The Australian minerals industry has released the latest ad in its Making the Future Possible campaign, promoting the industry’s use of innovation including drone technology.

Australia’s world-class mining workforce is the result of industry innovation, attraction of talented employees and investment in employee skills and training.

Innovation is central to maintaining Australia’s comparative advantage in mining and helps drive high-value, high-wage jobs in a range of scientific and highly-skilled professional occupations.

Drones are important to the minerals sector’s environmental, cultural heritage, safety and productivity performance including:

  • conducting site environmental surveys and monitoring impacts on wildlife such as turtle nesting sites
  • improving road safety by monitoring traffic, road conditions and hazards and inspecting overhead cranes, towers and roofs of tall buildings to avoid working at height
  • making it faster to gather more information about mine sites, saving millions of dollars when compared with using planes for survey work
  • mapping and digitally recording areas of Indigenous cultural heritage.

The Making the Future Possible campaign – which is fact-based and non-political in tone and content – outlines how the Australian minerals industry provides jobs, raises living standards and builds future opportunities for young Australians.

The campaign also emphasises that the minerals industry is a major contributor to and driver of innovation in the Australian economy.

Future opportunities and growth make the Australian minerals sector an exciting place to forge a career in technology and innovation.

The minerals workforce is younger, better-paid, better-trained and has a much higher share of Indigenous employees than all-industry averages.

Average full-time weekly pay in the mining sector is $2,610, which is 67 per cent higher than the all-industries average, and almost all jobs (98 per cent) are full-time – the largest proportion of all industries.

The ad was filmed at Rio Tinto locations including their Perth head office and Remote Operations Centre and the Mesa A site near Karratha.


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Drones, better known as unmanned aerial vehicle is the aircraft without the human pilot. It has been into existence for long time and are used in various industry including mining, construction, military and agriculture. The agriculture use of drones have recently gained traction after the world started witnessing the tremendous growth in population leading towards the growing demand for food. However, use of such UAV for precision agriculture has been in use since 1990s in some part of Asia-pacific, North America and Europe. These UAV were largely used for spraying pesticides, crops in farm area and are still being used for the same purpose in many parts of the world. The agriculture drone market is therefore the most attractive market that is expected to change the way farming was earlier done.

The global agriculture drone market revenue stood at US$ 293.6 Mn in 2016 and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 21.3% during the forecast period from 2018 to 2026.

Rising Awareness Regarding Vast Benefits of Drones to Drive Market

Major factor leading to the growth of agriculture drones market are growing awareness about precision farming, need to enhance the yield and government support to use advance technologies in agriculture. Drones are responsible for generating accurate data that can be helpful for farmers to monitor crop health, reduce the impact of climate change and efficiently detect weed. The drones are also helpful in uniform spraying of crops and pesticide for better result. For instance Yamaha RMAX, which is probably the first UAV crop sprayer which has 2×8 liter spray tank has proved effective for precise small scale spraying. OPtim Agri drone is the joint project among local government, university and IT Company of Japan that has the capability to identify insects so that it can initiate accurate attack on those areas with chemicals. These benefits, among several others are helping farmers do effective farming.

Fixed-wing Drones Witness Highest Uptake

The global agriculture drone market has been segmented on the basis of type, and application. The type segment has further been categorized into fixed-wing, multi-rotor (also known as quad copter) and hybrid drones. Fixed-Wing type of drones holds the largest market share globally. However, multi-rotor type of drones are expected to display comparatively healthy growth during the forecast period. On the basis of application, the market has been divided as spraying, crop scouting, field mapping and others. Spraying is one of the dominated application globally. Countries around the globe are increasingly using drones for spraying crop, pesticides on the farming filed. Application including field monitoring and crop scouting is expected to gain momentum in coming three to four year when framers across the globe will become familiar with drones and their capabilities.

Europe to Remain Key Consumer of Agriculture Drones in Near Future

The global agriculture drone market is expected to be driven by the North America region However, Europe is estimated to contribute major share in the overall agriculture drone market, closely followed by Asia Pacific. In Europe, France is anticipated to drive the growth of agriculture drone market. The growing deployment of drone in European countries are largely due to the growing need among countries to enhance the overall farm productivity. The European Union (EU) is also actively working in the direction of deploying drones for farming.

