In modern economics, it’s very common that seemingly unrelated events actually have a great deal of mutual influence. Today we’re going to look at one such example, as so insightfully explored by COMMERCIALCafé: drone technology and improved real estate methodology.

For more than a year now, drones under 55 pounds have been legally able to enter national airspace because of provisions made in the Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule from the FAA. What’s more, anyone can get a remote pilot’s license and be perfectly qualified to use a drone. People outside of real estate may not appreciate just how ubiquitous these unmanned aircraft have become in the industry, so this post will sum up some of these factors.

Marketing Properties.

If there’s a big new listing in your area of an impressive home, you can bet that there will be a video with lush drone footage providing impressive aerial shots of the property. This change in video perspective has given a new flavor to real estate marketing. We’ve even seen drone footage from inside large properties used in these videos. This is the new normal, and the possibilities will only increase as drone technology improves.


If you’ve had a house or other property inspected in the past year, there is a good chance that your inspector used a drone to get a close-up look at the state of the property’s room. Many home inspectors inspect only the parts of the house which are easily accessible. This means they won’t be climbing up on your room anytime soon. Drones make it possible to give you more information on the roof during the home inspection, which can potentially be the deciding factor in whether or not to actually buy the property.

Construction Monitoring.

It’s amazing to see a building come together in a time lapse video. It’s even better when there is aerial drone footage to boot. Drones allow you to see progress in great detail, allowing you to supervise construction in a more detailed way without having to get your hands so dirty. You won’t even have to set foot on the site if you don’t want to, instead relying on your drone to give you the information you need while you pilot it from a distance.


Everyone needs to maintain their building once it’s purchased. Drones make this easy, especially if your building is more than one story tall. Many of the things that can go wrong with a building happen in high, hard to reach places. You may be afraid of heights or unable to find out who borrowed your ladder, but your drone can get anywhere you want to take a video of potential problems, giving you the information you need to make the necessary preventative maintenance or repair.


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Oil and gas companies are using unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology to improve safety and efficiency in a growing range of applications, from infrastructure and maintenance inspection to security, emergency response and environmental and regulatory compliance. Today’s UAS programs are supported by payloads including high-definition video equipment, high-resolution still cameras, thermal imaging cameras and emission sensors – and there are many ways, operationally and financially, to incorporate them into business processes. Numerous oil companies have demonstrated how UAS programs can improve safety while augmenting existing operations, and have also shown the value of supporting these programs with a comprehensive range of processes, procedures and management systems. 


Examples of Successful Programs

One of the most popular applications for UAS programs includes visual inspections of remote assets such as oil rigs. In one example, a major oil company set up a UAS program to identify the presence or absence of rig components or subcomponents – as well as any gross damage or deformation, including visible cracks, the extent of coating breakdown and variations from structural drawings. The unmanned, eight-pile production and compressor platform included a boat landing connected by a bridge, and featured two decks and elevation depths ranging from -97 feet to 10 feet (Figure 1). Many of the areas of interest were in hard-to-reach locations, as the image shows.


Clearly, manual inspection of these rig elements would be both difficult and dangerous if it required sending someone down a ladder or out onto scaffolding. With a UAS program, people are removed from these dangerous situations. Additionally, inspections can be performed while the asset is live, thus reducing the length of costly shutdowns. A study of UAS use at one leading international exploration and production (E&P) company showed that these programs enable inspections to be completed 20 times more quickly than traditional rope-access techniques, which can take an average of eight weeks to complete when using human inspection teams. The direct costs of UAS programs are half those of human inspections – and UAS programs also eliminate other indirect costs associated with offshore bed space, standby boats and the transport of personnel to and from the rig by air or sea. The costs of helicopters, alone, can average as much as $2,500 an hour and up to $60,000 per flight.


When UAVs are used for all initial visual and thermal inspections, personnel are only deployed for contact inspection and other advanced investigations, if required. This can sharply reduce the risk of death and injury in a workplace environment that, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), has a fatality rate seven times greater than that for professionals in other sectors. One rig operator that implemented a UAS program reported a reduction in injuries of greater than 10 percent as compared to the same period a year earlier when it used human inspections. The other benefit of removing humans from these inspections is that it is no longer necessary to shut down rig operations, which can cost an operator millions of dollars in lost production. Assuming a typical five-day shutdown during a traditional inspection, the operator might possibly lose 100,000 barrels in lost production at a cost of $40 to $50 per barrel. 


