March 27, 2024

Unlocking the Night: Skydio X10's NightSense Technology

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Search and rescue drone operation

The challenge of low-light obstacle navigation has long prevented industries ranging from public safety to infrastructure inspection from benefitting from safe drone operations after dark. Enter Skydio X10 with NightSense, the first drone of its kind capable of navigating autonomously in complete darkness. This innovative system allows for fully autonomous around-the-clock drone operations that significantly expand the possibilities of drone use.

Search and rescue drone

NightSense enhances Skydio's world-class autonomy for use in complete darkness. With advanced AI flight assistance and obstacle avoidance, operators with minimal training can conduct expert-level flights even when the lights are out.

Search and rescue night operations

The need for Zero-light operations

There are several industries and scenarios where the ability to navigate without light is essential. Public safety officials need to run night-time search and rescue missions without a high risk of crashing when mission success is on the line. Operators on the battlefield require stealth to deploy drones for reconnaissance without compromising position. Infrastructure inspections, such as inspections under bridges or in close-quarter subway tunnels need to be able to work in the dark , to allow for continuous monitoring and assessment.

In all these industries, flying in the dark is extremely valuable, but has historically been difficult in a world of traditional drones - that are crash-prone all the time - and Skydio drones - which before the X10 could only offer obstacle avoidance in daytime light conditions.

The technology that makes this happen

NightSense uniquely combines enhanced navigation cameras, advanced software/image tuning, and illumination hardware into two distinct setups: one for visible light and another for infrared (IR) light, each tailored to specific operational needs.

Visible light spectrum operations

Visible light-optimized navigation cameras and illuminators are perfect for scenarios when adding light benefits the mission. Search and rescue operations at night, for instance, can leverage the visible light setup to illuminate the surrounding area near the drone, quickly identifying individuals in need of help, with a drone that is visible for safety and to act as a beacon to responding operators.

Drone bridge inspection

Infrared light spectrum operations

Conversely, the IR light-optimized navigation cameras and IR illuminators cater to missions where stealth operation is paramount. Tactical operators can take advantage of this solution to gather critical intelligence undetected. Stealth monitoring can occur without alerting suspects or combatants, and security forces can surveil sensitive areas without alerting potential intruders.

Nightsense X10D Drone

A night-optimized operator experience

Moreover, operators can gain an unparalleled view of the environment through Depth View in the X10 Controller’s software experience, Flight Deck. This view displays obstacles in augmented reality, allowing the operator to see how X10 learns about its surroundings in real-time.

Skydio Nightsense Voxels

As the drone navigates through low or no-light environments, it continuously adapts to efficiently maneuver around potential obstructions, ensuring a safe flight. This capability allows operators to concentrate on mission objectives rather than the risk of collision, significantly reducing operational stress. We have found that our customers using NightSense gain more confidence in the system through this capability, which further feeds their ability to fly confident, useful flights in service of their teams’ overall mission.

Skydio bridge inspection

Embrace the night with Skydio X10

The introduction of NightSense marks a turning point zero-light drone operations, allowing for seamless mission execution at any hour. This innovative drone technology not only extends the operational capabilities of operators, but also redefines the boundaries of autonomous flight, making it an indispensable tool for a range of applications.

NightSense takes the unparalleled obstacle avoidance and autonomy Skydio is known for and makes it accessible 24/7, opening up a host of new indoor and night-time mission capabilities. For those looking to enable safe operation regardless of low-light conditions, Skydio X10 with NightSense technology offers a solution suited forthe needs of public safety, defense, and inspection use-cases.

Skydio Nightsense Visualization

To explore how Skydio NightSense can transform your low-light drone operations, reach out to a Skydio Sales representative today.Click here to learn more about drone technology solutions for public safety, defense, and commercial use-cases.

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