October 06 2021

Skydio X2 Drone Adds New FLIR Thermal Palette Options

Alex Netto

Ever since we first introduced the U.S. manufactured Skydio X2 drone, users have been able to capture heat and temperature differences from the air using the FLIR Boson 320p thermal sensor on the X2 Color / Thermal drone. Before this update the X2 Color / thermal had just the white hot thermal color palette, which made it easy to see the hottest and the coolest objects in the scene. Last week, we released a software update for Skydio X2, which added 4 different thermal color palettes to the FLIR sensor. Since thermal images may sometimes be hard to decipher, having additional options in colors and shades to represent temperatures can help to more effectively detect multiple temperature ranges within the scene. This is especially helpful if the user is trying to compare heat signatures of multiple items in a scene, such as when inspecting electrical components, or evaluating stress fatigue in certain materials.

With thermal imaging drones, each individual infrared camera pixel represents a specific heat signature data point. These data points are assigned a unique color or shade based on their value. As a result, as the thermal drone camera sensor detects changes in heat energy, it will express this difference by adjusting the color or shade of a pixel making it easy for the thermal drone operator to visually see the specific heat signature of the object or area of interest.

What Color Palettes Does the Skydio X2 Thermal Drone Have?

Previously the thermal view on the Skydio X2 was only available in a White Hot palette. Switching palettes changes the appearance or contrast of a scene and highlights key areas of a thermal image without altering any temperature data. With more palette options, operators are able to toggle between views depending on different environments or situations that might benefit from one palette over another. With the most recent update to the X2 Color/Thermal users can now choose between White Hot, Black Hot, Rainbow, and Ironbow thermal palette options.

How to Access the Skydio X2 Thermal Color Palettes

Change thermal drone color palettes

On the Skydio Enterprise Controller click on the settings gear on the lower left hand side of the screen. In the settings menu you will see two tabs with ‘drone’ and ‘controller’ select the ‘controller’ tab. At the bottom of the controller setting menu click ‘on screen display’. Next in the on screen display menu click ‘thermal’. Once in the thermal menu you will have the ability to change color palettes. If you do not see these menu options please update your Skydio X2 drone.

White Hot Thermal Palette Explained

White Hot displays warmer objects in white and cooler objects in black. This makes it easy to see the hottest and the coolest objects in the scene. This palette, just like the Black Hot palette, is a grayscale palette which offers simplicity for scenes with a wide temperature span. The versatility of White Hot makes it appealing for use in shifting landscapes and urban areas to quickly identify areas or objects with heat signatures.

How is the Black Hot Thermal Palette Different?

Black Hot is the inverted version of White Hot, this displays warmer objects as black and cooler objects as white. This is a common palette to use for search and rescue, fire, and law enforcement. The reason for this is because Black Hot displays body heat in a clear, lifelike image that stands out when the surrounding area is typically cooler or displaying as white.

What Does the Rainbow Thermal Palette See?

The Rainbow palette displays red colors representing the hottest part of the image and dark blue colors representing the coldest parts. Unlike Blackhot and Whitehot, which are shown in a grayscale, Rainbow shows the colors in between the hottest and coldest temperatures orange, yellow, and green. The Rainbow palette is good for pinpointing objects in environments with minimal heat differences such as with electrical components. This palette would be great to use when inspecting electrical transmission lines or cell towers.

How is the Ironbow Thermal Palette Different from Rainbow?

Ironbow is a general-purpose palette that quickly identifies thermal anomalies using color to show heat distribution and subtle details. Hot objects are shown in white and yellow while colder objects are dark purple and black colors. This palette is often used when inspecting solar panels as it quickly highlights broken cells or offline panels due to a greater color contrast between working and broken cells.

Users of thermal drone cameras view and interpret thermal images differently. The simplicity of White Hot may not provide enough detail for some applications, while the high contrast of Rainbow HC might be too busy for some use-cases. Having the ability to switch between these palettes is the best way to make informed decisions in the field. If you are ready to get started with Skydio X2 Color/ Thermal, please contact us directly from our website.