Drone News

Forestry and construction companies in the U.K. are required to ensure their work doesn’t endanger protected species, including the nesting sites of protected bird species. In the case of the European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), however, the bird’s highly effective camouflage makes it difficult to detect inside a patch of vegetation.

So researchers from Cardiff University in Wales have turned to thermal-sensing cameras to locate nightjar nests as part of a recent pilot study.



A European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) showing its impressive camouflage, which enables it to evade predators by sitting still. Its large eyes and long whiskers help it detect insect prey in low-light conditions. Image by Dûrzan cîrano via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0).

“Nightjars are camouflaged to look just like a fallen log or dead wood,” lead author Mike Shewring, a Cardiff University Ph.D. student, said in a statement. “They nest on the ground and ‘sit tight’ when approached to avoid detection, which makes it nearly impossible to spot them during the day when they are inactive.”


Nightjars, as their name implies, are nocturnal, and the birds remain still if a person walks by, using their camouflage to avoid detection. Ecologists surveying planned logging or construction sites can easily miss seeing birds hiding within the vegetation. Moreover, walking among fallen trees while conducting ground nest surveys is costly, time-consuming, and potentially hazardous.


Shewring and colleagues recently tested the suitability of thermal cameras mounted on drones to detect nightjar nest sites as an alternative survey method. A drone-mounted camera can survey an area faster than a team of ground observers, potentially without disturbing the birds or their nests. Thermal-sensing cameras can find birds and other warm-bodied animals hidden within vegetation, even in the dark.



A thermal image of a logged forest taken from a drone-mounted thermal-sensing camera. A warm-blooded nightjar in the center shows up as a small red dot and the nest as yellow against the colder vegetation. Downed trees are even colder and appear as darker blue in the image. Image by Skeye Ltd and Natural Resources Wales.

Shewring presented the preliminary findings of their pilot tests last month at the British Ecological Society’s annual conference.


The scientists took a series of thermal images by flying the drones over a tree plantation in Wales in areas where nightjar nests had been previously identified by radio tracking and direct observation.


They took the images at 10, 20, and 50 meters (33, 66, and 164 feet) above the ground at dawn, noon and dusk during the nightjar breeding season (between May and August).


The researchers were able to detect nightjars in their nests in the thermal images. Nightjars’ body temperatures run around 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), which show up in the thermal images against the colder background of vegetation or soil. Not surprisingly, the birds’ outlines were more easily seen in images taken at cooler times of the day, when the temperature contrast was greatest.


The scientists found that images taken at 10 meters above the ground produced more useful images than those taken from higher up. Surveying with aerial images from known altitudes also allowed them to estimate the body size of the birds below to confirm the species, without getting too close.



Nightjar chicks awaiting their parents’ return. Nightjars build open nests on the ground that are as difficult to spot as the birds. Image by Mike Shewring/Cardiff University.

To prevent workers from destroying nests, forest managers currently avoid areas around known nests or avoid forestry work altogether during the breeding season. The new findings suggest that drones could make the task of surveying nightjars faster, easier, more accurate and more cost-effective.


Shewring told Mongabay that surveying with drone-mounted thermal cameras could similarly be a cost-effective way to survey other ground-nesting bird species. He added that the method would work best in grasslands and other open-country habitats, rather than forests.


“We were conducting surveys in grassland up to one meter [3.3 feet] in height, and it worked well in this scenario,” Shewring said. “I would think the denser the vegetation and the more water it holds, the more this would mask the thermal signature, i.e. looking [for] nests at ground level through dense woodland canopy would unlikely be successful.”


“Our preliminary findings demonstrate the potential of drones for surveying nightjars during their breeding season, allowing forestry managers to locate nests more accurately and plan their works adequately,” project supervisor Robert Thomas said in the statement. “This methodology could also have wider applications, since it could technically be adapted to detect any warm-blooded species.”


The nightjars stayed put in their nests during the drone flights, a characteristic behavior these cryptic birds employ to avoid being detected by predators.


A group of nightjars looking like logs on the woodland floor. Image by Mike Shewring/Cardiff University.

“We don’t know whether the nightjars perceived the drones as a predator,” Shewring said. “This would be interesting to explore in future studies to ensure that the sight and sound of drones don’t have any negative impacts on the birds’ stress levels or metabolism.”


