Not just out outdoors, indoor environments can benefit from drones too

Not just out outdoors, indoor environments can benefit from drones too
Drones for security applications are typically associated with surveying environments on the outside. But for indoor environments, where CCTV and other security systems have certain limitations, drones can come in handy too.
That was the point raised by Avansig, whose solution Smart Drones is an alternative to the traditional surveillance systems for indoor locations such as shopping centers, airports and industrial warehouses. “We wanted to make the difference and we found a gap – indoor drones,” said Maria Merlan, Head of the R&D department at Avansig. “We offer a system (less than 5 centimeters accuracy) built on an open hardware/open software autopilot that allows building a scalable business solution. Our solution is made up of intelligent indoor autonomous small-size drones, charging pads and a control center application. The charging pads and the navigation system maintain the service’s full autonomy. Patrol schedules, security alerts and routes can be easily modified by unskilled end-users in real time through the control center.”

Overcoming limitations

According to Merlan, security of indoors facilities is often covered by CCTV, security operators or ground robots, all of which have certain limitations. “CCTV, for example, is hampered by high installation and maintenance costs, impossible-to-eliminate blind spots and being static – it cannot react to meet changing needs, and vulnerable spots can be detected,” she said. “Watchmen are characterized by high cost, are prone to human error, take time to deploy, cannot monitor whole site at once and cannot reach all areas. Ground robots move at low speeds and are limited to certain areas for example floors without obstacles and perfectly flat solid floors.”
Avansig’s solution, on the other hand, overcomes these barriers with one or several intelligent autonomous drones that carry out patrols inside buildings, removing the limitations posed by irregular floors, blind spots, human errors and health risks, Merlan said.
“It allows rapid response in urgent situations, whereby drones can be sent to large and hard-to-reach areas on a 24/7 basis, and blind spots and fixed routine vulnerabilities are also eliminated,” she said. “It also allows agility and flexibility in the deployment of security services, avoids the deployment of cables and video circuits, reduces costs, reduces the occupational risk of monitoring harsh environments, and gives access to impossible-to-reach or restricted areas.”
According to her, the Smart Drones are based on a combination of custom and open software developments, which can run in any drone supported by de Ardupilot project, and hardware that are especially tailored for the surveillance of small-medium indoor environments.
“In order to get an accurate position inside any facility, we use a custom sensor system based on a combination of LIDAR, rangefinders and artificial vision 3D camera. This system is used inflight to provide obstacle detection capabilities. The drone carries a visible spectrum camera and thermographic camera for surveillance operations. However, it can carry extra payload up to 1000 grams,” Merlan said. “Our software platform provides a web control application which allows users to determine routes and schedule flights, monitor flights in real time and view past recordings. Onboard software is fully autonomous. The control application activates the take-off command and the unit performs the given route. Our custom position and navigation software is built on the ROS platform and runs on a dedicated computer. It is responsible for high level tasks (position estimation, motion planning, obstacle detection, alternative route planning) and relies on Ardupilot for low level tasks.”

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