8 Reasons Why Drones Are a Breakthrough for Environmental Experts
The terrain they can cover
Wanting to survey difficult terrain with little to no established vehicle access? Hiring a drone operator to fly across areas such as this, rather than putting people on the ground, can reduce the exposure of those people to potential hazards. For example to evaluate vegetation health along rivers or drainage channels, do inspections of elevated cave entrances or to search for rare flora along ridge lines.
The sensors they can carry
Multispectral sensors are much smaller these days, enabling a drone to carry them and map natural phenomena that could not been possible with just the human eye.
LiDAR capability — which measures the distance from a target using a laser — can see through a forest canopy to determine the fuel density on the ground, as well as accurately plot coastal erosion
A high-resolution camera on a drone is ideal for creating 3D photomosaic images for cultural heritage mapping and coastal erosion monitoring.
Thermal and infra-red cameras, aside from detecting fires, can find wildlife in dense forests, survey solar farms hot spots, or inspect mine site machinery or wind turbines.
They can take off from anywhere
Drones don't need a lot of aeronautical infrastructure, they launch with a catapult and land with a parachute – you don't need a runway. Manned planes need to either fly there expending a lot of fuel, or can't get there at all.
Example application 1: Planned Burns
Drones can be used to evaluate an area prior to a planned burn taking place in terms of topography, hazardous trees, nearby infrastructure, and vegetation types and densities that could lead to the crossing of containment lines. And later for monitoring the planned burns while they're taking place and post-process mapping.
Drones also enable better communications for people on the ground, especially in remote areas, which in turn means increased safety for staff.
Example application 2: Animal Counts
Wild pigs can get into shrubby areas, cause destruction and nest inside the scrub. They are difficult to spot during the day and from ground level. A drone with a visual or thermal camera can detect them and send a live video link to people in vehicles on the ground.
Vertebrate pests impact both the environment and primary producers causing irreparable damage to native land, Flora and Fauna along with significant losses to the agricultural sector. Queensland based business Skies Eye Drone Services is now using thermal imaging equipment to identify animals in the darkness of night, plus the aerial advantage covers more ground cost effectively as opposed to being ground based. And the data and imagery they capture is non-invasive, keeps humans at distance and allows natural monitoring of even the most elusive native animals.
Surveying animals such as koala population sizes at sites - drones are quieter than traditional aircraft, making the animals less likely to be disturbed and therefore easier to count.
Example application 3: Mapping Emissions
One start-up in Finland, Aeromon, is mapping something less tangible than land: industrial emissions. It has built a drone and software platform capable of tracking invisible gases from above.
And it’s not been easy. In order to accurately map gases as they enter the atmosphere, Aeromon team has developed a sophisticated sensor package, ‘BH-8’, which can be attached to a drone to capture data in the field. A connected analytics platform takes the information from these airborne sensors and lets plant operators and regulators map emissions in real-time. This can help governments and authorities keep factories and fossil fuel companies in check.
Example application 4: Catching Poachers in Africa
We all know that illegal poaching is causing the numbers of certain animals to dwindle to the point of near-extinction, including elephants and rhinos. One tech startup, Air Shepherd, is using drones to stop this from happening. The organization uses drones to capture evidence and survey huge areas of land. Not only do they help provide the proof that results in convictions, they also actively repel poachers on the ground. See video https://vimeo.com/183221312
Example application 5: Water Preservation
Equipped with infrared cameras, drones are being trialed in hot and remote locations, to detect leaks in underground water pipes in the desert. Research led by Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh at Nottingham Trent University in the UK aims to prevent water loss using infrared technology to spot leaks that are invisible to the naked eye.
Drones will transform the way buildings are designed, the way they look and the way they are used, according to architect Mark Dytham.
Dytham, co-founder of Tokyo-based studio Klein Dytham Architecture, said that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would soon replace road transport for deliveries, meaning buildings would start "sprouting branches" for them to land on.
Further ahead, people-carrying drones would lead to a complete rethink of the way buildings work, since occupants and visitors would no longer need to enter at ground level and could instead fly directly to any floor.
