The "PD6E2000-AWCJ1" drone for disaster control (without the housing for the camera unit) (source: Canon)
An image taken for river monitoring at night (source: Canon)
An image taken in a mountainous area at night (source: Canon)

Canon Marketing Japan Inc announced April 4, 2017, that it will release a drone for disaster control in July 2017.

The drone, "PD6E2000-AWCJ1," was developed by adding Canon Inc's "ME20F-SH" ultrahigh-sensitivity camera to the "PD6E2000-AW" industrial drone of Prodrone Co Ltd. As a result, it can shoot images in dark places during nighttime hours.

The ME20F-SH is equipped with a 35mm full-size CMOS sensor featuring both an ultrahigh sensitivity and low noise. It realizes a minimum depth of field of 0.0005lux or less (maximum gain: 75dB, ISO sensitivity: equivalent to four million).

Even under low-illuminance environments, where infrared projection-based monochrome imaging is generally used, the camera can take low-noise full-HD images of moving objects without infrared projection. Also, with its EF mount, the camera can be combined with various lenses in accordance with application and scene.

In addition to the all-weather performance of the drone, its camera unit has an all-weather housing structure and can be used even in rainy weather. Also, the drone features a remote communication function and can transmit video data to, for example, headquarters for disaster control in real time while flying.

The main specifications of the drone are as follows.

Maximum speed: 65km/h
Maximum wind velocity for flight: 10m/s
Flight duration: 10-50 minutes
Distance between motor shafts: 1,260mm
Propeller diameter: 572mm
Total height: 300mm
Weight: 6kg

Canon Marketing Japan joined Drone Tech Labo Sendai, planning to carry out a verification test of the drone in Sendai City, which is a special economic zone for drones, in 2017. The company will conduct flight tests using the drone in the zone in cooperation with local governments that focus on disaster countermeasures, in the aim of commercializing the drone and improving its added values.

Canon Marketing Japan and Prodrone plan to develop video-based solutions using the drone not only for disaster control but also for (1) inspection of overhead wires for railroad companies, (2) inspection of infrastructures, (3) agriculture, etc, aiming to achieve sales of ¥5 billion (approx US$45.2 million) by 2020.