Drone News

Sounds like the Game of Thrones crew is absolutely willing to go to extreme measures to prevent season 8 spoilers.

According to Sophie Turner—who plays Sansa Stark on the HBO drama—the production team deployed “drone killers” to disable any camera drones attempting to capture footage of the show’s sets during filming for the final season.

“If a drone flies above sets, there’s a thing that can kill the drones, which is really cool,” she told Entertainment Weekly during an appearance at New York Comic-Con. “It creates a field around it and the drones just drop. It’s very X-Men.

However, these so-called “drone killers” are special electronic devices that are typically used by police to force drones to the ground in the event of an emergency, not keep fans from learning the fate of Jon Snow.

“The purpose is primarily for emergency situations,” Oceanside police Lt. Aaron Doyle told the Los Angeles Times. “It won’t be used when someone complains about a neighbor flying a drone. It’s pretty much for a life-or-death situation, to save lives.”


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Director andy Fackrell has launched a guardian, a 90-second film that highlights that surprising role of drone technology in the war against poaching. produced for Los Angeles–based charity over and above Africa, the all-drone shot movie presents a series of swooping aerial shots of animal groups, each titled with the respective collective nouns – a pride of lions, a wobble of ostrich, an implausibility of gnu, etc. – before tracking ‘a gang’ of poachers on the drone’s night vision camera.

'a guardian' film shows how drone technology can save animal lives in africa

'A guardian' film shows how drone technology can save animal lives in Africa

‘it’s a slaughter,’ mentions Over And Above Africa founder Kerry David, ‘every day is a tech-war between heavily armed, well organized, skilled poachers and our courageous, but often ill-equipped rangers – dropping our guard can mean the loss of whole herds.’ the charity, which raises funds to support people and organizations in Africa who are actively preventing extinction, has collaborated with Fackrell to produce ‘a guardian’, the film which leads its initiative to supply drones to game reserves and help them win the war against poaching.

A recent report states that 83% of wild mammals have been lost to human civilization; yet we make up just 0.01% of the earth’s biomass. with African elephant numbers dropping 9% per year, it’s a battle that has become a crisis, starkly evidenced by the slaughter of 90 elephants over the last two months in Botswana. according to a pioneering group of conservationists, entrepreneurs and researchers called air shepherd, drone surveillance is proving to be a savior for Africa's endangered animal groups, increasing their survival chances by up to 80%. 

'a guardian' film shows how drone technology can save animal lives in Africa

'a guardian' film shows how drone technology can save animal lives in africa

Coining the collective noun for a group of drones as ‘a guardian’, the film uses other nouns in the form of text to romance the beauty of animal groups across Africa, and at the same time highlight their vulnerability to poaching gangs. a guardian is made by an international team of creatives led by former wieden+kennedy, 180 Amsterdam and ddb veteran, Andy Fackrell, who has recently left LA to return to Amsterdam. the film is thoughtfully directed by another ex-180 Amsterdam creative, sam Coleman at giant films in cape town.



 Tags: Conservation, Aerial Photography, Drone Technology


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Energy companies need to monitor thousands of miles of pipelines, tank farms, transmission lines and other assets in order to determine how and when maintenance activities need to be performed. The sheer size and scope of managing this infrastructure means that the ability to automate tasks related to performing such inspections will create incredible efficiencies. This is one reason why the energy sector as a whole is quickly adopting drones.

With the energy sector representing basically a recession-proof market and renewable energy sources capturing a fast-growing share of that market, opportunities for technological advancement and the adoption of drones will undoubtedly grow. By using Part 107 to their advantage, drone consultants can capitalize on these regulation changes, just as they have in other sectors like agriculture.

Even smaller, locally based drone consultants can take advantage of the upcoming boom in drones in energy/utilities. Whether that work is related to inspecting wind farms, solar farms, electrical distribution lines or a variety of other tasks, drones are making more sense to decision-makers in the energy sector, but they’re doing so in a variety of ways that directly and indirectly impact the bottom line.


