August 11, 2020
Having as low latency as possible is essential when flying a drone! According to Amazon, the latency standard for live streaming is around 10 seconds. Our solution delivers live streaming with a sub-second latency, which in Amazon’s video latency tiers is regarded as an Ultra-Low Latency. Most out of the box streaming solution, like the one from Microsoft, deliver a latency of around 8-10 seconds. So compared to the industry standard we offer extremely low latency, one that rivals the latency of an HD cable TV. That is why we call our feature real-time streaming.
Latency is a more accurate term of the amount of time between when something happens in the “real world” and the display of that event on the viewer’s screen.Our solution has a sub-second latency, meaning there is less than a second’s delay between the footage from your drone and the footage you see on your screen.
Real-time streaming with sub-second latency – a feature available in Lorenz Hive v. 5.22
With the Lorenz AI-Link mounted on your drone while doing surveillance, inspections, or patrol you can stream the footage captured by your drone in real-time and watch it on your computer, tablet, or phone with sub-second latency.
Through the Lorenz AI-Link, the captured video footage is shared to the Lorenz Cloud Platform through a 4G connection. From there the live footage can be watched on the Lorenz Hive in real-time on any device and from any place, for example, headquarters or control centers. The video footage is also automatically stored in the Lorenz Hive where it can be re-watched, documented and analyzed.
“When flying drones we need low latency. We needed to create our own real-time streaming solution for the possibility of taking over a drone, in real-time, via our hive. We wanted something that is well supported on all modern web browsers. However, we didn’t invent an entirely new technology. We use modern existing technologies like e.g. WebRTC (mainly used for conferencing, which also requires low latency) and put them together in a way that hasn’t really been done before. We encrypt our videos and offer streaming through 4G, which in turn can slow down the streaming speed, but we are still able to deliver a real-time stream with sub-second latency.
This is exceptionally low compared to other optimized out of the box streaming solutions which offer a latency of around 8-10 seconds. The downside of being that fast is that sometimes data can get lost and quality can degrade. This is not a problem for us since we also save the full video on the AI-Link and upload that afterward, getting the best of both worlds.”
says Technology Officer
The real-time video footage can be securely shared with anyone via email without any login requirements. For example, you can share your real-time footage with authorities who then can assess the situation with their own eyes and react accordingly. This can give the police, paramedics, or fire department invaluable information as they will be able to evaluate how many personnel are required on the site and what equipment will be needed.
The footage could also be shared with experts or clients located anywhere in the world, for example when doing inspections. The experts/clients could then potentially communicate with the drone pilot and direct him in real-time during the inspection, ensuring it to be as thorough as possible. This is an example where it’s essential to have as low latency as possible, as if there would be a latency of over 5 seconds, communication would lack all flow and the pilot could potentially have flown the drone away from a certain area the expert/client would want to take a closer look at.
Being able to stream footage from a drone in real-time during security surveillance gives a remote set of eyes on the site with a better overview of the perimeter. The drone’s visibility is not limited by light or obstacles as the drone is equipped with motion sensors and infrared cameras, which can be used to detect motion or heat. This gives the security guards freedom to perform other tasks, a better overview of a larger area, and can reduce the need for security guards on site. If anything suspicious is detected the real-time footage can then be shared by the security guards to relevant authorities who can quickly evaluate the situation and act correspondingly.
When doing inspections, real-time streaming allows the possibility for more people to be participants in the process and weigh in their opinion. This can save time, increase the quality of the inspection and reduce the need for people present at the inspection site.
Stream in real-time over long distances: Tested from Belgium to DK with a sub-second latency
The real-time streaming feature has been tested continuously, internally and on client visits around Europe and is now a fully functional feature on the Lorenz Hive. Recently we performed a non-scientific test to calculate the latency speed. We filmed a stopwatch with our drone and streamed it to the hive. We then recorded the stopwatch side to side with the real-time footage from the hive on our screen. We then subtracted the difference in time to calculate the latency. We calculated the latency to be 0.47 seconds (see picture below). We know this is not a scientific way to measure the precise speed of the latency but it can be used as a good indicator.
We performed a similar test of the latency speed when on a client visit in Belgium. We started two stopwatches simultaneously, one stayed here in Denmark and the other one went along to Belgium. We then streamed in real-time in Belgium to Denmark and took a photo of the stopwatch here in Denmark side to side with the screen which showed the stopwatch in Belgium. When the footage was streamed it traveled from the drone via a local internet carrier in Belgium through 4G to our carrier in Luxembourg and then to our datacenter in Holland. From there it was streamed to the end-user, in this case, our HQ in Odense, Denmark. In spite of the traveling distance of the footage, we calculated the latency to be under 0.5 seconds. The latency could have been reduced even further if it would be streamed through an internet cable instead of 4G.
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