Using Drones to Make “Digital Twins” or Copies and Digital Scans of the Real World Such as Buildings, Construction Sites & More


With ever growing technology, like digital twins, companies have the tools needed to maintain digital tabs on workflow. A digital twin creates a visual representation of a real world scenario, allowing detailed examination and planning. It has become a standard process for logistic companies, construction and inspection firms, agriculturists, and even securities to build digital twins. This allows them to maintain critical operations seamlessly, without delays, from any location in the world. Typically, someone will manually go through a site with a camera to input all information needed to develop the twin. However, with drone technology, companies like Nvidia and DroneDeploy have made it much easier to create a digital twin of anything imaginable.

Nvidia, based out of Santa Clara, CA, has been leading the way in cutting edge AI and computer graphics for companies to manage their systems. With drones, Nvidia can quickly scan an environment to be uploaded into an AI computer program to generate a digital twin. They have become especially known for the realistic gaming systems they developed based on drone generated digital twins. The images collected by the drone are translated into a realistic platform for a simulated gaming world. But Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has even grander plans for digital twins. The company is in the process of building a supercomputer called Earth-2 that will use drone enhanced AI software to build a digital twin of the earth to help monitor and predict climate change. “All the technologies we have invented up to this moment are needed to make Earth-2 possible,” said Huang. “I cannot imagine a greater and more important use.”

During the early stages of the dawn of the commercial drone industry, DroneDeploy was founded to provide a link between customer needs and new drone technology. “At DroneDeploy,” as stated on the company website, “our mission is to make the skies open and accessible for everyone. Trusted by users across a variety of industries, we are transforming how businesses collect, manage, and interpret drone data. Our user-friendly platform makes it possible for companies of any size to improve their workflows through scalable image processing, data storage, and real-time sharable drone maps and 3D models.”

DroneDeploy has all the resources, drones and processing software, to quickly create detailed digital twins of any environment. They have created drone enabled digital twins in the fields of agriculture, property management, gas, oil, electric, utilities, mining, construction, and more. Drones can enable the safe development of digital twins for any environment, even those inaccessible to people. Mike Winn, CEO, and co-founder of DroneDeploy said that these digital twins go way beyond providing a visual representation. “Having digitized data helps with collaboration, whether that is a whole city or planet,” said Winn. “Workers in different geographic areas can analyze the same assets at the same time without having to be in the same place.”

The drone industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world right now with a global value of $13.4billion in 2020. In less than a decade, the commercial drone industry is expected to exceed $500billion. The digital twin industry is catching up though. In 2020 it was valued at $3.1billion worldwide. Experts predict that it will reach $48.2billion within the next 4 years. The two industries are linked integrally and will continue to create new opportunities and streamline workflow operations.


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