be smarter than your average quad- or hexacopter. In some cases, you won’t even need to fly them manually. Instead, they’ll follow you around intelligently, viewing the world with depth-sensing 3D cameras that allow them to map their surroundings and autonomously navigate them.

So no more drone crashes. Unprecedented freedom. In fact, you could fly a RealSense-equipped Yuneec Typhoon H with your eyes shut.

The key lies in collision-avoidance technology. It’s arguably the next must-have drone feature and we’ve already seen what it can do on the Yuneec Typhoon H. At this year’s CES, for example, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich demonstrated how the clever hexacopter could follow a cyclist through an artificial forest, dodging artificial trees. All without human input.

That’s the big appeal of the Typhoon H — it can literally fly itself. With drone near-misses hitting the headlines, giving UAVs the ability to auto-fly could make them crash-proof.

So in addition to its geo-fencing, Dynamic Return Home and Low-Battery Return Home options, the Yuneec Typhoon H features an Orbit Mode (where the drone automatically moves around its controller, keeping it in the middle) and a Journey Mode (allowing you to plan and customise a route for the Typhoon H to follow).

Seeing with RealSense eyes

Yuneec’s drone is also designed to be modular and its default situational awareness (ultrasonic proximity detection) can be boosted with the addition of an Intel RealSense camera module.

RealSense uses a combination of an infrared camera, infrared laser projector and a normal RGB colour camera to perceive depth. Working alongside an Intel Atom processor, the RealSense module crunches the camera data to enable the Typhoon H drone to accurately map its surroundings in 3D. It can then make flight corrections (in real time) to avoid obstacles. Like these cacti…

According to Yuneec, the Typhoon H is perfect for “both skilled and novice pilots and photographers.” Powered by six propellers, it can fly for up to 22 minutes, filming (or taking 12 megapixel stills) with its CGO3+ 4K, 360-degree rotation camera.

Without RealSense-assisted flight, pilots control it using an ST16 Personal Ground Station remote controller, which incorporates a built-in 7-inch Android touchscreen.

Smarter and safer drones

The Yuneec Typhoon H combines all of the latest drone technologies into a single carbon fibre package, one so small that it can be folded away into its own backpack.

Fully upgraded with advanced collision-avoidance and follow me features, it’s easy to see how future drones will become smarter, safer and more fun to fly. Near-misses and crashes should become a thing of the past. While with the addition of LTE technology (and relaxed aviation authority rules), they will also be able to fly beyond line-of-sight to make deliveries or to conduct autonomous surveillance tasks.

The Yuneec Typhoon H will be available for around £1,399 this April with the RealSense module to follow, price £TBA. — Dean Evans (@evansdp)

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