Meet InDro Pilot: A powerful 5G hardware and software suite for Enterprise drones

Meet InDro Pilot: A powerful 5G hardware and software suite for Enterprise drones

By Scott Simmie


Nothing turns our crank quite like developing something brand new; something that’s never been done before. That’s really the heart and soul of R&D.

And that’s also why we’re so excited about InDro Pilot – a new hardware/software solution created by InDro Robotics that will give Enterprise drones and their operators the equivalent of superpowers.

Okay, perhaps there’s some slight hyperbole in that statement. But there’s no question that InDro Pilot will dramatically expand the capabilities of drones using the Pixhawk flight controller, the standard in many Open-Source drones.

InDro Pilot enables operations over 4G and 5G, meaning you could pilot a drone from across the country (providing you have a visual observer with eyes on the flight or a Beyond Visual Line of Sight Special Flight Operations Certificate). It also enables the secure transmission of even highly dense data (such as 4K streaming video) directly to the ground or the cloud with minimal latency. No more pulling out MicroSD cards and waiting for uploads. Realtime data, while you’re flying the mission, sent where it’s required.

Needless to say, this didn’t happen overnight. Getting here required an immense amount of effort from our Area X.O R&D facility. And, in particular, the project’s lead engineer Ahmad Tamimi – seen here on the right. When this photo was taken in the fall of 2021, Ahmad was in the thick of developing the 4K streaming component of the system and integrating it on our Wayfinder drone (foreground).


Canada Robotics

There’s a backstory here…


The catalyst for InDro Pilot was a technology challenge. The Ontario Centre for Innovation, in conjunction with Ericsson and the ENCQOR 5G testbed, put out a call to Canadian technology companies to enable drone flights over 5G. What’s more, the challenge required the successful transmission of uncompressed 4K video – which will help enable Beyond Visual Line of Sight flights because it provides the pilot with greater situational awareness. There were other bits and pieces, which we’ll explore at a later date. Point is, being the successful applicant in this technology challenge is what started us down the InDro Pilot road.

As we explain what InDro Pilot is all about, we’re going to get into a few names of various components. But big picture? It’s a combination of hardware and software that collectively brings about both enhanced capabilities for the drone itself (ie 4G, 5G, dense data realtime uploads etc.) as well as enhanced options for the drone operator to further customize drone sensors and peripherals for any given missions via dashboard. 

Ahmad Tamimi pulled together this nifty graphic, which provides a high-level view of the system:

Drones Canada

The basics


In this post, we’re going to focus on InDro Captain and InDro Capsule.

Let’s start with the latter.

InDro Capsule is hardware, integrated into a capsule. Think of it as a box that can be easily attached to any Enterprise drone using a Pixhawk flight controller, because that’s what it is. That hardware includes:

  • A high-speed Quectel modem for transmitting even dense data to the ground and the cloud in real-time
  • A Jetson-based Edge processor
  • Specialized antennae for both data transmission and Command and Control
  • More IP-protected secret sauce we’ll unveil soon, which has significant implications for Detect and Avoid scenarios

InDro Captain, meanwhile, is the onboard software. It enables communication with the InDro Base (our ground station), secure data transmission to the ground or cloud, and can easily integrate peripherals like a winch or additional sensors.

And what does it look like? Well, the magic is contained within that hexagonal dome – and we’re currently making that dome smaller and lighter. Check out those wild antennae, chosen after a detailed calculations and simulations. And that white one with the InDro logo? We can’t wait to tell you what that one does.

Canada Drones

Another look


These pix were taken during the R&D phase of InDro Pilot, so they’re just quick phone grabs. But we have a feeling you’ll probably like to see at least one more:

Canada Drones

By the way, that’s a high-end mirrorless camera on that gimbal. With InDro Pilot on board, transmitting its uncompressed 4K output at minimal latency is a breeze.

