Intel Falcon 8+
Intel Falcom 8+ – press photo

Today we are announcing the release of the Intel Falcon 8+ for North American markets.

This advanced system includes the Intel Falcon 8+ UAV, Intel Cockpit for ground control, as well as the Intel Powerpack to power the UAV. The Intel Falcon 8+ is our first Intel-branded commercial drone.

With the introduction of the Intel Falcon 8+ system, Intel is setting a new standard for commercial-grade drones, incorporating full electronic system redundancy and automated aerial-sensing solutions with best-in-class onboard sensors. It is also powered with the triple-redundant AscTec Trinity autopilot. The system provides detailed images down to millimeter accuracy and gives valuable structural analysis that helps users detect and prevent further damage to infrastructure. Operators will have tremendous opportunities to generate valuable aerial precision data.

The Falcon 8 and Falcon 8+ devices have not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. These devices are not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.

Josh Walden is senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group.

Intel Cockpit controller
Intel Cockpit is part of the Intel Falcon 8+ system

Press Commentary

The Falcon 8+ is powered with AscTec Trinity technology, which is a triple-redundant autopilot with three redundant inertial measurement units that compensate for external influences like electromagnetic fields or strong winds. It also comes with a redesigned tablet-based mobile ground station called Intel Cockpit, with a joystick for single-handed flight control and a water-resistant user interface, and Intel Powerpack smart batteries as the power supply.

Intel continues to make inroads into the drone industry, announcing this week the company’s first branded drone for commercial use. The Falcon 8+ system is a complete package designed for “industrial inspection, surveying, and mapping,” and is built around an octocopter manufactured by Intel subsidiary Ascending Technologies

The drone’s rotors are arranged in AscTec’s patented V-formation, and the craft can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour — faster than most amateur drones. Its makers promise all sorts of features designed to appeal to professional pilots, including back-up batteries and communication systems built into the drone itself. The system also ships with the Intel Cockpit, a weatherproof controller with twin joysticks and an integrated Intel tablet, with the whole system ready to fly right out of the box.

Unlike with hobbyist drones, where DJI already accounts for 70 percent of the market, the commercial and industrial drone scene doesn’t yet have a single dominant drone maker. 3DR, which once touted itself as the leading drone company in the U.S., is now completely switching to building drones for commercial applications. And other drone makers, like Yuneec, Kespry and DJI, all have commercial-grade offerings, too.

Intel has been making a number of investments to boost its capabilities in drones. It said in January it was acquiring Ascending Technologies, a designer of drones with auto-pilot software in Krailing, Germany. Last month, the chip maker said it would acquire Movidius, a designer of low-power and high-performance SoC (system-on-a-chip) platforms for accelerating computer vision applications, which supplies chips to drone makers like DJI.

The Intel Falcon 8+ builds up on the AscTec Falcon 8 from Ascending Technologies. The V-form octocopter, with full electronic system redundancy covering batteries, communications and sensing, is outfitted for industrial inspection, surveying and mapping for professionals and experts, according to Intel. The UAV measures 768 x 817 x 160 millimeters and has a take off weight of 2.8 kilograms.

Intel Falcon 8+ in flight
Intel Falcon 8+ in flight
As I wrote in my InterDrone show reportAnil V. Nanduri, VP in the New Technology Group and General Manager of the UAV segment at Intel did a great high-risk live demo in the best Valley tradition including a LTE Facebook live stream from a Typhoon flying on stage. Better yet was the Falcon demo where the stalwart pilot flew it minus one and then minus two props.”
It appears that the real deal is even more impressive. German engineered and built to withstand real-world operating conditions. The controller is a thing of beauty (you can see a larger image here if you click on the picture) and includes a built-in Intel tablet. Note that this is a second generation product and that it is part of a broader product line. The AscTec website it well worth a look, as is the Intel fact sheet which provides some additional detail.
I am curious to learn how Intel will go to market – this doesn’t look like the kind of drone that one shops for at Best Buy. As of lunch time, it was not yet available for pre-order on Amazon. Price and availability were not announced – probably pending FCC approval. Clearly this is not vaporware.
UPDATE – Here is an Intel press release from January 2016 announcing the acquisition of AscTec who make both the Falcon and the units used in the Intel 100 shows.



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