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DataFromSky in Czech Newspaper

Page from Economic Newspaper with finalist medallions Czech Newspaper Hospodářské Noviny (Economic Newspaper) reported about a startup competition Nápad roku (Idea of the year). There were two pages dedicated to the event, with some space allocated to participant profiles. We took part in the competition, too, so the name DataFromSky appeared there as well. The profile reads:

DataFromSky
Founders: David Herman, Aleš Marvan
Subject: Development of mobile robots and machine vision methods
Web: www.datafromsky.com
DataFromSky is an unique tool for analysis of dynamic phenomenons using UAVs, which builds on advanced machine vision algorithms. It offers innovative approaches to interpretation of gathered data about all traffic members in the area of traffic monitoring. We teach drones to see.

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Dynamic heatmaps

We are happy to announce yet another function in DataFromSky Viewer: We have added dynamic mode to heatmaps. Previously, the heatmap displayed data taken from the whole length of video, statically. With dynamic mode, the visualized quantity is taken from an interval around current time.

You can see that there is a lot of potential in having this visualization. The current selection of quantities isn’t everything, of course. We are planning to add various other heatmap options like density, flow, time to collision and others. Follow our news to learn more when these are ready!

In other news, the FAA of USA today finally managed to produce regulations for commercial drone use, ending the legal vacuum or somewhat gray area. Hopefully, this will serve as an example to other countries when deciding how to regulate drones. The focus on safety and privacy is something very understandable. We’re also happy to note that the requirements are very reasonable and operations around road traffic are not significantly hampered!

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DataFromSky participated at Czech Special Forces conference

The Czech Special Forces held a conference dedicated to the emerging drone threats, industry and technologies “Využití UAS a obrana proti nim” (Use of UAS and defense against them). The commercial segment was co-organized by Telink, our partner. DataFromSky took part in this event, too.

You can probably guess that being able to track objects in video is a component of many weapon technologies. In fact, our team has some experience with defense- and police-related projects. We presented DataFromSky as well as what it could do in other domains. Among the considered uses were monitoring of assets during security missions – soldiers and vehicles – and a mobile monitoring set consisting of a van carrying all the required equipment to launch a drone and process the video.

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DataFromSky in numbers

Have you ever wondered how much data passes through DataFromSky? Are you interested in how many objects have been tracked and what distances are involved? We gathered some statistics for you! Here are the numbers for last three months:

35 234 546

meters of trajectories

391 494

tracked objects

230

hours of video

8

countries

2 251 090 500

detector hits

1 957 470

total length of tracked vehicles in meters

87.92%

portion of equator traveled by tracked vehicles

736

kWh burned for computations

What about the software itself?

DataFromSky is written in C++ language and, of course, based on OpenCV library and Qt Toolkit for frontend. The backend detection and tracking algorithms are accelerated by CUDA technology. Here are the numbers:

> 4 000 000

vehicle picture samples

180 000

lines of code

5 500

functions

405

classes

All of these numbers are growing! We are processing new videos every day, teaching the system on more examples of vehicles. We continuously improve our models for position calculation as well.

PS: In the near future, you can expect significant improvement in stitching of videos from more drones.

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DataFromSky presented at SUMO User Conference 2016

For the fourth consecutive year the DLR (Institute of Transportation Systems) held at its headquarters in Berlin the conference of SUMO (Simulation of Urban MObility). It is an open-source simulation platform implemented in C++ which allows modelling intermodal traffic systems including road vehicles, public transport and pedestrians.

Our poster in Berlin with Andrea Marella (right) and Eng. Bonfanti (left)

The flexibility and the continuous development of computational models and new system features make this platform suitable for integration with other applications. Information sharing and the presentation of new usage scenarios involving this platform are some of the main reasons of its rapid development and growing success.

This year’s conference, that took place on 23-25 May 2016, was attended by numerous technicians of the transport field coming from European and American countries. DataFromSky was present, too, in order to expose a project being pursued in cooperation with the Italian partner Andrea Marella, entitled ‘Implementing traffic simulation model with aerial traffic surveys’. You can download the poster here:

pdf Poster_SUMO_DFS.pdf

The aim is to exploit the potential of DataFromSky, in terms of quantity and quality of gathered data, to improve and come up to a more realistic simulation scenario with SUMO. More specifically, the study has focused on the collection of dynamic data of passing vehicles on the survey stretch: this has allowed us to more accurately define the parameters that influence the driving behaviour of the users in that specific environment. The obtained characteristics are then used to define the simulation parameters for the car-following model, and then highlight the huge improvements in terms of virtual representation of the actual observed traffic behaviour.

