DroneBase Brings Augmented Reality to the Drone World with AirCraft
BY Zacc Dukowitz3 November 2017
Back in April we wrote about a big push from DroneBase to hire drone pilots for aerial cinematography and photography missions.
DroneBase is in the news again today, not for providing jobs for drone pilots but for launching a new platform called AirCraft. AirCraft uses Augmented Reality to let drone pilots create, edit, and share objects in the sky using DJI drones (you’ll need a more recent DJI drone for AirCraft—Phantom 3 or newer).
As you can see in the video, AirCraft can be used to gamify flying, allowing pilots to play in the sky in a way similar to how you can interact with the real world using your phone while playing Pokémon GO and other augmented reality apps.
AirCraft will be launched in beta and integrated into the existing DroneBase app, which is available today for iOS and coming soon for Android.
Unlike current AR experiences, AirCraft allows pilots to create and interact with virtual objects in the sky with their drone. We’re looking to our community of pilots to see what they will build, how they will use this technology, and what they want next.
-- Dan Burton, Co-Founder and CEO of DroneBase
Through AirCraft, drone pilots can create their own designs with 3D blocks using different colors and textures that stay in the sky virtually.
Pilots can build giant works of art, a drone racecourse, or more practical commercial scenarios like rendering a computer-aided design (CAD) model at a construction site or evaluating a post-disaster insurance claim.
Why Is DroneBase Getting into Augmented Reality?
It’s no secret that the use of drones in construction and other industrial scenarios is growing rapidly.
AirCraft, if it works as claimed, will conceivably allow DroneBase to get in on the industrial scene while giving them a way to sell into the drone-as-toys side of the industry as well.
According to CNet.com, DroneBase is already working with a construction firm that wants to visualize a skyscraper on the actual plot of land where they plan to build it.
AirCraft can also be used as a training tool for inspections—for example, to train oil rig inspectors on how to fly safely around an oil rig—without having to risk crashing the drone into the rig.
Below you can see how AirCraft’s AR features could be used to create training scenarios, whether it’s for FPV racing, industrial inspections, or some other unique situation.
In addition to tailored trainings for specific use cases, AirCraft also presents the potential to step up the reality aspect of flight simulators.
There are some great flight simulators out there, but all of them are limited to the virtual experience. AirCraft, and AR in general, could help to make flight simulators more realistic, and allow drone pilots to gain flight proficiency in the real world, using real drones, instead of on a computer screen using simulated ones.
But—It’s Also Meant to Be Fun
This picture pretty much sums things up:
It seems like AirCraft still has some bugs to be worked out—apparently the images are a little shaky, and the GPS-locating isn’t quite perfect—but this is the beta version, after all.
I’ve recently spent time testing out AirCraft, and I’ve quickly realized how fun and innovative the technology truly is. From simply making fun objects in parks and on mountains to making additions to large structures, AirCraft is both enjoyable and practical.
-- George Garcia, New Jersey-based DroneBase pilot
Another feature that might drive adoption among pilots is that the courses and augmented worlds that users create can be saved in the DroneBase database for others to find, use, and interact with.