APS3G’s are marching out the door

Satisfying the RTK GNSS needs of provinces and water districts is demanding.

Today we prepare 2 x Septentrio APS3G’s using the Juniper Allegro 2 field tough computers to connect with an existing AsteRxU base receiver to provide RTK correction via the Internet.

Just over a year ago the water district engaged Elliott Enterprises to develop a solution for a city wide RTK GNSS system to provide accurate height data to design a 21st century water system to deliver water to the household at the right pressure on demand. After some testing and R&D we recommended an Altus Positioning System.

Upper Cases: 2 x APS3G Kits for Internet connection via GSM. Lower Case: APS3G RTK kit

Upper Cases: 2 x APS3G Kits for Internet connection via GSM.                        Lower Case: 1 x APS3G RTK kit Peer-to Peer UHF radio

The third case (on the floor) consists of 2 x Septentrio APS3G’s as an RTK GNSS Kit with a Juniper Allegro 2 field tough computer to operate Carlson SurvCE software for road design, drainage design and subdivision developments across a province.

The Altus Positioning System is chosen consistently for speed, accuracy and versatility in the most challenging surveys. With free firmware for the life of the receiver, the province will enjoy continued free upgrades and support for an even better survey solution for many years to come.

Call Nelia Elliott on 0917 557 971 to join our business family!

About Septentrio

Septentrio_photo_company_employees

Enabling our customers’ success with GPS and GNSS

Septentrio designs, manufactures and sells highly accurate GPS/GNSS receivers, for demanding applications requiring accuracies in the decimeter or centimeter range, even under difficult conditions. Whether it’s on the high sea, in scintillation prone areas or at high latitudes, our customers know that Septentrio receivers deliver fast, accurate and reliable positions. In urban canyons, under canopies or even under circumstances where there is deliberate interference, our receivers make our customers excel.

Our Roots

Septentrio was started as a spin-off of IMEC – the world’s largest and most advanced semiconductor research institute with over 2500 researchers. From the start, we used the most advanced semiconductor designs for low power, high performance and disturbance mitigation. The nearby KULeuven University is one of Europe’s leading universities and is an excellent source of top talent in areas such as signal processing and advanced algorithms, although we attract top specialists from around the world. We continue to work with IMEC and several highly specialized partners to build the best GNSS receivers in the world.

Rocket Science

From its inception, Septentrio has been involved in many programs for the European Space Agency and the Galileo GNSS program. As an example, we developed the first receivers to decode the advanced signals from a Galileo satellite and have tested and validated all Galileo signals ever since, including the PRS signals.

Your reliable OEM long term partner

We see it as our mission to make you win in your markets, while we stick to making the world’s best GPS/GNSS receivers for demanding applications. As your long-term partner, our job is to provide you with competitive products, our deep understanding of the technology, and the committed support that make all the difference to your success.

Septentrio receiver tracks newest Japanese GNSS signals

Hong Kong – 12 October 2016Septentrio and its Japanese partner, GNSS Technologies, are proud to announce that they have successfully tracked and decoded the QZSS LEX signal. This achievement marks a milestone in the development of the Japanese QZSS satellite navigation system and is the result of a trusted partnership between Septentrio and GNSS Technologies. The partnership is committed to enable the success of their Japanese customers with the very latest in satellite navigation technology.

QZSS (Quasi-Zenith Satellite System) is Japan’s regional satellite navigation system. When completed, it will consist of 4 satellites: the first satellite was launched in 2010 and the remaining three are scheduled to become operational in 2017. All satellites will be equipped with a revolutionary CLAS (centimetre-level augmentation service). This service will send correction signals straight from the QZSS satellites to end-user receivers and enable them to calculate their position with centimetre-level accuracy. The CLAS corrections are broadcast in the LEX and L6 signals.

By implementing LEX signal tracking and decoding before the completion of the QZSS constellation and before the CLAS service becomes operational, Septentrio and GNSS Technologies are showing their long-term commitment to Japanese customers.

Using Septentrio technology, customers will be able to eliminate the need for investment in ground infrastructure to create correction signals or in subscriptions to commercially available correction signal streams. This opens up possibilities in new application domains in sectors such as marine, construction, agriculture, survey and mapping, geographic information systems (GIS) and unmanned aerial and vehicles (UAVs).

