Using Drones To Produce Digital Twins
With each passing year, the mainstream use of drone technology becomes increasingly popular. Businesses across many industries are beginning to recognise the incredible efficiency gains they can make by utilising drones in their operations. Perhaps one of the most practical commercial applications of drones is how they are used to create digital twins.
What is a digital twin?
A digital twin is a virtual replication of a physical object or process. It’s more than just a 3D model of its interior & exterior. Instead, it’s a representation that contains all of the data relevant to the object. In essence, a digital twin is a computer program that uses real-world data to create simulations that map out an asset and its performance.
Let’s take the example of a house. A basic 3D model would map out its main features (i.e., walls, foundation, and other structural fundamentals).
In contrast, a digital twin produces a live replica. Not only does it include the interior and exterior walls/the inner workings of the house, but all the features that bring it to life. This includes things such as electrical information, plumbing and infrastructure. A digital twin is enriched with the crucial data that a static model does not provide.
As a result, you get a holistic representation of the asset that’s being examined. Digital twins can be produced for a wide range of items, from a car or building to a bridge or a jet engine.
What is the purpose of digital twins?
A digital twin is a highly accurate and precise representation of a physical asset. Beyond that, it allows for you to see live information about how it’s functioning in the real world.
It’s this combination of the digital and physical that gives digital twins their commercial business applications. They allow you to make effective, real-time decisions based on the in-depth data provided.
It provides for easier collaboration between departments, getting ahead of problems, preventing downtime and creating new opportunities. For example, a digital twin can virtually represent a problem, and you can test a solution on the software rather than in person. The same applies to prototypes, where the program can model many variants instead of physically producing them. As a result, costs are reduced, and time is saved.
Digital twins also reduce the risk of accidents and unplanned downtime through failures (as they are spotted early on). This leads to lower maintenance costs and increased profits.
The efficiency gains provided by digital twins are invaluable.
How can drones be used to create digital twins?
Drones act as airborne scanners which can turn buildings/construction sites into 3D models in a process called photogrammetry. Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. Drones fly above a building/object and capture multiple overlapping images of the object being modelled (roughly 80% overlap).
This is so each point can be captured from three positions; its horizontal (x,y) and vertical (z) coordinates. When this can be done, you can triangulate its location in space.
This information gets combined together with data picked up by scanners to form an accurate model of the asset being mapped.
Which industries can benefit from drones and digital twins?
There are many industries that benefit from the use of digital twins, but a few in particular benefit from their combination with drones:
- Construction – the construction industry is one of the obvious beneficiaries of using drones for digital twin technology. Construction sites can monitor the progress of sites and inspect areas + calculate accurate measurements.
- Land Surveying – has also seen tremendous benefits – it’s easier to get an up to date view of the landscape and create detailed models.
- Inspection – firms can safely inspect previously unseen angles more safely and efficiently + spot potential problems with more detailed 3D models.
What are the best drones to produce digital twins?
The two best drones for producing digital twins are:
Skydio is the number one drone company when it comes to producing digital twins, thanks to the release of ‘Skydio 3D scan’.
It’s their adaptive scanning software that enables Skydio drones to automate the entire data capture fully. Allowing their drones to document the most complex structures and generate 3D models with comprehensive coverage and ultra-high resolution.
Their AI and drones are top of the line, making Skydio the best option for producing digital twins.
DJI Phantom 4 RTK
DJI is one of the biggest names in the drone industry. It’s no surprise one of their models is a great choice for producing digital twins.
The model to go for is the DJI Phantom 4 RTK. It’s compatible with DJI’s new 3D mapping software, DJI Terra.
If you are interested in investing in one of these drones to take your business to the next level, please contact one of our experts here.
Digital twins create a living, breathing, virtual representation of a physical asset. The level of data this provides you is unparalleled. It allows for effective, real-time decisions to be made easily. There is no need to make costly physical intervention or prototypes. All tests can be done before a penny is spent on the real thing. It allows you to predict where potential problems may arise ahead of time and plan for future innovations.
All of this has been made possible through the use of drone technology. Drones are integral to capturing the data needed to form the digital twin, particularly in industries that centre around large scale objects and projects.
Want to find out how your business could benefit from drones and digital twins?
Contact one of our experts today.