This will begin to alter people's spatial perceptions, as they get used to seeing the world from the air rather than just from the ground.
"In the future you'll experience architecture from drones," he said. "They will change the way architecture is perceived. We'll all see buildings from above. We'll cease to be ground-dwelling creatures; we'll see things in a vertical dimension."
Dytham already uses a quadcopter to survey sites, inspect construction quality and photograph completed buildings. But he said the next few years would bring more dramatic changes, as battery technology improves and UAVs become able to carry heavier loads.
UAVs will start to become a key mode of transport in urban areas, he predicted, which would further change the form of buildings.
"You'll be able to land on a balcony,” he said. "You'll be able to land on a roof and other perches. Architecture will start sprouting branches for you to land on."
Delivery companies were already making plans to deliver goods via drones, he said, which would save time and reduce road congestion. "One of the biggest problems in cities right now is all these vans delivering things to buildings," he said. "In future, deliveries will be landed on the roof by a drone. It's a profound change."
Since the first experimental drone delivery company launched in 2013, interest in using autonomous flying machines to dispatch goods has rocketed. Amazon is investing heavily in drones and last December made its first commercial delivery, using a UAV to deliver a bag of popcorn to a home in Cambridgeshire, England.
Transport will move from roads to skies
This would change the fabric of cities, Dytham said. "Warehouses that are outside the city will get smaller and come closer to the city to be within range of battery-powered drones. Cities won't have to repair their bridges and roads. We're going to be flying 50 or 60 kilometres in 20 minutes in drone taxis."
Dytham bought his first drone two years ago and immediately began using it on projects, for example to explore sites and photograph completed buildings. He recently upgraded to a Mavic Pro, a folding quadcopter that boasts a 4k camera and which can be controlled by a smartphone.
"It gives a different spatial awareness of the site," he said. "Recently we were working in the countryside and we needed to survey the trees. Getting a tree survey is very expensive but we can do that very easily with a drone. We flew the drone at a height of 100 metres, and assembled the photos in Photoshop. We surveyed the site in a morning, we printed the photos out and calculated the canopy sizes of the trees."
Dytham uses the Mavic Pro to photograph his firm's buildings from both the outside and the inside, using its "tripod" mode to capture still shots as well as movie footage as the drone moves around.
As drone photography becomes more widespread, architects will start to consider how their buildings look from the air, he predicted.
Buildings will have to look good from the air
"You've got to be careful what your roofscape looks like now," he said. "You can't just dump all the plant on the roof any more. You've got to be really careful where you put things."
Another benefit of drones is their ability to fly close to buildings and spot problems, said Dytham, who recently used his Mavic Pro to identity the cause of a leak on the roof of his sister's house.
"For building maintenance, to fly round a building and look at what's wrong, the potential is phenomenal," he said.
While drones are spreading into industries from warehousing to oil exploration, precision agriculture remains one of the most robust segments of the market. The ROI for drones in agriculture is compelling: and farms of every size are taking advantage of drone technology.
Three years is almost a lifetime in the drone industry, and much has changed since DRONELIFE first published our first list of the 7 Best Agricultural Drones on the Market. With new technology, new regulations, and new software and service offerings farmers have more tools to work with than ever before.
Some of the drones on our list remain from the original: PrecisionHawk (Lancaster) and SenseFly (eBee) have been major players in the drone industry and are continually improving their offering. The AgEagle is a drone specifically designed in collaboration with researchers at Kansas State University for precision agriculture, and it does the job well; HoneyComb’s AgDrone is another drone designed with agriculture in mind. But the rise of the prosumer drone, and the move by traditionally recreational drone companies like DJI into the professional space, have created more options. New services that provide qualified drone pilots have created a realistic choice for agronomists who don’t also wish to become Part 107 certified.
