Panoptes Systems, a developer of environmental awareness solutions for drones, has introduced the eBumper4, the first commercially-available, sonar-based, small drone obstacle avoidance system. Running into obstacles is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for effective drone operation, and eBumper4 helps solve this problem.
eBumper4’s four sonar sensors provide the drone with information about the physical environment to the front, right, left, and above it. When eBumper4 senses an obstacle in its field of view, it prevents the drone from getting too close to the obstacle. It “bumps” off the object, keeping the drone at a safe distance. The pilot can then navigate the drone safely away from the obstruction.
eBumper4 is effective at operating speeds up to 8 ft/sec (2.5 m/sec), encompassing much of the operating envelope for industrial inspection and cinematography drone flights. “eBumper4 holds great promise for enabling safer and more efficient commercial drone activities in the areas of industrial inspection and cinematography, both indoors and out,” highlighted Panoptes CEO Annalisa Weigel.
“Robust integration of the eBumper4 sonar sensors required a significant development and testing effort to understand the very noisy environment of a quadcopter,” said Panoptes CTO Fabrice Kunzi. “Our solution ultimately combined a mix of precise sensor placement and triggering, clever filtering, as well as smart physical integration.” eBumper4 is currently being offered for the Phantom 2 line of drones from DJI, and the Iris+ drone from 3D Robotics. Future eBumper4 offerings on other drone platforms are planned.
Orders are being taken now for the eBumper4 through the Kickstarter platform, with delivery anticipated in summer 2015. “Much of the commercial drone innovation revolution is being led by start-ups and passionate individual entrepreneurs,” said Weigel. “We’ve chosen to launch our eBumper4 order campaign on Kickstarter as a way to share our story with this vibrant group, engage prospective eBumper4 users, and build the community of people who will use eBumper4 to do some amazing things we haven’t even thought of yet.” Panoptes will also release a Software Development Kit for the eBumper4, enabling users to create custom eBumper4 apps for their individual needs.