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At Autodesk’s Real 2015 conference last month, 3DR provided a flight demo of a new versatile workhorse of drone we’re calling Spektre. (Some of you may have seen Chris Anderson’s tweet.)

Spektre has been designed from the ground up as a powerful and adaptive platform that can meet the many and complex demands of industrial inspection. It’s like an aerial power drill that you can outfit with different bits for whatever your job and site require, whether railroads, bridges, mines, buildings, even offshore installations. The thing even looks like it comes wearing a hardhat.

We know that at a certain level, people don’t want drones; they really just want the data. We designed Spektre as a tool for gathering highly accurate aerial data quickly, easily, frequently and reliably. Ultimately this helps businesses make informed decisions and precisely target their action in the field, resulting in lower costs and better returns.

Raising the Spektre of a new industrial future

Drones don’t merely replace traditional inspection work. They also allow us to bring the physical world back into the digital, where it can be examined, shared and even manipulated. Spektre can automatically scan job sites from the air and send those images to computers to build 3D models, which can be used to regularly track site progress. Depending on the desired payload, industrial operations can use the data Spektre gathers for surveying, logistics and monitoring activity, or send it to the cloud, allowing engineers and other workers to collaborate and review production remotely and in real time. This can help cut schedules by days or even weeks for larger projects, and save effort and money accordingly.

Most importantly, Spektre will make industrial operations safer. In 2013 there were 31 fatal injuries and many more non-fatal injuries from government contractor construction inspectors alone. Another 60 were killed and 4,500 injured from scaffolding accidents. And even though we’re well into the 21st century, 20 railroad employees and contractors lost their lives on the job, many of them doing routine inspection work. And these numbers are only domestic. The technology heralded by Spektre, which allows employees to accomplish most of this dangerous work remotely, offers the promise not only of a more efficient and profitable future, but of a safer one, perhaps saving many dozens of lives a year.