Bringing a Pilotless Future and Autonomous Delivery One Step Closer to Reality
If you’re watching Westworld Season 3, you’re seeing a vision of a not so distant future where drones are completely autonomous and pilotless transports whisk people to their meetings. That future requires connected flight controllers and mission computers that have the power to deploy intelligence on the edge and work for any device (miniature drone to flying car). With COVID-19 continuing to redefine global logistics and delivery for essential services, the importance of accelerating the development of these autonomous systems is clear.
Getting there will take an entire ecosystem of developers, builders, and dreamers working closely with regulators. And if the evolution is anything like what we saw with smartphones, it will require an open standard backbone like Android that works with any device (from smartphone to TV, to Peloton), can be easily customized with 3rd party applications, and becomes the standards for a global ecosystem of developers.
That’s why we’re so excited to announce the release of Skynode, a first of its kind system that unifies all the components required for safe, reliable, and connected flight. Ten years in the making, it leverages all we’ve learned as the creators of PX4 and Pixhawk–the drone industry’s de-facto standard for autopilots–into a family of products that finally combines all the software and hardware in one easy to use solution that will accelerate the development of autonomous systems. It’s the beginning of what makes that Westworld vision not so distant.
Part of enabling the future means working together to build solutions that work for anyone. It’s not just building the software platform and hardware, but also making the design files available to the platform users so that companies can build their own implementations that work best for their customers. This lets companies build products faster, which is why you’ll see new products with Skynode inside and powered by the Auterion software platform coming to market in the next few months.
Take GE Aviation, one of the largest aircraft autopilot companies in the world. They are our first Skynode customer and are building a version of Skynode, called Run-Time Assurance (RTA) that lets a drone operators fly complex missions over urban areas — think enabling the drone delivery future in the short term and flying cars in the longer term.
GE Aviation’s example is just one of the four different versions of Skynode we’ve built to meet different market needs:
- Skynode Enterprise: this version will power a new wave of commercial drone applications like autonomous inspections of critical infrastructure or coordinated mapping missions at scale. Drones can be controlled remotely over 4G LTE and establish a direct connection from the camera on the drone directly into a company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. This will integrate drones even deeper into a company’s workflows making them a normal tool like a laptop.
- Skynode OEM: provides the Enterprise functionality in a form factor that allows a drone manufacturer to integrate it directly into their drone. This will enable manufacturers to bring smarter drones to market quicker and keep them small at the same time.
- Skynode Government: lifts the limitation of commercial autopilots and will enable drones to fly longer, at a higher speed, and in more demanding environments. It’s hardened for Government use and meets the requirement that every component is made in the US. Use cases will range from public safety, emergency response, intelligence, to reconnaissance.
- Skynode RTA by GE Aviation: enables complex operations that require higher safety standards and certification by regulators. Skynode RTA will power logistics companies delivering emergency goods with large drones and healthcare providers shipping critical drugs within urban areas.
The Auterion Operating System that runs on Skynode is based on the most widely used open source software for drones, PX4, which is used by thousands of developers and flies on millions of drones. This thriving ecosystem gives enterprises and governments the certainty that the Auterion software platform is future proof and that it is compatible with applications and services built for this standard.
If you are a drone manufacturer, Skynode will accelerate your development process as you are implementing on top of an integrated software and hardware platform. This will help you bring to market smart and connected systems more quickly and make them safer and more useful for enterprises and operators.
If you’re a developer of anything leveraging drone technology, this is a major leap forward for our industry. Applications built on top of Skynode and Auterion’s operating system will scale across any type of drone and enabling much sooner what you are experiencing today only in SciFi movies.