Commercial drone system company Kespry recently demonstrated a prototype drone that recognizes construction vehicles, building materials and other structures on the worksite.

The prototype is based on the Kespry Drone System commonly deployed by customers in the materials, mining, and construction industries. Its object recognition is handled by an NVIDIA Jetson TX1 module, which is about the size of a credit card and uses complex algorithms to analyze sensor data intelligently.

Paul Doersch, founder and CEO of Kespry, explained to Commercial UAV Expo that the prototype recognizes objects entirely on the module, without the need for external computing. The module on the prototype is able to do this because of a technique called deep learning, which uses algorithms to allow a computer to learn just as human beings do.

Where today customers use data gathered by Kespry’s drones to measure distances, sizes, and volumes, Doersch believes the prototype points toward a future where customers have even more relevant information to manage their job sites. The data from a drone equipped with an NVIDIA Jetson TX1 module, he explained, “could be used to manage inventory of all the equipment on the site and optimize logistics, thereby lowering heavy machinery fuel costs. In the case of mining operations, the data can help ensure that equipment is kept out of harm’s way when explosives are used as part of the mining process.”

Though Kespry’s prototype was developed specifically for differentiating heavy and light construction equipment, NVIDIA’s Jetson TX1 module has the potential to make autonomous drones more capable of analyzing their environment for other purposes as well. The module, Doersch says, “can be used for many computer vision and machine-learning tasks, including some sense-and-avoid applications.”

As Deepu Talla, VP and GM, Tegra, NVIDIA said in a prepared statement, “Kespry’s prototype drone with the Jetson TX1 is a vision of the future, when robots and drones will see, think and navigate on their own. Jetson TX1 will enable a new generation of incredibly capable autonomous devices.”

NVIDIA and Kespry have entered into a technical partnership, with the possibility of integrating the Jetson TX1 into Kespry drones in the future. For now, the two companies have no public plans to manufacture the prototype.