Unique Drone Solution Poised to Survey Government Infrastructure
Emily Pollock posted on September 10, 2018 |
A Yuneec drone using the new 3DR/Yuneec joint software. (Image courtesy of 3DR.)
A Yuneec drone using the new 3DR/Yuneec joint software. (Image courtesy of 3DR.)

Drone software company 3DR has partnered with drone manufacturing company Yuneec International to create “3DR Government Services,” a totally made-in-America drone service tailored to public sector drone security regulations. Both companies believe their project will be useful for government construction and infrastructure-maintenance projects.

Currently, the biggest name in the drone industry is Shenzhen-based DJI. However, many levels of American government are concerned about using drones or software manufactured outside-of-country, especially given the current rocky relationship between China and the United States. So 3DR is working with China-based Yuneec to create an American company that makes both drones and software.

“It was a unique opportunity for us to create a joint venture with the best of China, which is to say, hardware manufacturing, and the best of the U.S., which is the software and data processing, and build it under a corporate office that is made in America with government requirements,” said 3DR CEO Chris Anderson.

The first product from their joint venture is the Yuneec 3DR H520-G, unveiled this week at the Interdrone Conference in Las Vegas. The H520-G is a 3DR Site Scan platform integrated into customized H520 hexacopter technology. Importantly, the technology is also integrated with Autodesk and Esri platforms. The link between the drone and these platforms is bidirectional; the drone can easily upload information to Esri, and Esri maps can be used easily to plan drone routes. "We can now pull down any Esri layer and plan your mission around that,” Anderson said. "Rather than just planning around a location, this allows you to plan around things that you really want to monitor, like hydrology or ecology."

All of the software behind this is based on Dronecode, an open-source home for vendor-neutral drone software. Anderson calls Dronecode “the android of drone software,” and that the goal of the platform was “to create an open-source platform that is best-of-breed but also trusted.” 3DR Government Services is the first commercial application to be based on Dronecode.

For Anderson, the founder of Dronecode, the project has been a labour of love. And, with the federal government’s increased interest in open-source software for its greater transparency, he hopes that his passion for open-source will watch on. “The government is now recognizing [open source's] advantages, not just in terms of the code, but also the ability to be transparent and trusted in a way that closed-source software can't be."

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