Drone News

Surveying sites in preparation for excavation and construction long was based on the best information presented by engineers present. But many times that information proved to be outdated, even when it came from geo mapping from satellites.

When something wasn’t correct on the job site — such as discovering more dirt needed to be moved than expected — they had to cope the best they could.

“You were kind of stuck with whatever data you’re given, whether it’s a plane flight from 1994 that gives us a rough layout of the ground, or maybe a rough survey,” said Gibson Kuenzi, project manager for Siegmund Excavation & Construction of Stayton.

“You could take that information and put it on the computer, but the drone technology allows you to get a lot more precise,” he said.

Drone uses on construction sites rose by 239 percent from 2017 to 2018, according to DroneDeploy.com.

And it allows the customers know exactly what is on the site and what will be required for construction with visuals.

“We might have a mind’s eye picture of what we’re going to produce for the customer because we do it every day, but a lot of folks maybe don’t quite grasp that so by having this capability,” said Andrew Siegmund, president of Siegmund Excavation.

“We can kind of show them in advance what it’s going to look like and what they can expect and then kind of take the surprises out of it.”

Starting small with drone technology

In recent years, drones have become widely used in security monitoring, search and rescue, building inspection, agricultural surveying and insurance inspections.

Using drones in construction and excavation is still a relatively new use of the technology.

Siegmund Excavation of Stayton is using drones for three-dimensional modeling of surveyed sites and calculating material volumes.

Siegmund Excavation of Stayton is using drones for three-dimensional modeling of surveyed sites and calculating material volumes. (Photo: Special to the Statesman Journal)

When Siegmund bought its first drone a couple years ago, it was specifically to figure out how much crushed rock was in a pile at a quarry.

It couldn’t be foreseen how the company would progress to use it to map out progress of building roads for logging in remote timber stands.

“There’s still a lot of new developments coming out with it,” Kuenzi said. “It’s an exciting time for that. Especially in the industry we’re working in, we’re one of the only contractors that uses drones.”

Siegmund builds between six and eight bridges each year, and the drones make the work safer by removing workers from the most dangerous areas.

Siegmund Excavation uses a Trimble Robotic Total Station for verifying elevations during a bridge instillation.

Siegmund Excavation uses a Trimble Robotic Total Station for verifying elevations during a bridge instillation. (Photo: Special to the Statesman Journal)

Compared with the old ways of surveying land destined for construction, the same surveying work can be done in a fraction of the time and man hours.

Kuenzi said a flight to survey a pile of crushed rock takes about 15 minutes, where it could take multiple people multiple days to accomplish that using previous methods.

“The old method was we pulled out tape measures and we cross measured and you did it,” Siegmund said. “That’s the way they did it 100 years ago, but this certainly makes it a lot easier.

“And quite honestly, we’re able to do it with less folks, and it’s not because we want to do it with less folks, it’s because there’s less people available in the work force.”

Siegmund said the technology likely isn’t practical to be used in surveying someone’s backyard.

But they recently used a drone to survey a five-acre plot of land outside of Salem to find the best place for the customer to build a shop on his land.

“We can come in, take some data points with the total station, fly it with the drone and we can build you a 3D model and show you what that site’s going to look like once we excavate it and level it and where your shop can sit and how many yards of dirt have to be move,” Siegmund said.

Drones getting more affordable

In remote locations like timber stands, Siegmund engineer in training/project manager Jordan Vesper can accurately map the terrain, determine the height of the trees and learn what parts of the soil are best.

New uses for drones in businesses like construction have become accessible to companies of all sizes.

As drone technology has improved and they have become more affordable, more industries have found ways to do business more efficiently.

In the United States, $1.3 trillion was spent on construction in 2018, according to the United States Census Bureau. According to Forbes, $160 billion a year is wasted by factors including inefficiency.

“It’s made a real positive impact,” Siegmund said. “We can better allocate our machine time, our employee time. We know, in the plans, there’s X number of yards of dirt to move.

“We know that it’s actually going to take more time so we can account for that and staff up our crews and our equipment where historically we may not have been able to and that’s where you would get project overruns both in cost and then time.”