When flying over 5G, the feed from this sensor (or any other) can be captured on the ground and simultaneously uploaded to the cloud. Our new InDro Link software (more on that later), securely integrates with third-party cloud services such as AWS, Azure, Google and more.

As 5G networks expand across North America and globally, this has significant implications for not only remote teleoperations and missions on private 5G networks, but also for realtime capturing of dense data. Providing there’s a 5G network at each end of the mission, a drone equipped with InDro Pilot can be controlled from across the country – with the pilot (and others) watching the data acquisition and all other aspects of any given mission in real-time.




InDro Pilot is an entire ecosystem for 4G and 5G drone operations, including complex missions involving LiDAR, thermal sensors – even winches. The user interface reflects that, with “modules” (ie winch, etc.) that can be added to customize for each mission. Here’s a look at just one of many modules, offering granular control and at-a-glance monitoring.

Canada Drones

“The InDro Pilot system is going to truly expand the capabilities of many Enterprise drones,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “Just as our InDro Commander module has made ground robots more powerful and customizable, InDro Pilot will do the same for UAVs.”

InDro Robotics has already delivered Wayfinder drones equipped with the InDro Pilot system to clients from the regulatory world. Commercial sales will commence shortly.

Interested in learning more? Feel free to contact Peter King.

InDro’s Take


As we said at the outset, nothing gets us revved up quite like creating new solutions. InDro Pilot has a myriad of powerful capabilities not outlined in this story – including some features that will definitely contribute to the safety of Beyond Visual Line of Sight flights though a proprietary system that will alert nearby private aircraft to the drone’s proximity during missions. So we’re excited about this product, much in the same way we were excited when we released InDro Commander for ground robots.

And while all Indro Robotics developments are team efforts, there’s often an individual who really takes the lead and owns the project. In this case, Ahmad Tamimi truly took charge, often working on it alone during those dark and early days of the global pandemic. InDro Pilot is a huge accomplishment, and we applaud Ahmad and the rest of the InDro team.


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#CANSEC2022 – a wrap on the biggest security and defence show in Canada

#CANSEC2022 – a wrap on the biggest security and defence show in Canada

By Scott Simmie, InDro Robotics


The biggest annual security and defence conference in Canada – CANSEC – is a wrap. Put on by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, the trade show is like a Who’s Who of the vast supply chain necessary to keep Canada’s armed forces equipped.

That means everything from the pointy end of the stick (weaponry) through to advanced SCUBA gear, survival suits, radar units, flight simulators and more. Major companies like Lockheed Martin, L3Harris, QINETIQ, Google, Microsoft and others were among the 306 defence and security exhibitors that filled some 150,000 square feet on the trade floor.

It was clear (if it wasn’t before) that digital technologies play a huge role on the modern battlefield. Plus, there was a lot of hardware like this:



There was also this guy, who spent his time in icy-cold water intended to show off the capabilities of the company’s survival suit. See that glove on the right? People attending the show were invited to plunge their hands in that frigid water with and without the glove on.

Trust us on this, it’s more comfortable with the glove.


Weaponized drone


On the drone front, there was a significant development. Norwegian drone maker GRIFF Aviation, known for its heavy-lift Enterprise drones, was displaying a variant of one of its models. In conjunction with Norwegian munitions manufacturer and defence firm Nammo, the two companies have outfitted the GRIFF 135 (payload capacity 30kg) to fire anti-tank rockets. This was the first time this machine has been publicly displayed.


And here’s a look at the business end of things:


Ukraine influence?


There has been a huge demand for drones since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But that conflict played no role in the development of this machine.

“This is not something we came up with because of Ukraine,” says Geir Furø, GRIFF Aviation’s VP of Sales and Business Development.

“It’s been in the planning for the last four or five years. Only in the last year has it been coming together. So this will have a live-fire test later this fall. We hope to be manufacturing by early next year.”