Training course in Trieste

Andrea Marella talking at seminar in Trieste

Audience at seminar in Trieste

As we announced a few weeks ago, an interesting training course entitled “Methods and techniques for the monitoring and management of road traffic” presented by Eng. Andrea Marella (Trafficlab) was recently held in Trieste. The organization of the event was made possible thanks to the collaboration with the University of Trieste and the Order of Engineers of Trieste.

The meeting was attended by about 70 participants, road and traffic engineers most of all, who have joined with active interest and participation. During the 4 hours course have been described the innovative tools that are currently developing in recent years for the gathering of traffic data. Finally, the opportunity of the meeting has allowed to present a practical case of DataFromSky application, regarding the study of an intersection in Trieste from a video shot from the top of an high-rise. This analysis, already mentioned in previous news was the topic of master’s thesis “The Design of Road Intersection“ of a civil engineering student from University of Trieste.

The great success of the event confirms the interest in this field. Our hope is that other initiatives of this type may in future be promoted by engineering associations and universities, in order to provide an increased awareness of such instruments and of the great potential that they can offer.

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DataFromSky in Czech TV!

logo Cesty k úspěchu DataFromSky and RCE appeared in Czech TV last thursday! We were covered as part of Cesty k úspěchu (Ways to success) – a series about new successful Czech entrepreneurs, currently in 11th season. The series is produced by Prima TV and sponsored by Komerční Banka. Marek Vašut, a popular Czech actor, is doing the interviews.

At the series’ website is a loose transcript of the interview (Google translate). A few parts are missing, though – eg. the funny relationship between founders: Aleš was supposed to teach David at a robotics course, but the actual flow of knowledge was not unidirectional. That’s when the idea of starting RCE Systems appeared first. DataFromSky came later.

As before in Denmark, logos are dutifully blurred by the broadcaster, but you can see our footage and the interviewer openly mentions DataFromSky.

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Drone news – rapidly growing market

chart

Good Drone Lab at University of San Diego published recently an interesting open access “book” titled “Up in the Air: A Global Estimate of Non-Violent Drone Use 2009-2015“. The report is inevitably US-centric due to use of English language news as data sources, but there are several interesting facts listed in the book.

The two distinct questions the researchers asked are: (1) what is the nature of civilian drone use over time, and (2) what regulatory responses exist to use at the international, state, and sub-state levels. Some of the key findings are:

  • The year 2012 was a breakout period that saw non-military use overtake military use.
  • Commercial, emergency services, health and public safety, and environmental conservation sectors are growing.
  • Legislation is sparse and uneven, but growing.
  • Most regulations focuses on controlling weight, altitude, distance, no-fly zones, and operator certification.
  • There is no consensus policy on non-military drone use.

One thing is clear, commercial use is skyrocketing and does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.

pdf Up in the Air_ A Global Estimate of Non-Violent Drone Use 2009-20.pdf

NTIA UAS Privacy Guidelines

Another recent development comes from the US National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), who arrived at a consensus regarding privacy guidelines for drone use. The resulting material was published under the name “Voluntary Best Practices for UAS Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability“.

The very characteristics that make UAS so promising for commercial and non-commercial uses, including their small size, maneuverability and capacity to carry various kinds of recording or sensory devices, can raise privacy concerns. (…) Operators should use this technology in a responsible, ethical, and respectful way. This should include a commitment to transparency, privacy and accountability.

The published material contains a number of concrete recommendations. The voluntary best practices encourage UAS users to:

  • inform affected persons of UAS use and the collection of data;
  • take care in the collection and storage of information that identifies a particular person;
  • limit the use and sharing of such data;
  • secure data; and
  • monitor and comply with the law as it evolves.

This topic resonates strongly with what we learned about use of aerial video as our business grew, and thus may be of interest to our readers and followers. Some of the privacy concerns are mitigated by the resolution of video that we collect. Arguably, it is impossible to identify people and vehicles since faces and number plates are less than 10 pixels. Of course, combination of the video with other data source is possible.

A more pressing concern is that video from above allows us to see otherwise private places such as walled-in gardens, backyard, roofs, patios… In response to this, we added anonymization functions. We handle videos sent to us with care and use encryption to allow only key team members unrestricted access to complete imagery, when needed during processing.

