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Measure, a provider of drone services to enterprise customers, has added turnkey wind-farm inspection capabilities to its portfolio of aerial data collection solutions. Wind-farm operators can now outsource preventive maintenance inspections to Measure’s drone pilots and data analysts for fast, accurate, safe, and timely problem identification. The service is designed to help avert critical turbine failures and efficiency losses while reducing repair downtime and its associated revenue impact.


“Many wind-farm owners don’t inspect their turbines on a preventive maintenance basis, and those that do use ground crews with conventional cameras and zoom lenses. Under both conditions, there is a risk of failing to detect turbine damage or structural defects on blades that can worsen over time and lead to a catastrophic failure,” said Harjeet Johal, Measure VP of Energy Infrastructure and a 10-year veteran of the renewable energy industry with a PhD in electrical engineering.

“Our drone-based inspections provide multiple advantages that can help wind farm operators operate at peak capacity,” Johal added.

Measure’s package spans all inspection and reporting functions, including state-of-the-art drone equipment, safe and insured flights by experienced drone pilots, efficient data processing that pinpoints blade damage and severity, and damage reports and analytics available through a secure online portal.

Benefits of Measure’s drone-based blade and tower inspections include:

  • About 75% faster inspections than other methods, averaging 30 minutes or less per turbine compared to as much as two hours for manned inspections. This reduces excessive time commitments and allows large wind farms to be inspected more frequently. It also reduces labor costs for inspection and frees employees for other tasks.
  • Decreased injury risk in the field, with no threat of falls to inspectors climbing turbine structures or blades.
  • Better defect and damage detection because drones get closer to turbine blades than ground cameras, capturing clearer images. Undetected defects on the blades can result in continuous efficiency losses as high as 6% and associated revenue loss of up to $10,000 annually per turbine.
  • Maximized turbine availability and revenue generation through early problem detection that helps prevent critical failures and associated downtime for repairs.
  • Actionable data, including classified damage reports and historical portfolio analysis documenting turbine defects, failure rates and efficiency losses over time. Damage reports can be customized to display only the information needed by blade repair technicians with a few clicks.


25/09/2017

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Drones are increasingly being used to map, survey and explore Australia’s many operational and abandoned mines. Japan-based specialist unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer, Terra Drone, has opened its first office in the country and is hoping to take the mining market by storm. Terra’s Tsuyoshi Honda discusses how the company’s technology can access Australia’s mines.


Australia is home to some of the world’s largest open-pit and underground mines and has thousands of abandoned mine sites. In recent years, both the government and operators have been keen to exploit the benefits of drone technology to safely collect data and explore abandoned, or legacy, mines. In the Northern Territory, for example, where mining dates back to the1860s, legacy mines are a major problem with estimated liability costs of more than A$1bn. The government has started using drones to inspect these abandoned mines to help aid remediation efforts.


In January, Minister for Primary Industries and Resources, Ken Vowles, said that drone technology can reach otherwise inaccessible areas of the mine, producing digital terrain models that give operators a better perspective of the site. Despite advances, drones still have their limitations, such as the number of sensors they can carry and low in-flight battery time.


Utilising LiDAR technology

Terra Drone has one of the most advanced UAVs to date, says Tsuyoshi Honda, the branch chief of the company’s first office in Australia, adding that it is ideal for supporting Australian mining operations. The firm is the number one drone provider in Japan, according to Honda, and is a spin-off of Japanese electrical scooter manufacturer, Terra Motors.   


Terra Drone’s Laser Drone model is equipped with light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser technology. It can perform surveying, data capture, and 2D and 3D mapping. Honda says , the drone, which can carry up to 10kg of payload and fly for two hours continuously, is the only UAV hardware that can integrate the Riegl LiDAR, what he calls the highest quality LiDAR system in the world “The LiDAR is heavy but because the drone can carry a larger than normal payload it can be integrated into our special hardware,” says Honda. “We can then collect all the data and reduce time and costs compared to the traditional way of doing things.”


