The folks at UVify have been hard at work re-imagining the needs of the average drone consumer. Truth is, the average consumer is not like you and I at home, average is more like a pilot within a service company that happens to use drones for inspection, search and rescue and more.
The UVify IFO was introduced in January, 2019, at CES, and now, at the end of April, 2019, they are announces the IFO-S, at AUVSI Xponential. They say the “S” is for swarm, but I might say it’s for smart.
First and foremost, the original IFO is a capable drone, but its default functionality is to fly in pattern with other IFO to put on a drone light show. Super fun, but not exactly a versatile workhorse of a machine. Proving that the limitations are only in that configuration, the new IFO-S swaps the LED lighting for a powerful Nvidia Nano (a smaller Jetson) on-board computer.
The Nano powered system can run a host of peripherals and payloads. The unit we put hands on was equipped with an Intel RealSense obstacle avoidance package and a small camera array.
The important thing to note here is that the IFO-S is not just a drone you buy off the shelf, UVify wants to work with you to configure to your exact needs. Choose your obstacle avoidance sensors, choose your camera configuration and more.
May 2019Release Date
When UVify launched their entertainment drone, the IFO, they took a carbon fiber frame and attached a big LED light to it. The drone itself is simple at first glance, ignoring the advanced computing and GPS tech to help it fly in a swarm. A few months after that, they announced the UVify IFO-S. Using the same frame, they upgraded the on-board computer, added mounting points for an array of payloads and accessories, then programmed it to be a bit smarter.
If for no other purpose, the UVify IFO-S offers a superb search and rescue experience. One drone alone is a good start -- Attach vision and infrared cameras then start the search. With the IFO-S, the "S" stands for swarm, which means that a dozen, a few dozen, how about a hundred of these drones taking to the sky to find a lost hiker or seek out a fleeing criminal. I think you see the point.
“S” is for Swarm
Like the light show version of IFO, the true power is in a swarm configuration. Let’s say you are lost in the woods, that search and rescue has been called in to find you. A single drone overhead with a dual camera setup, normal color and infrared, is a fantastic upgrade from just humans walking along the terrain. One drone can offer a fantastic field of view, but 500 drones working in unison can cover significantly more ground. If your life depends on how fast you are found by rescuers, I certainly would like a full swarm of IFO-S overhead.
Your imagination is the limit with IFO-S, search and rescue is a predictable use-case, your needs may be in agriculture, infrastructure inspection, surveillance or any other commercial drone operation. One of my early ideas for this platform was advertising and roadway notifications. There are a few relatively unsuccessful attempts at flying billboards, an IFO-S swarm could easily revert back to powerful LED lighting, then fly in formation as a company logo or as an arrow to indicate a road detour in the event of an unexpected road closure.
While that road is closed, players like Yuneec have proven accident scene reconstruction products, a fleet of IFO-S could certainly provide the same.
Related reading: Best commercial drones
IFO-S shipping soon
UVify is already taking orders and beginning to ship the IFO-S platform. As the machines are built to order, prices and delivery times will vary. If you are looking for a single drone to do much the same, don’t forget the UVify Draco R, as the IFO-S is focused more on the swarm functionality.
UVify was hesitant to suggest a base price for the IFO-S line, but explained that their drone as a service ‘leasing’ program would continue. That service provides the original IFO for around $100 per month, per drone, with excellent customer support and hassle-free maintenance, repairs and replacements.
You can always head over to UVify to get started with your order.
UVify recently reduced their prices on all products, a benefit of factors such as reduced manufacturing costs from bulk production runs. Sounds like things are looking up for this quality-driven drone company.