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Drones are increasingly being used for commercial purposes in a variety of industries. Their value to real estate agents and home inspection companies in particular continues to grow.

Surprise and Phoenix AZ real estate agents use drones for high-angle photography and virtual tours, which enhance the experience of buying a home.

When utilized for home inspection services, drones considerably enhance efficiency for the inspectors with the ease and effectiveness of gathering photography and video footage to document their findings.

A More Personal View

In addition to getting a bird’s eye view, buyers can develop a personal feel for what a property truly comprises. By watching video from the trajectory that a drone might take, a viewer could see what it might feel like to enter a driveway or stroll along a property.

Affordable Aerial Photos

In the past, only those who were shopping for luxury property might see aerial shots taken from a hired helicopter. Drones alter that paradigm, offering the same kind of images for much more affordable prices.

Efficient Neighborhood Tours

In addition to having their buyers drive through a neighborhood, real estate agents could first offer images captured by drones. Viewers could observe shots of neighboring homes, adjoining streets, and even an entire town to better capture conveniences like nearby grocery stores, public transportation as well as to potentially expose unwanted nearby features.

Safer InspectionsFor home inspections, the benefits are clear. One of the top advantages is safer roof inspections using drones. Drones can hover and zoom in on areas of concern where a human roof inspector might not be able to comfortably or safely stand to take a closer look, for instance.

Better Inspection Data

The information culled from drone images may offer more in-depth data than ever before. Inspections via drone can give home inspectors more detailed information, as well as closer inspections of places that are typically difficult or dangerous to access.

Speedier Inspection Times

Drones allow inspections to be implemented more quickly than conventional methods and they take a fraction of the time needed previously.

Drone technology is an exciting tool for both real estate agents and home inspections. As the technology continues to improve, the benefits to such industries will grow.

Future Possibilities

While they may not yet be a reality, remote viewings could be the wave of the future for home buyers, too. They would enable potential buyers to gain a unique perspective they could otherwise not access. Not only would drone viewings enable home buyers to see the property from anywhere, they could also provide a unique and more detailed perspective using multiple angles than they could see in person on foot .

Premier UAV Aerial has a high powered 175mm lens to take photos far from your roof but it will make it look like you are within inches of the subject you would like to see.   Call Premier UAV Aerial to get a demo of what a drone can do for you today.


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Extra tight deadlines, harsh weather conditions and the biggest Uranium mine in Africa in sight – these were the project conditions that met Strydom & Associates in the Namib Desert. Luckily, with the help of a WingtraOne UAV, surveyors were able to successfully perform a mine surveying task and conduct the needed volumetric measurement over a 15 sq. km. open pit mine in a single day.

For a country that barely occupies 0.16% of Earth’s surface, Namibia produces a significant share of world’s Uranium – 10%. Not only does this make Namibia the 4th largest Uranium producer in the world (World Uranium Mining, 2016), Uranium mining itself contributes to more than 10% of Namibia’s GDP. In the coming years, these percentages are only to go higher with the Husab mine reaching its full production capacity. The mine, located 50 km south-east of Swakopmund, has the potential to produce 15 million pounds (6800 tonnes) of Uranium oxide per annum and contains approximately 280 million tonnes of uranium ore. This makes it Africa’s largest, and the World’s second largest open pit Uranium mine.

As the year 2017 drew to a close, the task of the stockpile and main mine surveying  fell on Strydom & Associates’ shoulders. The company had to determine and submit volumetric measurements for the year end audit at a high pressure deadline – 3rd of January.

Strydom & Associates is no stranger to challenging tasks – with a multidisciplinary approach, they have completed diverse projects ranging from a topographical survey of 0.5 Ha to an aerial survey of 10 000 Ha, with their clients spread all over the Southern Africa. However, to keep the tight deadline for the Husab mine project, Strydom & Associates needed to map a large area in a very short time, while maintaining high accuracy.

Satisfying the constraints

Beyond the project constraints, there were environmental challenges to account for as well. The Namib desert isn’t a very friendly place to be. Indeed, its hostile climate makes Namibia that second least densely populated country in the world. The temperature and precipitation fluctuates widely and harsh desert wind — also called East Wind — can reach a speed of up to 30 m/s.