A Growing Market

The growing market for drone consultants’ services in energy is immense. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), the market of drone-powered solutions in the world’s power and utilities sector is worth $9.46 billion. Other research underscores how important those services are to the world economy. A recent study by Guinn Partners found that in 2017, infrastructure and utility inspections made up more than half of all commercial drone activity.

Strict regulations in the energy sector are just part of the reason for this growing drone market, as many struggle when it comes to determining how new technology can be incorporated into established procedures. Antiquated oil, gas and electrical systems that lack 3D models also play a part, which is one of the reasons that so-called Digital Twin modeling is easing workflows in energy. Creating a virtual representation of a physical asset allows energy stakeholders to reconsider their inspection and maintenance activities in an entirely new light.

Energy company assets and equipment need regular inspection, though it’s time-consuming, costly and sometimes dangerous when performed by workers traveling to distant sites. Drones shorten the time and costs associated with inspections and remove employees from hazardous situations in times of critical need.

Consider solar energy facilities, which often contain thousands of panels. Having required inspections completed by an employee can be an arduous and time-consuming process. Inspecting that same facility with a drone equipped with a photovoltaic sensor to see if the panels are operating at optimum efficiency is comparatively simple, and sending out a drone with the right software to capture and analyze the data is time efficient.

Using drones and associated software, operators can easily convert data into 2D or 3D models and actionable information for various areas including right-of-way monitoring. This automation simplifies processes, reducing costs for maintaining assets including pipelines and power lines. These savings are multiplied when flying beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS).

Drones are also helping with wind turbine and tower inspection by reducing inspection time. The impact on worker safety is also evident, as the technology makes climbs less frequent. The need for inspections of such facilities will undoubtedly increase since the number of such facilities will grow with increasing investments in renewable energy and the need for wireless connectivity. This growth will, in turn, drive the technology and processes requirements to properly maintain these facilities.


The Scope of the Energy Sector

The Global Wind Energy Council estimates there were more than 341,000 wind turbines worldwide in 2016, according to a recent white paper by Skylogic Research. “Unidentified defects can result in an unexpected catastrophic failure, causing expensive repairs, extended downtime, and associated revenue loss. Revenue losses alone from unexpected catastrophic failures can be as high as $50,000 per turbine.”

That pain point is another reason why in the near future, energy executives will embrace drone consultants who can serve energy and utilities. Energy company stockholders want increased profits, reduced risk, and few production stoppages (if any), all of which can be directly enabled and delivered with the help of drones. The energy market is great and the need to deliver these kinds of inspection services without a hassle and with reasonable fees even greater.

When considering energy and utilities, one must also factor in the future effect of laws meant to lower carbon emissions. Such legislation will make the need to optimize the performance of an energy company’s assets ever greater. Drones will continue to help companies get the most out of their assets, by pinpointing problems and reducing waste. Through the use of solar photovoltaics monitoring, drones are identifying issues like hot spots, dead zones and debris, while diminishing the need for manual inspections.

Drones also are becoming adept at inspecting high-transmission electrical lines, which are often in remote places where a serious injury can result in death due to the remoteness of the locale. Removing the need for all but the most essential climbs on such structures decreases risk. All of these efficiencies are driving the desire of energy companies to embrace and utilize drone technology, but exactly how they’re doing so depends on a number of factors.

Providing Value Right Now

Decisions for energy companies when it comes to adopting drone technology are typically related to creating their own drone program or utilizing service providers. But are utility companies taking an “either/or” approach when it comes to these options?

“Companies are really taking a hybrid approach,” says Patrick Lohman, Vice-President of Energy for PrecisionHawk. “There are a lot of benefits to internalizing some of that work. A lot of these government-regulated utilities like to internalize things, so they can benefit on the capitalization side.”

Ultimately, it’s about selling value and allowing an energy company to see and understand what’s going to work best for their organization and established process.

“One of the main ways that service providers can provide value right now to electric utilities across the board is by showing they have the equipment, are local and are licensed,” Lohman continued. “The fact that someone could only incur driving costs to provide the work is a big component to the value being there.”

