Help selecting VOXL product/platform for specific use case
We're evaluating the VOXL product suite for our use case, and were hoping to get a few questions answered on here before we move forward with purchasing reference components. What follows is our best guess as to what we'd need to make our system function:
The system so far:
- 12 ESC-controlled thursters (12 PWM outputs)
- minimum 2 (potentially 4) actuators, servo-driven
- VOXL CAM, or most updated version of VIO hardware for complex computer vision-based flight control
The VOXL CAM itself seems to have the option to come with a full companion computer + flight controller: https://www.modalai.com/products/voxl-cam?variant=39593458860083. The main question here is whether we're going to be able to drive that many motors and actuators with the VOXL flight controller embedded in this package. If we can, it seems to make the most sense to buy the fully integrated hardware and have a full-fledged solution all in one place.
Additionally, it's unclear from the pictures how everything is packaged in the fully-integrated mode. Our fundamental concern is that to get the correct visual data from the onboard cameras on the VOXL CAM, we might have to attach it a little further away from the current center of mass of the chassis we're developing. If the whole package is in one piece, that might put a lot of mass at the end of a relatively long moment arm, which is something we'd like to avoid.
We would need full LTE/4G/5G support for this system, for BVLOS operation, so that's where the larger feature set of having the fully integrated companion computer is very attractive.
In addition, we've already purchased the M500 (https://docs.modalai.com/voxl-m500-quickstart/) as a reference for evaluating the full VOXL suite, and I was hoping to understand if we're able to leverage a lot of our learning/development/processes for the this VOXL CAM situation as well. Also, we received a marketing email regarding VOXL 2, and we're wondering if it's best to wait for that product to be released, or if there's a VOXL-2-based VOXL CAM system that's in the works.
Any insight you can provide would be much appreciated, looking forward to your reply!
The voxl does not come embedded with that many pwm outputs, but we have GPIO and i2c ports, which could easily be used with any off-the-shelf breakout board to control pwm outputs.
The VOXL Cam is designed to be a closed module that stays together, if you're looking to break out the cameras/board to different places, it'd most likely be better/cheaper to order the specific parts that you want and build them into the platform that you're designing.
All of the calculations for flight control in the companion computer are based off a simple extrinsics config file that defines the relations between the various cameras/imus/hardware body, so if you're putting a voxl cam on you own platform you'd just need to redefine the body->various members relations and everythig would work fine. If you're breaking out more of the components you'd just have to modify those relationships as well.
The voxl-cam has the same computer inside as the m500 and runs the same software suite, so any work done there will port over directly.
As for voxl2: it's released now, you can buy it either as a bare board, a deck , or a full m500-style drone (sentinel). We do have a voxl-cam solution with it in the works but don't have a timeline for when that will be available. The voxl2 is much more powerful than voxl, has an embedded flight controller so you wouldn't need the flight core, and runs the same software stack as voxl, so your work on the m500 would translate to there. While it is more expensive than voxl, it can handle much more processing, has more camera inputs, has a smaller/lighter footprint, and is based on a standard ubuntu 18.04 system so you can install packages from the ubuntu standard repos. If you're planning to make use of the companion computer we'd definitely recommend it.
Hope that answers all of your questions,
This is all great, thanks so much for the quick response. I think our plan will be to get the VOXL CAM in its current state and get moving on development, and we'll be able to port to newer products soon after.
Do you have CAD models of the filed of view and placement for each camera on the VOXL CAM? Would help with our design a bit more
Steve Turner last edited by
https://storage.googleapis.com/modalai_public/modal_drawings/VOXL_CAM_STEP.zip is a CAD drawing of the VOXL CAM.
@stevet Thanks! We actually do have these, maybe we can just figure out the FOV of each camera from the respective data sheets.