The innovation behind Intel’s drones

Intel Corporation

New Europe spoke about drones with Matthias Beldzik, the Senior Manager of Marketing at the Intel Drone Group, during the CeBIT 2017 in Hannover.


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Intel and Deutsche Messe joined forces to produce an unparalleled live demo showcase at CeBIT 2017 to highlight the diverse commercial applications of the latest drone systems. The Intel CeBIT Drone Park at the Hannover Exhibition Center providaed a unique insight into the entire UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) value chain, with visitors being able to see drone demonstrations in a variety of applications. Visitors also experienced how the comprehensive data gathered by the drones are converted into usable information at a central control station by means of special analysis and visualization tools.

The results and 3D graphics generated from the drone’s raw data are then used to provide information for decisions – for instance, the drone surveys an array of solar collectors and the gathered information will tell you when the solar plant is next up for maintenance.

New Europe : Can you give some examples of how you can use the new drones you’re presenting here in Hannover? 

Matthias Beldzik : All the cases we present here are about area-imaging from up in the air, the first case is about one of Europe’s largest chemical parks, ChemPark, which is located in Leverkusen and which was inspected in just a day and a half. We flew over the area taking pictures, after which we processed the data and received more detailed information. For a second project, we had a collaboration with Bauhaus University, which is specialized in structural inspections, virtual reality and data processing.

With our systems, we flew over and beside constructions to create highly accurate 3D modelling in order to be able to detect damages and cracks just from the data.  This is a very cost efficient way and you can do it with bridges and any kind of constructions, including heritage monuments.

Another extremely important use is for oil inspections in platforms, for example the drones are very stable and safe; you can fly these objects very efficiently – compared to conventional methods, you are up to 90% safer.

Here you can do live inspections which result in live images on your desk, you can process the data, you can do RGB imaging, and you are able to create 3D modelling as well in order to detect cracks, damages and hot spots very quickly.

You don’t have to shut down anything; you can keep it running, make your money and keep the production going. The last case is about an inspection of a solar park over which we flew over and took images and stills in order to identify hot ports and defects of the modules.

NE : Are these drones efficient for security missions too?   

MB : They are not specialized for security but depending on the kind of security, you can use them as well. However, we have other systems like the Intel Aero Platform which allows you to put a map on the drone and tell the drone how to fly indoors or even outdoors.

NE : How do you see the future of drones and growth possibilities?

MB : Intel’s approach is to lead the market and bring innovative technology into it, aiming to shape the complete eco-system. During the Super Ball show, at half time throughout Lady Gaga’s performance, we displayed a lot of drones (Swarming Drones) up in air, lighting up the sky night. Another approach, for instance, is the Aero Platform for researchers which help them develop their own drone solutions, so I see a lot potential for the future. I think that the major growth will take place in industrial inspections and construction – in the US, for example, they have many uninspected constructions they need to inspect, so if you can do it frequently and efficiently, there will be a real benefit.

NE : How can we use drones in emergencies? Do we have any cases to exemplify it? 

MB : Firemen and the police are our customers as well. During the Italian earthquake in Amatrice we had a research project together with an Italian university and we were there to inspect whatever evidence the ruins showed and check for safety issues. The police can do further inspections for some rescuing as well –  we have first aid operators, charity organizations and NGOs going to areas hit by disasters to help.  If you go in a war zone, it is almost impossible to get help from the authorities, but you need to know where you can set up your base.  In this case, rescue teams use this system as well to search for survivors. 

NE : Can you tell me about some new technologies we are going to see soon in the market?

MB : For the future, we would like to implement on-board processing power and collision avoidance system, meaning that the drone would stop before hitting an obstacle or fly around it automatically – it is a smart system.

NE : How can a drone producer like Intel still be competitive in this complex and innovative market?

MB : The great difference is the holistic approach. In the end, it is about the data and the data centres and about the data needing to be processed, meaning you need an increased processing power. After that, the drone needs to be connected because there are more and more drones up in the air and you need to be safe and have them on your radar. The 5G will be a great opportunity to implement more drones in the airspace; the drone is just like any smart technological phenomenon, such as autonomous driving – you need an innovative system behind.        

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