In the meantime, Shewring said, the group will be further developing their software and analyses this year, to characterize in better detail the thermal signature of nightjar nests through additional drone flights and testing of automated analysis approaches. He added that they hope the forest managers, who funded the pilot study, will be able to begin using drones with thermal cameras in 2020 to inform how and when they program their activities.



13/01/2019

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Forestry and construction companies in the U.K. are required to ensure their work doesn’t endanger protected species, including the nesting sites of protected bird species. In the case of the European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), however, the bird’s highly effective camouflage makes it difficult to detect inside a patch of vegetation.

So researchers from Cardiff University in Wales have turned to thermal-sensing cameras to locate nightjar nests as part of a recent pilot study.



A European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) showing its impressive camouflage, which enables it to evade predators by sitting still. Its large eyes and long whiskers help it detect insect prey in low-light conditions. Image by Dûrzan cîrano via Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0).

“Nightjars are camouflaged to look just like a fallen log or dead wood,” lead author Mike Shewring, a Cardiff University Ph.D. student, said in a statement. “They nest on the ground and ‘sit tight’ when approached to avoid detection, which makes it nearly impossible to spot them during the day when they are inactive.”


Nightjars, as their name implies, are nocturnal, and the birds remain still if a person walks by, using their camouflage to avoid detection. Ecologists surveying planned logging or construction sites can easily miss seeing birds hiding within the vegetation. Moreover, walking among fallen trees while conducting ground nest surveys is costly, time-consuming, and potentially hazardous.


Shewring and colleagues recently tested the suitability of thermal cameras mounted on drones to detect nightjar nest sites as an alternative survey method. A drone-mounted camera can survey an area faster than a team of ground observers, potentially without disturbing the birds or their nests. Thermal-sensing cameras can find birds and other warm-bodied animals hidden within vegetation, even in the dark.



A thermal image of a logged forest taken from a drone-mounted thermal-sensing camera. A warm-blooded nightjar in the center shows up as a small red dot and the nest as yellow against the colder vegetation. Downed trees are even colder and appear as darker blue in the image. Image by Skeye Ltd and Natural Resources Wales.

Shewring presented the preliminary findings of their pilot tests last month at the British Ecological Society’s annual conference.


The scientists took a series of thermal images by flying the drones over a tree plantation in Wales in areas where nightjar nests had been previously identified by radio tracking and direct observation.


They took the images at 10, 20, and 50 meters (33, 66, and 164 feet) above the ground at dawn, noon and dusk during the nightjar breeding season (between May and August).


The researchers were able to detect nightjars in their nests in the thermal images. Nightjars’ body temperatures run around 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), which show up in the thermal images against the colder background of vegetation or soil. Not surprisingly, the birds’ outlines were more easily seen in images taken at cooler times of the day, when the temperature contrast was greatest.


The scientists found that images taken at 10 meters above the ground produced more useful images than those taken from higher up. Surveying with aerial images from known altitudes also allowed them to estimate the body size of the birds below to confirm the species, without getting too close.



Nightjar chicks awaiting their parents’ return. Nightjars build open nests on the ground that are as difficult to spot as the birds. Image by Mike Shewring/Cardiff University.

To prevent workers from destroying nests, forest managers currently avoid areas around known nests or avoid forestry work altogether during the breeding season. The new findings suggest that drones could make the task of surveying nightjars faster, easier, more accurate and more cost-effective.


Shewring told Mongabay that surveying with drone-mounted thermal cameras could similarly be a cost-effective way to survey other ground-nesting bird species. He added that the method would work best in grasslands and other open-country habitats, rather than forests.


“We were conducting surveys in grassland up to one meter [3.3 feet] in height, and it worked well in this scenario,” Shewring said. “I would think the denser the vegetation and the more water it holds, the more this would mask the thermal signature, i.e. looking [for] nests at ground level through dense woodland canopy would unlikely be successful.”


“Our preliminary findings demonstrate the potential of drones for surveying nightjars during their breeding season, allowing forestry managers to locate nests more accurately and plan their works adequately,” project supervisor Robert Thomas said in the statement. “This methodology could also have wider applications, since it could technically be adapted to detect any warm-blooded species.”


The nightjars stayed put in their nests during the drone flights, a characteristic behavior these cryptic birds employ to avoid being detected by predators.