In a typical rig survey example, a UAS could capture visual images of key elements including cellar underdecks, emergency shutdown valve (ESDV) platforms, conductors and guides, caissons and jacket legs. Coverage of a cellar underdeck would be enhanced by having the UAS aerially inspect it from several different angles, taking both close-up and standoff photos. An interim inspection report is generally provided midway through a project, highlighting immediate issues and general conditions, and a final report is submitted at the project’s completion. A typical inspection report encompasses all key elements across multiple elevation depths. In the example of an unmanned, eight-pile production and compressor platform, this would include performing topside, hull and structural critical inspection point (SCIP) surveys. A UAS would be used to take topside photos of the structure, along with video footage throughout the inspection. The UAS would also be used to image the structural and coating condition on the hull exterior and associated components, along with the coating condition and surface corrosion on all columns and other SCIPs. Figure 2 shows the video log of a typical report.


The images in Figure 3 are among 1,900 visual images that were captured during a survey of a typical rig’s components and subcomponents. It shows a riser umbilical caisson platform to which access had been restricted because of storm damage. The images in Figure 3 show an 80 percent coating breakdown on the deck support leg, with surface rusting shown in the inset image. 


The UAS survey identified numerous other issues, ranging from missing gratings and handrails to areas of moderate to heavy corrosion on jacket legs, horizontal bracing, conductors, and the welded connections in the areas between jacket legs and the underdeck and near discharge pipes. In the cellar underdeck steelwork, the survey showed that the primary member between two grid points displayed complete coating breakdown and surface corrosion, with exposed reinforcing mesh shown in the inset. This area would have been extremely difficult for a person to survey (Figure 4).


One of the most difficult locations for human surveyors to observe is the flare and its supporting structure. This location is relatively easy for a UAS to survey, as shown in Figure 5. In this example, liquid staining has occurred, providing evidence of process fluid that may have been discharged during a blowdown or process interruption. 

To view Figures please click on the link below


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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation last month announced it would release a fleet of 22 drones to help monitor ecosystem management, conservation and emergency response efforts across the state.

One of those drones was used in the Syracuse area last month.

The department recently used a drone to survey mudboils in the southern watershed of Onondaga Creek, known as the Tully Valley, said Benning DeLaMater, a DEC public information officer, in an email.

The mudboils discharge high levels of sediment into Onondaga Creek, which affects its water quality. Since Onondaga Creek is a major tributary that flows into Onondaga Lake, monitoring mudboil activity closely at its source is crucial, DeLaMater said.

Gary McPherson, an environmental engineer with the DEC, flew the drone over Onondaga Creek to monitor mudboils in mid-September.

The mudboils are relatively cool compared to the surface of the water, McPherson said. The drones aerially map the area to look for temperature differentiations that would indicate the presence of a mudboil.

Compared to previous methods, drones are a much more useful and convenient way to monitor a habitat aerially, McPherson added.

“The only way of doing this in the past was by aircraft, which was very cost prohibitive,” he said. “Drones are compact and can be flown much closer to the surface of whatever you are studying, which allows for greater accuracy in surveying.”

Several other drone monitoring missions have been completed in other parts of the state, according to a press release by the DEC.

The day after the announcement of the program, New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent three drones to assist the New York Power Authority with restoring power in Puerto Rico and various emergency response missions, according to the press release.

There are no official plans to deploy drones over Onondaga Lake as of yet, DeLaMater said. It may be possible, though, to use drones to map and document the lake’s habitat restoration efforts, he added.


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Deep underground, where ‘hi-vis’ figures and gargantuan machines toil in an ageless quest for humankind’s most precious metal, gold, there’s a new worker: a whirring, spider-like creature filming, mapping and analysing, unfazed by the constricted atmosphere and its many dangers.