Juniper Systems Partnership in Pinoy

The Partnership between Elliott Enterprises and Juniper Systems, USA was agreed and finalized this week.

Desmond Elliott, Support and Training Manager at Elliott Enterprises and  Debbie Trolson, Geomatics Market Manager at Juniper Systems completed the Agreements for a Partnership to Supply and Support Juniper Systems products in the Philippines.

Juniper Systems products include:

  • Juniper Archer 2 Field Rugged Data Controller – Simple to use, Low cost, Rugged Field Computer providing excellent battery life between charges.
  • Juniper Allegro 2 Field Rugged Controller/Computer for Surveying and Engineering. With a Number Pad and QWERTY keyboard makes this Field Rugged Hand-held computer is the BEST available in the industry.
  • Juniper Mesa 2 – the latest Rugged Field Notebook, using the Windows 10 operating system, users can take their GIS software to the fiels – Sporting a 168mm Touch Screen this has to be a part of every field kit.
  • Juniper Geode released in July, a rugged compact Submeter GPS/Glonass GNSS receiver. Ideal for GIS applications the receiver provides 300mm accuracy using SBAS correction and 50-70mm accuracy using a reference station or post-processing.

These products plus more are now available from Elliott Enterprises where we provide Support, Training and Carlson SurvCE software to convert them to a dynamic flexible GIS and Surveying data collector. Importing and Exporting GIS and Point data is as simple as pressing a button.

 

2016 Exhibition on Rural Electrification

Wow! What an event, Nelia and Desmond joined channel partners BSPH Marketing at the 2016 Exhibition on Rural Electrification, held at the SMX Convention Center Davao, Davao City, Philippines on the 3rd and 4th of August, 2016.

The two day event was attended by over 900 Managers and Board Executives from the Power and Energy Cooperatives across the Philippines.

Nelia presenting the products at the Exhibition

Nelia Elliott, Elliott Enterprises presenting the NEW PolaRx5 CORS/Reference receiver for the first time in the Philippines at the 2016 Exhibition on Rural Electrification in Davao City, Philippines .

Held annually, in a different city each year across the Philippines, the event was great success, to have the event so close to home was a bonus for our company with only a four hour trip from General Santos City to Davao City, in the South of Mindanao.

APS-3_with antenna with Allegro2

Altus APS3G RTK Receiver and Juniper Allegro2 Field Computer

Elliott Enterprises displayed and presented the Altus Positioning Systems GNSS RTK receivers, Septentrio Base receivers and the Juniper Systems range of Field Tough Computers to managers across the country. This was the first time for positioning equipment to be on display at the event; everyone was overwhelmed by the potential and possibilities on offer to develop high accuracy GNSS positioning for Bentley GIS software all in one package.

We were especially proud to show the NEW PolaRX5 reference receiver (arrived on the 3rd August, 2016 from Hong Kong), a first time in the Philippines. The receiver is in transit to NAMRIA to be tested for suitability in the PageNet CORS network for future development.

The interest in our latest technologies was all positive. We look forward to following up the invitations from Power Cooperatives to demonstrate our equipment at many centers over the coming weeks.

PolaRx5 CORS receiver

NEW PolaRx5 Reference receiver make a debut in the Philippines

Of special interest was the capacity of Carlson software‘s SurvCE Survey and GIS collection software. Installed on the Juniper Allegro2 this will provide fast efficient data collection while recording the high accuracy position from the Altus APS3G RTK receiver. Utilizing the GSM (mobile phone) network to gather the reference data from the PolaRx5 static base station at each cooperative head quarters, the data is delivered across the Internet the system will make survey and GIS a dream.

Thanks to Eloisa Mabuyo, BSPH Marketing whose many Bentley contacts were able to appreciate the GNSS equipment from our company. We were a great team!

Joining the Province of South Catabato Integrity Plan

Last week Nelia was honored to receive an invitation from the Governor of South Catabato Province, Koronodal to join the South Catabato Integrity Plan (iSouth Catabato). The invitation was requesting us to attend an introductory seminar on the 4th of July 2016.

iSouth Catabato Invitation0010

The Seminar was well represented by Suppliers, Contractors and Governance. The Governor, Daisy P. Avance Fuentes addressed the gathering of invited suppliers and contractors and community representatives; providing us with an overview of the Integrity Plan history and the how the province became involved and the 3 years of planning, dedication and progress made to get to stage of an Integrity plan launch.