A group of nightjars looking like logs on the woodland floor. Image by Mike Shewring/Cardiff University.

“We don’t know whether the nightjars perceived the drones as a predator,” Shewring said. “This would be interesting to explore in future studies to ensure that the sight and sound of drones don’t have any negative impacts on the birds’ stress levels or metabolism.”


In the meantime, Shewring said, the group will be further developing their software and analyses this year, to characterize in better detail the thermal signature of nightjar nests through additional drone flights and testing of automated analysis approaches. He added that they hope the forest managers, who funded the pilot study, will be able to begin using drones with thermal cameras in 2020 to inform how and when they program their activities.



13/01/2019

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Shares of an Australian drone ‘detection and counter-measure’ company jumped 28 per cent on Friday after drone sightings closed London’s Gatwick airport for three days last week.


Peter James, chairman of ASX-listed DroneShield told Your Money Live that the company’s technology could have resolved the issue more effectively than Britain’s armed forces.


“We saw reports of police going in trying to do something, it’s all a bit sad. The military defense force is also going out, but with traditional mechanisms, they can’t do anything” he said.


Drones were sighted around the Gatwick airfield dozens of times during the three-day period, forcing the government to bring in military specialists as hundreds of thousands of passengers were left stranded.


With police still hunting for the perpetrators, the unfolding drama highlights the difficulty facing governments as drones and other flying devices become more mainstream.


“It’s Christmas, it’s a busy time of year and if anyone is going to cause unrest or uncertainty what better time to do it?” James said earlier on Trading Day.


“It’s an unfortunate comment but given we’re in the business, we see these kinds of events happening around the world all the time. For example, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, other airports have all been interfered with, sometimes by terrorists, sometimes just by clueless, careless activities.”


A relatively new issue, legislation around drone flying remains a grey area in many countries and cities, made more confusing because each airport has its own set of rules.


“One of the good things that come out of this is it may hasten the legislative process, that’s often the case. But airports are very complex pieces of infrastructure with their own electronic rules and activities so this sort of event is complex to interdict,” he said.


Police said there was no indication of a terrorist motive behind the devices, which first appeared on Wednesday night.



13/01/2019

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Drone tech utilization is multifaceted.  Now photogrammetry using drones is helping recreate 3D models of buildings and cities to the minutest detail. David Kretz who has been working with 3D for over 10 years explains from his experiences during the process of building a portfolio.

Studying architecture at ETH Zürich 3D modelling quickly became a passion with David. He understood the efficacy of 3D to comprehend ideas in a precise way in contrast to the limitations of 2D plans which can be hard to read and imagine. David quickly picked up the skill of using CAD software like Archicad to visualize projects and render them in Cinema 4D and compose in Photoshop.

After completing his masters David travelled around the world on his motorbike focusing on photographing, filming and editing videos for the 2.5 years of his journey on road using a drone. David says that this drone, a Spark from DJI, was compact and ideal for travel and helped enhance the quality and perspective of output.

Now, working as an architect in an architecture office in Burgdorf, Switzerland on the 3D visualizations for a couple of projects David began using his drone to capture photos of facades for preservation of evidence.

David began working on developing possibilities using photogrammetry to help with the architectural projects in more precise planning and visualization. He set to work and the results speak for themselves- David has created models of the old city of Bern, the ancient temple in Ayutthaya, a pretty Swiss castle amongst many others; all capturing the minutest of details have made the 3D models as close to reality as can be.


Cultural Heritage in Switzerland

Cultural Heritage is a big part of the Swiss culture- the cities and villages look like something out of a fairy tale.

David has created 3D models of these heritage buildings and is glad to be able to record them the way there are. Someday his work might be able to help preserve heritage for future generations.

Handing out some tips that should be considered for using 3D to recreate models, David says:

Choosing the right tool-For single houses, whole neighbourhoods or single buildings a drone is required to get the shots from above and also for getting into smaller spaces.

Choosing the right time-Strong and long shadows while shooting also get baked into the 3D model.

The best conditions for shooting are on an overcast day or at midday day to avoid any hard shadows and the object is evenly lit from all directions.

David sometimes uses the DJI Spark and a compact camera or the Sketchfab depending on the conditions of lighting and the building or place to be recreated.