In Asia Pacific, countries including Japan, China and Australia are anticipated to drive the growth of agriculture drone market. Japan dominated the market in 2016 and is expected to continue its dominance over the forecast period from 2018 to 2026. China and Australia are expected to grow at a considerable rate. In the rest of Asia Pacific countries including India, New Zealand have witnessed relatively healthy deployment of drones than other Asia-pacific countries.

Key vendors in the market are continuously involved in introducing more easy-to-use drones that can effectively cater the needs of farmers. Major players profiled in the global agriculture drone market include Agribotix LLC, Delair Technologies Inc., Honeycomb Corporation, Precision Hawk, Drone AG, Ag Eagle Aerial Systems, Parrot SA, Aerovironment Inc., and DJI Innovate among others.


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A Roomba-like ocean trash collector modelled on a whale shark and a microplastic filter made from jellyfish slime could prevent litter from entering our oceans and help tackle a growing problem that poses threats to wildlife, deters tourists and impacts on coastal economies.

The cost of sea litter in the EU has been estimated at up to €630 million per year. It is mostly composed of plastics, which take hundreds of years to break down in nature, and has the potential to affect human health through the food chain because plastic waste is eaten by the fish that we consume.

‘I’m an accidental environmentalist,’ said Richard Hardiman, who runs a project called WASTESHARK. He says that while walking at his local harbour one day he stopped to watch two men struggle to scoop litter out of the sea using a pool net. Their inefficiency bothered Hardiman, and he set about trying to solve the problem. It was only when he delved deeper into the issue that he realised how damaging marine litter, and plastic in particular, can be, he says.

‘I started exploring where this trash goes - ocean gyres (circular currents), junk gyres, and they’re just full of plastic. I’m very glad that we’re now doing something to lessen the effects,’ he said.

Hardiman developed an unmanned robot, an aqua drone that cruises around urban waters such as harbours, marinas and canals, eating up marine litter like a Roomba of the sea. The waste is collected in a basket which the WasteShark then brings back to shore to be emptied, sorted and recycled.

The design of the autonomous drone is modelled on a whale shark, the ocean’s largest known fish. These giant filter feeders swim around with their mouths open and lazily eat whatever crosses their path.

It’s powered by rechargeable electric batteries, ensuring that it doesn’t pollute the environment through oil spillage or exhaust fumes, and it is relatively silent, avoiding noise pollution. It produces zero carbon emissions and the device moves quite slowly, allowing fish and birds to merely swim away when it gets too close for comfort.

‘We’ve tested it in areas of natural beauty and natural parks where we know it doesn’t harm the wildlife,’ said Hardiman. ‘We’re quite fortunate in that, all our research shows that it doesn’t affect the wildlife around.’

WasteShark is one of a number of new inventions designed to tackle the problem of marine litter. A project called CLAIM is developing five different kinds of technology, one of which is a plasma-based tool called a pyrolyser. 

Useful gas

CLAIM’s pyrolyser will use heat treatment to break down marine litter to a useful gas. Plasma is basically ionised gas, capable of reaching very high temperatures of thousands of degrees. Such heat can break chemical bonds between atoms, converting waste into a type of gas called syngas.

The pyrolyser will be mounted onto a boat collecting floating marine litter - mainly large items of plastic which, if left in the sea, will decay into microplastic - so that the gas can then be used as an eco-friendly fuel to power the boat, or to provide energy for heating in ports.

Dr Nikoleta Bellou of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, one of the project coordinators of CLAIM, said: ‘We know that we humans are actually the key drivers for polluting our oceans. Unlike organic material, plastic never disappears in nature and it accumulates in the environment, especially in our oceans. It poses a threat not only to the health of our oceans and to the coasts but to humans, and has social, economic and ecological impacts.’

The researchers chose areas in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas to act as their case studies throughout the project, and will develop models that can tell scientists which areas are most likely to become litter hotspots. A range of factors influence how littered a beach may be – it’s not only affected by litter louts in the surrounding area but also by circulating winds and currents which can carry litter great distances, dumping the waste on some particular beaches rather than others.

