Drones are being used by industry, municipalities and institutions to create high resolution maps of an area. These maps are digital representations that can be used in a variety of situations.
Mevea has started to use drones to recreate in VR the future operation fields of their machines (backhoes). These digital maps are used in the specification phase by the designer team to simulate the behaviour of the machine in the real (virtual) environment and furthermore to provide customers the feeling of using them even before the machines are built (hence allowing a fine tuning of their specs) as well as being trained in the virtual space. Watch the clip and notice that the virtual landscape, environment, is true to life since it has been created through drones filming.
The simulation leverages on the existence, through the design process, of the digital twin of the machine. It is this digital twin that operates in the virtual environment derived from the drone filming.
In the future one could even imagine a scenario where drones are becoming part of the simulation process in real time. In the case of Mevea (I don’t know if they are thinking of pursuing this!) it could mean that the digital twin receives the operator instruction (like move left, use the how to dig a trench in this place…) and these commands are translated into positioning instruction to the drone in real time so that the operator can see what is going on at that specific time, like the presence of a vehicle in the area and how avoidance measures can be effective.
Notice how, in this example, we have a mixture of real and virtual, of augmentation and simulated situation.