According to David for a large scale project it’s great to have a drone with capability of waypoints. With this function it’s possible to set up the desired picture overlap, camera angle as well as the flight area before the flight David adds.





07/01/2019

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Quadcopter drones and other unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAV’s) have become common -place and their use is widespread among consumers and professionals in numerous industries. Aerial imagery and video can provide useful perspectives and have great value in communicating progress, for use in documentation of site activity and for use in marketing services.

Drones, either through imagery or LIDAR, can further provide quick and accurate surveying information, which is valuable for positioning of facilities and activities. LIDAR data can also be used effectively for quality control and for quantity measurement.

Imagery also has further applications in safety evaluation, productivity improvement, security and real-time job-site monitoring. Such additional uses have the potential for making a real impact on successful project delivery while increasing and competitiveness.

Progressive construction companies and service providers throughout the globe recognize this potential and see significant promise for tangible return on investment. This paper will evaluate these opportunities for quadcopters and other UAV’s based on experiences of the authors in using drones in Dubai and in the United States. The examination concludes with evaluation of the opportunities and avenues for research using UAV’s.



Drone captured imagery of construction status [Source: Wikimedia Commons, March 2018]


Listing the Plethora of Opportunities for UAV Integration

Researcher Edgar P. Small of the University of Delaware decided to focus on the plethora of opportunities for UAVs in construction planning, performance and contract close out. In his paper, he describes drones as “ubiquitous throughout the globe for hobbyists and within professional communities” and shows that surveying and construction are one of the most notable professions where the integration of these quadcopters has become common over the past decade.

As Edgar Small states:

“Today, drones are frequently routinely employed somewhere in the delivery of a construction project along the life-cycle from concept through completion. This increase in the use of drones makes sense as resulting aerial imagery has great value in documenting, communicating and recording current conditions with visual perspectives previously unavailable without large expense. Considering just aerial imagery, the prevalence of drones makes sense at nearly all levels and for all participants in the project delivery process. Planners and designers can use aerial imagery in conceptual and preliminary design. Construction professionals can use imagery to layout construction sites and monitor job-site activity, owners can use likewise use the imagery for marketing and business development.”


Amazing Benefits Result in Amazing Opportunities

Small then begins listing the different types of drones, starting from consumer and commercial drones which are already used in a number of industries, from agriculture to surveying, forestry and ecology. Since they are low cost and have increased power and size, increased flight times and ranges as well as respectable flight load carrying capacities, drones like these open up the possibilities when it comes to their potential uses.

Speaking of uses, Small focuses on drones in construction, where the base imagery and videography of drones can be seen through countless of examples. He addresses all the sites and the benefits of drone-based aerial imagery as well as the potential opportunities that include construction progress photography and development, preconstruction planning and evaluation, visual inspection and auditing, safety improvement, volumetric measurement and 3D modeling.


Current and Future Applications and Research in the Use of Drones for Construction

There are numerous research activities on drones for construction explored through a search of peer-reviewed journals and conferences. When it comes to the future applications of drones, the author is quite confident that there are a lot of potential uses.


As Small concludes:

“Drones are ubiquitous and widely employed, most frequently, for capturing of imagery and videos regarding construction site conditions. The information is then used for wide variety of purposes, including but not limited to: planning, for site monitoring, for safety evaluation, for promotion and marketing, and for surveying. Drones can also be coupled with LIDAR for surveying purposes and the development of digital terrain models and digital elevation models. Thermal imaging cameras can also be employed for a variety of purposes, such as quality control. Photographic, video and live-stream data can further be used for monitoring, control, inspection and so on, when accessed and acted upon by experienced professional personnel. ”

Small also accents that as research advances, more automation will be integrated and the technology will become more pervasive – as well as expand its reach and develop new ways to use drones.



07/01/2019

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DJI recently launched what seems to be a massive agriculture drone in China. It is called the T16 and the video below explains everything in great detail to anybody who can understand Chinese. Unfortunately, that does not include me. However, there are a few things that become clear as you watch the video.

The massive T16 agricultural drone from DJI

Apparently, DJI launched a new agricultural drone in China recently. The video of which you can see below. It is hard to get all the details from it as it is all in Chinese. I tried taking screenshots, OCR them and then use Google translate but no luck there. So, if you happen to speak Chinese, feel free to chime in.