Given the magnitude of the project, the tight deadline and the adverse environmental conditions, the surveyors ruled out ground based surveying methods as these can be very time consuming. They also rejected the idea of using manned aircrafts because of accuracy limitations, much higher costs and the very same timing constraint. Aerial mine surveying was their best option — with a UAV, they could collect all the required data in a matter of few hours at a fraction of the cost.

However, not every professional mapping UAV can deliver high accuracy results while covering large areas. In the choice between fixed-wings and the multirotors, the latter one gets automatically ruled out as multirotors cannot cover vast areas. On the other hand, fixed wings cannot deliver ultra-high accuracy results and have significant struggles landing on the complicated terrain – they perform belly landings, which means that they basically slide on the ground causing real threat to the onboard cameras.

The surveyors thus turned to use the VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) WingtraOne UAV. The UAV takes-off and lands vertically like a multirotor and transitions into flying like a fixed-wing aircraft. VTOL combines best of both worlds: as a fixed wing, WingtraOne can deliver large coverage, and as a multirotor, it can take off and land anywhere without damaging its powerful cameras.

To obtain high accuracy results with aerial mine surveying, the presence of ground control points and the use of a high camera resolution camera is also extremely important. The ground control points already existed in the area and so didn’t need any additional time. Thus, the surveyors used the WingtraOne UAV equipped with a powerful camera – the full frame Sony RX1RII, which offers ultra high resolution of 42MP.

Measuring 15 sq. km. in 2.5 hour flight time

On 31st December, equipped with a WingtraOne UAV, the Strydom & Associates team set out to map the area of 1500 Ha or 15 km2. Flight planning was done with WingtraOne’s custom flight planning software, the WingtraPilot. The surveyors had already outlined the area they wanted to map on WingtaPilot’s base layer map, and it had generated the required flight plans. 4 flights were planned in total, each one set to a GSD of 5 cm/px resulting in a flight altitude of 390 m.

It was a windy day on the field with the wind on ground being 7 m/s. WingtraPilot ran a host of automated safety checks before the flight, to make sure that operations will be undertaken safely. This and additional mission planning features on the app also let the surveyors from Strydom & Associates to make minor adjustments to the flight plans and allow a completely hands-off safe operation.

For each flight, the drone took-off from the ground automatically, flew along the generated flight path capturing images and then landed safely on its 4 m2 landing spot. In 2.5 hours of flight time, the surveyors collected aerial imagery consisting of 1500 RGB images of the entire 15 km2 area. The images were georeferenced by the onboard GPS data from the WingtraOne.

The georeferenced images were later post-processed by the Agisoft Photoscan and Pix4D softwares. The evenly distributed ground control points in the area helped to optimize camera positions and orientation data. Then, combining this information with a comparison of many different overlapping images, highly accurate 3D models were built.

Herman Strydom described the aerial images: “In the Digital Elevation Model (DEM), clearly visible are one of the main pits, and some stockpiles. If you look just above the deepest area of the (shaded blue) you will notice the little dimples caused by the blast holes drilled – indication of the high degree of detail.”

Meeting the demands of a challenging task

“Ease of flight planning means that small last minute changes to the flight plans designed in the office could be easily made to meet the conditions experienced on the site. The main advantage with the WingtraOne was the high quality images from the camera. Sony RX1RII camera with 35 mm lens makes it possible to cover the area efficiently at a high altitude of 390 m,” adds Hermann Strydom.

According to him, being armed with a powerful camera mounted on a UAV that’s efficient in flight meant that Strydom & Associates land surveyors could keep to their high pressure deadline. Low set up time, hands-off operation and flexible planning allowed the team to complete their task of data collection on the field efficiently. The level of detail afforded by the full frame camera meant that further analysis in the office could also be completed quickly and with high accuracy.

Mission (im)possible

The mission that might have seemed impossible from the beginning, went without a hitch. Strydom & Associates could keep their deadline and compile a set of very valuable data over one of the harshest environments there is. The WingtraOne VTOL UAV appeared to be the reliable choice that helped the surveyors’ team to conduct an end of the year audit survey of the Husab mine over the leap from 2017 to 2018.