For the rest, such as informing the people in the area, we rely on the operators collecting video.

pdf voluntary best practices for uas privacy transparency and accountability.pdf

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National Technical University of Athens PTW research using DataFromSky

The PhD candidate Emmanouil Barmpounakis and his supervisors Dr. John Golias and Dr. Eleni Vlahogianni from The Department of Transportation Planning and Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens are using DataFromSky to study Powered Two Wheelers’ (PTW) overtaking phenomena using the principles of Game Theory:

Both the PTW driver and the driver of the vehicle being overtaken are assumed to be rational decision-makers that develop strategies, while commuting in urban environment, trying to get the best outcome for their decisions. These strategies may be cooperative or not based on both drivers’ choices with respect to the distances and safety gaps they leave from the lead vehicle. Since PTW follow unorthodox trajectories, especially in an urban arterial, having detailed naturalistic data is essential, and this is how DFS comes in handy!

We are always looking for partners from academic sphere. Are you a researcher in traffic or civil engineering? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

This video is an excerpt with no motorcycles present. You can see some new features of the Viewer: a lateral acceleration heatmap, distance measurement, and a testing bounding box makes a guest appearance too. Heatmap overlay is a completely new feature: When activated, you can configure it to display a scalar value. You can currently select from various speed, count and acceleration types of quantity. The color map and its value range are configurable as well.

References:

  1. Barmpounakis, Emmanouil N., Eleni I. Vlahogianni, and John C. Golias. “A Game Theoretic Approach to Powered Two Wheelers Overtaking Phenomena.” Transportation Research Board 94th Annual Meeting. No. 15-1425. 2015.
  2. Barmpounakis, E.N., Vlahogianni, E.I., & Golias, J.C. (2016). Intelligent Transportation Systems and Powered Two Wheelers Traffic, IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, 17(4), 908-916. http://doi.org/10.1109/TITS.2015.2497406
  3. Barmpounakis, E. N., E. I. Vlahogianni, and J. C. Golias. “Vision-based multivariate statistical modeling for powered two-wheelers maneuverability during overtaking in urban arterials.” Transportation Letters: The International Journal of Transportation Research (2015): 1942787515Y-0000000020
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DataFromSky in Danish TV and Czech press

DataFromSky has in COWI an exclusive partner in Denmark and other Nordic countries since March this year. COWI’s use of drones for traffic data collection and analysis using DataFromSky has been now covered by DR, the Danish national broadcasting company. In prime time, no less!

You can watch the evening news video. The drone part starts at 6:13. Apart from showing the drone operations and interviewing various officials (all in Danish), you can see a beautiful example of DataFromSky footage there, too – although with all branding zealously removed except for the television logo. The effect of now-implemented and released anonymization is plainly visible there nicely: In the TV low picture quality it looks almost as tilt-shift photography. This is also an opportunity to take a closer look at some real hardware used practically daily for traffic analysis recording.

COWI mentioned this on their City Creators blog in article Droner flyver ind på nethinden (Drones fly into the view), where they previously introduced DataFromSky. They also mention that the commercial drone sector could employ as much as 15 thousand people just in Denmark – whether that figure also originates from the news video we do not know.

Czech articles

An article titled “Světová stopa mladých českých podnikatelů” (The World footprint of young Czech enterpreneurs) was published by the startup competition Nastartujtese.cz across various media, both online and in print. The article showcases the top 3 projects of the last year’s copetition (we were second) and invites submissions to this year’s round. It’s great that traffic safety is taken seriously and that we are among the Czech companies that leaver some impact on the world.

The two immediately reachable versions of the article are these by Podnikatel.cz and Peníze.cz, both in Czech. The article is scheduled to appear in print media within a few weeks, too.

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It’s time to learn!

Seminar invitation headings DataFromSky technology has added new possibilities to transport and road fields. It highlights a great need of people working in these fields – to be equipped with adequate tools for conducting surveys and collecting data. The purposes for which such data is collected places severe requirements on precision and reliability. Choosing the right methods and devices used for traffic monitoring and vehicle counting is a question of selecting the best ones for a given environment.

All of this will be part of discussion in the seminary with title “Methods and techniques for the monitoring and management of road traffic” presented by Eng. Andrea Marella (Trafficlab) and Eng. Erik Sferco (Trieste University), that will take place on Monday, 16th May at the Trieste University.

Program for the whole day is available in the following link, with an explanation on how to participate for those interested.

pdf Locandina-DataFromSky.pdf

A few weeks ago, our Italian partner Eng. Morini from society TAU participated in a meeting day with theme “Advanced applications in road planning: survey and analysis of the traffic and the video images produced by Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and “Big data” dataset obtained from cellular networks”, where he spoke about “advanced systems for survey and analysis of traffic and mobility in urban and suburban areas by processing of video images recorded thanks to flight and aerial platforms”. More information about the event is available at the following link (Italian only):

pdf 1697.pdf

The rising interest shown by universities and official engineering associations demonstrates the growing confidence in DataFromSky and understanding what it is. We hope that these meetings could let traffic technicians know how powerful and innovative tool we are working on.

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