Multispectral camera takes off with agricultural drones

September 21, 2016 // By Julien Happich
At Enova last week, two-year old French startup Pixinov was proudly exhibiting its first product, a multispectral embedded camera capable of recording simultaneously six images across different spectral bands selected within the visible range, between 450 and 850nm.

Integrating six synchronized global shutter CMOS sensors each with a 1280x960 (1.2Mp) resolution, the Spectra 610, can acquire two multispectral pictures per second across all six sensor, tagging them with GPS data. Optionally, a thermal IR camera or a high resolution RGB sensor can be connected to expand the camera's field of application. The battery-operated camera also integrates a 6-axis inertial motion unit and is Wi-Fi-enabled for fine tuning the camera wirelessly. The 200g unit draws 7.8 Watts.

Pixinov's camera sensors firing simultaneously through six different optics, each could look at a different spectral band.

Although the Spectra 610 is the company's first product, it was not the first development on its roadmap, admitted Pixinov's CEO Cédric Hemmerlé who co-founded the startup less than two years ago. A former R&D manager developing high performance IR cameras at FLIR Systems, Hemmerlé had founded Pixinov to bring to market a MEMS-based micro-LiDAR, but development took longer than expected. Later, friends from INRA, Europe's top agricultural research institute, made him aware of a pressing need for low-cost and light-weight multispectral cameras, devices that could be mounted under a consumer drone to survey crops at a local scale. The micro-LiDAR project is ongoing, with prototypes in the making and a tentative commercial release within the next two years, but the Spectra 610 will bring in the much needed cash for R&D.