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Professor of Mechanical Engineering Kenji Shimada and his team of researchers are using drone technology to help detect and restore damaged water canals in Japan that are critical for the agricultural economy.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, are being increasingly used for commercial, scientific, agricultural, and infrastructural uses. With this technology, scientists and engineers are now better-equipped to solve problems and alleviate issues in these fields.

Kenji Shimada, professor of mechanical engineering, and his team of engineers are using autonomous technology to detect damage to agricultural water canals in a town in Niigata, an agricultural district on the northwest coast of Japan. These canals are essential for the rice farming economy in the region and total approximately 40,000 kilometers throughout Japan.

We believe that this type of technology is critical to keeping the aging infrastructures healthy and safe—it enables faster, cheaper, and more regular inspection and monitoring.

Kenji Shimada, professor of mechanical engineering, Carnegie Mellon University

Damage to the canals accumulates annually due to age, earthquakes, and extreme weather. They can only be analyzed and repaired during the two-month dry season each year. Of these two months, one and a half of them are currently devoted to laborious inspection by technicians who walk along the canals to manually identify, measure, and record damaged areas. This leaves only half a month for repairs.

“40,000 kilometers are equivalent to the equatorial circumference of Earth, and the manual labor for inspecting and evaluating the condition of water canals is enormous.  We automate the work by flying autonomous drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and detecting cracks and wear with machine-learning algorithms,” said Shimada.

Shimada and his team have developed a systematic framework with a fleet of drones and coordinating cars to assess the canals effectively and efficiently, extending the coverage area and minimizing inspection time. Di Deng, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, works on the coverage planning aspect of the project. Last year, she traveled to Japan to conduct field tests of the drone in different types of water canals.

“Over the summer, we flew our autonomous drone in Japan and tried different sizes of water canals, so the system can automatically decide the position of the drone inside the water canals,” said Deng. “We tried out the widths of the water canals that go from 5 meters to 2.4 meters. We could clearly see a lot of stone exposed, so these were the places we needed to repair.

drone flying over canal

Source: Di Deng

Using public maps and research data, the research team has formulated an algorithm to plan the drones’ path along the canals. They can fly along canals of different sizes in multiple directions to record complete video of the walls for crack detection. The type of commercial drone chosen for the project is limited to thirty minutes in the air and must stay within a range of a few kilometers from the remote controllers. This makes it impossible for the drones to cover all of the canal in one flight. To ameliorate these limitations, they are paired with cars parked within the maximum distance away that provide batteries and coordinate to pick the vehicles up when needed. Once they have recorded video of the entire canal, the data from the images is fed into a neural network to detect damaged areas and map them in CAD models. To plan the paths of the drones, a scaled map of a canal is converted to a graph. This graph is then divided into subgraphs, which represent the areas they will cover. The team also graphs the roads to generate a route for the car that is within communication distance of the drones. The cars are programmed to automatically find alternative routes if faced with traffic.

The team presented their research at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in October. In the future, they plan to tackle potential road blocks. In addition to the battery and time limitations, logical challenges to this project include potential vehicle collisions, aerial constraints (i.e.: flying zones, aerial traffic, and other regulations), and inaccurate maps and measurements. Another long-term goal is to develop large-scale automated vehicle planning.

“We believe that this type of technology is critical to keeping the aging infrastructures healthy and safe—it enables faster, cheaper, and more regular inspection and monitoring,” said Shimada.


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In 2019, you don't need a cell phone or fancy camera to take great photos. Instead, you can send a drone up in the air to capture them for you.

One website that embraces that change is Dronestagram, an online platform which allows users to upload their best aerial photography shots. Each year, the website celebrates its users' best photos with its International Drone Photography Contest. Among the thousands of entries received, only three photographers are chosen as winners.

Take a look at this year's prize-winning photos below.

In 3rd place, '2 People, 2 Dogs, & 4 Shadows' by Yevhen Samuchenko shows exactly what its title describes

2 people, 2 dogs & 4 shadows

The stunning image was taken above a beach.Yevhen Samuchenko/Q-lieb-n Photography

The award-winning image captures two people walking with dogs alongside a beach. While the photo would likely look great if taken on land, the overhead angle is what makes this image really stand out.