CLAIM's other methods to tackle plastic pollution include a boom – a series of nets criss-crossing a river that catches all the large litter that would otherwise travel to the sea. The nets are then emptied and the waste is collected for treatment with the pyrolyser. There have been problems with booms in the past, when bad weather conditions cause the nets to overload and break, but CLAIM will use automated cameras and other sensors that could alert relevant authorities when the nets are full.


Large plastic pieces that can be scooped out of the water are one thing, but tiny particles known as microplastics that are less than 5mm wide pose a different problem. Scientists on the GoJelly project are using a surprising ingredient to create a filter that prevents microplastics from entering the sea - jellyfish slime.

The filter will be deployed at waste water management plants, a known source of microplastics. The method has already proven to be successful in the lab, and now GoJelly is planning to upscale the biotechnology for industrial use.

Dr Jamileh Javidpour of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, who coordinates the project, said: ‘We have to be innovative to stop microplastics from entering the ocean.’

The GoJelly project kills two birds with one stone – tackling the issue of microplastics while simultaneously addressing the problem of jellyfish blooms, where the creatures reproduce in high enough levels to blanket an area of ocean.

Jellyfish are one of the most ancient creatures on the planet, having swum in Earth’s oceans during the time of the dinosaurs. On the whole, due to a decline in natural predators and changes in the environment, they are thriving. When they bloom, jellyfish can attack swimmers and fisheries.

Fishermen often throw caught jellyfish back into the sea as a nuisance but, according to Dr Javidpour, jellyfish can be used much more sustainably. Not only can their slime be used to filter out microplastics, they can also be used as feed for aquaculture, for collagen in anti-ageing products, and even in food.

In fact, part of the GoJelly project involves producing a cookbook, showing people how to make delicious dishes from jellyfish. While Europeans may not be used to cooking with jellyfish, in many Asian cultures they are a daily staple. However, Dr Javidpour stresses that the goal is not to replace normal fisheries.

‘We are mainly ecologists, we know the role of jellyfish as part of a healthy ecosystem,’ she said. ‘We don’t want to switch from classical fishery to jellyfish fishery, but it is part of our task to investigate if it is doable, if it is sustainable.’


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Darren Aronofsky has broken the mold in terms of conventional filmmaking throughout his career. Whether it was the immersive implementation of the SnorriCam for the director’s Requiem for a Dream, or using microscopic photography of biological cells instead of computer-generated visuals for key scenes in The Fountain, Aronofsky prioritizes the viewers’ engagement with the content, instead of potentially dazzling them with computer-generated imagery-rendered visuals. The filmmaker’s latest endeavor, a 10-part National Geographic series called One Strange Rock, seems to combine Aronofsky’s lust for beautiful visuals with the filmmaking tools most adequate to capture them as they should be. In this case, he turned to drones.

According to Wired, Aronofsky had already signed on to the project being produced by Jane Root of Planet Earth fame, but felt that a key component for its actual production was missing. Even though this new series, which focuses on the natural wonders and biochemical processes of our planet, had enough organic appeal at the core of its content, the director was unsure of how to capture this material in a way it hadn’t been before. The narrative solution proposed by Planet Earth producers Root and Vanessa Berlowitz was to use astronauts as the focal point of how to see the earth from a new perspective. And while that may have done the job in regards to narration and theme, it was the use of drones that served as the physical, visual component that complemented that idea. 

“You’ll see a lot of drone shots and aerial shots and actually full frame camera shots where the camera’s spinning or turning, and this is something that you see a lot of in Darren’s films anyway,” said executive producer Arif Nurmohamed. “He’s always loved the spiral, and we had really strong justification for that particular visual. For astronauts, there is no up or down. What they see is something that’s constantly turning beneath them, and we wanted to reflect that.” 

While this approach in terms of production isn’t anything particularly new, as we’ve seen drones employed in films, tv shows, and even newsgathering operations, Aronofsky is constantly trying to use the best tool for the job, which often leads to stunning reinventions of how to photograph certain phenomena. From all accounts, it appears that he may have done so again, with unmanned aerial vehicles accomplishing the shots he conceptualized. “It’s stunning,” said astronaut Nicole Stott, who worked aboard the International Space Station two separate times. “Even watching it on a computer screen, you get immersed in it in a way that just isn’t normal for TV.” 