PrecisionHawk takes a forward position not only in the production of commercial drones, but in all aspects of UAV technology. They are instrumental in the work of drone integration in the US, and are a prominent voice in drone regulations efforts. And while the company sells commercial packages that include DJI prosumer drones, their own Lancaster model remains an industry leader. The Lancaster can be used across industries: including mining, energy, and inspection; but its ease of use and durability make it ideal for agriculture, especially in difficult conditions. Lia Reich, PrecisionHawk’s VP of Marketing and Communications, says the platform is perfect for precision ag – and has stood the test of time. “PrecisionHawk’s first platform, the Lancaster, has been consistently updated as we learn and better understand the needs of our customers. Currently on its fifth iteration, the Lancaster fits the agriculture market’s need of capturing consistent data across large areas, but we have also seen significant growth for research applications,” says Reich. “The platform is well suited for enterprise seed and chemical companies and university researchers who need to fly various types sensors for advanced remote sensing applications. Engineers at PrecisionHawk have been able to differentiate the Lancaster from the other platforms the company sells, including the DJI M100 and M600 Pro, by integrating sensors like thermal and LiDAR while also improving durability and overall flight performance. In the end, the goal is to ensure accurate data collection on every flight. To do so, we continue to make the platform more autonomous and user-friendly to ensure the seamless integration of drone technology into our client’s existing workflows.”
senseFly’s eBee drone is another industry name found on our original list. Referred to then as the “eBee Ag Drone” it’s now the eBee SQ, a lightweight fixed-wing with Parrot’s fully integrated Sequoia camera. eMotion Ag flight planning software is designed to help integrate the drone into existing workflows. And the flight range – which senseFly says results in fewer flights – makes it an effective tool for large scale farms. The company has been diligent in keeping the platform evolving. “The eBee SQ allows agricultural professionals to collect highly precise data on the health of their crops, efficiently and cost-effectively,” says Jean-Christophe Zufferey, senseFly’s CEO. “It represents a platform-proven upgrade for those who may have been trialing drone technology—for example by flying quadcopters over their crops—including those who already own a Parrot Sequoia. By upgrading to the eBee SQ, these operators gain a professional-grade, easy-to-use system that can cover many more acres in a single flight.”
In August 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration loosened its restrictions on the use of drones. Drone pilots no longer need an FAA pilot's license -- just a remote pilot certificate that costs about $150 -- and drones are now approved for commercial use. That has opened them up to a host of industries, but they're especially appealing to real estate pros.
Brian Balduf, CEO and co-founder of real estate photography company VHT Studios, said his company started offering drone photo and video packages to clients last year in addition to its other photo services.
"In marketing real estate, you're trying to get people's attention and get them to spend more time looking at the property," Balduf said. "Drone photography and video is definitely unique and offers a cool, interesting perspective."
His company uses professional drones that are sturdier than some hobbyist models, he said.
"You need them to be able to carry good camera equipment and also operate in all conditions, whether it's windy or there are power lines or other obstacles," he said.
That means drone photography might not be the best strategy for home sellers going it alone. It takes a lot of skill to maneuver a $2,000, 4.4-pound machine with four spinning propeller blades, Balduf said, and in the end hiring a pro is safer and more cost-effective.
The National Association of Realtors has set up a resource page to help Realtors and other interested parties navigate the government's drone regulations as they incorporate drones into their listing strategies. "The NAR is well aware of this trend, and we will be working with regulators to make sure that people are responsibly licensed to use drone technology. We will also be encouraging our members to use it," said Bill Brown, president of the NAR.
Drones are "streamlining the buying and selling process by providing more visual information at a reasonable cost. Any opportunity you have to further educate the buyer to the property they're purchasing is a win-win for everybody," Brown said.
While this technology provides an interesting new perspective for real estate listings, it does come with a few issues, such as privacy concerns from neighbors and the possibility of the drone crashing and harming people or property. continue reading
His films have been shown in 70 festivals from around the world. Joris Favraud has won 13 awards, including “Best film in the architecture Festival” from NYCDFF for his recent drone video with his friend Guillaume Juin. In the following interview with NY Elite Joris Favraud talks about his latest projects.
NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?
Joris Favraud: I am currently working on music and travel. I’m working on Music Videos, commercial for brands, and sometimes on short movie. I started to work on drone videos one year ago when I started “BigFly” with my partner Guillaume Juin. I’m currently working on 5 music videos, and 4 personal video. One of the videos is for the New York city drone film festival, a travel video in Barcelona and Bahamas, and maybe another one about my next trip in iceland. I have projects waiting.
