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This Drone Can Map The World In 3-D

And upload those digital maps to the cloud on the fly.

[Photo: courtesy of 3D Robotics]

Once just considered remote-controlled toys, drones in the past few years have become essential tools for many industries, including film, agriculture, and security. And each year those industries want drones with increasingly broad capabilities, which is why 3D Robotics, Sony, and Autodesk have teamed up to create a drone that can capture video and rapidly convert that footage into 3-D maps of an area, The Verge reports.

The next version of 3D Robotics’s high-end Solo drone will feature Sony’s new UMC-R10C camera, which not only takes far more detailed images than ever before, but also can upload those images to the cloud right from the camera. This means that users of the Solo drone won't need to land the drone and remove an SD card to retrieve the images. Once uploaded to the cloud, remote operators and engineers will be able to see 3-D maps based on the images, thanks to the Solo’s integration with Autodesk's FORGE software.

"The Solo is the first example of an enterprise drone that is integrated from end to end, from drone to camera to cloud," 3D Robotics cofounder and CEO Chris Anderson told The Verge.

Autodesk expects the biggest customers of 3D Robotics’ new Solo drone to be those in the construction industry, which greatly benefits from being able to survey work sites from above. "The demand is just huge," Autodesk's Dominique Pouliquen told The Verge. "There is not a single construction company we work with that does not have a UAV initiative."

3D Robotics says that it has plans to move way beyond 3-D mapping. The company says it plans to introduce a multispectral and thermal camera, which would allow agricultural sites, chemical plants, and oil rigs to scan materials from the air.

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