Indoor UAV Pioneer Flyability Prepares to Showcase Its Upgraded Elios 3 Drone

Indoor drone flying is a special commercial niche that few UAV companies have mastered.  One of the leading pioneers is Switzerland-based Flyability, designer of the state-of-the-art Elios indoor mapping drone – currently in service inspecting mine shafts, construction sites, warehouses, ship hulls and nuclear waste facilities.

The Elios 3 was introduced early last year featuring significant modifications to earlier models.  Key upgrades have included the addition of LiDAR sensors for stabilized mapping in GPS-denied areas (with volumetric measurements that are accurate to within 1% of terrestrial laser scans) and a newly enhanced version of Flyability’s patented inspection software, dubbed Inspector 4.0.  The Elios 3 also produces 3D models of interior spaces in real time, with live feeds to a remote pilot. No other indoor drone currently on the market can boast similar capabilities or operate in such diverse environments.

The Elios 3 design also gives it another competitive advantage:  In addition to using the most cutting edge “sense and avoid” technology, the drone flies inside a circular carbon-fiber cage that allows it to bounce off walls and other objects and recover quickly from a unforeseen crash or collision, without impeding the craft’s visual inspection capabilities.  The cage also allows the Elios 3 to simply roll across floors, ceilings, walls, all the while filming continuously on station for 12-18 consecutive minutes.

Flyability is preparing to showcase another round of upgrades to the Elios 3 at a public exhibition in Denver, CO on May 1-2.  These upgrades were developed in conjunction with Cygnus Instruments and better adapt the drone to the diverse challenges encountered in indoor commercial inspections.  For example, the new Elios 3 (dubbed UT, for ultra-thickness) includes an articulated arm capable of removing debris and positioning test samples, interchangeable probe heads to allow the drone to maneuver through variably-sized spatial openings and a remotely-operated liquid coolant dispenser that makes it easier to penetrate through unusually dense test surfaces.  The drone also includes a special cleaning module to remove dust and debris and prepare test sites for unimpeded visual mapping.

Flyability first hinted at the unveiling of its upgraded Elios 3 at an exhibition late last year but next month’s event will constitute the formal public roll-out.  Elios 3 designers will be on hand to provide a complete product demonstration.  The event will also include special guest lectures on the commercial and technological challenges currently facing the indoor drone sector. And for intrepid conference attendees willing to pay for onsite training, there will be a unique opportunity to get hands-on experience piloting the latest Elios 3 upgrade themselves.

“We are incredibly excited to be hosting this event in Denver, where we can share the new UT payload with our American market and give people a chance to ask us their questions about what it can do,” said Junio Palomba, Managing Director of Flyability’s US office. “It’s also another opportunity to gather people who work with the Elios 3 in one room to share ideas and present our vision for Flyability’s future – in the US and the wider world.”

Flyability is not alone in the indoor drone flying niche.  Other more recently-formed companies, including Flybotix and Verity, have carved out roles in more specialized sub-niches, including warehouse inventory management and oil and chemical industry inspections.  But Flyability’s ten years of continuous innovation has allowed it to become a premier US government contractor.  It already enjoys a flagship role inspecting nuclear waste storage containers on contract to NASA and the Department of Energy.  As of late 2023, over 80% of US nuclear power plants come equipped with an Elios drone.  This year Flyability expects to add a number of other US government agencies, including EPA, to its portfolio.  In addition, the company is looking to expand inspections across the enterprise sector, with a special focus on decommissioned power plants in Germany, Holland and Sweden.

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