Insitu, a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, collaborated with Amazon Web Services to demo pre-processing and transferring terabytes of drone-gathered data to AWS without an Internet connection.
Insitu creates solutions for unmanned systems such as drones that survey, process, and interpret sensor data. It’s the creator of INEXA Cloud, part of a suite of resources to process and interpret large amounts of data gathered by unmanned systems to create actionable intel, including 3D terrain models.
AWS Snowball is a service that enables enterprises to transfer large amounts of pre-processed data to AWS through dedicated physical storage appliances rather than across the web. The appliance, called the AWS Snowball Edge, is a 100 terabyte (TB) data transfer device with onboard storage and compute capability for local processing and edge-computing workloads.
Insitu deployed a ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which flew around a remote area, collecting terabytes of sensor data to surveil over a kilometer of a wall in a remote location in Queensland, Australia.
The UAV flew for less than an hour, gathering terabytes of data.
Upon return of the UAV, its data was downloaded to an AWS Snowball Edge device. It was then pre-processed, its data integrity validated and prepared to be transferred to the nearest AWS region.
The appliance was then transferred physically to the INEXA Cloud account running on a nearby AWS region. The data is physically stored on the appliance, and that appliance is directly brought to AWS where it can be directly uploaded into Insitu’s AWS account.
Using INEXA Cloud and the transferred bulk data, Insitu was then able to turn all that sensor data into actionable content – including a 3D model of the surveilled wall.
“One of the biggest challenges for remote site inspection and data management is the word ‘remote,'” said Jon Damush, Insitu’s Chief Growth Officer. “By definition, remote implies ‘removed from infrastructure,’ which in our world means little to no internet connectivity. The scale of this type of work means we needed to collaborate with a company that could help us find a path forward, and AWS was that company.”
AWS Snowball Edge: No Internet Required
Throughout the demo, an internet connection was not required. Data transfer on the AWS Snowball Edge happens by a direct connection with a nearby AWS region. The device would typically be couriered over to an AWS facility where its data would be transferred directly to AWS’ regional servers and made available on the company’s account.
The device itself has compute capability built-in. This makes it possible to do some initial interaction with the data locally. Data is pre-processed locally, giving the user the ability to access that content and make use of it offline.
Transferring the Snowball Edge to the AWS facility makes that data available to resources in the user’s AWS cloud without having to upload massive amounts of data over an Internet connection.
In short: it’s a modern, scaled equivalent to the time-honored tradition of couriering a hard drive to someone when transferring the same data over the Internet would take too long.