Lead ’AIR Inc. is launching the first dedicated 3D mapping oblique camera system that can be operated on any airborne platform, manned or unmanned, airplanes, helicopters, and drones.

As a result of its compact size and lightweight, the PanthAIR CuB (or simply CuB) can be mounted on any drone with a payload of 5kg, or in a standard airplane camera hole with a fully stabilized mount, or on a single engine Cessna's wing strut, or even on a helicopter nose mount with or without stabilization. Over the years, Lead ’AIR has developed fully stabilized mounts for any aircraft installation.

Not all 3D mapping projects require million-dollar oblique cameras. The generation and maintenance of country-wide accurate 3D maps, models, and twins cannot be accomplished with just a few very costly 3D camera systems flown on expensive twin engine airplanes. In the developing 3D mapping business, there is without doubt a need for an affordable 3D aerial mapping system. PanthAIR CuB was designed to be a complement to existing 3D camera systems, or simply an affordable alternative with prices not exceeding $250,000 (depending on options)

CuB is equipped with Lead ’AIR recognized flight management and planning system, TrackAIR, which can operate on its own in an unmanned environment or through a state-of-the-art graphical interface in a manned aircraft. Thanks to TrackAIR ability to run on its own, single pilot operation is possible and safe.

PanthAIR data has been processed successfully into 3D products using ESRI ArcGIS Reality, Skyline Photomesh, and others. PanthAIR data produces remarkably accurate and high-resolution 3D models of large cities. Processing the data is straightforward with all 3D mapping software and does not require special settings.


Contrary to most 3D mapping systems which rely on several oblique cameras (generally five) pointing in different fixed directions around the aircraft, PanthAIR uses a single revolving camera which is quickly pointed in many directions at different oblique angles to cover a 360 degrees panoramic view. The trajectory of the PanthAIR camera is meticulously designed to collect images with optimal angles and perspectives, covering the nadir vertically to up to 60 degrees oblique angle. This results in abundant multi-perspective coverages extremely advantageous for 3D mapping and modeling.

The commercial digital camera that has been selected for the CuB is an Illunis EMC2-103MP (Illunis Minnetonka, Minnesota USA) with a global shutter (hence no mechanical shutter). The lens used is a Rodenstock 80mm f:4 specially prepared by Cambo in the Netherlands. Together the lens and camera assembly weights less than 450gr (1 lbs.)


Lead ‘AIR has invested more than 18 months to solve the technical challenges that the development of such a unique system can generate. Being originally developed to operate on long range mapping drones, the CuB is incredibly tough, with a mean time between failures (MTBF)  corresponding to ten million images or more than 700 hours of continuous operation.

The outcome is a camera system that can trigger five 100-megabytes images each second and that has been tested and certified to be able to operate for twelve hours continuously collecting up to 250,000 images.

In its present configuration, CuB covers a 360 degrees seamless view with twelve 100-megabytes images captured every three seconds, marking a full stop for each image, then continues with the next 360 degrees cycle. The image data is saved on an exchangeable 16 terabyte SSD disk. Thanks to the Illunis camera’s very high performances, CuB is able to capture more than a hundred thousand images in a single flight.

The drawing below shows one 360 degrees cycle footprint, three cycles footprint and a short line with 60% forward overlap

In its drone configuration, the CuB weights 4kg (9 lbs.) In airplane and helicopter configuration, even with the weight of the 3-axis stabilized mount, optional operator and pilot displays and IMU, the system does not exceed 14kg (30 lbs.)  Also, in drone configuration the CuB is extremely power efficient, requiring only 3.3 Amperes in 24Volts (80 Watts).

The current CuB was optimized to be flown around 3,000 feet AGL to collect typical 2-inch (~5cm) GSD from a small aircraft flying at or below 120 knots. Two quality levels are typical and are controlled by the amount of lateral overlap, 85% of the strip width for high quality 3D mapping and 75% for basic 3D mapping.

The two tables below show the coverage rate per hour for both configurations at a speed of 120 knots as well as the total pixel swath which exceeds 40,000 pixels!

Other altitudes and GSD are of course possible.


Application Altitude (meters/feet) Nadir GSD Oblique GSD 3D Mesh GSD Forward Overlap Lateral Overlap Coverage Rate (Km²/hour)
High Quality 3D 1,000/3,280 4 5.7 4.8 60% 85% 64
Basic 3D 1,000/3,280 4 5.7 4.8 60% 75% 100


Swath width in degrees, meters, feet, and pixels ~GSD
92 DEGREES 2064 meters 6,772 feet 41,280 pixels 5cm / 2 inches

Lead ’AIR has started producing the CuB in our Florida facility which is equipped with ten CNC mills and a complete range of traditional metal machining equipment, lathes, mills, press, etc. Our workshop is fully self-sufficient and covers all manufacturing needs. It is completed by an electronic department where all our electronic circuits are designed and assembled as well as a software engineering department capable of generating highly efficient codes and interfacing with any type of equipment.

About Lead’air Inc: The Florida-based Lead ’AIR Inc. is a small engineering company that employs 30 people concentrating on software, mechanical and electronic developments. Opened in 1995 originally under the name Track’Air bv, Lead ’AIR Inc. has always been at the forefront of aerial survey technology, FMS (flight management systems), 3D oblique camera systems (MIDAS), emergency response camera systems (NOAA), etc.


Lead’air Is Looking For Partners And Investors.

The development and marketing of the new single camera 3D aerial photography line of products is very promising but is also a significant effort which requires substantial resources. Hence, Lead’AIR is actively looking for business partners and investors interested in joining forces with our company to help develop, support, and promote our worldwide initiatives and products. Please contact JP Barriere Email Contact.

If you are interested by a longer version of this press release: https://leadairus.com/press-release/panthair_cub_press_release.pdf

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