Drone News

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.


Read full article

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.


Read full article

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.)


Read full article

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.


Read full article

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.


Read full article

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.


Read full article

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.


Read full article

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.


Read full article

According to an August study by Esticast Research & Consulting Market Research, the global commercial drone market may reach $3.6 billion by 2024. However, a new study forecasts an even larger bumper crop for just one of the many sub-sectors — agriculture.

The study, released this week by MarketInsightsReports, predicts the ag drone market will exceed the entire drone market value referenced in the Esticast report and do so two years earlier.

The report foresees a $4.2 billion value for the agricultural drone market by 2022 — representing a growth rate of 30 percent and beating Esticast’s overall prediction for the whole drone market by $600 million.

Although the marketing report is rather coy with the details – only offering a few tidbits in order to sell a $4,000 full report – it nevertheless touches on some of the key drone players in the growing ag sector such as PrecisionHawk, AeroVironment, Agribotix, AgEagle and DroneDeploy.

For these major players, the precision agriculture sector has already yielded a bountiful harvest of revenue. For example, DroneDeploy, a commercial drone cloud software platform, released Fieldscanner in April. The solution provides real-time drone mapping for farmers, “enabling real-time, offline mapping for immediate in-field analysis.”

The most recent report appears to jibe with earlier research. In January, Zion Research released a similar report covering areas such as fixed and rotary drones as well as data management, imaging software and data analysis. Zion’s report pegs the precision agriculture drone market at $2.9 billion by 2021 – up 28 percent from a 2015 valuation of $673 million

“Drones help farmers take better care of their crops and have a higher yield from the farm,” the report states. “Increasing automation in the agriculture process — owing to the labor crisis such as a lack of skilled farmers and aging farmers — is also expected to have a positive impact on the agriculture drone market growth.”


Read full article

Air pollutants known as particulate matter are a complex mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets with some particles—such as dust, dirt, soot or smoke—large enough or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Other particulates are so small they can only be detected using an electron microscope. Now researchers are expanding their ability to study even the smallest particulates using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to carry such instruments into the sky and analyze what is in the air we breathe.

Once inhaled, particulate matter can damage the lungs and heart and cause serious health effects, “even cancer,” said Aydogan Ozcan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Ozcan’s lab has long worked on imaging techniques for environmental applications. Their research yielded novel lens-less microscopes, where samples are directly placed over imaging chips with no optical components between them for compact, high-throughput and cost-effective imaging, Ozcan said.

Current monitoring techniques for aerosols of this particulate matter “are either bulky or low-throughput,” Ozcan said. For instance, air sampling stations typically use beta-attenuation monitoring or tapered element oscillating microbalance instruments that usually weigh roughly 30 kilograms, cost about $50,000 to $100,000, and require specialized personnel or technicians for regular system maintenance every few weeks. Although commercially available, portable particle counters only cost roughly $2,000 to $8,000, they sample the air at rates of less than 2 to 3 liters per minute, and accurate measurements of either very-high or very-low concentrations of particles is challenging for these devices. Moreover, neither of these options provides microscopic images of captured particulate matter for detailed analysis, Ozcan added.

“We thought this very light-weight and versatile microscope platform would be a good fit as a payload for a drone to perform three-dimensional air quality monitoring—to see the particles in air that people do not normally see with their bare eyes,” Ozcan said.

Airborne Microscopes

In the beginning, Ozcan said, he and his lab had no experience with drones.

“A major effort of ours for this application with drones was to reduce the weight of the device so we can fit it into a smaller, more portable and cheaper drone,” he told Inside Unmanned Systems.

Their efforts have resulted in a mobile imaging system they call c-Air. “So far the c-Air device weighs about 600 grams,” Ozcan said.

The device can screen 13 liters of air per minute and generates microscopic images of scanned particulate matter, providing statistics of particle size and density distribution with a sizing accuracy of roughly 93 percent. They also integrated the device with a smartphone application to control c-Air and display results.

The device relies on cloud computing to remotely, rapidly and accurately analyze acquired images of particulate matter. Artificial-intelligence machine-learning algorithms can be used, said Ozcan and his colleagues, to adaptively tailor c-Air to identify specific particles in the air, such as various types of pollen and mold. It won the Vodafone Wireless Innovation Project prize in 2016.

The device uses a pump to drive air into a nozzle, inside which particulate matter can latch onto a sticky coverslip. Red, green and blue LEDs then illuminate this coverslip so a color CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensor—the same kind used in most digital cameras—can take pictures of the particles from a distance of just 400 microns, a span about four times the average width of a human hair.


Read full article