Updated: May 31
Basic Specs Comparison
Battle of the 3D LiDAR Confined space drone
Real-time 3D point cloud
Both Scout 137 and Elios 3 enable the user to see the real-time point cloud of the environment the drone is in during flight via the flight app. Both drones likely use SLAM technology to keep the drone stable in a GPS-denied environment. (Lumicopter uses downward vision sensors). The LiDAR used is from Ouster and has a long-range. That means that both drones should hold positions well in a large confined space.
Elios 3 can post-process the LiDAR point cloud recorded using GeoSLAM software. This means a dense point cloud can be generated for greater detail. For ScoutDI, it is uncertain if they have the same ability.
Scout 137 uses a tether cable to receive commands from the pilot. Since no wireless transmission is used, the control will not be affected by a metallic object. This should ensure greater reliability. Elios 3 much like Elios 2 relies on wireless transmission. This can sometimes be affected by the environment especially if there are metal objects around. In our tests, Lumicopter can fly within vessels with no issues, so not all metals affect wireless transmission equally. Note that to stream LiDAR sparse point cloud back to the remote will consume considerable bandwidth, it is uncertain how the need for higher bandwidth will affect the operating range. Scout 137 tether cable has a max length of 40m, for bigger structures, this might mean the pilot will have to enter the structure and move the tether station to various points. Elios 3 will be able to fly from the outside into a large structure as long as its wireless transmission is not affected.
Elios 3 flight time is 9 minutes with LiDAR while Scout 137 has unlimited flight time via a tether system. This is useful for a large area that needs slow and careful inspection or when the pilot is uncertain about where to inspect and spends a long time positioning the drone.
Both ScoutDI and Flyability provide inspector software that helps the user generate inspection reports. ScoutDI uses an online-based platform which means internet access is required while Flyability's Inspector 4.0 software is Windows-based and seems to be able to work offline. Both software will be able to generate the local position of the drone and photos inside the confined space.
Both Scout 137 and Elios 3 cost at least 4-8 times Lumicopter. The ROI of such systems depends on the value of the jobs.
In general, Scout 137 and Elios 3 LiDAR should enable time savings in report writing since all photos can be georeferenced. Elios 3 has the further advantage of generating dense point cloud post-flight. Both Elios 3 and Lumicopter provide about 9 minutes of flight time while Scout 137 can fly indefinitely. There is no "ultimate" confined space drone and choosing 1 depends on one's familiarity with the job, ability to charge for the job and general flying environment.