Intel Falcon 8 Drone Q and A with Chuck Adams

Intel has positioned itself as the leader in Drone production and technology. The Intel Falcon 8 Drone is just one example. We wanted to ask the CEO of 1UP Drones, Chuck Adams, his thoughts on its many uses.

Q: What do customers like most about the Intel Falcon 8+?

A: There are too many benefits to name them all but typically the enterprise class customers “bubble up” to security being the #1 interest.  The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ UAS is also an advanced commercial multi-rotor designed for professional use across oil & gas, construction, utilities and agriculture.  Some key advantages include:

  1. Best weight-to-payload ratio
  2. Captures detailed aerial data for 3D reconstruction down to millimeter accuracy.
  3. Can be programmed to fly an automated path, capturing photos at predetermined waypoint locations.
  4. Equipped with triple redundant autopilot, providing remarkable stability, compensating for external factors such as strong winds and offering resistance to electromagnetic fields.
  5. This helps ensure high reliability in the field, efficient flights, and precise data with every flight.

Q: Do you need any special expertise to fly this UAV?

A: Proper training and fleet standardization is key to success in the sUAS market. Each of the drone manufacturers have nuances and various features.  Since we’re discussing the Intel Falcon 8+ it would be wise for customers to plan to take a hands-on training class. We have numerous partners but one in particular is Unmanned Vehicle University who has been training sUAS pilots since 2012 and are one of the oldest and most vertically integrated sUAS training operations in the business. UVU is the preferred Intel training partner and is authorized to certify pilots on the Intel platforms. They possess knowledge on every system 1UP represents, as well as other systems outside of our product assortment. Headquartered in Phoenix AZ, the University offers product specific training, FAA Part 107 training, as well as vertical use case specific training. The Pilots UVU works with are top notch and specialize in various use cases such as Energy, Oil and Gas, Telecom, Tower, Mapping, Bridge Inspection, and more.

Q: What is the targeted market for the Intel Falcon 8+?

A: It is designed for professional inspection and surveying in the Oil & Gas, Construction, Agriculture, and Utility industries.  Each industry has their own unique use cases but most center on the following:

Advanced Flight Performance
The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone is designed to provide consistent, stable flights in the face of external influences like weak GPS signals and high winds as well as providing resistance to magnetic field disturbances. Lightweight with best weight-to-payload ratio for efficient flights, it allows you to collect incredibly accurate, high-quality, geo-referenced, actionable data, while operating in challenging environments.

Precise Data
With professional payload options the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone can provide detailed data for orthography and 3D reconstruction, with millimeter accuracy for ground sample distance (GSD). The unique, patented V-shaped design helps ensure unobstructed data capture and enables a greater than 180-degree view from top to bottom for a range of perspectives, from one camera, in one flight. And for data privacy, the Falcon 8+ system can be configured as a closed system with isolated, on-board data storage that does not transmit data over the public internet.

Best-in-Class Safety
The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ UAV is designed for superior safety with maximum electronic and hardware system redundancy. The Intel Control Unit provides three redundant IMUs, for quick and reliable data fusion which verifies and controls the drone’s position, altitude, and orientation, for better responsiveness and stability during flights. It also features additional redundancies for communications, batteries, rotors, and motors.

Ready to Travel
Rugged for commercial jobs but compact for ultimate mobility, the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ system features high quality industrial design for professional use. Payloads are easily exchangeable in the field, and Intel® Powerpack batteries are designed for portability on airline flights.

Complex Flight Planning 
Mission Control and Intel Insight flight-planning software enables high-area output. Prepare complex waypoint missions on your laptop to automate survey flights.

Quick Survey
This tool supports a fast and automated survey flight without a laptop. Simply enter the required parameters such as ground sample distance, then define coordinates of start and final angle via Intel® Cockpit Controller; the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone will automatically set flight altitude, speed, GPS-based photo positions and overlapping to provide the desired results within the shortest flight time

Path Planning with Exact Waypoints
WP/Path function creates an exact reproduction of aerial imaging. Several photo positions, including camera orientation, can be saved as single waypoints or as complex paths with many waypoints, thus providing an automated process to repeat the flight.

