How To Make the Most of Drone Harmony’s New Points of Interest

July 27, 2017

The recent update of the Drone Harmony mission planner adds to its powerful mission planning arsenal several game changing new features: the mission catalog, instant mission previews, several brand new automatic missions and a brand new POI engine. Combined with the Drone Harmony’s scene centered workflow and 3D view, the POI engine represents an addition of some unprecedented mission planing capabilities. Here we would like to give you a taste of what’s possible.

Points of Interest (POIs) help you direct the drone camera at specific locations in 3D space. Consider for example a panning shot, in which the drone flies by a clock tower. To center the shot on the clock during the fly by, one can simply define a POI at the 3D position in space corresponding to the clock. Then, a simple command lets you center the shot at every waypoint in the fly by at the defined POI. It is also  possible to freely change the position of the waypoints without needing to adjust camera angles, as wherever they are, the camera will always be centered at the designated POI, meaning at the clock.

But that’s the simplest way you can use Drone Harmony’s POIs. Here are some examples of more elaborate shots you can easily make by combining Drone Harmony’s capabilities with the new POIs.

Flexible Routine Inspections on Industrial Sites

The 3D scene and the scene centered workflow of Drone Harmony’s planner is one of its unique and most powerful aspects. On an industrial site, it allows the site manager to maintain an in-app 3D model of the site and use it to perform routine inspections. The POI engine adds additional capabilities that allow performing flexible inspections easier and faster than ever before.

Industrial sites present complex inspection challenges

Various installations at the site undergo routine inspections. The rise of drone technology has made drone based inspections cheaper, more reliable and safer than traditional approaches. However, flexibly operating a drone in complex industrial inspection scenarios still poses a considerable challenge, as such inspections can have complex schedules, requiring to inspect different components of different installations every day and entails planning flight routes in complex 3D environments. It is hence often impossible to come up with a one-fits-all flight plan for this task. Here is how such inspections can be simplified and streamlined with the help of Drone Harmony’s mission planner and the new POI engine.

The first step is, as always, defining the scene, namely the 3D model of the site (see our post Scene-Centered Planning: The Powerful Workflow of Drone Harmony’s Flight Planner App on how). The scene lets you automatically generate optimized flight plans avoiding obstacles, visualize the scene, the flight plans and camera angles etc. in 3D and more. Next, flight plans covering all installations that require inspection are generated. The default camera angles need not cover all components of the installations requiring inspections– this will be taken care of by the POIs, which are defined next. The number of POIs defined for a single installation determines the number of components that need to be inspected in a single flight. Finally, each waypoint the drone will pass by is associated with a POI, defining its camera angle parameters.

The basic setup for flexible inspections: a scene, plans and points of interest

The exact location of the POIs determine which components of each installation will be inspected. This is exactly where the flexibility comes in. In order to change which component of which installation will be inspected, it is only necessary to move the POIs to the 3D locations of these components and re-fly the mission. In some cases, certain waypoints can be redirected to different POIs. In both cases, there is no need to worry about directing the camera, as each waypoint will always focus on its associated POI.

The same flight plan with two POI configurations results in two different inspections

Complex Scenic Shots With POIs

By combining POIs with other unique Drone Harmony features one can easily perform complex scenic flights. Using the following simple workflow, it is possible to perform a beautiful zoom in–pan–zoom out fly by of a house, highlighting it’s beautiful terrace or facade artwork.

We start by modeling the house and placing two to three POIs on the terrace we want to focus the shot on when the drone flies close to the house. Next a simple manual mission with 4-5 waypoints is created, outlining the rough path the drone should fly. The middle two or thee waypoints are associated with the POIs we created in the natural order. To achieve a smooth fly by it only remains to smooth the path using the Drone Harmony smoothing tool. The result is a beautiful complex smooth shot obtained by combination of Drone Harmony’s scene centered workflow, POI engine and smoothing tool.

The ideas presented here are just the tip of the iceberg. POIs are an important feature in any planning tool, and they are now also part of Drone Harmony’s ever evolving mission planning arsenal.