Serving the energy market is also a question of being aware of its specific needs. Drone consultants should understand the energy market’s issues, such as on-site safety, equipment maintenance and security requirements.

Consultants also should be prepared to provide more than static images and fly-over videos to clients. Instead, deliver a full package, including data analysis. By providing high-resolution, repeatable and frequent data collection, consultants will help customers with asset inventory and management.

Many drone consultants offer video, photography or one type of sensing equipment on the drone they fly, but other sensors are available. By using LiDAR, a drone operator can inspect powerlines for increased sag and encroachment from vegetation. Thermal sensors can detect hot spots or broken insulators, and chemical and energy discharge can be spotted with UV sensors to locate problems. PrecisionHawk’s acquisition of InspecTools in order to help provide regular, cost-effective inspections will also help professionals in this sector create value.

In some cases, the go-to operators working for a drone consultant serving an energy company can become almost indispensable to the firm. These close relationships can lead to other opportunities.

“We are also seeing small contractors transition from an external service provider to becoming an internal hire for these utilities since they have already proven they can perform well and have a familiarity with the company’s systems,” Lohman told Commercial UAV News. “For instance, we’ve been tasked with quite a few service opportunities in the electric space. A company’s plan often is to internalize some of the programs they’re currently externalizing with service providers as it gets more mature.”

Consultants should remember to price simply and appropriately. Make it easy for clients to engage your services at a scale they prefer. Especially in the energy sector where regulations require sophisticated operations, simple pricing can be a deciding factor in landing a client or keeping one long-term. Exactly how these relationships begin and develop are issues that service providers need to consider for energy clients.

“If you’re going to contract directly with a large energy utility company, they’re going to have a lot of very strict standards that you need to follow,” Lohman concluded. “They’re going to ask you for what’s basically a full-blown safety program, so one consideration for a small service provider is to weigh the benefits of whether or not they should be investing in that full-blown safety program because doing so is not cheap. Energy is a different ballgame, and there are a lot of strict standards that you need to swim through in order to come up with the best plan as far as how you want to run your drone service business.”

Tags: Drone Business, Small Business, Utilities


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For the first time in US history, a commercial drone equipped with a parachute safety system has been permitted to fly over people, with the flight taking place at a football game in North Dakota on the weekend.

Drone safety solutions company ParaZero (ASX: PRZ) today announced its SafeAir System was used on a DJI Phantom 4 being controlled by North Dakota drone operator Botlink.

The drone performed multiple flights over crowds gathered in the FargoDome’s parking lots for the tailgating event prior to the North Dakota State University vs South Dakota State football game on Saturday.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted a waiver for Part 107, which prohibits commercial unmanned aviation systems (UAS) from flying over unprotected people.

According to ParaZero chief executive Eden Attias, the “handful” of existing waivers for flights over people have either been for closed-set operations or for very lightweight and sometimes frangible UAS.

“This waiver opens the gates for safe flight over people with larger, more advanced UAS that can carry more sophisticated payloads and cameras,” he said.

Safety solution

While the FAA’s priority is public safety, its Part 107 limitation has inhibited the growth of the UAS industry as it blocks most operations in urban environments as well as some operations in rural areas.

According to Attias, ParaZero’s parachute system was a “major acceptance point of the waiver”.

The SafeAir system includes a fully autonomous triggering system that deploys quickly and reliably without being dependent on the operator’s response time.

Once the parachute is deployed, the system stops the spinning motors to avoid entanglement with the parachute cords and reduces the risk of laceration injuries to people on the ground.

Potential applications

Drone operator Botlink performed the flights to gather real-time footage for local law enforcement as well as for generating media content as part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program.

According to Attias, the use of the drone at a football game shows the massive opportunity for the use of UAS in commercial environments “whether for law enforcement, media applications, filming, live coverage of sporting events and more”.

“Our goal is to enable the fast growing UAS industry to reach its full potential by opening up the skies for business,” he said, adding that the company was eager to see additional waivers for flights over people in the future.

Recent ASX debut

ParaZero was founded in Israel in 2014 and debuted on the Australian Securities Exchange in June this year after raising $5 million at $0.20 per share.

