ModalAI yesterday released two products that it said will help developers create smaller, smarter, and safer robots and drones quickly and easily. The VOXL CAM perception engine and the Seeker micro-development drone are now available online.
The VOXL CAM is an all-in-one compute and perception engine, and the Seeker is the world's first drone optimized for development of both indoor and outdoor autonomous navigation, the company claimed.
San Diego, Calif.-based ModalAI spun out of Qualcomm Technologies Inc. in 2018 and uses more than five years of prior research in the drone and robotics markets. The company said it accelerates the development of smaller, smarter and safer drones with SWAP-optimized Blue UAS Framework autopilots built in the U.S.
From home and business security to retail and government applications, ModalAI said its highly integrated AI-powered modules enable a variety of industries to use aerial and ground autonomous navigation systems that communicate on 4G and 5G cellular networks.
VOXL CAM offers computing, navigation in one package
The VOXL CAM makes it easier to develop drones, robots, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flight control and cellular connectivity, said ModalAI. The credit card-sized VOXL CAM powers the Seeker drone, the company’s newest and smallest drone to date.
“The VOXL CAM platform provides smarter perception and safer navigation for autonomous devices beyond drones,” said Chad Sweet, CEO of ModalAI. “For commercial and industrial developers and researchers who want powerful perception and autonomy, the VOXL CAM’s small form factor and modularity make it easy to mount onto drones, robots, and wearable IoT devices. It condenses the computing power of seven PCBs and four concurrent image sensors into one compact, modular platform.”
Built on the foundation of the VOXL Flight Deck, the VOXL CAM is a single printed circuit board (PCB) that easily attaches to devices to activate autonomy for a wide range of applications, said ModalAI.
The VOXL CAM perception engine includes the integrated Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset, which enables GPS-denied navigation, depth mapping, object detection, obstacle avoidance, and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM).
The VOXL CAM perception engine has four image sensor concurrencies onboard, including:
- Time of flight (ToF) for indoor depth mapping
- Stereo pair image sensors for outdoor depth mapping
- Tracking image sensor for visual-inertial odometry (VIO) localization
It also pre-integrates ModalAI’s Flight Core, a PX4 drone flight controller. In addition, the VOXL CAM has three onboard inertial measurement units (IMU) and a barometer for controlling flight height.
Seeker designed for indoor, outdoor navigation
The Seeker micro-development drone has a small size and enhanced visual capabilities for safe autonomous navigation of tight spaces indoors and outdoors, said ModalAI.
The base weight of the VOXL CAM is 57.5 grams (2 oz.) and 87 grams (3 oz.) with the flight controller and modem installed. It can also operate on the 4G cellular network, depending on the configuration.
“The Seeker drone is the smallest reference drone ModalAI has designed to date,” said Sweet. “It’s a true micro-drone with powerful computing in a small form factor perfect for navigating GPS-denied, tight spaces that people can’t reach. Its micro-design unlocks a plethora of use cases for developers, ranging from asset inspection to mission-critical.”
Both products are built on Blue UAS Framework components VOXL Flight and Flight Core. ModalAI’s autopilots are assembled in America and compliant with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA 2020).
The VOXL CAM perception engine from ModalAI starts at $999.99, and the Seeker micro-development drone starts at $2,999 at modalai.com.
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