*** Updated and confirmed specs ***


Our friends from DroneWatch in The Netherlands have been able to get a lot more information on the new T16 agriculture drone from DJI.


  • The T16 has a 16 liters (4.23 gallons) container on board for ‘plant protection fluids.
  • Integrated ground radar allows the drone to closely follow the terrain.
  • The addition of AI in combination with a 3D point cloud enables the drone to recognize trees and deliver a high-precision application.
  • More stringent rules and regulation in Western European countries, the US and Canada may be the reason why the DJI T16 will only be available in China for now.
  • When folded up the size of the DJI T16 will be reduced by 75% for easier transportation.
  • IP67 rating protects against rain and dust.
  • Both the tank reservoir and the batteries can be swapped easily and quickly.
  • The batteries have a capacity of 17.500 mAh.
  • The charger has a capacity of 2600W and can charge four batteries at once.
  • One battery can be charged within 20 minutes with a special fast-charging option.
  • The integrated spray system has four motors, eight spray heads. A maximum spray capacity of 4.8 liters (1.27 gallons) per minute. The drone can spray up to 6.5 meters (21.33 feet) wide.
  • In combination with the Phantom 4 RTK, one could create a highly precise 3D map of the area that is to be sprayed. AI can then be used to calculate and plan the optimal flight path for the DJI T16.
  • The DJI T16 has obstacle avoidance front and back.
  • The integrated ground radar allows for very precise altitude determination even in dusty or foggy conditions.
  • The DJI T16 can even be used at night as it is equipped with a floodlight.



    YouTube video of the DJI T16 The title and description of the video translate according to Google as follows:

Dajiang T16 Plant Protection Unmanned Aircraft Introduction Video

Xianchuang International Co., Ltd

The T16 plant protection unmanned aircraft has reshaped the overall structure and adopts a modular design, which brings the high load and wide spray width of the Dajiang Plant Protection Unmanned Aircraft as never before. Powerful hardware collaboration AI intelligent engine technology and 3D job planning capabilities bring plant protection operations to new heights.


A few other things do become clear after watching the video. The T16 drone has six rotors, mounted on foldable arms. It can spray up to 4.8 liters of plant protection, i.e. pesticides per minute. The drone has a waterproof rating of IP67 meaning you can fly it in the rain.


The DJI T16 drone also has obstacle avoidance and features RTK for highly precise spraying and land or crop monitoring. The drone also comes with what seems to be quite sophisticated software to plan the flight of the drone and make accurate maps of the area.  It also seems to have some kind of radar system mounted below the drone that allows the drone only to spray when it is actually flying over the treetops and not in between the trees. Obviously, this would go a long way in using less ‘plant protection’ per acre.


It seems that the DJI T16 offers the latest in high precision application of ‘plant protection’ by drone, from DJI. About one year ago, DJI Launched the MG-1S Advanced and the MG-1P drones for the agriculture market. Alternative solutions are offered by Yamaha with the YMR-08 drone for instance.



20/12/2018

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The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV or “drone”) industry is evolving at breakneck speed, and it is often difficult for mining companies to keep up. In fact, it has been said that a “drone year” is the equivalent of one calendar month due to the pace of change the market is experiencing.  However, despite the difficulty of staying abreast of changes, drones offer incredible potential to transform the mining industry. Therefore, it is critical for mine operators, entrepreneurs, and investors to better understand this new and emerging technology.


UAVs are turning the mining sector into an emerging frontier for new technology, and in recent years have helped the industry find cheaper and safer ways to map deposit sites and explore for minerals. With the ability to monitor stockpiles, map exploration targets and track equipment, the potential applications for drones in the mining industry – T are practically limitless. UAVs offer tremendous efficiency and cost advantages in every part of the mining life cycle including exploration, planning/permitting, mining operations and reclamation.


Lidar sensor mounted on Procyon 800 E UAV – Global UAV Technologies Ltd


Payload technology – the amount of weight and equipment a drone can be equipped with – is advancing rapidly also. Tasks that were hard to accomplish even a year ago are possible with the latest drone models, with some of the biggest gains being seen in the agricultural industry; however, the mining and mineral exploration industry is not far behind. It is amazing that the changes drones are bringing to mining right now  are taking place in an industry that dismissed this technology as a mere fad just a few years ago.  To a great extent, this usage growth has been fueled by the enthusiasm with which investors have supported drone start-up companies.