The company planned to spend about $1.7 million of the cash raised as part of its listing on research and development projects and about $1.4 million on sales and marketing.

Less than a month after listing, it announced the delivery of first orders of its SafeAir M200 drone safety system for retailers and distributors in both Australia and the US.

In August, North Dakota’s department of transportation began testing ParaZero’s systems under the first phase of the UAS Integration Pilot Program.

ParaZero stock soared 21.43% to $0.17 on today’s news by midday trade.

Tags: Drone Photography, Event Safety, Drones in Sports


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There’s finally some clarity on the use of drones in India, and the real-estate industry is among those waiting for the December norms to kick in.

Drones have considerable potential as a marketing tool, as well as for supervision of under-construction sites in the real estate industry. Aerial photography and videos will be able to provide precise details of a space to potential buyers.

“They can also be used to keep a schedule on track and reduce downtime, ensuring efficiency of workers onsite. Detailed shots taken from a drone can keep project managers and promoters up-to-date on progress, especially in large construction sites like townships, highways and airports,” says Devang Varma, director of Omkar Realtors.

It’s an exciting idea for developers because CAD drawings and graphic simulations can now be replaced by real, on-site visuals; buyers can track their building as it comes up.

“Drones are invaluable when it comes to 3D imagery and virtual walkthroughs, which can help buyers of residential and commercial real estate make more informed decisions,” says Anuj Puri, chairman of Anarock Property Consultants. “Drones have already seen wide-scale adoption for marketing purposes in Europe and America. In India, drone-based property marketing has been nascent and can now be expected to grow.”

What we are about to experience is a complete transformation of how real estate projects are marketed, says Amit Wadhwani, managing director at Sai Estate Consultants. “So far, buyer involvement in the building process has been relatively low. They could have only a vague understanding of what their future home would look like. With the new drone policy, it will now be possible for buyers see, for instance, the exact distance between two buildings, existing infrastructures, amenities and everything else.”

Drone technology in marketing will allow consumers to create an emotional connect with the property. “Instead of still photographs and blueprints, drone videos will let the buyer experience the project, access minute details of layout and design. Aerial photos will capture more too,” says Manoj Asrani, first executive at Brick Asset, real estate consultants.

Effective photography is one of the key elements in the selling process, Asrani adds. “It is more impactful to show a bird’s eye view of a property and allow potential buyers to take a 3D tour of the neighbourhood as well.”

The impact isn’t going to be restricted to real-estate marketing but also influence the construction process. Construction activity can be measured and surveyed more comprehensively and accurately. “Going ahead, we believe drones will play a key role in 3D mapping, surveillance of projects etc,” says Prasoon Chauhan, CEO at HomeKraft, a real estate development company. “Drones can help in quality-control and inspection on site. When it comes to planning, the technology has helped immensely to conceptualise what development is going to be, because more often it is difficult to do so just from a set of plans,” says Amit Ruparel, MD of Ruparel Realty.

Safety and workflow surveys, digital photography and documentation, monitoring and improving worker safety will get a boost too. “The data collected using drones can also be used to compare original plans with the ongoing construction work to show customers how a site is progressing” adds Ashish Shah, chief operating officer at Radius Developers.

The buyer’s expectations are on the rise and the use of drone technology is going to aid the developers and builders to meet them in a more creative and rewarding way, says Wadhwani. “We believe it won’t be long before potential buyers are asking for drone videos instead of brochures.”

Tags: Drone Photography, Real Estate Drones, Beginner Drones


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Mining and energy giant BHP Billiton is trialing the use of drones to speed up its port operations. The firm intends to deploy small unmanned aerial vehicles to take draft readings and inspect holds on giant bulkers as they wait to load rather than dispatching human inspectors for the purpose. 

BHP VP of marketing freight, Rashpal Bhatti, is a prominent technological evangelist in shipping, and he believes that information collected by drones will one day feed into the BHP-supplied tablets that bulker captains use at BHP terminals. “All of our chartered ships receive a tablet when they berth. And on the tablet they can read the tension of the mooring line which has major safety benefits," Bhatti says. "It’s all a bit futuristic but that is the direction we are going.’’