Speaking of watching One Strange Rock on your computer screen, take a look at the trailer for the 10-part series below. The cinematography certainly is stunning, with a lot of aerial shots prominentaly included. 

While we at The Drive have yet to watch One Strange Rock, which premiered on National Geographic Monday, it’s pretty safe to say that the global community of camera-drone enthusiasts will appreciate the inventive ways in which Aronofsky employed this tech, to capture the thematic content at the core of this new show. If an amateur filmmaker can produce something as engaging as Ethos using accessible camera-drones, just think of how incredible Aronofsky's use of modern drone tech likely was here.


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To celebrate the Chinese New Year last Friday, the city of Xi’an in China’s northwest province of Shaanxi orchestrated a drone light show featuring 300 unmanned aerial vehicles. The synchronized drones, fitted with LEDs, formed various shapes relevant to the holiday while flying in formation. According to CCTV+, the performance was synched to various New Year’s music from the area and went swimmingly despite the pouring rain. 

Heading this celebratory light show was Xiong Yifang, who was responsible for programming the UAVs to fly in formation. “The entire drone performance was controlled by a single computer. We had programmed them through a software,” he said. In regards to the single-computer claim, we recently saw the same impressive feat accomplished by Intel at CES last month. “The display that features high-tech of the new era represents a brand new way of offering New Year’s greetings,” said Yifang. “By putting on the show in this city of great historical significance, we intended to wish the people of Xi’an as well as the people in the whole nation a happy Chinese New Year in a both innovative and environment-friendly way,” he added.

The formations and caricatures displayed by the UAVs above reportedly include the Chinese God of Wealth, the Chinese character Fu (good luck, fortune, and blessing), Xi (joy) and various other culturally notable concepts. As we've increasingly witnessed in the past few months, drone light shows are a pretty viscerally engaging way to announce or celebrate certain things. For those of you more inclined to celebrate historical, community-based events, as opposed to the home video release of a Hollywood blockbuster, the above video might be for you. It's certainly inspiring, not to mention impressive, to see such a coordinated effort being made using this modern, aerial tool of ours. Happy New Year, China.


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We’re at the dawn of a revolution in the geospatial industry. More data, more frequently and at higher accuracy levels is changing how we work. It enables us to have maps and terrain models evolve in near-real time and, in turn, that enables the industries depending on geospatial data to make better decisions. Professionals need to embrace these new technologies; for example, by moving from traditional surveying methods to drones with onboard RTK technology to make surveying easier, faster and highly accurate.

Innovate in short cycles

Agile development methodologies clearly allow shorter innovation and product development cycles, so it becomes easier to release new products faster. This is also what we see in the market: new versions of major technology projects are coming out almost every year. Robotics — not just drones in particular but all kinds of connected devices, equipment and machinery — are allowing us to make processes more automated and efficient than ever before. We already have fully automated factories and production lines in certain industries including FMCGs and mining, but we will see much more in the future.

We are driving these trends and also benefiting from them as they allow us to continuously remain at the forefront of the industry. By being able to innovate in very short cycles, we remain at the forefront of the drone and geospatial industry. We are constantly feeling the pulse of our customers, speaking with them and learning what works well and what new features they need to be able to become even more effective in their work.

Automation is driving the world

Knowing the location of assets is already a key requirement in many industrial processes. It allows reducing inventories, enables just-in-time logistics, warehouse automation, traffic avoidance and autonomous driving. With high accuracy GPS and precise indoor navigation, more automation becomes possible.

In future, we will have a higher degree of automation in all aspects of our daily life. From autonomous drones to autonomous vehicles to automated factories, we will also see construction sites without workers doing manual tasks over the years.