Furthermore, it is usually hard to collect relief data from steep surfaces, but, compared with a ground laser scanner, the LiDAR can effectively do this using the UAV. The Laser Drone is also equipped with Terra UTM software, enabling an operator to manage multiple UAV missions simultaneously or to control the UAV, if needed.  


Greater range and flexibility of drones  

The UAV can travel 100ha per trip, says Honda, come back, refuel and be sent out again, to cover a total of more than 700 ha in one day. The technology was used to explore and survey areas of the Fukushima nuclear power plant left inaccessible to humans after the 2011 disaster.

The UAV can also operate adequately without GPS.

“Drones usually need GPS assistance to be stabilised during flight, but in certain places this is not always possible; for example, under a bridge, inside of a building or in an underground mine,” says Honda



22/09/2017

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New Agricultural Drone Multispectral Mapping Solution From Icaros and Agrowing

Icaros, a provider of aerial imaging software, and Agrowing, a supplier of multispectral sensors and analytics software, have announced an integrated drone product that bundles Icaros’ OneButton software into Agrowing’s solution stack, automating the entire workflow from image capture through a generation of fully indexed orthomosaic maps for agriculture.


As part of the agreement between the companies, Agrowing will offer an exclusive product bundle that includes Agrowing’s multispectral sensor, Icaros’ OneButton Standard Edition, and Agrowing’s agriculture solution. The combined features enable Agrowing users to process imagery into high-fidelity fully indexed orthomosaic maps for agriculture – which are crucial for professional precision analytics.


Agrowing’s sensor technology represents a unique multispectral solution to capture four 8MP or 10MP bands each, for NDVI and all other vegetation indices on a single sensor. The technology turns DSLR cameras into high-end multispectral cameras. The current offering is compatible with modified (full spectrum) Sony cameras coupled with Near IR and Red-edge lenses. Based on the NEX5, Alpha 5xxx, ILCE QX1, and UMC-R10C, Agrowing’s solution provides 8MP per band, and based on the Alpha 6xxx cameras it provides 10MP perfectly aligned color channels. E-mount lenses are of 25mm focal length and <1% distortion. An additional wide angle, low distortion lens, of 62 degrees HFOV is currently under development.


“There is no other company in the agriculture market with this capability. Compared to the other leading multispectral sensor brands that offer 1 to 1.3 megapixels and lens distortion exceeding 15%, Agrowing‘s 10 megapixels, or 1 to 8 scale versus others, means you can collect almost 5 times the field area, at much higher resolution, with far less distortion, in the same time using the same drone,“ said Tom Bosanko, CEO at Icaros.


Icaros and Agrowing are working closely together to include a correction matrix for the distortion per sensor/lens combination that will be part of the OneButton processing.


Icaros’ OneButton family for drone image processing, lets end users easily and automatically generate geospatially precise, fully orthorectified 2D maps and 3D models from frame-based aerial imaging systems. Originally engineered for manned aircraft sensors, the OneButton software has been modified to accommodate the unique collection conditions of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).


Version 5.1 of OneButton Standard and Professional image processing software for unmanned aerial systems (drones) contains advanced algorithms to process images from Agrowing’s high-end multispectral sensors.


Agrowing’s Complete Solution Now Available to OEMs and End Customers

The product bundle, available through Agrowing, is now being offered to drone manufacturers that want to offer a complete solution for the agriculture market. 


This fall, a product that combines the sensor/software bundle with a drone specifically designed for the precision farm market will be available from Walkera (www.walkera.com) through their worldwide channels.  “We are combining the extraordinary Agrowing multispectral sensor and agriculture software solution with our new high-end AgroVoyager drone specifically targeting the agriculture market. AgroVoyager is the first complete hi-resolution drone solution specifically designed for agricultural use,” said Robert Luo, CEO at Walkera.


Service providers and farmers with existing drones can also purchase the bundle for adaptation to existing drones they are flying using Agrowing’s sensor gimble mount.


A new standard defined for multispectral mapping with drone technology

“Our long-term experience in large scale multispectral remote sensing and mapping projects has been incorporated into our photogrammetric software to provide a professional and enterprise scale multispectral solution,” said Tom Bosanko, CEO at Icaros.