BHP charters about 1,500 dry bulk voyages for 300 million tonnes of cargo every year, giving it an outsize position in the market. The volume of its business means that small optimizations in each loading process - like reducing inspection times - could translate into large savings. 

“The hold inspection process involves ships which have five to nine holds which a person checks by climbing down ladders. The inspector has to be physically fit, use fall protection, and carry [an oxygen meter] to make sure there is enough air in the hold. And it takes a lot of time,’’ Bhatti said. BHP expects that inspecting a ship's holds using drones instead could cut the time required by as much as three quarters. In addition, Bhatti suggests that drone-mounted sensors could detect things that humans could not, like "cracks or other specific parameters that cannot be seen with the naked eye.’’

Drone-based inspections have also been trialed by class societies and third-party contractors, especially in the offshore sector, where they can greatly simplify the process of checking on complex rig structures. In the ports sector, Maersk's APM Terminals division recently deployed drones for safety and security monitoring at two inland terminals in Chile, where they keep tabs on facility operations and watch out for unsafe behavior. Maersk says the trial shows strong potential and drones are likely to make an appearance at other APM sites as well. 

BHP already has extensive experience with drones in its shoreside operations. It uses aerial drones at its coal mines in Queensland, Australia for aerial site surveys; blast zone safety checks; traffic monitoring; and stockpile measurement. It also deploys drones in its oil and gas processing facilities for inspections. 

Drones are not the end point of Rashpal Bhatti's vision for change in the maritime industry: he is also a noted supporter of autonomous vessel technology. "Safe and efficient autonomous vessels carrying BHP cargo, powered by BHP [natural] gas, is our vision for the future of dry bulk shipping. We believe that future could manifest within a decade," Bhatti announced last year.

Tags: Aerial Photography, Drone Inspection, Port Operations


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After a few minutes spent on the office computer entering flight and insecticide treatment plans, a click of the ‘start’ button on the autonomous crop management programme sets things in motion. The drone garage door swings open, there’s a rapid rise in the clearly audible buzz from a hundred propellers and a swarm of spraying drones heads off to work as a co-ordinated team to tackle aphids threatening the farmer’s crops.

Rapid pace of drone development

This may be an imaginary scenario for now, but given the rapid pace of drone development – and more especially the software to control them both individually and in packs – it is certainly not inconceivable for the near future.

Another 100 or so are understood to be operating in South Korea and the company recently started rolling out the technology in Australia and New Zealand, and also in the US where the Federal Aviation Authority permits Yamaha to conduct research and trial commercial services.

Brad Anderson, division manager of Yamaha Precision Agriculture, is confident small-scale helicopters have a role to play in situations such as areas of fields where manned aircraft are unable to operate because of power lines or adjoining sensitive crops. But of particular interest is the use of the mini helicopters to spray powdery mildew fungicides on narrow-spaced vines, such as in California and the Pacific north-west, which are often grown on hillsides and can otherwise only be treated on foot using backpack sprayers.

Crop treatments from individual drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are already widespread across Asia, while aviation and other relevant authorities elsewhere in the world are now allowing drones to be used for limited and specific trials and, in some cases, commercial operations in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and forestry. Spraying for disease, weed and pest control, spreading microgranular pesticides and fertilisers – and even beneficial insects – as well as planting new forests are among the diverse uses now being found for drones

Replacing back-pack sprayers

For the most part, drones make sense where they can replace labour-intensive and potentially harmful use of backpack sprayers and similar equipment, in situations where terrain and/or ground conditions rule out the use of conventional or even specialist vehicles. In China, where government subsidies encourage the use of agricultural drones, market leader DJI Innovation Technology claims that more than 10,000 trained operators are now using the Agras MG-1 series 8-rotor spraying drones first introduced in 2015.

The company continues to develop the design with improved autonomous flight performance, such as terrain-hugging flying height control, and such is the growth of drone operator services working in agriculture that DJI forecasts annual sales of 45,000 units by 2020.