Drones have made aerial imagery affordable and easy to obtain, and as a result, have replaced terrestrial data acquisition in many cases. We expect to see continued adoption of high precision drones in the geospatial industry as well as in related industries such as agriculture, construction, mining, energy and more. Today, our technology allows customers to perform their work more efficiently than ever before. It saves them time and provides better results. While a lot of surveyors and customers have started to adopt senseFly drones, overall market penetration of drones is still comparatively low. As regulation becomes clearer and our technology even simpler to use, we will see an increase in the coming years.


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Marketing and technology have evolved significantly over the last few years. We explore how marketing for real estate has changed and where it might go from here.

With thousands of properties going under the auctioneer's hammer every weekend, standing out from the crowd has become harder for real estate agents. Increasingly sophisticated buyers have grown accustomed to getting more detail about properties than ever before. Yet while new technologies promise an immersive, unprecedented buying experience, agents have had to temper their enthusiasm to avoid compromising the time-honoured art of selling.

It's a fine line to walk given the real estate industry's longstanding enthusiasm over new online technologies, which have allowed them to extend their reach and effectiveness with a relatively small investment. Although, some realtors still believe in the demonstrable value of print advertising , today's buyers go straight to must-be-seen listing sites. 

Better availability of property-related data has also created ancillary markets for sites offering value-added information such as sales histories, property renovations, historical photos, and nearby planning permits. Taken together, the current real-estate landscape offers unprecedented information for buyers – and a myriad of ways for real estate agents to leverage new technologies to get buyers through the doors. 

Ready, set, action! 

Apart from online real-estate listings, the biggest innovation to take hold in real estate sales has been the explosion in the use of videos to provide value-added tours that highlight significant features of certain properties. 

Videos typically complement property photographs, offering a series of short walkthroughs that provide a better sense of what it's like to be inside the property. Panning shots can help convey a sense of size or scenic context.

Production values for real-estate videos have increased dramatically in recent years, thanks in no small part to the emergence of specialised video producers like Melbourne-based Real Estate Productions, Gold Coast-based PlatinumHD  and Sydney's Nuance Photography . Full-service firms like Real Estate In Motion  take the proposition a step further, with a stable of video producers as well as automatic video generating, mini-sites hosting all content from a particular branch office, video messaging to realtors, and more.

Video has been particularly useful in marketing high-end properties, where potential buyers may not be local and will gravitate towards a more detailed property listing that provides the richness a casual drive-by inspection cannot.

Around 50 percent of the properties marketed by Marshall White® - a boutique real estate agency concentrated in Melbourne's inner southern suburbs - now include video, says Kerrie Wade, the firm's general manager of marketing.

Video provides "a more engaging and realistic presentation of a property," Wade explains. "As we specialise in premium properties, this product also showcases more aspirational and lifestyle elements, which tend to be more compelling."

Use of video has another benefit, she adds: Google algorithms favour sites with video content, providing better organic search results and ideally more views for these properties from prospective buyers. 

Drone on and on

Videos may make real-estate marketing a more emotional process, but drones add another dimension - the third one.

Once a niche novelty, drone photography has become a staple of real-estate property photographers and video producers like Droneheadz  and Property Snaps® , which utilise a range of equipment to get new views of target properties that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Whether through photographs or videos, drone-level imagery of a property can bring it alive in ways that conventional photographs simply can't. A photo from just 10m up, for example, will give a new sense of the height and grandeur of a property as well as better showing the type and state of neighbouring properties.

Drones also allow real-estate agents to demonstrate a property's proximity to CBD areas, parklands, or the beach. These can be key attributes for many buyers - particularly developers that may be looking for proximity to public transport lines or major roads.

Be careful when choosing a drone photographer: literally anyone can buy a camera-toting drone and fly it around the neighbourhood, but not everyone has formal certifications or public liability insurance for damage they may cause. Also, remember at all times that you must comply with all relevant Australian legislation for drones, including gaining a Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operator’s Certificate (or ReOC) if required. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has information that can be found on their website.  

Drone photography and videography carries an additional cost, but it can pay off many times over by highlighting properties' particular characteristics. Use drones to help buyers see what's special about a property, or fly one around the corner to the local shops or park to give a sense of a particularly desirable neighbourhood. 

Get smart about voice and AI 

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become the buzzword in information technology and it is still in early stages within the real-estate industry. But new technologies are being refined all the time, and its rapid pace of development means it may be relevant to property sales in ways you can't even imagine.