From above, viewers are able to see everything from the shadows of the four subjects to the change in landscape from ocean to sand.

In 2nd place, 'Fishing Net in Vietnam' by Trung Pham depicts a big attempt to make a catch

Fishing Net in Vietnam

The net appears to have been far larger than the boat it was dropped from.Trung Pham

Taken from the sky in Vietnam, photographer Trung Pham captured the moment when a fishing net was sunk deep into a large body of water. The bright colors of the net contrast strongly with the ocean, creating a stark image that likely wouldn't have been possible to achieve from the boat.

In first place, 'Hungry Hippos' by Zekedrone captures animals in a creative way

hippos drone photography

There appears to be more than 20 hippos in this single image.Martin Sanchez/Zekedrone

Coming in first place, this aerial shot of hippos taken by photographer Zekedrone is truly unique, and beautifully captures a group of wild animals in their natural habitat.

To learn more about the International Drone Photography Contest, visit Dronestagram's website: //www.dronestagr.am/winners-announced-2018/


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After a massive success last year, Marlborough's Summer Concert Series is taking fun to new heights.

Marlborough4Fun will be giving people the bird's eye view of popular spots around the region as part of its new "virtual helicopter tour" attraction.

Punters will be able to slap on a pair of goggles and get previously unseen, 360-degree views of Renwick, Picton and Pollard Park, in Blenheim, thanks to a drone camera.

Marlborough4Fun general manager Krista McGill said the technology, operated and owned by aerial imaging company GCH UAV, was "state of the art amazing".

Garden City Helicopters pilots, from left, Vinnie Hart and Colin Aitchison testing out their drone tech with Marlborough4Fun general manager Krista McGill.

Garden City Helicopters pilots, from left, Vinnie Hart and Colin Aitchison testing out their drone tech with Marlborough4Fun general manager Krista McGill.

"Participants can put on the latest technology goggles and ... the wearer on the ground will be able to control what view they get from above," McGill said. 

"For the one at Picton, people will be able to see from the Picton Marina and into the horizon. It's going to be awesome."

The virtual tour would be available for two hours at each event, between 4pm and 6pm at Renwick, 5pm and 7pm at Pollard Park, and 2pm and 4pm at Picton. Tours were available by donation, she said.

All proceedings would go to the Inspire Foundation, new to Marlborough, which offered grants to talented teenagers looking to further their skills within their chosen field of expertise.

The foundation was handpicked by the Summer Concert Series' naming sponsor, Harcourts, who were showcasing the virtual helicopter tour.

"The virtual helicopter tour is bound to inspire imaginations and minds, which is a nice link in with the Inspire Foundation, which also inspires people," she said. 

McGill declined to share how much it would cost Marlborough4Fun to rent out the equipment for the designated six hours, as she said the information was "commercially sensitive".

She said alongside new technology, each event would also include inflatable castles, food trucks and "cool live music".

Headliners included local cover bands Second Sunrise for Renwick, The Stilettos for Pollard Park and Cover Story for Picton.

Punters will be able to use the drone technology to get a new perspective of the Picton Foreshore.

Punters will be able to use the drone technology to get a new perspective of the Picton Foreshore.

"They're perfect for hanging in the sun with a bean bag and a picnic blanket, just hanging out in a beautiful, safe environment with the family," McGill said.

The Summer Concert Series would be held at the Renwick Domain on February 2 from 4pm to 7pm, at Pollard Park on February 10 from 5pm to 8pm, and at Picton Foreshore on February 24 from 2pm to 4pm.

Marlborough4Fun opted to switch one of its usual sites from Whites Bay, near Rarangi, to Renwick to prevent conflict with More FM's Beach Day at Whites Bay on February 16.Pollard Park, in Blenheim, will be buzzing when the Summer Concert Series hits town on February 10.


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The construction world is at a crossroads. Thanks to drone technology, companies can access more data than ever before. Drones are safer, faster and cheaper than old industry tools. Most engineering and general contracting firms, however, do not have the internal expertise to navigate Federal Aviation Administration regulations, obtain equipment, train pilots or analyze the data. Here's where Suzanne El-Moursi can help.