One of the most significant benefits of using UAVs is the cost. Far cheaper than traditional manned aviation platforms, drones are reshaping the way that all of these industries survey new areas, providing better results for a fraction of the price. The adoption of drones for industrial purposes is rising quickly and can save businesses significant amounts of money while producing unique, valuable and task critical outcomes. For example, drones can map an area in high resolution in less than a day, usually a couple of hours. The cameras on today’s drones have also benefited from recent advancements in small, high-resolution sensors.


Additionally, miniaturization of other components such as GPS and computer boards has contributed to the modern UAV’s utility in the industry by making the UAVs lighter and therefore able to fly for longer times and cover more ground per flight. Due to the unmanned nature of a drone it can fly close to the ground, which allows unparalleled image resolution. Conversely, traditional manned aerial survey aircraft require cameras with extremely high resolution because they fly at elevations of 2000-5000 ft above the survey area. Drones can fly at 250 ft with a lower resolution camera camera and get better data.


UAV’s in Aerial Mapping

Using UAVs, early stage mineral exploration projects can now get a rapid aerial image mosaic produced by a drone for a couple thousand dollars, where a conventional aircraft would produce an inferior product for about ten times the cost. This cost advantage allows imagery to be collected very early in the exploration process, when it can be of the most benefit, and that imagery is used to reduce the ground that an exploration team needs to cover by ground.


In addition to aerial imagery, the same drone data can be used to produce accurate topographical maps and GIS data in remote areas. Topographic mapping has traditionally been produced by ground surveyors. Previously, you would have to pay a survey crew to walk the entire property and collect GPS points to be used in a map. Today however, mapping drones can do this without the need for any ground control points at all (though for centimeter-level accuracy, a ground control point is still used). The combination of low cost aerial imagery and terrain data allow modern explorers to have a close up view of any property in 3D. Having this capability in early stage exploration aids significantly in project planning, which reduces exploration costs and expedites fieldwork.


UAV’s in Resource Modelling

Mining companies are also using UAVs and highly detailed topographic mapping techniques to estimate the size and therefore value of mineral stockpiles.  UAVs are used to generate a 3D model of the stockpile to centimeter-level accuracy, and that model generates a volume for the pile.  This volume is then used to determine the amount of ore or mineral product that is present.  Stockpiles can be monitored in this way over time to determine changes in stockpile size – which is very useful for mineral processing operations or aggregate operations, as well as tolling mills.


The same technology is also used to quantify the size of quarries and pits, by creating a three dimensional model and calculating the volume of the void.  Similar to the value proposition with ore piles, the volume of quarries or pits can be calculated over time with repeated drone flights, allowing for verification of production volumes down to centimeter-level accuracy.  In the figure below, the software package Pix4D was used to create the orthomosaic and Digital Surface Model (DSM) from data captured with an eBee RTK UAV with SODA camera.



Orthomosaic (Left) and Digital Surface Model of a Quarry in Malta flown with an eBee UAV and processed using Pix4D for the Maltese Government to calculate the quarry’s volume.


After using the software to process the orthomosaic into a three dimensional model, the software can then be used to calculate the volume and area of the quarry or any other topographic feature.  Software is oftentimes sold with a UAV so that the systems are integrated, but companies like Drone Deploy are also available, where data is uploaded to a remote server and then processed and sent back to the user as a finished product.  In the image below, DroneDeploy was used to calculate the volume and area of the quarry.



Screenshot using DroneDeploy to process Malta Quarry data to determine volume and area of quarry.


UAV’s in Geophysical Surveys

At the cutting edge of UAVs in the mining industry is the use of drones to capture geophysical data.  A leader in this field is Pioneer Aerial Surveys, a Canadian company owned by Global UAV Technologies Ltd (CSE:UAV) leading the mining and exploration industry in UAV based remote sensing and commercial grade drone helicopters such as the Procyon 800E.


Pioneer developed the first commercially available UAV supported aeromagnetic sensor systemin 2014, and grew to become the largest drone-based geophysics survey provider to the mining industry worldwide today. Their technology and services have been used by companies like DeBeers Diamonds, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, TECK and SSR Mining on four continents and in more than  10 countries.



