Geo Week News

July 12, 2017

Hovermap: Powerful SLAM for Drone Autonomy and Lidar Mapping

3D point cloud of a building generated by Hovermap payload.

Hovermap is a new UAV payload from DATA61 and CSIRO that brings advanced autonomy, SLAM-based mapping, omnidirectional collision avoidance, and GPS-denied flight to drones. Though Hovermap was designed for use in complex industrial applications in the mining and telecommunications industries, it can be used for any application where users want to collect previously unavailable data in a safe, repeatable, and efficient way.

SPAR 3D caught up with DATA61’s principal research scientist, Dr. Stefan Hrabar, for more details.

Hovermap in action, lidar-mapping electrical infrastructure.

Hovermap in action, lidar-mapping electrical infrastructure.

Tech Specs

Currently in its beta testing configuration, the payload comprises a Velodyne VLP-16 Lite, a low-grade MEMS IMU, and an embedded computer. The commercial release will add three cameras, PPK GPS, and a long-range radio link for telemetry and real-time point cloud visualization. This commercial version will weigh in at 2.0 kg.*

The lidar is mounted in a manner that will be familiar to users of other products developed at CSIRO–it rotates to capture a spherical view. This means it gathers a lot of data on a single pass and requires fewer passes to map complex objects than fixed-orientation sensors. The spherical view also offers the data needed for an obstacle avoidance system–all without adding an extra sensor.

Dr. Hrabar explains that there are two different ways to deploy the Hovermap on your multirotor airframe. If your drone does not have a compatible autopilot system, you can deploy Hovermap as a mapping-only payload. In this configuration, the payload will perform real-time mapping, but lacks advanced autonomy.*

If your drone-mapping system includes a compatible autopilot, you’ll gain access to advanced autonomy. When you use the Hovermap this way, Dr. Hrabar promises “application specific autonomy” and “single click mission execution” in complex and dangerous situations. Send the drone on its way, and receive a real-time point cloud as the mission progresses.

(Note: Click on gallery images to see them in full resolution.)

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