• News Release

Rikei, ACSL, and VFR will Jointly Develop an Emulator that uses VR for Drone Development – Accelerating Development of Domestically-produced Drones featuring Visual SLAM –

Rikei Corporation (Head Office: Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo; President & CEO: Satoru Isaka; hereinafter “Rikei”) is pleased to announce that it will develop an emulator (*1) that uses VR (virtual reality) image creation technology used in autonomous automobile driving tests to create realistic locations for drone usage jointly with Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd. (Head Office: Edogawa-ku, Tokyo; President & COO: Satoshi Washiya; hereinafter “ACSL”) and VFR Inc. (Head Office: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo; President: Masanobu Todome; hereinafter “VFR”).

*1 Emulator: a device that uses software in place of actual equipment for development testing

Background and Goals

In its medium-term management policy ACSL Accelerate FY20 announced in August 2020, ACSL sets the development of mass-produced application-specific drones to be used in smokestacks, enclosed spaces (sewers, etc.), and other non-GPS environments as one of its strategies. Inspections become possible in non-GPS environments through using drones with Visual SLAM (*2), ACSL’s autonomous flight technology, and further progress of technology development is necessary.

*2 Visual SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping): a technology that determines its own location using image processing

VFR offers solutions for drone operators, end user service providers, and end users, and jointly develops application-specific drones with ACSL.

In developing industrial drones, they create customized drones that can be used to solve on-site problems through repeated tests on-site. However, to perform these tests, normal on-site operations need to be stopped, and the time needed until application has been cited as a problem. Also, while emulators are used to efficiently develop drones, conventional emulators are not compatible with a variety of cameras used in Visual SLAM flight, and the inability to perform necessary tests is also an issue.

ACSL and VFR deemed it necessary to develop a new emulator for drone development to prevent delays from occurring in technological development and social implementation due to these issues.

Rikei is a solutions vendor in the IT and electronics industries, and has developed technology that combines environmental models such as buildings and roads and automobile models through automobile simulators and reproduces these models in VR. Because it is possible to recreate a VR space that is equal to reality, this technology is used in automobile testing.

The three companies believe that a new emulator for drone development could be made from Rikei’s VR image creation technology and ACSL and VFR’s drone development technology and test experience, and has decided to develop this emulator jointly.

Development Overview

  • An emulator that uses VR space created from CG will be developed assuming an HILS (*3) configuration that partially uses actual controllers
  • Realistic buildings, weather, and drone models will be reproduced in the VR space, and simulations will be carried out in a way that reflects the drone’s behaviors in calculations and images in real time based on control signals from the drone’s flight controller
  • A virtual camera based on the characteristics of the cameras installed on drones will also be installed within the VR space, allowing realistic CG images to be used in the emulator by generating images in real time. This allows the enormous amount of image data that is required for Visual SLAM development to be generated in a short amount of time.

*3 HILS (Hardware-in-the-loop Simulation): a method that uses hardware for part of its configuration to connect multiple simulation systems for development.

Future development

Rikei, ACSL, and VFR will make the development of drones more efficient by creating realistic locations for drone usage and jointly developing an emulator that is compatible with stereo cameras, infrared cameras, LiDAR sensors that use laser light, and other cameras used for inspection drones. They also aim to improve the customer experience by using the emulator in drone development to repeatedly carry out tests of smokestack inspection drones, drones for enclosed spaces, and other application-specific drones.

About Rikei Corporation

Established in 1957, Rikei Corporation is a solution provider for the IT and electronics industries. Rikei offers a broad range of solutions centered on the world’s cutting edge technologies and advanced products in the fields of system and network solutions and electronic components and devices.In VR development, we focus on the development of technology to generate VR space equivalent to real space, and this technology is adopted by automobile manufacturers and others.

About Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory Ltd.

ACSL develops domestically-produced industrial drones to realize a reduction or elimination of labor in existing operations in the industrial field, and offers cutting-edge autonomous control technology featuring image processing and AI edge computing and industrial drones that feature this same technology in particular. These drones have already been adopted in a variety of fields, including infrastructure inspections, postal mail, logistics, and disaster prevention.

About VFR Inc.

VFR was established as a subsidiary of VAIO Corporation with a vision to open up the potential of people and society through technology and passion. They offer solutions for drone operators, service providers, and end users. They also aim to contribute to the construction of an ecosystem for the development of the drone industry by talking openly and frankly with everyone involved in the drone industry.


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