This new machine – tiny against the giant crushers, haulers and crawlers – can fly and hover and even rise to work in normally unreachable cavernous stopes, all by itself. Its stereoscopic cameras are not just its tools, but also its eyes. It navigates, like us, by seeing.

The machine is a mining drone, as much at home in this subterranean space as it would be flying above the Earth. It represents a new age for geology and underground mining, and also a juncture in multidisciplinary research.

The scientist behind this drone, and others being tested in working gold mines in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia, is Associate Professor Steven Micklethwaite, a geologist with Monash University’s School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment. The drone, and the technology carried in its underbelly, is the work of a collaboration with other Monash specialists in robotic vision systems, artificial intelligence, information technologies (IT) and, of course, drone-building.

The core innovation the team is developing is the drone’s capacity to fly autonomously along a shaft or through a tunnel, and create, in real time, 3D models of its surrounds and geological maps.

“It guides itself with lasers and the same high-definition stereo video cameras it is using to create the 3D models,” Associate Professor Micklethwaite explains.

“But that’s just the hardware development. The other side is turning the imagery into useable information – for example, computing an instantaneous map that a geologist would otherwise spend days or months building up.”

The industry application covers the full suite of mining operations, from geology and resource assessment, through to monitoring the integrity and safety of an underground infrastructure.

Associate Professor Micklethwaite describes how the drone could arrive at the site of the most recent blast, photograph and map the exposed geology, and transmit or fly the data back to the surface for geologists to assess the resource from a 3D map just created: “From the orientation of the geological features exposed, a geologist can predict the nature of the deposit in the next section of rock,” he says.

In time, Associate Professor Micklethwaite says, the drones may alleviate the need for humans to even enter underground mines. Given the high costs and safety risks in putting people underground, any technology that negates this will boost mine economics and save lives.

He anticipates similar efficiency gains for geology through the introduction of artificial intelligence. “I might have several square kilometres of landscape on which I have to map all the faults and fractures or identify the different stratigraphic layers and measure their orientation. For me to do that at a five-millimetre resolution would take years. But now we can map with the drone, teach a computer what to look for and then propagate that learning through the rest of the data. All I have to do as a geologist is check the computer got it right, which gives me far more time to properly understand what the map is telling us.”

For Associate Professor Micklethwaite the technology and his research collaborations are reinventing the ancient science of geology: “My motivation for getting into geology was to understand earth processes; to see how rivers were changing, how valleys had eroded, to see rocks and understand the stories they had to tell about Earth evolution. But it all takes so long with standard techniques.

“So when cheap and available drone technology arrived I engaged with it very quickly, and from there a whole new

world of possibilities has opened up for earth sciences.”

Associate Professor Micklethwaite says the future for the technology is expansive. “It’s going to be applicable in so many areas … even forestry and bushfire management, for example. If we can build drones that can detect leaf structure and fine branch structure, we could be flying beneath trees measuring, for example, biomass build-up in areas otherwise too difficult to reach.


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The PowerEye Payload is a high-end 4K professional camera system with a mount that can carry up to 2 kg of payload. Attachments include a normal camera, a thermo-camera for night vision, and a gimbal or ‘hook’ to mount and carry up to 2kgs, with remote release.

PowerVision Technology Group Press Release

PowerVision Launches PowerEye Payload Drone

Professional cinematography drone, now with extra payload

  • Adds carrying capabilities to creative options, including Dual View for simultaneous video streams and thermal imaging
  • Open SDK to create customized applications

Helsinki, Finland –  November 8, 2017 – PowerVision Technology Group a specialist innovator in UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles), robotics and big data technologies, has extended PowerEye, its professional cinematography drone range. The open-source designed drone now combines its standard high-end 4K camera with a mount that can carry up to 2 kg of payload: the PowerEye Payload.

Directly responding to customer requests, PowerEye Payload is a high end professional camera system mounted on a robust, flexible flight platform (drone). Where PowerEye set a new standard for video quality and control, special effects and professional cinematography capabilities, the PowerEye Payload delivers additional flexibility. Attachments include a normal camera, a thermo-camera for night vision, and a gimbal or ‘hook’ to mount and carry up to 2kgs, with remote release.

