I was sitting at a “3 lights cycles to get through it” Vegas intersection last week, longing for the day when our autonomous cars will negotiate with each other so we don’t have to stop. The first of several helpful drone stories this week.

Once we let go of the error in our logic that assumes drones will all run amok, it makes sense that robots and helpful drones can do tasks we haven’t even imagine.

No Stopping at Intersections

I think the math will be quite easy.. every car talking to every other car and no stopping at intersections. Millions of calculations from other vehicles, finding the wide gaps between traffic that we know are there, but just can’t calculate fast enough.

When I first thought about this, I imagined something like a movie scene where a chase has reckless speeds and near misses. That’s not what I see now. I envision vehicles running a safe speed, plenty of distance between cars, just better information for a safer, stop-free experience.

Helpful Drone Working inside the Airport

helpful drone to assist Airbut

A helpful drone won’t run amok and take down planes on the runway. They are more likely to be used for inspection.

Airbus has demonstrated aircraft visual inspection using a helpful drone at the Farnborough Airshow.

The drone, equipped with a high definition camera, performs visual inspection for the upper part of the aircraft. It is flown using an automatic flight control system supervised by a human pilot. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) follows a predetermined flight path and takes a series of pictures automatically. All these images and especially those showing any potential non-quality such as scratches, dents and painting defects, are compiled in a 3D digital model, recorded in a database and then analysed. This data helps improve traceability, prevention and reduction of damage.

The benefits of this innovative tool and process are significant. Aircraft downtime for inspection is reduced. Data acquisition by drone only takes 10 to 15 minutes, instead of 2 hours using conventional methods.

“The use of this new technology offers better working conditions including improving the safety and comfort for the quality inspectors”, says Nathalie Ducombeau, Airbus head of quality.

Operators no longer need to go up on a telescopic handler to perform the visual inspection, sometimes in poor weather conditions. In addition, picture analysis can be done anytime afterwards and in an office.

Aircraft visual inspections are an important part of the production process. It is part of the Airbus quality standards.

A full-scale industrial test is being conducted on A330 aircraft. Airbus is working on implementation on other programmes.

Let the Helpful Drone Remove Land Mines