Introducing the Parrot ANAFI Ai
On December 9th, French drone manufacturer Parrot unveiled its new ANAFI Ai would be available for delivery in January. This under-900 gram vehicle’s key features include 4G connectivity, a tremendous camera, object avoidance and enhanced cyber security. The ANAFI Ai is set to be a game changer for the inspection industry.
We had Asif, regional manager at Parrot, in the studio to tell us all the details about this game-changing launch. Listen to the podcast below!
ANAFI Ai: A Naturalist Remark
Anatomically, the head of some species is often detached from the rest of the body. Some flying species (insects, birds, mammals) have their head located at the front of its frame, extending the view of the rest of the body – especially its wings. The placement of its head also allows its eyes to be positioned in such a way as to have an excellent field of view in all directions, and turning the head allows most flying species to see precisely behind them.
It is from this system of visual perception and cerebral support emerges the cognitive functions – in this case the perceptive and conceptual functions.
With this is in mind, Parrot has designed the ANAFI Ai obstacle avoidance system.
ANAFI Ai Flight Performances:
- 32-minute flights
- Best-in-class input power/output power ratio (propellers: 66 % figure of merit)<
- Designed for outdoor missions as well as indoor (warehouses, tunnels)
- Rotating twin sensor for obstacle avoidance
- IPX3: withstands rain and 45 km/h winds
By their design, ANAFI Ai and its Skycontroller 4 are a milestone for the UAV industry: the controller does not require cumbersome cables anymore, and it enables the use of an iPad mini or all large smartphones. It also features a HDMI output, which allows streaming videos from ANAFI Ai.
ANAFI Ai: Aerodynamic Performances
Maximum speed: 17 m/s forward – 16 m/s backward and laterally
Wind resistance: 12.7 m/s
Flight time: 32 min
Max Climbing Speed: 4 m/s
Max Descent Speed: 3 m/s
Max practical ceiling above sea level: 5,000 m
Range: 22.5 km at 14 m/s without wind
Max Angular Speed: 300°/s on pitch and roll axes & 200°/s on yaw axis
ANAFI Ai: Sensors
To ensure its safe flight, ANAFI Ai is equipped with:
- 2 IMU (an ICM-40609-D and an ICM42605)
- LIS2MDL magnetometer
- UBX-M8030 GPS
- TI OPT3101 time-of-flight (ToF)
- LPS22HB barometer
- Vertical camera
The ToF is responsible for providing a ground distance measurement and consists of an infrared transmitter-receiver measuring the drone-object distance according to the round-trip time of a light emission between the object and the onboard sensor.
ANAFI Ai: Autopilot
The ANAFI Ai flight controller offers an easy and intuitive piloting: no training is required to fly it. It allows the automation of many flight modes (Flight Plan, Cameraman, Hand take-off, Smart RTH).
Sensor fusion algorithms combine the data from all sensors to estimate the attitude, altitude, position and velocity of ANAFI Ai.
State estimation is essential for the proper functioning of drones. Quadrotors are by nature unstable when the flight controller is in open loop; to pilot them easily, let alone to operate them autonomously, it is necessary to stabilise them by closed loop control algorithms. These algorithms compute and send to the motors the commands needed for ANAFI Ai to reach the desired trajectories.
ANAFI Ai: Dual Gimbal
The gimbal of the main camera is a pitch-roll-yaw 3-axis gimbal with the following specifications:
- pitch end stops: -116°/+176°
- roll end stops: +/- 36°
- yaw end stops: +/- 48°
The gimbal of the perception system is a single axis pitch gimbal with the following specifications:
- pitch end stops: -107°/+204°
- time of travel from one end stop to the other: 300 ms
The perception system benefits 311° of travel (296° unmasked by the drone body), which allows backward perception.
The system has been designed so that:
- the propeller blades cannot enter the field of view of the main camera
- both the main camera and the perception system can fully tilt backward to protect the
lenses, during storage or in case of in-flight emergency
ANAFI Ai: Obstacle Avoidance
With the knowledge of the 3D environment surrounding the aircraft stored in the occupancy grid, it is possible to provide obstacle avoidance capabilities to ANAFI Ai. This offers considerable additional safety to autonomous missions but is also useful for manual flight, especially if the line of sight between the pilot and the aircraft is degraded.
Every 30 ms, ANAFI Ai predicts what the nominal trajectory to follow will be over a short time horizon in the future. This prediction is deduced from the references sent by the user, whether it be piloting commands from the hand controller, waypoints to join for flight plan or an input trajectory. Then, using a simulated internal drone model, a replanning algorithm computes the smallest possible corrections to this predicted nominal trajectory that make it both collision free and feasible by the drone.
To expand the Ai’s functionality, Parrot is opening up its software development kit (SDK). Programmers can create custom apps for the Ai to run in flight. The SDK offers full access to the drone’s obstacle sensors and 4G connectivity. Parrot’s control app, FreeFlight, is also open source, so developers don’t have to start from scratch.
Parrot CEO and founder Henri Seydoux, speaking in an online presentation, said: “drone operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), though not yet allowed in all countries, are the wave of the future”.
Naturally, this means the Parrot ANAFI Ai is very much designed for professionals who are looking to do aerial mapping and photogrammetry, which is the process of creating 3D maps. Parrot says the benefit of using 4G is that pilots will be able to send their images directly to the cloud via an encrypted connection, rather than having to involve their computer.
The Ai works with the Skycontroller 4, a basic remote that requires a phone or tablet to show a camera view. The remote and aircraft are paired using what Parrot calls a Secure Element, a form of data encryption. It works with any 4G network and SIM card, so you can add it to your current cellular plan or use a prepaid SIM for data.
While the drone isn’t really designed for consumers, the Anafi Ai does promise to open photogrammetry up to non-specialist fliers – and bring promising versatility, thanks to that open source software.
The Ai is bigger than the travel-friendly consumer version of the Anafi, but still easier to stow and schlep than big six-rotor UAVs used in industry. It’s not too far off from a DJI Phantom in terms of footprint, with a lower profile design. Take-off weight is just under 2 pounds.
Order your ANAFI Ai now for delivery in January.
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