While all allow the drone to support more tasks whilst still maintaining high cost efficiency, flight stability remains uncompromised by weights of up to 2kg of mounted item.  The one-click release button enables precisely located targets to land and release the load.

“PowerEye already takes professional focus, special effects, and control to the next level. It surpasses what the eye can see to capture something magical.” said Wally Zheng, CEO of PowerVision Technology Group. “The PowerEye Payload opens the drone up to a whole new range of uses.”


PowerEye Payload adds to the existing two PowerEye models, the core PowerEye Professional, equipped with a high-performance 4K UHD camera, and a state-of-the-art thermal/natural light switchable camera.  HD video can be transmitted up to 5km.

All three PowerEye versions incorporate Dual Viewing technology, allowing user{s} to see video simultaneously from a First-Person View (FPV) and a Subject Matter View (SMV).  The cinematographer can see ahead of the PowerEye while  in flight through a dedicated FPV camera housed in the nose of the aircraft, whilst a separate gimbal-mounted camera can be simultaneously directed towards action elsewhere (on the ground or elsewhere the sky.)


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According to new report available with Million Insights, The advantages such as efficient water usage, fertilizers and land, better productivity will drive the market of Agriculture drones. The various capabilities such as imaging capabilities, sensors, and better materials will lift the market.

The increasing venture funding rendered to a drone manufacturer is anticipated to drive the market

Agriculture drones is use of drones in farming that helps farmers to monitor crop growth and increase crop production. In 2015, the agriculture drone market was valued at USD 193.4 million globally. Agriculture drones are used for collecting high-quality data and its data processing tools are less expensive and easy to use. The use of advance technologies and its increasing awareness among farmers will propel the growth of market.

The advantages such as efficient water usage, fertilizers and land, better productivity will drive the market of Agriculture drones. The various capabilities such as imaging capabilities, sensors, and better materials will lift the market.

The hybrid agriculture drone is expected to portray the highest growth over the forecast period

The market share of Hybrid drones is expected to be highest by 2022. The drones takes snapshot of different sectors of field that provides crucial and important data regarding crop, soil and yields in order to assist in crop management. Agriculture drones are emerging as a lucrative sector due to its small size, low cost and easy use.

The UAV-based start-ups are booming due to its application in wide areas. The start-ups are focusing on providing hardware and software and services that will cover about 80% of market. The Universities, technical institute and different organizations are organizing various programs to provide guidance for operating UAV’s, which is expected to propel market. Government regulation and lack of trained pilot in some regions may act as barrier to market growth.

The market, based on products is fragmented into rotary blade, fixed wing and hybrid. The emerging need to carry heavy payloads will help fixed wing UAVs to dominate the industry over forecast period.

The capability of hybrid UAV’s such as covering long distance will help them to grow with a CAGR of 40% from 2016 to 2024. Compared to manned aircraft, the UAV’s are capable to monitor field areas with ease which will have positive impact on market growth.

The crop scouting application is projected to witness a significant growth over the projected period

The Application segment is divided onto Variable rate application, field mapping, crop scouting and others. In 2015, among these, the filed mapping segment dominated the business in terms of revenue. Farmers striving hard to increase productivity of crops by making use of advance technology is expected to drive field mapping Segment.

The drones are capable of spray fertilizers accurately without causing any problem can act as important factor in growth of Crop scouting segment in next seven years. In addition the development of Normalized Difference vegetation Index (NDVI) is expected to help crop scouting to contribute more in market. NVDI makes use of near-infrared sensor that is use to capture data that cannot be captured by human eye.

The Asia Pacific region is expected to witness a significant growth from 2016 to 2024

Asia Pacific agriculture drone industry will have a compelling growth among different regions over the forecast period. The emerging economies in these regions are constantly investing in R&D to make efficient and advanced drones. Different companies are developing economical and efficient UAV’s that has vast applications in farming sector.

The North American region will dominate the agriculture drone industry. The emerging need to increase productivity and trends of implementing UAV’s is anticipated to influence market growth. The need of precision farming has led farmers to use UAV’s in farming.


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Do you work in an industry that can benefit from using drones?

