At Drone World Expo Aerovironment unveiled the Qunatix, an industrial strength fixed wing drone for the commercial market. The Quantix is a key piece to a larger end to end solution AeroVironment has developed to meet the needs of the agriculture, energy, and transportation industries, among others. The solution which includes the drone and a complete cloud based analytics platform is designed to be robust, reliable, and easy to use. In his remarks at a press briefing at Drone World Expo, Tom Stone, product line manager at AeroVironment, said simplicity was key. “We started with the customer’s needs and built backwards . . . . it is all about acquiring the data. . . . if you can draw a box and press a button – you can fly it.” The interface was developed for untrained users to get into the air easily and quickly reap benefits of mapping analytics.
The drone has a unique, hybrid design that enables the aircraft to launch vertically and then flip its propellers for horizontal flight, taking advantage of a fixed wing drone’s aerodynamic efficiency and range. The drone can map 40 acres in about 45 minutes (it’s overall flight time is approximately an hour).
Key to the solution is AeroVironment’s Decision Support System (DSS), a cloud based analytics platform. It combines easy-to-use mobile interfaces with secure cloud-based data storage. It is a proprietary system that:
- delivers powerful data processing
- integrates data streams from multiple types of sensors and data collection tools
- securely stores large amounts of image data for historical trend analysis.
Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment chief executive and president identified three key points at the briefing. He said their new offering was the a) first practical integrated information solution for commercial market b) a safe, reliable, rugged solution and c) had the commitment of AeroVironment to be a market leader.
The Quantix will be available in the Spring of 2017. Pricing has not yet been established. It will be a tiered pricing model dependent on which components of the solution a client chooses.
DRONELIFE take – The AeroVironment solution is unique in the following ways: the drone has a uniquely sophisticated design. It can take off and land vertically requiring a small footprint to launch from, imitating a quadcopter in that regard. However, it flies as a fixed wing and, therefore, has key advantages that form factor provides, namely, covering a lot of ground. This lends itself especially to agricultural operations. The AeroVironment briefing focused on agriculture but the solution is also appropriate for linear inspections (e.g. railroad tracks). AeroVironment has been in the drone space for a long time and their drones are strong and durable and have been deployed in harsh environments ranging from the arctic to the Middle East. In providing this solution they will be competing with more recent nimble companies such as DroneDeploy and Kespry. They seek to emulate the benefits of those systems (e.g. ease of use, powerful cloud based analytics) with their heavy duty drones. However, we expect this to come at a bit of a cost. Pricing has into been released, but we would expect it to be quite a bit higher than that of a DroneDeploy app using a DJI Phantom.