We recently caught up Martin De Gourcuff, a Control System Engineer at Parrot who broke down the stabilization system of ANAFI’s camera for us.

Read on to find out more…

Tell us more about your background.

In 2013, I obtained an Engineering degree, I specialized in robotics and applied mathematics. Shortly after, I was hired by Parrot to work on a strategic project, developing flight stabilization algorithms and sensors of data fusion technologies.

What do you do at Parrot?

My mission for the last year and a half has been to manage the development of the stabilization gimbal for ANAFI. The stabilization gimbal is the mechanical system located at the front of the drone, to which the camera is attached. The gimbal is responsible for stabilizing the camera whilst the drone is in flight. The goal is to produce stable footage, no matter what the surrounding conditions.

The stabilization of ANAFI is hybrid; there is a mechanical system, which I worked on and there is a digital stabilization system, whose purpose is to use the video’s sensor to correct residual movements. The mechanical stabilization system rectifies large-amplitude disturbances and slow movements, while the digital stabilization system manages small amplitudes and fast movements.

For ANAFI, I also worked as a Control Engineer, defining algorithms that allowed the gimbal’s movements to compensate for disturbances.

Parrot_ANAFI_Lifestyle_Fly_06_Powerful

What attracted you to Parrot?

I really wanted to start my career in robotics, there are not many companies in France and Europe that have a robotics department.

Parrot is the European leader in drones, and the company has a strong start-up environment that gives me the chance to work on many different projects and technologies. Parrot’s products are rather trendy and have an excellent level of performance and technical complexity, so it was an easy choice to make.

You’re part of the stabilization team and recently there’s been a huge focus on the stabilization system for ANAFI. Can you tell us more?

The image stabilization system allows you to capture smooth horizontal videos by eliminating vibrations, keeping the camera horizontal and correcting image disturbances.

The small motors of the gimbal are present on two axes and orient the camera to make sure it stays horizontal. We use an inertial unit that checks the position and movements of the camera 1000 times per second. If a deviation in the camera’s direction is detected, the motors overwork to compensate for this disturbance.

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A particularly difficult point is that the inertial unit does not directly provide a clear image of the horizon. It has to be “found” using reference measurements to avoid the tilted horizon effect. In many non-stabilized drone videos, you can clearly see that the horizon is tilted. We really focused on rectifying this, ensuring that the horizon remains flat, no matter what position the drone is in.

Once these two motors have compensated for the movement, digital stabilization corrects the vibration residues, obtaining the most stable and clean image possible. In addition to the residual global movements of the image, digital stabilization corrects the wobble effect, which is an image disturbance characteristic of drones. The rolling shutter camera acquires images sequentially, horizontal line by horizontal line, rather than a single shot (global camera shutter). Which can sometimes give the impression of objects being twisted by waves, when there is a gap between the lines, this is what’s known as the wobble effect. Digital stabilization rectifies this effect to a certain extent.

stabilisation 1.

What were your first impressions of ANAFI?

During the validation tests of ANAFI, we realized that we had successfully created a product that captured magnificent images and videos of landscapes. The 4K resolution provides incredible detail, and the image quality is as close as possible to that of a professional camera.

Also, let’s not forget that ANAFI really is very small and comes with an equally tiny controller. It’s ultra-convenient to take on vacation!

What’s your favorite feature?

I only used to use drones to make videos because I wasn’t convinced by the quality of photos they took. However, with ANAFI, I feel that its photos rival those of professional cameras. And because it’s a drone, you can take stunning aerial shots, that have rarely been seen before.

martin 3            Photo taken by Martin De Gourcuff

Find out more on the stabilization gimbal of ANAFI

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