Artificial-intelligence 'bots', for example, are already being used to handle routine technical-support enquiries for many different types of companies.  They could easily be adapted to handle front-line enquiries about marketed properties, answering questions about the size of a property, its proximity to particular locations, expected price, and so on.xvi

Most AI is trained over time, looking for patterns within large data sets generated from historical records. These techniques also work for images - producing computer-vision technologies that can catalogue large numbers of images based on their content.xvii®  is already using computer-vision technology to automatically sort and label submitted vehicle photographs, and claims its Cyclops system has 97.2 percent accuracy - higher than humans' 85 percent accuracy rate.xvii Real-estate listing sites could easily do the same to allow visitors to search, for example, for all properties that have a white kitchen or large trees in the backyard.

While AI will offer increasingly intelligent analysis of property trends and features, it's also being paired with voice recognition to improve the experience of searching for real estate. A new breed of smart home speakers - Amazon Echo®, Google Home® and Apple's HomePod® are the highest-profile examples - allow buyers to interact with a range of information services. This has led to real-estate applications from companies like US-based Coldwell Banker® - which recently rolled out its second 'skill' , or extension, for Amazon's Alexa AI engine - and Voiceter, which recently launched a real-estate 'concierge'  also for Alexa. Expect voice-driven searching to become more relevant as real-estate providers continue to search for new ways to find and engage with potential buyers.

It's all about the data

Australia's vibrant and concentrated real-estate market has driven a significant investment in new technologies, as well as competition from providers that are fighting to present data about current and past sales in ways that provide new value for buyers.

Such services plumb massive archives of data - like the comprehensive property and market-related databases maintained by CoreLogic®, which can be paired with other sources to provide rich insight into property trends. Using this information allows them to educate consumers and potential buyers about potential purchases - and real-estate agents should assume that their buyers are now walking through the door knowing as much about the property as they do. 

That's not to say that real-estate data can't improve realtors' marketing as well. By investing in everything from customer relationship management (CRM) systems and market automation software to manage interactions with customers, to open-for-inspection tools that collect and cross-match data from prospective buyers, realtors can now maintain much closer relationships with past, current, and potential customers.

Getting real about virtual reality 

The above four technologies can improve the real-estate searching and buying process for buyers and agents alike. Another transformative technology - virtual reality (VR) - is still finding its niche amongst marketers who thought it was a natural complement when it was introduced.

VR is a natural way of presenting properties to potential buyers, who can don glasses and walk through properties from the agent's office, or their own homes. While a growing number of firms will happily build VR models of your listed homes, one early adopter has found interest restricted mostly to high-end properties.

"It hasn't really spread from high-end properties down to the mid-range marketplace," admits Alex Ouwens, director of Adelaide-based Ouwens Casserly Real Estate®, which in 2015 launched VR property tours  using Oculus VR® headsets.

VR had, he says, proved useful in the sale of a high-end home to Chinese buyers whose parents couldn't physically inspect the property. By sending a headset to the parents, Ouwens says, they were able to walk through the property as if they were onsite.

Yet VR still hasn't supplanted the good old-fashioned open-for-inspection walkthrough, says Ouwens, and it's about more than aversion to the technology.

"When you go and look at a property you can use all five senses to feel how the property feels," he says. "But on the VR goggles you're only really using sight - so you don't build a full intuition around how the property feels for you, or get the full perspective as if you were there in person."

Recent years have lowered the barriers to entry: while dedicated VR headsets are popular accessories for computers and gaming consoles, low-cost VR rigs like the Samsung Gear VR®  also allow smartphones to do the heavy lifting. This could drive a transformation in VR, which may well become much more accessible and relevant to property buyers once VR is as readily accessible as their phones.


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The construction industry has had a tricky relationship with innovation. While it is well positioned to take advantage of technological advancements, it has been slow to adopt new technology, often choosing a reactionary approach over a progressive one. “In the past, regulatory changes drove a lot of innovation, forcing buildings to meet new requirements when constructed,” said Jono Millin, CPO and cofounder of drone mapping software developer DroneDeploy. However, he suggested that increasing costs, growing inefficiencies, a dwindling talent pool, and demanding clients are the new drivers for innovation. As a result, technology is finally replacing outdated workflows—saving time and money for construction management companies. In fact, Millin notes that construction was one of the top five drone adoption industry leaders in 2017.