Circle of Interest (COI)
The Circle of Interest (COI) function generates a circular waypoint flight to enable the systematic capturing of images around the point of interest according to your setting.

Q: What other drones in the market compare to the Intel Falcon 8+ and how much do they cost?

A: The Intel Falcon 8+ would be considered a Mid to High End System ($15000-$30,000+).  The main competitor would be the DJI M200/M210/210 RTK Series MSRP ~  $5200-$35,000+ depending on configuration https://www.dji.com/matrice-200-series.  The m210 represents DJI’s first full-fledged offering to the “enterprise” commercial drone industry. Bringing features such as an Ip43 weather rating, the ability to carry 2 payloads at the same time (m210, m210 RTK) an ADS-B receiver for live air traffic information (m210, m210RTK) and a ruggedized design, the m210 is quickly becoming one of the more popular choices due to the app ecosystem and familiarity between DJI products (as discussed earlier). That said, there remain data issues that should raise concern, and with a specialized system such as this chances are customers will be operating this system in the highest value, most data secure locations in its asset pool. The system is capable of carrying a myriad of DJI sensors including FLIR Thermal; Z30 30x optical zoom stabilized cameras, as well as the 1” CMOS sensor present on their other systems.  These systems also feature a passive anti-collision system. The M210RTK system option aides in control around large metallic structures by eliminating the GPS magnetometer from the control equation reducing EMI concerns. Aside from data security concerns, other concerns are the propensity for the airframe to be frequently updated. As well, DJI’s overall warranty and support structure leaves a lot to be desired from a commercial time = money standpoint. DJI has made great strides in this arena, but still has work to do to offer true enterprise level product support.

Intel Falcon 8+ MSRP ~$35,000 depending on configuration. https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/drones/falcon-8.html

Intel the leader in computing has been shifting its focus to ensure they maintain dominance in the market for the 21st century and beyond. Much of this drive focuses on data, and Intel believes data is the 21st century version of oil, and by making data actionable they will create value to this data collection daily. To help realize this effort, Intel has invested billions in AI, and is positioned to realize that investment by use of drone technology, as the drone is the perfect tool for data collection. To further leverage this strategy, Intel is offering a complete end to end solution for the commercial market, bringing innovative features in Intel Mission Control (flight planning software) like one button asset inspection (fly the asset once, the system will fly the same mission each time if needed for consistent data collection) as well as Intel Insight. Insight is a significant game changer.  By leveraging Intel’s AI engine to handle all data post processing, incorporating features such as change detection, automatic fault identification, and more, this will greatly reduce time and manpower, reduce processing data, and offer a secure storage solution to better create actionable data in the most automated way possible. The Intel Falcon 8+ in my professional opinion is the most well rounded, secure, and safe commercial drone platform on the market.

Originally designed to inspect off shore oil rigs, the Falcon 8+ has been engineered to adhere to strict safety protocols to ensure operation is safe in the harshest environments, and to ensure data is collected consistently time and time again. The entire system, with payload and batteries only weighs 6lbs, is very safety minded with its 8-rotor design, dual batteries, 3x redundant flight controller, redundant comms, and redundant ESC’s for motor control in the rare chance of failure. Due to the systems patented V shaped design, the airframe has the highest wind component of any drone in its class, and by nature of design is the only drone on the market that can look 180 degrees (both UP and DOWN) in the same flight. Intel offers a Thermal + EO payload featuring a 640 resolution Flir imager, 12mp 30x optical zoom EO camera, as well as active anti-collision systems. Leveraging Intel’s “Real Sense” technology, Intel takes a different approach to obstacle avoidance. Instead of using passive sensors what must be facing the obstacle to be effective, Real sense real time 3D maps its environment and memorizes the obstacles location virtually. Additionally, RealSense is capable of distance hold on dynamic assets, meaning it will self-adjust to maintain a constant distance from an asset. Lastly Intel offers industry leading support and service on its products, understanding that in the true commercial market that time does equal money, Intel boasts 24hr turn around on support requests, and rapid repair and replacement in the off chance a system becomes damaged.

Q: Where can a company see a demo or buy an Intel Falcon 8+?

A: Well we would be grateful for companies to give 1UP a call.  720-476-4101 or fill out the form linked here.