"We are an A-to-Z turnkey solution," says El-Moursi, 40, CEO of Uplift Data Partners and newly named general manager for construction and facilities management at PrecisionHawk, which acquired her startup in November. "We have authorizations prefiled across all the major airports and do-not-fly areas." Uplift's staff of 12 is composed of analysts, engineers and client success managers, supplemented by nearly 600 pilots across all 50 states.

Since its start, Uplift's numbers have, well, soared. El-Moursi says Uplift Data saved one client $300,000 by finding a misalignment in the piping and pouring of a building's foundation. The error was caught when the drone's aerial images were overlaid on the building's blueprints. Just a few years ago, this type of discovery from aerial data would have been possible only with helicopter flyovers, which are infrequent due to their $20,000-plus cost. A drone flyover provides closer, clearer pictures for $350.

Austin Rabine, CEO of Chicago-based Site Technologies, uses Uplift's pilot network for site assessments. "Before, we would have to send engineers out to the property. We'd have to fly people all over the country. Thirty sites would take months, whereas now 30 sites might take us a couple of weeks." In addition to saving time, he's reduced costs on most projects. "If it was us walking the site, we would get a few photos. On a large property we might get 20 to 30 pictures, and now we're getting anywhere from hundreds to thousands of pictures depending on the size."

With drone imaging, algorithms can be derived to calculate exactly how much gravel or dirt is delivered to a job site, eliminating ambiguities and overcharges from subcontractors. These advantages are propelling Uplift into the center of a transformative time in construction. "The sentiment of the industry is, 'I can't continue without it because the economics of what I'm doing are going to improve by adopting drones.' "

El-Moursi grew up in Cairo. She earned a bachelor's in operations management from Northern Illinois University, a master's in computer science from DePaul University and an MBA from the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.

Uplift is the fourth startup in which El-Moursi has held an executive role. Her team operates from the Loop headquarters of construction engineering company Clayco, Uplift's founding parent. She declines to disclose details of revenue, profitability or the terms of the acquisition by PrecisionHawk, which is based in Raleigh, N.C.


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The hills are alive but these days it’s not necessarily with the sound of music.

More often it’s the faint buzz of a drone shooting a mini Hollywood-style production to help sell a country property.

Drones are literally taking real estate photography to new heights.

Whether a country winery, horse stud or lifestyle property, drone photography can give an all-over picture of just what’s being sold, showcasing what normal photography can’t.

Suddenly those “breathtaking views” are being fully exploited, maybe with a sunset sequence from a drone creeping up and over a homestead to reveal the natural majesty beyond, all to the haunting sound of strings or panpipes.

Like a good movie, a well-executed drone video can convey emotion and romance. A lone quad biker zipping across green pastures shouts out the thrill of escape, or a flock of birds flying up from a pond, lagoon or even farm dam, conjures rural bliss.

Country real estate cliches such as “picturesque location” and “exceptional uninterrupted views” are made real. “River frontages” can be zoomed in on. “Close proximity to” beach, major town, national park or mountain range can be breathtakingly displayed in a seductive sweep.


Profitable pics

Scott Elks, managing director of Blue Sky Vision Media, says the use of drone photography, can be a game-changer, adding to a property’s selling price.

“It offers a completely different perspective. It’s about standing out, cutting through in a crowded market, providing a different perspective,” he says.

Matt Childs, of Pat Rice & Hawkins, and Nick Myer, of Elders, agree.

“Drones have revolutionised real estate, and brought a whole new dynamic,” Nick says.

Matt adds: “With rural properties you very often have a large amount of ground to cover, from river frontages to large paddocks of crops, and with a drone it just creates a magnificent aspect very different to what you would get from the ground.”

He says video tours in particular are invaluable when social media is being used.


What it costs

Drone shots, whether still or video, are generally built into the marketing package by real estate agents and undertaken by specialist companies. Prices vary greatly, from $200 to $1600 for a basic package of video and stills to $4500 or more for a 2 to 2½-minute narrated video.