OneButton creates a complete image processing workflow for aerial image data and can front-end both GIS and analyt



21/09/2017

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When you consider the sun, and its powerful ability to light up the world, it’s not that far of a stretch to imagine the world where we harness light to enhance our experiences in the world. We’ve harnessed light with the invention of the light bulb. We have advanced with light into laser technology. And now we have moved forward into laser pulses that map our world in new and creative ways.  This laser pulse mapping advancement has meant that companies looking to increase efficiencies of operation now have a solution that just might elevate results exponentially.


How it works


Imagine being able to fly over a remote location and immediately see its potential for a real estate development project by mapping the terrain with exact precision. 

Imagine capturing the full width, scope, and scale of an iceberg headed straight for your oil rig giving you all the information you need to change its course. Imagine using LiDAR information to help identify potential mineral deposits. Imagine assessing an environmental crisis by seeing it from a unique vantage point and being able to mitigate damages as a result.  Imagine the freedom of being able to evaluate operations on a rig that would be otherwise daunting to humans because of variables like height and location.

Imagine being able to monitor pipelines with unprecedented accuracy. (See Video here)

Imagine building an oil platform, GBS or topsides, and having drone photo-progress and LiDAR reports on a regular basis that optimize efficiencies of operation.

It’s now all possible…


Drones with LiDAR


Mapping, measuring, manipulating and modifying, that’s what the “light inventors” had in mind when they created LiDAR for drones.


LiDAR on drones is a new technology that uses a laser light scanner to replicate the landscape that it measures. A laser scanner attached to a drone (or UAV) uses light pulses to observe, measure, picture and reproduce a scene. This is the fundamental principle behind LiDAR, but the applications are truly limitless.


Quickly being adopted by world leaders in oil and gas and engineering sectors, drones equipped with LiDAR have become one of the “next best things” for harnessing efficiencies and reducing projects costs all the while addressing safety measures at an entirely new level.


With Drones and LiDAR, the oil and gas industry can fly over an iceberg and measure with accuracy its height and full composition making it super easy to track, move or assess the best course of action to take with that iceberg. Because Drones are Unmanned, projects are less risky, more profitable and safer.


LiDAR can support global projects such as the construction of the West White Rose gravity base structure. This advanced technology would permit site location analysis, project development efficiencies, identify possible safety hazards, advance progress and processes, be an essential tool in situational monitoring, support asset management, enhance environmental assessment, as well as offer a critical vantage point for safety.


The applications of LiDAR are unlimited, and it depends on the ingenuity and creativity of a team to adapt the technology to its highest function and user-ability. Engineering teams who seek to architect, build and execute projects will utilize LiDAR in new and unique ways, ultimately saving time, money and lives.




15/09/2017

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Fresh off the back of its role in advising on the use of drones on the set of Transformers: The Last Knight, Consortiq will appear at the Interdrone exhibition in Las Vegas from 6-8 September to discuss its wealth of experience in overseeing drone use in cinematography.


Drones are now commonplace on filmsets, collecting shots that other assets previously could not necessarily capture so cost effectively. However, a shift in the way they are being used has become apparent, and as a result, a need for filmmakers to consider the regulatory and safety criteria required is now evident.


While it was previously the case that drones allowed a quick transition between shots that had not been seen before, it is now not necessarily down to cost or trying to please an audience that drones are being used, but rather whether or not they will make the movie-making process quicker in comparison to using other tools.


“The creative reason for using a drone is still there, but I feel it is now shifting towards production reasons more so,” says Ben Keene, Chief Development Officer at Consortiq.


However, there are production issues generated by their use, so Consortiq wants to eliminate this responsibility on behalf of the filmmakers, taking on the role of dealing with the aviation authorities to ensure that the correct permissions to fly are in place by acting as a middle man.


“Now, everybody is very well versed in using drones on a filmset, and they are aware that they have a responsibility legally,” Keene notes. “They need to know they are protected; it’s not a fad anymore.”