The use of drones for commercial applications is on the rise around the world and here in Australia. Drones are currently being used for aerial photography, inspection work and surveying in a variety of industries, with the number of businesses realising their potential growing every day.

What industries can benefit from using drones?

The number of industries using drones is growing exponentially, with agriculture and construction predicted to join their ranks in a big way very soon. Business sectors currently employing drones include:

- Emergency services. Police departments are increasingly using drones as cost-effective aerial surveillance tools.

- Forestry. Tree farmers and forestry departments use drones to record forest activity including species regeneration, survival counts, weed mapping and post-fire analysis.

- Insurance. Loss adjusters are increasingly using drones as a fast cost-effective way to assess and quantify damage after natural disasters such as floods, cyclones and bushfires.

- Telcos. Communications providers are using drones to inspect infrastructure in inaccessible areas to determine repair and maintenance requirements.

- Media. Journalists and filmmakers are using drones to provide aerial footage not obtainable any other way.

- Mining. Mineral exploration companies are using drones to conduct aerial surveys of potential mineral deposits.

- Real estate. Real estate agents and vendors are using drones to give potential buyers aerial views of properties and neighbourhoods to give them a better idea of their location in terms of proximity to shops, schools, public transport and arterial links.

Industries tipped to start using drones in a big way very soon include:

- Agriculture. Farming investment in drones is currently small, but as more begin to see their potential to revolutionise agricultural practices, adoption of drone technology is expected to rise rapidly and embrace new applications such as aerial spraying, stock control, soil and field analysis and crop monitoring and protection.

- Construction. Surveyors and civil engineers are beginning to take drone use very seriously, using it more and more for asset inspection work on properties, roofs, chimneys, power lines, pipelines, railways, bridges and anywhere normal access is restricted, time consuming and dangerous.

Insurance requirements

As the use of drones escalates, legislators are struggling to keep up, with Australia being one of the first places to put regulations in place regarding drone operation.

Drones used for commercial purposes in Australia must be piloted by a licensed operator who is subject to a range of rules and regulations aimed at protecting public safety and privacy.


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Drones, also known as remote piloted aircraft or RPAs, have become increasingly popular in recent years, both recreationally as well as commercially. They are used in many industries including the commercial real estate market. Drones have many applications, not least of which is producing marketing material to attract potential property buyers. Commercial property owners or managers may also find that a drone will simplify their property inspections.

Benefits to potential buyers

When purchasing undeveloped land, it helps to have a good look at the terrain so as to check for features which may affect the proposed development. Drones can cover greater areas than a survey, clearly showing nearby features, hard to access places such as streams or culverts, besides giving the potential buyer an overview of the surrounding land, adjacent structures or access routes. 

The mapping software designed for drone technology can be used to calculate lengths, heights, areas or volumes without resorting to expensive ground surveys. Features which would otherwise be obscured by vegetation, including anomalies in the terrain, may be revealed by means of a drone equipped with a suitable camera. Depending on the property, this could only take an hour or so; far less time than a full ground survey, besides being more cost effective.

Benefits to sellers

In the past, property owners used aerial photography or video in order to display their properties with impact, although this has proven to be expensive. By using a drone, a property may be videoed from every angle, allowing owners to showcase their commercial listings in an impressive manner. Drones can offer a potential investor perspectives from a development not yet built, such as the view from the 10th floor of an upcoming office block.  

Real estate advertisements show photographs of the interior and exterior of a building, but with the use of a drone they may show a fluid video of the interior and exterior, the full scope of an atrium for example, not to mention the immediate environment, property boundaries, access routes or other important features. The technology is such that high resolution videos or photos are of superb clarity and accuracy.

Commercial property managers also benefit

The use of drones for the purpose of maintenance inspections, in particular roofs or high-rise buildings, will prove invaluable. Such an inspection can be a dangerous task, however, an autonomous drone may be programmed to record every nook and cranny requiring regular checking. Programming the same flight path for regular inspections will allow the manager to assess levels of deterioration, providing clear photographic evidence of the condition of the asset. Regular inspections can also record changes in the condition of the property, alerting the owner to possible latent problems which may then be dealt with before they constitute a major crisis.