“For less than $2500 we can get high-end production quality video plus all still images from drone and ground, internals and externals and floorplan,” Matt says.

If a drone pilot and a cameraman are used on a shoot, prices are usually higher.

For 360-degree panoramas, comprising individual shots “stitched” together in one continuous photo to be manipulated online by the viewer, Blue Sky Vision Media charges $1500 to $2000.

Scott warns people to do their homework before hiring a drone operator. “What’s happening is that you’ve got a lot of kids and unlicensed people flying drones and taking photos, especially in the real estate market because it’s such a price-sensitive area,” he says.

“Anyone can throw a drone in the air and take an aerial photograph but doing it and doing it well are two very different things. You get what you pay for.”

Under Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulations, the operator of a drone weighing more than 2kg needs to be licensed and/or certified to fly.

Professional operators must also carry public liability insurance.


Not for every property

While some agents differ, most agree drone photography, especially video, is not for every property.

If a property’s surroundings do not visually sparkle, or there’s less of a story to tell, conventional photography — maybe a static overhead showing boundaries — is generally good enough.


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A wastewater interceptor pipe transporting waste from five municipalities to a treatment plant was damaged by heavy surf during storms.

The location of the pipe’s damage along the coast in Barcelona, Spain meant the raw sewage in the pipe was spilling into the Mediterranean Sea at a rate of 500 m3/s.

Only part of the break was visible to engineers and, without further inspection, they were unable to tell whether there was additional damage on either side of the break.

The speed and height of the flow of the sewage meant that human inspection or ground-based CCTV inspection was not viable.

Without timely inspection data, a bypass would have to be built unnecessarily long with the risk of connecting to the existing infrastructure too soon and causing a second break downstream.

As part of the emergency response, global water and waste management specialist Suez contacted Flind, a spinoff of the Spanish branch of the Suez Innovation and Operations Offices specialising in waste and water infrastructure and piloting the Flyability Elios collision tolerant inspection drones.

The drone entered the nearest undamaged manhole, where the Flind team navigated the pipe to provide data for the engineers.

The crash resistant Elios drone enters the sewer through a manhole.

Engineers identified an additional area of the pipe had been damages as the sand retreated underneath and was not visible from the surface, allowing them to efficiently plan and put in place an appropriate bypass.

Additionally, inspection requires one drone pilot and one safety officer, increasing safety and reducing the need for additional inspectors, particularly in bigger and deeper pipeline assets.

“Typically, the drone inspection is twice as efficient as human inspectors – and 40 per cent less expensive per meter of inspection,” said Flind Director of Client Services Péter Kövessi.

“Most of the sewer networks run 2, 3 or 4 m deep – but some larger pipes run much deeper, up to 55 m.

“In those conditions, the use of the Elios is 8–10 times more efficient and cost-effective than people. The deeper the pipe, the more efficient drone use is.”


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HARRISBURG, Pa -- Drones are now helping farmers in multiple ways and saving money in the process.

"We want to be able to help the farmers because in this day in age they need it," said Chris Ryan, Drone Pilot.

The work of a farmer is never done. Maintaining acres upon acres is a lot of work. But with a large drone like this farming could get easier for farmers like Ryan Decker.

"You're not damaging the field, you're not trampling down anything," said Ryan Decker, Local Farmer.

Reducing crop damage from an average of 15% to 0%.

"There's a lot of benefits to doing it by drone," said Decker.

One of the many savings. This drone follows the terrain staying clear of the crops. This tool can spray pesticides while using less than if the farmer were to manually spray with larger equipment.

"This thing could cover 33 acres in an hour," said Ryan.

Saving time and money for Decker on many levels. For example, it would save the grower approximately 12 dollars per acre spraying via drone.

If I don't have to use the fuel, ware and tare on the equipment," said Ryan.

Another benefit to the drone is capturing images the farmer would normally not eye like this.

"Tells the farmers how many crops what's producing and what's not producing instead of them going in the field," said Ryan.

"They've got better consistency, they are not overlapping, they are not missing things, they can control it better than I can," said Decker.

Less stressful for Decker along with adding a bigger profit margin. On average using a drone could save farmers anywhere from 35 to 55 percent in labour costs.


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