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Taiwan’s largest high-tech applied research institutions, ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), has a new ICT Solution for Drones – a remotely-controlled autonomous drone system.
The technology delivers the ability to control more than one LTE-connected drone from one fleet management system; to integrate the operation of multiple drones; and unlimited range even across continents via LTE, a vast improvement over current remote control ranges of under seven kilometers within visual line-of-sight.
According to ITRI’s website, the potential applications of the system include aerial photography; security patrol; solar panel, wind turbine, and power line inspection; landslide inspection; and transport.
In a solar panel inspection, for example, ITRI’s solution would enable a fleet of drones to detect hot-spot heating on solar panels in solar farms, which can include millions of solar panels across thousands of acres, well beyond the range of remote-control drones but easily within the range of LTE. An aerial inspection would reduce the possibility of hot spots caused by dust or leaves that may result in permanent damage to a solar panel.
In a landslide inspection application, ITRI’s ICT Solution for Drones would enable a fleet of drones to survey landslide conditions beyond visual line-of-sight to help save lives.
The system includes three components:
A remotely-Operated Autonomous Drone (ROAD), which can engage in intercontinental out-of-sight operation throughout the world using LTE. The ROAD features a fail-safe communications system that includes disconnection recovery; three control channels; emergency handover between control channels; emergency landing capability; the ability to fly away from LTE dead zones. An Intelligent multiple-flight fleet management system integrates drone flight data and three streaming cameras; allows the user to select the drone to control; and simultaneously displays the positions of all drones on a map.
The second component is Tribrid Real-Time Streaming for Drone: A heterogeneous multi-video streaming platform provides hybrid data streaming of three cameras over LTE: first person view (FPV); 30x optical zoom high-definition eagle-view surveillance; and a thermal camera for inspection and night vision.
Super Range: In addition to intercontinental remote operation over LTE, the ROAD can operate autonomously for certain periodic patrolling tasks in extended areas over a month by the recharging system, which includes an automatic stabilized landing stage; a charging safety subsystem monitor; support for versatile power sources such as a highly efficient direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) power module, regular power line, or DC sources from solar cells or other generators; and an additional buffering system for continuous and stable charging supply for the drone.
“ITRI’s ICT Solution for Drones is a promising drone fleet management system, which can operate across continents and off-grid for extended periods, and solves the technical issues of range, control and charging associated with drone fleet management,” said Tsung-Hsien Chen, manager of ITRI’s Information and Communication Research Laboratories.“