Tackling invasive plants

Spraying herbicide to control invasive plants in remote or difficult to access areas is another potential application – such as the programme undertaken by Great Lakes Council in Australia to control Bitou bush using a helicopter operated by Yamaha’s Key Aerial Services in the country.

‘If it does become possible to spray from drones, there will still be sufficient legislative hoops to go through’

In the UK, bracken growing on inaccessible hill sides in upland areas important for sheep production is the target for trials being conducted by a consortium of farm drone enthusiasts and other interested parties. They hope to gather evidence on this and other potential applications to convince aviation and pesticides authorities to allow spraying and spreading from drones.

“We’re making progress,” says Norfolk farmer Chris Eglington of agricultural drone services provider Crop Angel. “But I think if it does become possible to spray from drones, there will still be sufficient legislative hoops to go through that would limit field operations to qualified contractors.”

Pest control advances

Bracken control, forestry and other specialist applications apart, he sees potential in arable cropping agriculture primarily being spot spraying of weeds occurring in distinct patches – such as blackgrass – and precision targeting of insect pests, especially if drones can detect as well as treat pest threats autonomously. That is something researchers in Japan at Saga University and technology company OPTiM are working on – a drone that can locate pest insects and treat clusters with a targeted dose of insecticide.

The AgriDrone has reportedly been put through its paces on soy and potato crops and is designed primarily for use at night, utilising infrared and thermal cameras to locate and treat insects congregating in harmful numbers. An electric bug ‘zapper’ suspended beneath the drone is also being trialled as a pesticide-free treatment.

Dispensing pest-eating beneficial insects to field crops

Another environmentally-friendly approach being developed in Denmark, dispenses pest-eating beneficial insects to field crops. Søren Wiatr Borg of South Denmark University, one of the participating organisations in the research group, explains the rationale for the project. “The use of bio-control agents has predominantly been within high-value indoor production, where there is a controlled setting and a high-level of infrastructure,” he points out. “It has been difficult and far too expensive to use nature’s own pest control methods on large open areas – but using drones, it is now possible.”

Developing a broadcaster that can evenly distribute live beneficial insects such as ladybirds, predatory mites and parasitic wasps, has been a significant challenge, adds Anders Petersen of drone technology start-up Ecobotix. “Our spreading device is at the late prototype stage and we are testing it with selected customers, who typically are producers of high-value organic crops, or simply growers seeking to avoid the use of chemical insecticides.” A commercial introduction is anticipated this year for agricultural service providers permitted to operate drones for aerial application to combat pests in strawberries, fruits, vegetables and Christmas trees, and also in cereal crops.

Spreading seed and granules

A less sophisticated spreading solution has been devised by Australian drones retailer Rise Above. Take one Scotts hand-held grass seed and fertiliser spreader, replace the hand crank with an electric motor, fit a hopper extension and fix it to the underside of a drone with clamps. Rise Above lists the item for AU$ 1,250 (€ 780) alongside other custom payload solutions, such as the AU$ 1,249 (€ 779) BirdGard audio bird scarer for the AgStar agricultural drone.

Mosquito and invasive plant control, as well as seeding and similar applications are the target for a bespoke spreader solution from CFR Innovations. The 8-litre (2.11 gal) capacity UGS-1 battery-powered granule spreader weighs 1.1 kg empty and has remote control of the spinner with its twin outlet tubes. The Canadian company’s Johnny Guérin says the spreader is suspended in a way that minimises its impact on the drone’s flight stability; he plans larger versions than the first model.

Agronator 8-rotor drone

The potential for specialist spreading applications has also caught the attention of one of Europe’s leading tractor-operated fertiliser broadcaster manufacturers. Rauch, whose products are distributed under the Kuhn name outside Germany, has endorsed the Agronator 8-rotor drone project by developing a suspended spreader with 50-litre (3,051 cu in) hopper and Draco single-disc broadcasting mechanism with rate and width control system.

“A big advantage of our CultiCopter fertiliser and microgranule spreading drone is that irrespective of the terrain, it is possible to spread material with a high degree of precision and efficiency,” says Jens Hiller of Rauch.

