Thermal imaging is coming to model aircraft, and with it, the ability to make slick, useful digital 3D thermal models.
FLIR, a leader in infrared-thermal-imaging sensors and cameras, recently launched the compact FLIR Vue as a GoPro-mount-compatible sensor module designed to mount directly to a quadcopter or gimbal to give a temperature-specific aerial view of a location. Now with the Vue Pro, launched at Interdrone in Las Vegas, they’ve improved on the original Vue by allowing it to have not just the Vue’s live, analog video feed, but also high-quality recording capabilities.
The features of this new camera allow for post-flight thermal-video playback, as well as the construction of 3D thermal landscape models using photogrammetry through the Pix4D digital 3D model construction service. Now you can pan into and zoom around all parts of your house or neighborhood to find hot spots, uninsulated roofs, or detect over- and under-watered agricultural zones, along with many other uses.
The Vue Pro uses FLIR’s Tau thermal sensor and offers a variety of resolutions (from 320×240 to 640×480) and frame rates (9Hz for international markets, 30Hz for U.S.), captured at 14 bits for wide dynamic range. Storage is provided by a MicroSD card, with files in both H.264 for video and TIFF for stills, used to construct the 3D models.
The module has various means of interaction. It includes four PWM channels to allow for triggering capture of stills and to control the video function. It also has MAVlink compatibility, a common interface for model aircraft. Its Bluetooth function allows for easy setup and setting configuration with FLIR’s phone/tablet app.
The Vue Pro is priced for professional applications, ranging from $1,999 to $3,999 depending on what configuration of resolution and frame rate you get. Not cheap, but actually surprisingly affordable compared to many of FLIR’s existing products — FLIR’s SVP Chief of Global Product Strategy Jeff Frank told us at Interdrone that they are trying to make the product accessible as they go all in on the new drone market.