Regular inspections using a thermal camera will show which areas of a building may be losing or gathering heat in the course of a day, potentially due to inadequate insulation. This allows the owner to install preventative measures to reduce the need for excess heating or cooling of the property.

Drones can work any hour of the day or night, practically irrespective of weather conditions. They are proving effective for security patrols over large commercial or industrial properties, securing the safety of the business as well as the staff.


Regulations regarding the use of drones must be adhered to, which could complicate their use by private individuals or commercial entities. However, if you employ a reputable firm which is properly registered and fully aware of the legal implications, you should not experience a problem. Costs are reducing as drones become more popular, besides being more readily available for commercial purposes.


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Telstra has put drones into use across Tasmania to assist with asset inspections and site assessments, in the hope they will improve safety for workers and reduce network downtime.

The telco has been trialling the use of drones for these purposes in Queensland and New South Wales for the last year. Telstra has 9000 mobile network sites around Australia covering 2.4 million square kilometres. 

It is now putting the machines into official use in Tasmania, where one of its technicians has completed training to become a CASA-certified Telstra drone pilot technician.

"Drones will now be used in Tasmania to better assess the suitability of new sites for infrastructure, improve safety for local employees and improve repair times in the event of extreme weather or natural disasters," Telstra said in a blog post.

"Previously technicians had to climb towers or bring in cherry pickers which takes time, particularly in regional areas where land may be uneven or muddy.

"Drones now mean this work can be done more safely and easily and, in the event new parts and equipment need to be ordered, this can be done immediately from the ground."

Drones will also allow Telstra to respond faster in the aftermath of disasters that impact its infrastructure; the devices were used to inspect mobile base stations for damage in Wye River in Victoria in the late 2015 bushfires.


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Flying a drone in confined locations isn’t an easy task. It requires piloting skills, and previous knowledge of the surroundings. But what happens if you need to fly a drone where there is no GPS, no light, and humans can’t go? A new drone certification program from Flyability will help provide Elios drone owners with a way to assess their piloting skills in these kinds of situations, but that’s just the first step for organizations looking to adopt the technology.

The Canada-based company, Unmanned Aerial Services Inc. (UAS Inc.), is working on solutions for performing underground inspections, in a GPS denied environment, and they’re using Flyability’s Elios drone. Last month, UAS Inc. founders, Matt MacKinnon and Jason Carignan, performed multiple missions in the North American Palladium (NAP) Lac des Iles mine near Thunder Bay, Ontario. The NAP is one of only two pure palladium producers in the world, and its extensive operation in the Lac des Iles mine requires frequent inspections to monitor ground conditions and ensure both the safety and productivity of their workers.

Underground mines are dangerous places, especially after mining and excavation which result in open caverns, called open stopes. To prevent caving in the surrounding area and ensure the safety and continuity in the mine, the material removed from these open stopes must be replaced – a process known as “backfilling”.

However, before replacing the material, NAP performs an inspection/survey to determine the condition of the area, and calculate how much backfill material is required to fill the void and ensure the surrounding ground is stable. During the inspection, it’s also important to evaluate the height and condition of a stope ceiling (known as the back) to know what it looks like after blasting, in order to prevent future problems on other levels of the mine, which could potentially threaten lives and production.

Traditional surveying tools for this kind of operation include: a Cavity Monitoring Survey (CMS) on a cart or boom arm, which is ineffective at getting through the tall piles of muck on the floor, in going around corner, or seeing beyond a deep brow; or a borehole camera which is lowered into the stope through an existing drill hole, which can also be ineffective at completely inspecting the area due to being limited to the actual location of the hole and where it exits into the stope from above. This is where UAS Inc. comes in.

With the help of the Elios drone, equipped with both a 1080p HD video camera as well as an embedded thermal camera, and by standing safely under supported ground – well away from the restricted area – the team was able to to gather accurate information about the ground conditions, geological features, and dikes (fault lines) that may indicate where walls are likely to fall. With the collected data, the company can use AutoCad to create a rough model of the stope, used to evaluate risks and plan work.

In contrast to a full day with the traditional surveying tools, Elios performed the mission in 1 hour, and were also able to remove the human element from this hostile and dangerous environment.


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