The flights are not carried out by Consortiq itself, but it oversees all flying conducted by the third-party operator. The company is able to use an operator selected by the film company, or it has a trusted number of drone and payload companies that it can source on the production’s behalf.


In addition to the recent Transformers instalment, Consortiq has also advised on the of use drones during the filming of London has Fallen and Criminal. The latter saw a UAV legally operated over the streets of Central London for the first time, and started a precedent in this type of operation to support cinematography.



15/09/2017

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 Drones have come a long ways since the era of ambiguous rules and unthinkable price tags. These days, they’re regulated, affordable and offer a wide array of uses—especially when it comes to event marketing. From content-capture to competitions, we offer four ways to give your drone strategy wings.


 

1. Highlight Your Technology


Intel incorporated a 22-foot diameter drones cage into its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. The drones were flown live using Intel’s RealSense, offering attendees an engaging and relevant look at how the technology works.


2. Take Content-Capture to the Next Level


Anheuser-Busch’s second Whatever, USA program on Catalina Island put drones at the center of its content-capture toolbox. Throughout the three-day event, video drones could be seen hovering at all hours, capturing exclusive content for TV spots and the brand’s social media channels.


3. Deliver the Goods


Leveraging drones at your event can be as simple as using the devices to swiftly deliver products to attendees. Salesforce ceo Marc Benioff spiced up his keynote at Dreamforce with a Coke-delivery drone, while Anheuser-Busch delivered cold Bud Lights to attendees of its original Whatever, USA program.



14/09/2017

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The sale and use of drones, or unmanned aircraft vehicles [UAV's], has skyrocketed in the last few years in both the recreational and commercial space. Though drones are now widely used across the globe, the US is the main driver of that growth; in March, the Federal Aviation Administration projected that the number of small hobbyist drones will surge to more than 3.5 million by 2021, and that the commercial drone fleet will explode to 442,000, compared to 42,000 at the end of last year.

“We’re talking about [unmanned] aircraft eclipsing – just completely outpacing, by huge factors – the manned aircraft space,” Van Meter says.

While there is huge demand in markets like Europe and Africa – where Van Meter believes there is growing potential for drones to help with humanitarian missions, anti-poaching and infrastructure inspection – the inconsistent regulatory landscape across the globe is often a hindrance. The US is largely setting the trend for drone usage, thanks to its active aviation market and comparatively lenient regulatory environment.


Many typically associate drones with the military, but the US commercial market is now using the aircraft across all kinds of industries, Van Meter says.


“We see all sorts of uses that you can’t even imagine – from delivering cocktails to wildlife control to industrial inspection,” he says. “We are insuring drones in almost every single industry at this point.”


Industry sectors with the highest drone usage include aerial photography – often for infrastructure inspection, especially in the energy and communications space – and construction, as well as media and production companies, says Chris Proudlove, senior vice president and manager of UAS risks at Global Aerospace.


“The one area that has been predicted as being the largest of all – agriculture – has been slower to adopt drones,” Proudlove says, adding that this is primarily due to the quality of the end product versus the relatively high cost. “This gap will narrow significantly in the coming years, and agriculture still stands to be one of the dominant user industries,” he says, pointing to the fact that many companies are now outsourcing drone services rather than developing their own in-house capabilities.


Accordingly, the insurance market for unmanned aircraft is expanding. “Insurers are keen to enter the sector, but the relatively low policy premiums and high administration costs are deterring many from entering,” Proudlove says.


As a result, most operators, manufacturers and others in the drone industry rely on aviation insurance for broad policies that will cover their exposures. However, more insurers are beginning to look at the technology  and start developing products.


“It’s definitely gotten more competitive,” Van Meter says. “We do see standard, traditionally non-aviation markets getting into this space.”


In these cases, claims expertise can be a big issue, he adds.


“These are aircraft,” he says. “This is a special field with special regulations, and it has the potential for catastrophic losses – both severe bodily injury and fatalities. If you’re a corporate user of drones, do you really want to have a claims adjuster who isn’t an expert, adjusting what could be a significant claim with prolonged litigation?



