Intel bought Ascending Technologies, a drone company based in Germany. It sells professional and research drones. The professional line of drones include the AscTec Falcon 8, which is an octocopter. There are several models including the AscTec Trinity, which is designed for aerial imaging, GEO Expert, which is designed for surveying, mapping, and georeferenced aerial imaging, and Inspection Pro, which is designed for inspections. Inspection Pro features a combination thermal/digital camera that can be operated by a second cameraman, and the unit comes with video goggles.
There are two more professional models in the AscTec Falcon 8 line including Photo Expert and Video Expert. Photo Expert includes a Sony Alpha 7 or Sony Alpha 7R digital camera. It has a max resolution of 36 MP and a 35 mm full-frame sensor. There’s a photo package designed specifically for drone-based photography. Video Expert includes a Sony HDR-PJ810E camcorder and a drone-based videography package. A second cameraman can operate the camcorder while the pilot flys the drone, and video goggles are included.
Ascending Technologies’ most advanced research drone is the AscTec Firefly, which is an advanced hexacopter featuring depth sensing cameras. The cameras are so sensitive that it can accurately detect objects and avoid them while flying. It features a 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processor, an inertial guidance system, and multiple flight modes. It has a max airspeed of 15 m/s, a max climb rate of 8 m/s, and a max trust of 36 N. The AscTec Firefly has a max take off weight of 1.6 kg, and it can carry up to 600 g for 12 to 14 minutes. It has a range of 4,500 m ASL (1,000 m AGL). The pilot operates the drone via a 2.4 GHz XBee link (10-63 mW), and it has optional Wi-Fi. There’s a GPS flight mode, a height mode, and a manual mode. If the pilot has trouble flying the drone, there are a few emergency modes including direct landing, comehome straight, and comehome high.
The AscTech Firefly is the most advanced drone in Ascending Technologies’ research line. It can be modified with developer’s c-code algorithms, and the drone can be safely tested with new control commands and maneuvers without crashing. You can switch to AutoPilot while testing if the drone goes off course. According to Ascending Technologies, this drone produces very little noise, is emission-free, and environmentally friendly. AscTech Firefly features energy-efficient engines that run on a 100 watt motor. If one of the rotors goes offline, the remaining 5 will be able to safely fly the drone. The propellers are nonhazardous.
The AscTech Firefly is useful in several areas of research including:
- Computer Vision
- Automated flight experiments
- Optical distance measurements (LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging, LaDAR – Laser Detection and Ranging)
- Autonomy and automation of outdoor navigation
- Autonomy and automation of indoor navigation
This is the latest drone company acquisition. Google purchased Titan Aerospace, Citrix bought Octoblu, and Facebook acquired Ascenta.