Comparison of Magnetic Survey resolution captured with a UAV (left) compared to a helicopter (right) courtesy of Pioneer Aerial Surveys Ltd.


GEM Systems (GEM) is another player in the field, with their GEM DRONEmag™ a quantum magnetometer developed specifically for drone magnetometer surveys. With high-resolution and low noise threshold (high sensitivity), GEM’s drone magnetometer is a Ultra Light-Weight Potassium Magnetometer that can be flown using a variety of UAV platforms that GEM sells – it has been installed and successfully tested on the Monarch Fixed-Wing Gradiometer, the GEM Copter Multi-Rotor UAV and the GEM Hawk Helicopter UAV, allowing flexibility for companies to buy just the sensor or a complete package.  Unlike Pioneer, who is a service provider, GEM sells the hardware for companies to fly themselves.


Conclusion

While more and more companies in mining are planning to incorporate drone-based aerial surveys into their operations, many continue to struggle with whether to bring drone operations in-house or contract with third-party drone service providers to perform aerial surveys for them. Since the idea of having in house drone operations suggests a significant investment in training and equipment, most companies have determined that it’s better to simply hire drone service providers.  Similarly, many exploration-for-hire firms have integrated UAVs and associated sensor technology into their offerings, so that companies hiring out for exploration or drilling can request these services and products as a part of their larger exploration service.


Drones may not yet be in use in every single mining operation, but this technology is clearly here to stay. As long as investors and exploration geologists continue to see value in knowing more about a remote deposit faster, Drone use will become far more widespread throughout the mining industry. Additionally, more and more exploration prospects will incorporate UAV data in their promotional packages, so it will be increasingly important for investors to understand what UAVs are, how they work, and the limitations and constraints as well as benefits of using them to capture datasets.





20/12/2018

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The introduction of a drone delivery service in the ACT would help the Territory meet its zero emissions goal and reduce congestion on Canberra’s roads, according to a new report.


Commissioned by Wing, which is preparing to trial drone delivery services in Canberra’s north next year from its new base in Mitchell, the report by AlphaBeta says that by 2030 drones could replace 6 per cent or 35 million kilometres of delivery-related road travel a year, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 8000 tonnes or the equivalent in carbon storage of almost 250,000 trees.


The report estimates that by 2030 there will be about 67 million household deliveries by road a year in the ACT.


“By delivering up to 4-6 per cent of transactions, drones could materially reduce the number of unnecessary vehicles on the road, reducing congestion and the associated greenhouse gas emissions,” the report says.


“Delivery vehicles are large, heavy and can disproportionately disrupt other road users. Parking and access to loading areas often delay and inconvenience other commuters and pedestrians. Delivery-related congestion in high-density areas has only increased in the era of ride-sharing and food delivery.”


It argues that with road transport responsible for nearly 70 per cent of the ACT’s emissions, and cars accounting for 44 per cent of emissions, electric-powered drones were perfectly placed to play a significant role in reducing the Territory’s emissions by replacing car journeys.


AlphaBeta says that by 2030 personal pick-ups via car will account for about three-quarters of transactions in the ACT and a 2018 study found that cars are the worst polluters, emitting an average of 4,600 grams of greenhouse gas per trip.


The study found that small drones emit 25 grams of greenhouse gas per last-mile delivery, compared with 296-728 grams for delivery trucks or vans, after accounting for the economies of scale that these trucks can achieve by delivering multiple packages along their route.


AlphaBeta says replacing 35 million vehicle-kilometres of road-based deliveries and pick-ups could also result in 70 fewer accidents a year.


The ACT Government has a target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at the latest, with transport one of the biggest challenges. At present, the ACT emits 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas each year.


Wing has lodged a development application to fit out its Mitchell warehouse and is conducting a publicity campaign in the northern suburbs of Franklin, Harrison, Crace, Gungahlin and Palmerston, where it plans to trial its service in 2019.


Wing CEO James Ryan Burgess said: “Drone delivery is the safest, fastest and most environmentally friendly mode of transport and we’re incredibly excited about the potential long-term benefits of drone delivery for Canberra in improving road safety and reducing vehicle emissions.”