 While InDro Robotics does not weaponize its drones or robots, we can certainly see the business case for GRIFF Aviation. What we found most interesting about this development is that drone manufacturers have typically followed either an Enterprise/Consumer track, or else a military one. In general, companies that are defence contractors (such as Aerovironment) don’t produce Enterprise/Consumer drones, and vice-versa. 

Furø said there had been a lot of interest in the product. It will be interesting to see whether this crossover leads other Enterprise manufacturers to consider adapting their products for a combat setting.


A couple of other displays caught our eye, as well. In the case we’re about to explore, Canadian companies that build submersible devices. These are tethered systems that, in general, send back high-quality real-time video and other data to the surface (they can be equipped with multiple sensors). Use-case scenarios include hull inspection, sediment sampling, and even retrieval of objects on the ocean bed. First Responders also use these devices when attempting to locate human remains following drownings, boat sinkings etc., keeping divers out of harm’s way.

Two different Canadian companies had displays at the CANSEC show, both offering submersible solutions.



Established in 2005, the company is based in Prince Edward Island – which has some obvious advantages when it comes to R&D and testing its products. It builds underwater Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs), marine-grade computers, displays etc. Its Oceanus series has been deployed in use-cases ranging from border security and environmental assessment through to scientific research. MarineNav ROVs are built on-site, using rugged plastics and marine-grade anodized aluminum.

Its three models use thrust vectoring for positioning and can carry out unlimited mission times, since power is supplied via tether.




The Oceanus Pro, seen above, has a depth rating of 305m (1000′). It’s controlled from the surface using a joystick and touch-sensitive topside monitor. That monitor has 1600 nits of brightness, meaning it’s easy to view even in bright daylight. The company’s Oceanus Ultimate has the same depth rating, but with an optional upgrade can descend to 500m (1640′).

We had the opportunity to chat with MarineNav staff and were impressed with both their commitment to quality, as well as the fact their line is manufactured from the ground-up, in-house.


Deep Trekker


The other company that caught our attention was Deep Trekker, based in Kitchener, Ontario. Deep Trekker has been around for a decade, and produces not only submersibles but also waterproof crawlers, designed for pipe inspections – even a vacuum robot that can clean sediment and sludge from the bottoms of reservoirs and tanks.

When we were recently at the AUVSI conference, we had an opportunity to operate its DTG3, a highly maneuverable and affordable ROV rated for up to 200m. Impressive, and just one of many machines for specific use-case scenarios.

Deep Trekker

In fact, Deep Trekker offers not only a broad range of products, but – not unlike drones – the option for additional sensors suitable to tasks such as Side Scan Sonar, water sampling, and even Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) tools.


InDro on the floor

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that InDro Robotics also had a presence at the show. That’s our own Peter King on the right, taking part in a demonstration with partners Microsoft Canada.

Peter was remotely operating our Sentinel robot, equipped with the InDro Commander system, over a 5G network. This was on day two of the conference (you’ll see Sentinel below). The previous day, we piloted a drone from the CANSEC show, with the drone many kilometres away at our Area X.O R&D hub.

InDro is a leader in teleoperating drones and robots over 4G and 5G networks, allowing for remote operations from around the block or across the country.

The operator monitors the mission via a web-based browser, seeing data in real-time as the mission unfolds.

Peter is a pro at this, as well as understanding the many use-cases that can benefit from such technology. For example, InDro Robotics can remotely inspect a solar farm to see if there are any malfunctioning panels. Having a human inspect those panels can literally take days, while generally a single drone flight of less than 30 minutes can usually detect any anomalies.

Interested? You can always reach Peter here.


InDro’s Take


Conferences are a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of a particular sector, as well as a chance to see what other companies are up to in that space.

We had conversations with many companies at CANSEC and were particularly impressed with several Canadian SMEs. Deep Trekker and MarineNav have both developed very impressive products, and – as a fellow R&D company – we applaud Canadian success stories that push the boundaries of engineering. Well done.