The 8-rotor drone itself spans 4 m, weighs some 80kg (176 lb) and can carry up to 30kg small seeds, mineral fertiliser or pest control material such as slug pellets, although these statistics may change when the second-generation Agronator in development is revealed.

Tags: Drone Photography, Pesticide, Agriculture, Mite-spreading


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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, have brought in new vitality to surveying and mapping. Drones bring in more accuracy and quality with cost and time efficiency. Using drones in surveying also eliminates the need for humans to physically access hard-to-reach and dangerous terrains. It would not be incorrect to say, drones make surveying and mapping more efficient, profitable, and safe.

Due to these benefits, drones are being increasingly used for commercial purposes and a sector that is seeing its increased use is the transportation engineering field. UAVs are used as a virtual surveying tool to collect aerial footage and create 3D maps. These maps assist in designing transportation infrastructure and reviewing current infrastructure. This method of creating a 3D model is less expensive and faster than other traditional surveying methods.

We get to witness the benefits first-hand as we explore a specific project where a company, specializing in ropeway engineering and transportation systems commissioned AAM India to conduct two topographical surveys of an area that stretched across Barasanka and Uperkaipadar. AAM utilised a drone to complete these surveys and provide ortho images, a topographical map with contour details as well as point cloud data. These surveys enabled a mining transportation system to be successfully designed and constructed and therefore paved the way for mining operations in the area to eventually begin.

What were the survey requirements?

For initiating mining operations in the area stretching across Barasanka and Uperkaipadar, a mining transportation system called the RopeCon system had to be built. In order to build this, the company needed two types of survey data.

Firstly, survey data for carrying out the engineering and design of the system. The final route and tower locations were defined with this survey. It included corridor width along the line 300 – 400 m (from centre line 150 – 200 m to the left and right side) and 2 m distance of contour lines. The relative accuracy to ground was 10 cm approximate.

Secondly, the project required survey data for planning the construction of the system. The foundation design and final construction details were to be defined with this survey. It included corridor width along the line 10 – 20 m (from centre line 5 – 10 m to the left and right side) and the area around tower locations, 30 – 40 m from centre point and 1 m distance of contour lines. The relative accuracy to ground was 10 cm approximate.

The Area of Interest so identified was as shown below.


How did AAM plan the work?

The work started with GCP – Pre- Marking. The GCP was visible and painted with a white background and black foreground.

drone survey

The UAV used by AAM for the survey was DJI Phantom 4 Pro (Rotary) with flying height of 200 to 250 feet (as per the regulation by DGCA). It produced JPG Images with GPS/IMU (EXIF).

Drone mission and flight planning 

For the whole survey, AAM planned for 23 flights based on the area, with a flexible schedule depending on the geographical area.


Output from the Drone Survey


The final topographical map data produced by the UAV included details of all features such as median, carriageway, paved shoulders, earthen shoulders, structures (bridges, culverts etc.), retaining structures edges/ offset & levels, anti-crash barriers, railings, drains; edges of the drains with invert & top levels, utilities, existing service roads, cross roads, cart tracks, electric and telephone installations (both O/H as well as underground), huts, buildings, wells, shops, fencing etc. falling within the extent of survey.

Topographical map

In the final drawing, AAM provided:

Height of the vegetation

Other obstacles that needed to be crossed

1 m and 2 m contour maps for two scopes

Utilities like electric line, high tension line, transformer and underground lines such as OFC, gas line, etc. along the proposed ROW were done mentioning its ownership, Dia/voltage and vertical clearance available above proposed road level

Existing drainage lines, top & invert level along with width & typical cross section details

All specified features were presented in the final drawings in accordance with the styles and layers specified. Survey points and features were annotated with text including feature name, elevation, plan position, point number, survey notes etc. AAM also submitted a survey report with the drawings.

The detailed survey data obtained through the drone survey led to the designing of a robust mining transportation system, which allowed mining to take place seamlessly in the area.