Wing has received a hostile reaction to its Bonython trial in Canberra’s south, mainly over noise and privacy, including a petition tabled in the Legislative Assembly, and next year will also face an Assembly committee inquiry, which will look at the potential for cutting emissions, as well as noise and privacy.


Tags: Environmental Drones, Drone Delivery



16/12/2018

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Computer scientist Tobias Nägeli is sure that drones are going to change the film industry in a major way. About a year ago, he showed that spectacular, highly technical film scenes could be shot much more easily with these mini aircraft.


For the new project, which he presented at the ACM SIGGRAPH ASIA conference in Tokyo in early December, he demonstrated that drones also have great potential for animated film, too.


BETTER THAN TODAY’S METHODS

“It’s a very time-consuming task to make figures look realistic in an animated film,” explains Nägeli. “For the figures to appear natural, the first step is to film an actor performing the movements. The second step is then to build the animated figure around this.”


In order to reconstruct the actor’s movements for the 3D animation, at least two cameras must first simultaneously record them. Sequences of motion that cover a great deal of space in particular create an enormous amount of technical work, so two well-positioned cameras should be able to cover the entire scene. This requires either installing numerous cameras in different places, of which only a few can be used at the same time, or other tricky installations.


This complicated technique may soon be obsolete. Nägeli and his colleagues have developed a system that, in its simplest configuration, consists of two commercially available drones and a laptop.


The drones follow the actor’s every move and automatically adjust their position so that they can can always shoot the target from two angles. This reduces the amount camera work required, since the cameras only have to be in the spots where they are actually needed. Impressively, the system anticipates the actor’s movements in real-time and then calculates where the drones need to fly in order to keep the actor in the frame.


To minimize the volume of data, infrared diode markers attach to the actor’s joints. The drones, which have a true light filter, record only the light from the markers, greatly simplifying data processing. The system only sees a few points, from which it then determines the body’s position and directional movement.


“What makes our system so unique is that it can also reliably capture sudden and fast movements,” explains Nägeli.


“Of course, this kind of demo system is not good enough to meet the requirements of the film industry yet. But it does offer a promising approach.” As he explains, the system could also be extended with additional drones to capture movement in even greater detail. It is also conceivable that the current approach with light markers could be replaced by automatic image analysis, thus reducing the technical complexity of film production even further.


NOT JUST MOVIES

The team conducted various tests to show how the system can be used to track human movement over longer distances—something that makes the approach interesting for sport motion analysis.


“Until now, it has been impossible to perform a comprehensive motion analysis on runners, for example, because it is much too complicated,” explains Nägeli. “With our system, it’s very easy now to examine how a runner’s kinetics changes over a period of time.”


For the time being, this is still just a vision. Now, the challenge is to continue developing the system for practical applications. Together with two colleagues, Nägeli plans to tackle this task at the new start-up company Tinamu Labs.


Tags: Drone Cinematography, Animation



16/12/2018

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Racing drones, flying taxis and pilotless delivery bots are jostling for attention in Amsterdam this week as the unmanned-aircraft industry stages its biggest global expo.


Amsterdam Drone Week gathers together attendees from 70 countries, spanning tech-savvy teens to sober-suited safety regulators. Major aviation players like Airbus SE, Boeing Co. and the Dutch city’s Schiphol airport line up alongside disruptive startups and heavyweight outsiders such as Uber Technologies Inc.


The RAI conference center took on the look of a science-fiction film Tuesday as brightly lit FormulaFPV racing drones streaked around a darkened arena, manipulated via the goggles of their controllers. Engineers from Airbus and Audi later showed off a prototype passenger capsule capable of switching between a driverless car and an unmanned aircraft -- with the demonstration taking place behind a protective net, just in case.


The event is due to end Thursday with the publication of draft proposals for regulating flights and operators drawn up by European Aviation Safety Agency.


Here are some of the craft that may be coming to airspace near you:

An Airbus Pop.Up Next passenger drone concept vehicl Airbus Pop.Up Next flight demo


A Formula First Person View (FPV) drone-race competitor 


A drone flies through illuminated racing gates



A Netherlands Aerospace Centre OA60 fixed-wing drone



A model of Airbus’s Vahana electric vertical takeoff air taxi

Attendees inspect an Airbus Skyway delivery drone 

A model Airbus Zephyr stratospheric pseudo-satellite 


Tags: Drone Expo, Events



11/12/2018

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