14/09/2017

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With a constant stream of modern technology hitting the market, real estate agents and other professionals are finding new and innovative ways to take advantage of 21st century technology.


Whether it’s 360 video being used for virtual home tours, mobile apps that let you take on-the-go continuing education on your phone or new CRM platforms that keep you up-to-date on every single client interaction, there’s no shortage of tools at the industry’s disposal. One of the hottest trends in the tech field right now is the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles. The everyday uses for drones have been expansive — they’re being utilized for entertainment, surveillance, military programs, and most recently, real estate and home inspections.


I sat down with Brian Persons of Front Range Home Inspections to discuss the benefits and challenges of using drones in the real estate industry, and here’s what I learned.


What makes drones so popular


The possible uses of drones in real estate are endless for the creative mind. More well-known uses for agents and brokers include the ability to take aerial photos of properties for their clients and to survey landscapes and large acreage properties.


Drones can also aid agents in showing their clients a better view of the surrounding neighborhood and where their home lies in relation to local amenities.


In addition to client-facing visuals, drones can also be used for more thorough home inspections as they eliminate the need for inspectors to get on the roof to inspect tiling and other features.


“I had a few ladders slide off the gutter or on the surface below. I’ve had to disclaim roof inspections for safety reasons,” Parsons said.


Drones have been useful for Parsons’s business; they allow him to be safe and offer something his competitors can’t.


“Buyers get a more in-depth inspection, sellers get a unique view for marketing or pre-inspections,” Persons said. “I inspect a lot of rural properties as well and can get a better view of fence lines, grading, ponds, etc.”


As for future applications of this technology?


Persons said to look out for drones with up-and-coming features such as infrared thermal cameras that can sense energy loss and small drones with proximity sensors that can be used for indoor applications.


Learning to pilot a drone


Agents and brokers shouldn’t be intimidated by drones. If you’re interested in incorporating them into their business model, learning to pilot a drone is easier than one might think. “I’m 53 years old and not part of the video game generation, but the controls look similar, and with some practice in an open space, it doesn’t take long to get the basics down,” Persons said. He also noted how surprised he was at the quality of the footage he received after his first flight.




11/09/2017

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Here’s a digital asset management (DAM) riddle for you: What technology has made the following three DAM scenarios possible? 


1. A construction firm uses aerial images to monitor job progress and send updates to its clients. 


2. A government agency analyzes 3D images to prioritize repairs to roads and bridges. 


3. A property management firm uses video and imagery to determine which buildings and landscapes need maintenance and then request bids from contractors.

If you guessed "commercial drones," you’re right on the money. And you also have a bird’s-eye view of some exciting new applications that are remaking digital asset management.


The Democratization of Drones

With the democratization of once-expensive technology such as commercial drones, there is an unprecedented amount of new digital media being created and stored outside of traditional marketing departments.


Not only marketing teams, but other areas of business, including government agencies, are increasingly relying on high pixel count imagery, video, geographical data and realistic visual 3D models and scenes to engage consumers and increase efficiency and safety.


Cutting Down Delays, Reducing Risks

For example, in the construction and infrastructure sectors, engineers regularly examine detailed geospatial images — often captured by drones — to keep track of projects and physical assets so they can act quickly and accurately, even from remote locations.


Drone-captured images can also cut down on delays in image access and reduce the risk of costly misinterpretations. And because such digital assets typically retain their value beyond an immediate project, preserving them and making them easily accessible makes sense from both economic and intellectual property standpoints.


Governments Are Transforming Aerial DAM

Yet, because the images and video from drones are typically large and data rich, they are often stored in separate files or drives, which can’t be easily searched, viewed or used in downstream applications, especially by those who may be on lower bandwidth mobile connections.


Much of the push to transform aerial image data into products and services is actually coming from government organizations such as departments of transportation that want to demonstrate value to taxpayers. 


More Data Collection Means Easier Searches 

In the past, individuals who were looking for aerial images needed to know the location first before being able to assess what they are looking at and answer questions about, say, bridge safety or road conditions.