Today, drones are making it possible to conduct site safety checks before workers are on-site, catch design conflicts early, and track progress to site plans so that project managers can stay schedule. “Construction teams are using drones to generate collaborative maps and 3-D models, leverage data from high-resolution point clouds, and even create accurate contour maps,” Millin said, noting that industry leaders like Brasfield & Gorrie, Beck Group, and McCarthy Building Companies are using drones to improve safety and communication between the job site and headquarters.

The recent proliferation of new models has driven down hardware prices, making drones an affordable investment. But beyond cost and necessity, the current most promising aspect of drone technology is its ability to provide real-time job site data to any mobile device. With the launch of Live Map earlier this year, DroneDeploy introduced a first-of-its-kind feature that gives drone operators real-time maps in the field on an iOS device.

How It Works

According to DroneDeploy, users plan a flight and take off. The maps can render on-screen during flight without the need for internet or cellular connection. With Live Map, construction professionals get an aerial view of their job sites, fields, or projects in seconds and instantly create maps, enabling them to make real-time decisions for better reporting, planning, and safety.

“By producing a real-time map of a large construction or solar project, I can stay on top of site progress by counting solar arrays or monitoring progress,” said Ryan Moret, a field solutions manager at McCarthy Building Companies. “Live Map helps me end each day with confidence knowing where a project stands and what our subcontractors have completed so that we can provide the best product for our clients.”

While the construction industry will see immediate gains from this technology, its potential in real-world applications is equally valuable and potentially life saving. Whether it’s coordinating disaster response or assisting authorities in locating missing persons, live drone mapping represents innovation at its best—and the construction industry is out in the lead for a change.


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Mining is one of the most ancient industries there is, and even with the centuries that have passed since humans began excavating minerals, fossil fuels and other precious resources from the earth, the core concept behind surface mining has remained much the same: make hole, get resource from hole, process resource, rinse and repeat.

In the case of surface mining, however, staying similar doesn’t mean staying stagnant. This enduring industry has long been known for its early adoption of emerging technologies, ones meant to modernize and optimize mining processes in order to minimize costs.

Mining companies constantly invest resources in technological solutions to generate greater data collection and analysis. After all, mining companies cannot afford poorly planned haul roads, or ore misclassification that may result in sub-optimal blending. The adoption of emerging technologies, meant to modernize, and optimize mining processes to successfully minimize costs, has led mining companies to leverage UAVs as an integral tool in the data collection cycle.

Automated drones have been tapped as one of the next game-changing innovations for the mining industry, largely because of the substantial cost savings they offer.

The age of automation

According to research by McKinsey & Company, automation promises to increase productivity at mine sites by a staggering 25%. Much of this automation has been focused on below ground or on-the-ground processes, but automated drones are revolutionizing industries ranging from energy, agriculture and construction to security and telecommunications, and with their ability to take on tasks that are dangerous, demanding, time-consuming and potentially imprecise when completed by human employees, they are the ideal solution for the mining industry.

Airobotics’ automated drone system is designed for end-to-end automation, which means it operates with no human intervention. It launches, flies, lands, collects data and processes data and even changes its own batteries and sensors, all automatically, no human pilots necessary. By housing itself in its Airbase – a robust shelter that protects against the harsh elements of mining sites equipped with a robotic arm for maintenance – this drone is always ready to fly scheduled, on-demand or emergency missions.

Without this level of automation, drones can be expensive due to the need for a pilot and/or payload operator, are vulnerable to human error in their flights, data collection and data processing, and struggle to fly on-demand or in an emergency situation without a costly and potentially dangerous delay.