Tags: Surveying, Drone Photography, Mining


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Researchers have used drones equipped with koala-seeking heat sensors to map the marsupials' population in Brisbane from 60 metres above the tree canopy.

The joint Queensland University of Technology-Brisbane City Council pilot study was in addition to a project in which koala-sniffing dogs and human field workers walked through bushland to identify where Brisbane's koalas could be found.

Sniffing dogs and field walkers identified “high koala activity” in bushland at Belmont, Burbank, Kuraby, Wishart, Bardon, Mt Coot-tha, McDowall, Anstead, Moggill, Alderley, Nathan and Mt Gravatt.

Researchers hoped drones could be a more cost-effective method of identification and mapping of koalas and other endangered species than walk-throughs of bushland.

QUT koala ecologist Grant Hamilton and his team have developed a way of using computer algorithms to read data from a heat-sensing camera flown by a drone.

“We are flying high-tech sensors using drones and we are taking the data that comes from the thermal imagery, which means it captures the heat from animals,” Dr Hamilton said.New drone-supported technology is emerging which could make it faster and cheaper to map koalas.

New drone-supported technology is emerging which could make it faster and cheaper to map koalas.CREDIT:BRISBANE CITY COUNCIL

“We feed that thermal imagery into an artificial intelligence algorithm and we use those algorithms to automatically determine the kind of organisms are using that system, so it might be koalas or it might be kangaroos, for example.

“What we do when we fly over the area, we can count the number of koalas in the area.

“We are getting up to 100 per cent accuracy at the moment using this system.”

The algorithm identified everything that was “not a koala”, Dr Hamilton said, so only koalas showed up in the imagery.

Trials have been flown in bushland near Petrie, where the University of the Sunshine Coast Moreton Bay campus was being built.

“We have also flown in northern New South Wales and we hope to do some extra sites in Brisbane soon,” Dr Hamilton said.

The thermal imagery could cover about 20 hectares in about two hours.

“The aim here is to find a methodology to identify a system where we can help many species, not just one,” Dr Hamilton said.

Thermal imagery from sensors on drones has identified koalas (ringed in yellow) in Petrie bushland.

He said better data was a conservationist's best friend.

“Realistically, the conservation budget is always limited, so if you can do the same job more cheaply that is great thing to do.

"If you can do it better – more cheaply – that is an even better outcome.”

Dr Hamilton said in certain environments the team - which included data scientist Evangeline Corcoran and artificial intelligence algorithm specialist Simon Denman – was getting 100 per cent accuracy.

“We are doing it much more cheaply and we are getting better results than humans are getting," he said.

He said it would take time – and extra research grants – before the research would be used by planning bureaucrats.

“It would be a couple of years away but our aim is to be able to go out with a drone to a particular site, get the data and either have it sent back directly or take the SIM card out of the drone once it comes back, insert it into the computer and get the answer within a half an hour, or an hour.”

Tags: Drone Photography, Conservation, Environment


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With his landmark book 'Earth From the Air' having sold over four million copies, Yann Arthus-Bertrand is perhaps most responsible for democratizing aerial photography, and making us aware of the beauty of the Earth from above. 

Now though, Arthus-Bertrand has opted to make the switch from using helicopters and hot air balloons (along with his Canon full-frame DSLR kit) to achieve his breathtaking shots to using drones – specifically the DJI Inspire 2 with a Zenmuse X7 camera.

The Zenmuse X7 camera is quite a step up from the cameras found on most entry-level drones, featuring a built-in gimbal and 24MP Super 35mm sensor (with physical dimensions larger than an APS-C sensor) with an impressive 14 stop dynamic range.

“The sensation of flying a camera while staying on the ground is a totally new and amazing experience for me,” said Yann Arthus-Bertrand. “We are able to shoot aerial images from a completely new perspective, and I am convinced that I will continue using drone technology for my work in the future.

Take a look at the video to see how Yann Arthus-Bertrand implemented the DJI Inspire 2 into his latest film project titled 'Woman'. “I wanted to be as flexible as possible when filming the environment and the women who will be the true heroes of the movie,“ he says of the project.

Tags: Aerial Cinematography, Drone Film


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