NY Elite: What is different about being in the director’s chair with this project?
Joris Favraud: For music video it’s really nice to add my vision to their music, and for my travel video I like to develop my own project. I feel really free with that.
NY Elite: Who do you feature in your projects?
Joris Favraud: It can be an actor, or the nature. The location is really important, the natural light too. I love playing with the sun light and with fog. For me the light, the frame, the location are important just like the actors are.
NY Elite: What makes a film great for you?
Joris Favraud: The idea, the atmosphere, the work on the frame, the music, good actors are the qualities for making a better film. You don’t need the most expensive camera. We are more creative with less gear all the time. Continue to full article - NY Elite Magazine
4 Ways to Improve the Accuracy of Your Drone Models with 3D Mapping Software
Tips and Tricks for Making the Most of 3D Mapping Software
3D mapping software has the potential to revolutionize workflows across a host of industries. Many professionals already use 3D modeling software to create accurate, drone-generated models. But as with any technology, creating an accurate model with 3D mapping software takes some practice. The good news is that by making a few adjustments to your process, you can greatly improve the accuracy of your models.
Below, we discuss the following tips for improving the accuracy of your drone-generated 3D models with 3D mapping software from DroneDeploy:
1. Collect high-quality nadir images
2. Capture oblique imagery
3. Plan tiered flights at varying heights
4. Capture additional oblique photos from multiple angles
1. Collect High-Quality Nadir Images
To improve the accuracy of your drone-generated models, it’s important to first understand how 3D mapping software works. After you fly your area of interest and upload your aerial imagery to DroneDeploy, our 3D software matches the common points between those images to create a model. The more common points that can be matched, the higher the accuracy of the model.
The first step to making your model is collecting a high-quality set of nadir images — images taken from an overhead view with your drone’s camera pointing straight down at the ground — just as you would when generating any orthomosaic map. The higher the resolution and quality of these images, the more data points the 3D mapping software has to work with, and the greater the probability of matching common points on the model.
In an earlier post, we outlined seven ways to improve the accuracy of your orthomosaic drone maps. These tips are equally important when capturing nadir imagery for 3D models. They include:
Increase Image Overlap- Increasing both sidelap and frontlap to at least 80% creates more matched points and greater accuracy, even at lower altitudes. Remember that overlap is reduced over tall buildings and trees.
Fly at a lower altitude- This both captures more detail and increases the number of images, which in turn creates more possibilities for the 3D mapping software to match common points.
Use a camera with a mechanical shutter- Upgrading to a mechanical shutter camera (e.g. DJI Phantom 4 Pro) reduces the rolling shutter effect, which can warp images and make it difficult for 3D mapping software to match points.
Consider the weather and time of day- To minimize shadows, ideal flying conditions are midday or overcast weather.
2. Capture Oblique Imagery
In addition to nadir imagery, it is important to also capture oblique imagery — or a side-view perspective — for any vertical structure you are modeling. Here, it might be helpful to think of your drone as a spray can, and the images as paint. To make an accurate model, you want to take enough pictures to coat the entire structure with one coat of paint. This means taking pictures of the entire surface area of the structure.
3D modeling, rendering and animation expert Jeff Foster, co-founder of Sound Visions Media and editorial director of Drone Coalition, recommends flying two additional orbital flights around a structure to capture oblique imagery and improve the accuracy of your model.
To improve the accuracy of 3D models, fly at least two orbital flights around a structure, recommends Drone Coalition’s Jeff Foster.
3. Plan Tiered Flights at Varying Heights
DroneDeploy’s manual orbital flight mode captures one set of oblique images taken at the same altitude as the original mission. Depending on the structure being modeled, some drone operators choose to capture additional sets of oblique photos as well. It is always possible to capture oblique images manually and include these in your DroneDeploy upload. Because all drone-generated images are geotagged, you can take them in any order and DroneDeploy’s 3D mapping software will recognize them and arrange them into your model accordingly.
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