Today, we officially announced PRENAV as a company, along with our $1.2M seed funding. Part of this formal company announcement is a teaser video that shows off the incredible precision of our system.  In the video, we're able to repeatably position a drone anywhere in an environment with centimeter-level accuracy, which we've demonstrated by blinking an LED onboard the drone at specific times to make shapes and letters in the sky.  One of the first things we wanted to write, naturally, was Hello World.

Here's the full video if you haven't seen it yet.  

 
 

Here are a few of our favorite shots, and some more details on how we did it:

Here's a gif of the drone drawing one of the shapes in the video

Here's a gif of the drone drawing one of the shapes in the video

That shape can then be animated by moving the drone to a new set of points, taking another pic, and sequencing all the frames together

That shape can then be animated by moving the drone to a new set of points, taking another pic, and sequencing all the frames together

All of the animations in the video were drawn by the drone in this way.  

The precision comes from custom software and hardware we've created, including a robot on the ground that's equipped with a camera and laser rangefinder to guide the drone along a pre-defined path. 

An entire warehouse full of drone lightpainting! (This is our new headquarters in San Carlos, CA)

An entire warehouse full of drone lightpainting! (This is our new headquarters in San Carlos, CA)

This animation was shot outdoors in about 18 mph winds looking out over San Francisco Bay (Redwood Shores, CA)

This animation was shot outdoors in about 18 mph winds looking out over San Francisco Bay (Redwood Shores, CA)

Here's the very first animation we did once we got the technology working -- a rotating cube.  You can see some of our team working and generally just milling about as the drone is traveling to each of the points.  

The video was a fun and playful way for us to highlight the capabilities of our system, but the precision that we're demonstrating is essential for industrial use cases like cell tower and wind turbine inspections. For this type of work, a drone needs to fly extremely close to the structure to capture imagery and build a 3D reconstruction of the asset. Flying this close is challenging, even for the most skilled drone pilots who today try to do this manually (since GPS can't provide the accuracy needed for autonomous guidance). Our system makes it a breeze to get complete coverage of the tower with hi-res images.  And those images then get stitched together into an accurate 3D reconstruction that can be rotated, measured, and analyzed to provide insights to our customers.  Measurement is really the key to our customer's workflow, and we believe our tech is the best way to capture the necessary details to make measurement possible. 

Here's a flight we did on a local cell tower, where each of the dots represent positions where the drone is taking a photo of the structure. We're able to run a mission like this by scanning the tower from the ground before we fly, planning a collision-free path around the tower (and other environmental obstacles), and navigating the drone along the path with our guidance robot. In this way, we're able to get full coverage of the tower every time, making sure our customers get all the data they need.

This is a big opportunity.  There are millions of cell towers and wind turbines in the world, and climbing these and other tall structures is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. We're only beginning to scratch the surface of what's possible with our automated technology, and we can't wait to show you what's coming next.

Thanks for reading.  Hope you enjoyed it!  

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