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article imageImproving drone technology with software edge computing Special

By Tim Sandle     Nov 6, 2019 in Technology
Drones are starting to be used for an array of dangerous and time-consuming challenges, replacing the need for people. For drones to become more effective, edge computing will play major role in these evolving technologies.
More and more, drones and drone technology are being utilized to assist or even fully complete dangerous or time-consuming tasks that used to be performed solely by humans. From search and rescue operations and critical infrastructure inspection to wildlife management and traffic monitoring, this range of applications signals that the use of drones is increasing and drones will become more commonplace for activities that are currently performed by people.
Shriram Ramanathan at Lux Research looks at this emerging trend and the role edge computing is starting to play, for Digital Journal. He begins by considering just how widespread drones are becoming: "Drones are being used in applications like infrastructure inspection, wildlife tracking, traffic management, and search and rescue operations."
Here drones have a distinct advantage over people, not least because "some of these tasks are too dangerous and/or time-consuming for human beings to tackle. For example, pipelines and electric power lines traverse hundreds of miles, often through rugged terrains that are not easily accessible. Drones can make inspecting such infrastructure easy, provided that they can be operated even when out of sight."
Ramanathan discuses other advantages to: "Other applications, such as traffic management, search and rescue operations, and wildlife tracking to prevent poaching, involve time-critical decisions. Images and video feeds need to be analyzed rapidly; transmitting them to servers for analysis is not an option."
In order to fully realize the advantages of drones, edge computing has an important role to play, according to Ramanathan. The primary concept is that by moving the compute closer to the origin of the data, the latency involved in sending data on a roundtrip to a cloud gets reduced. This is why edge computing is being introduced into many autonomous vehicle designs.
However, this is likely to be software-driven rather than hardware driven, as Ramanathan notes: "Hardware-based edge computing and AI processors, while more powerful than edge AI software, are still in their infancy. However, most situations do not warrant the use of hardware-based edge computing. As a result, we anticipate that software-based edge computing will gain more traction compared to hardware-based edge computing, at least in the near term."
If you are interested in learning more about how drones and drone tech are revolutionizing how dangerous and time-consuming challenges are being met, or the role edge computing will likely play in these evolving technologies, please let me know. I would love to provide more info or connect you with Shriram.
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