Now, with better, cheaper and more frequent data collection from drones, governments are amassing a treasure trove of digital assets that can be made available for public access via websites that allow images to be searched by location and downloaded as JPEGs. 


Video and Virtual Tours 

Yet, all too frequently, assets continue to be managed in low-tech catalogs, spreadsheets and hard drives, making access and usage difficult and providing little value to constituents.


Meanwhile, the commercial development and real estate industries are becoming more reliant than ever on 3D virtual tours, maps and video to showcase and market properties to consumers, businesses and commercial lenders. 


For these industries, drones are quickly becoming a popular, low-cost way to capture accurate panoramic digital footage that allows viewers to experience flying around a scene to explore and measure it from any angle. In addition, drones can allow property managers to remotely monitor buildings and detect security breaches or other issues that may need attention. 


Demand Currently Exceeds Supply

Consumer acceptance of, and demand for, drone images is high, thanks to popular applications such as maps and restaurant search tools that have accustomed users to searching by location.


The bottleneck, however, lies in managing supply side resources: The explosive growth in the amount of digital media being collected makes it time consuming for managers to store, find and distribute relevant assets to clients and downstream teams who need them.


Migrating Images to the Marketing Department

As DAM resources catch up with demand, the high-quality digital media obtained by non-marketing departments can be a boon to the growing needs of traditional marketing organizations.


For example, if made easily accessible, campaign managers could edit and repurpose the images, maps and video captured outside their departments into social media, web and mobile properties. This would not only save time and expense but create new sources of novel, engaging content.


Leveraging the New Digital Assets

For these industries and others, there is a great opportunity to extend the methods and best practices of digital asset management into departments which are now acquiring and using new types of drone-generated digital media. 


The question is how to best leverage these valuable new assets by making them available in central locations. After that is accomplished, the files then need to be integrated into the file sharing and storage protocols used for the organization’s other project files, whether Microsoft Office, PDFs, etc.


To maximize their usefulness, the files must also be easily searchable, viewable and accessible to remote or extended teams for usages as diverse as coordinating subcontractors, creating sales proposals, sending client updates and marketing for blogs, brochures and other collateral.


Centralizing Locations and File Formats

With digital asset management of drone images still in its infancy, it can still seem simpler to clients to schedule an additional photo shoot rather than invest time and money in setting up a DAM system.


But early adopters are already beginning to look for solutions that will help them store new file formats in secure, centralized locations that can significantly compress large files without losing quality.


They will need to capture rich metadata, such as longitude and latitude on new asset types, search by geolocation and optionally publish files to internet portals for search, preview and download. 



11/09/2017

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Drones gather mapping data about all kinds of things in the real world.  Today we're using apps, data, and IoT devices, including drones rather than human surveyors on site or in a plane. Have you considered how your company might use drone mapping data in business apps to deliver new value to your customers? If not, perhaps you should.

Construction companies, excavation companies, mining companies and energy companies are just a few types of organizations using drone mapping data to do their jobs more effectively and achieve better bottom-line performance.

Drone mapping solution provider Identified Technologies works with such companies to reduce costs and win more business based on the analytics and conclusions drawn from drone mapping data collected at their work sites. The end product is reports about costs and cost forecasting, progress forecasting and accounting.

"When you have an area about the size of San Francisco Bay, you've got hundreds of piece of equipment and hundreds of people around," said Dick Zhang, founder and CEO of Identified Technologies. "[Historically,] you could only confirm [their status] after the fact."

In the past, the information might not be available for weeks or months, and the cost of collecting the data could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for projects. To get paid, contractors need to show progress, such as the amount of dirt they moved and status of the roads they're building. Zhang said his customers are able to save 70% to 90% on their surveying endeavors.

Although using drones to gather mapping data isn't a new concept, the economics of owning, renting and using them have changed dramatically as drone technology continues to improve and prices continue to fall.

"You can get remarkable quality and reliability for a remarkable price [which] has accelerated growth in the market," said Zhang. "Data is a huge driver."




08/09/2017

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