Augmented Reality to Improve Drone Operations

By Connie Lee

Defense Department

First responders are using augmented reality technology from a California-based company to make their operations more efficient.

Edgybees developed software that overlays information such as street names and distress signals onto maps and live-streamed video, said Adam Kaplan, company CEO.

“We can understand where assets are,” such as fire engines and firefighters, he said.

When using the technology, the responder can choose what information to display and add data points to videos in real time to allow for quick decision making, he noted. This allows the software to be used in multiple situations.

Edgybees can then leverage computer vision and machine learning to accurately display this data, Kaplan noted. The augmented footage is not only accessible to the drone pilot, but also to those with tablets or smartphones, he added.

While the software has a large number of customers in the public safety community, the company is also in conversations with the Defense Department, he said.

“The person who’s on the ground can dynamically mark things. So if I’m a soldier and I have found an [improvised explosive device], I can now mark it over the video and show you that that IED may be next to that bench,” he said. “Now all [of] the hundred [trucks] in back of me or the folks that are coming near will know that that digital mark is where that IED is.”

To adjust the software for military applications, the company is ensuring the system can be used on different types of aircraft, he said.

The software must also be able to function in GPS-denied environments where the user must transfer data in areas with low bandwidth, he said.

“All of the processing is being done in the end device, because in a DoD environment … [such as] Afghanistan … the network coverage is probably one one-thousandth of what it is in the United States,” he said. “We need to make sure that we are able to deal with situations where the bandwidth is much, much less.”

Integrating the software into drones is the “fastest-growing area,” he said, but it has the potential to be used on other systems such as body cameras and ground vehicles. Placing the technology on multiple platforms would allow for integrating “the data coming from the air with the data on the ground,” Kaplan noted.

“That same soldier that’s receiving the aerial data will be able to mark it and will be able to allow for the person in the air and the person on the ground to collaborate with each other and provide better information,” he said.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Robotics

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