During CES 2019, drone-tech company AEE Aviation announced the expansion of their partnership with AI start-up ModalAI with the goal of empowering “drones to navigate environments more safely and efficiently for drone operators.”
“Specifically, this unique partnership will allow AEE to integrate advanced AI perception into its core line of drones and UAVs, bringing unprecedented, state-of-the-art safety and autonomy to AEE drones.”
A company statement notes the first product in the new line will be called the AEE Mach 2 and it is expected to onboard the Qualcomm Flight Pro platform featuring the Qualcomm APQ8096SG processor.
“The Mach 2 will be a direct result of a partnership between two industry leaders and a talented group of robotics engineers who are dedicated to making drones safer, easier to fly and more inclusive to the consumer,” said Mike Kahn, AEE’s Chief Marketing Officer.
“The advanced programming offered by ModalAI puts a brain behind standard obstacle avoidance, thus easing two primary concerns among new navigators – crashing their products and injuring others, both of which become far less likely with this new technology.”
When integrated with ModalAI’s features into the Qualcomm Flight Pro Platform, AEE’s Mach 2 is expected to be equipped with the Simultaneous Location And Mapping (SLAM) system, which allows the drone to become aware of its surroundings by creating a virtual map in “its brain” as it flies.
Utilizing visual inertial odometry allows the Mach 2 to better understand its flying environment and allows the drone to hold its position in GPS denied areas. The Mach 2 will also feature GPS and GLONASS satellite positioning systems, an external joystick for easy flying, a 22-minute battery life along with high-quality Sony sensor camera capable of producing 4k videos and 13 mega-pixels still images.
The announcement cements Qualcomm’s higher flight path into the drone sector. In 2017, security company Alarm.com unveiled plans to create an autonomous drone application to strengthen home and business security systems by combining the company’s multi-sensor awareness software with the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight platform.
Earlier, Qualcomm and AT&T launched a research project to determine how drones can effectively operate on wireless networks. The project will address issues related to coverage, signal strength and mobility across network cells to assist in drone functions such as Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).