Speaking directly

The indirect cost savings provided by automated drones begin with the benefits of more frequent and detailed inspections of critical infrastructure like haul roads, pits and tailings dams. These improved inspections not only help prevent infrastructural failure, they also help reduce and prevent damage to equipment by quickly identifying road issues like potholes that could affect hauling and digging equipment while in transit. Additionally, precise and regular inspections help an organization perform predictive maintenance by identifying emerging issues like cracks or overheating, keeping costs low by preventing acute issues. Inspections performed by automated drones instead of human employees using ground-based vehicles also reduce fuel costs.

Furthermore, automated drones make drilling and blasting more efficient, enabling more accurate drill-hole alignment, and therefore eliminating excessive blast material usage. Accurate drill-hole alignment, in turn, produces the sought-after fragment size which helps reduce wear and tear on hauling and crushing equipment. From there, automated drones help prevent ore misclassification through easy checks. Other data analysis processes are also made more efficient as experts can spend more time on analysis with data collection handled by the drone.

The importance of the quick incident detection made possible by automated drones can’t be overstated, and on the topic of indirect cost savings they help to minimize damage and resultant clean up as well as prevent environmental damage and the fines and reputation damage that can accompany it.

Lastly, automated drones make administration and management more efficient by making it faster and easier to track progress, locate equipment, manage contractors, and update asset quantities thanks to precise stockpile evaluations.

>>All of the above cost savings and other eye-openings information on automated drones in mining can be found in our paper on “Automated Drone Applications in Mining”.<<

Saving lives

While dollars and cents will nearly always reign supreme when it comes to business decisions, there is one other thing for which there can be no assigned price: the safety of human lives.

Airobotics’ automated drone system is designed to protect humans by taking on the jobs that present risks to human employees, such as inspecting blast sites and haul roads and surveying stockpiles. It also eliminates much of the need for manned security, which can present a tremendous risk to human security personnel. With the aid of a live video feed on an automated drone, security personnel can be fully informed, and keep their finger on the pulse regarding emerging and potentially dangerous situations.

In the event of an emergency, an automated drone can also begin transmitting essential information as quickly as possible, working to detect leaks and other hazards or transmitting live video to the people coordinating incident response. Optimus is particularly equipped for incident response as its payloads can be automatically changed by the robotic arm in the Airbase depending on the type of incident to which it is responding. These capabilities save time when it is most precious, and in turn save lives.

The full picture

Evolution in an industry doesn’t have to involve major shifts in product or even significant overhauls in processes. Now more than ever the improvements made possible by advanced technological solutions represent game-changing optimizations that translate to essential cost-saving measures.

For the decades and centuries into the future in which mining will remain an essential industry, there will always be an emphasis on reducing risk to human lives and increasing cost savings in order to make the mining industry more lucrative. This will require a continued commitment to technological innovation, very much including Airobotics’ automated system designed to revolutionize industrial business processes the world over.


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Drones are finding increasing use in Japanese agriculture as farmers start to use the unmanned aerial vehicles for crop inspection and other purposes.

Drones “are effective in promoting data-based agriculture and reducing agricultural work” at a time when many aged farmers are struggling to find successors, says an official at the farm ministry’s Technology Policy Office.

In Japan, it is necessary for unmanned helicopters that spray pesticide, fertilizer or seeds to be registered with a special organization.

Registration became necessary for drones in 2015. As of January, 673 drones had been registered, up about three times since last March.

Pesticide drones use 8- to 10-liter tanks. One hectare of rice paddies requires about 10 liters of pesticide. While it usually takes hours for a farmer to treat a hectare of paddies, a drone can do the job in about 10 minutes.

Unlike conventional unmanned agricultural helicopters, drones can make sharp turns and do not generate strong winds, which can damage leafy vegetables. They also cost around ¥2 million, which is far more affordable than unmanned helicopters.

Video cameras on the drones can be used to check the progress of crops. Computer analysis of the images can tell farmers where growth is slow and provide other valuable information.

Based on such analyses, farmers can change the amounts of fertilizer or make other adjustments to improve quality and shore up yields.

Researchers are also trying to establish a method to use drones effectively to reduce damage caused by birds and animals. This is done by flying drones at night, when deer and boars are active. The UAVs capture images on the ground using special cameras, and the data help researchers find ways to catch them.

Drones are also proving useful in examining damage to irrigation channels and other farm facilities caused by typhoons and other natural disasters.


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