Governor of South Catabato

The Governor of South Catabato Province, Daisy P. Avance Fuentes

The Integrity Plan takes center stage of the 50th Year celebrations of the South Catabato Province.

Nelia and Desmond - iSouth Catabato

Nelia and Desmond Elliott at lunch and launch of iSouth Catabato

The integrity program has an emphasis on ridding Corruption and Graft from all facets of the Provincial activity (Governance, Business and the Community). The Governor explained how introducing an integrity program was an enormous task; requiring education, participation, a change in thinking and a cultural change across the provincial community including the 20 municipalities. This will take time (maybe a generation) and education and persistence at all levels to achieve trust and integrity across the province.

There is an iSouth Catabato (integrity South Catabato) group consisting of 21 members (7 x Governance, 7 x Business and 7 x Community) meeting quarterly, to discuss and report on issues, and assess progress and acceptance. This group will focus on continuity and marketing to keep the plan alive and progressing into the future.

The BAC chairman and staff discussed the bidding process and explained the common errors and omissions that were common in purchasing and contracting;, this was aimed at helping local business to be more competitive and transparent in their bidding.

iSouth Catabato Integrity Pledge0007

The seminar closed with the presentation of Certificates and an Integrity Pledge form. Each business was asked to sign and return this pledge when attending the official Pledge Signing Ceremony to be performed in Koronodal during the iSouth Catabato integrity campaign launch on the 11th of July 2016.

 

Integrity Pledge

The Official Integrity Pledge Signing

At Elliott Enterprises we are proud to be among the first to sign the Integrity Pledge, it fits perfectly with President Duterte’s anti-Corruption program. As a new and professional supply company it gives us great pleasure and confidence as we move forward, developing the program with in our business with our clients in South Catabato and across the Republic of the Philippines.

Are you stuck between Civil 3d and a hard place?

 

page2-1018-amendedIf you’re not sure what to do about the impending DOOM! of losing your perpetual software licenses, perhaps it’s time to consider Carlson Software!

 

 

Carlson Gives Users Platform Choice
Carlson Software runs on both AutoCAD and IntelliCAD allowing their users a choice of CAD platform. The 2016 version of the software can be run on top of a separately purchased license of AutoCAD, AutoCAD Map or Civil 3d for versions as far back as those built on AutoCAD 2010 (and, in some cases Land Desktop 2009).

The IntelliCAD that is included for Free is a virtual clone of AutoCAD that works natively in DWG format files (no need for import, export or conversion).

Free Technical Support
Carlson Software provides free technical support by phone as well as email, discussion groups and webcasts. This is also Carlson’s way of ensuring that customers have direct input into future updates.

Dynamic Objects are Basic Autocad Entities (Translation: no proxy entities!)
Carlson’s product line creates dynamic objects with basic Autocad text, attributes, lines and polylines. This allows easy sharing between project team members regardless of the version of DWG, DXF or DGN file being transferred.

No Forced Upgrades
Carlson supports all products for all versions and has no product retirement

Carlson Plays Well With Others
Carlson Software’s goal is to have their software be compatible with as many other software and hardware manufacturers as possible. There is a seemingly endless list of “Import from…” and “Export to…” commands in the software.

Author: Jennifer De Bono, That CAD Girl

The Chirp Jammer: a GPS hit and run

Published by Septentrio Inc.on 16-06-2016 

Septentrio_GNSS_Mitigation_Chirp_Jammers_Personal_Privacy_Devices

The €50 device that brought a multi-million euro project to a standstill

You’ve got your base station setup in an open environment, its position has been properly surveyed and it’s tracking signals from all satellites visible overhead with good signal-to-noise levels. What could possibly go wrong?


Here’s what can and did go wrong on one building site in 2015. A major construction project was underway, an army of excavators, bulldozers, piling rigs and graders were operating in a confined area with their activities carefully orchestrated by an RTK guidance system. The foreman knew the position of each vehicle down to the centimetre. Without warning, GNSS positioning was lost, warning messages appeared on the screens of the operators’ guidance units and work ground to a halt resulting in days and weeks of machinery down-time and lost man hours.

The culprit: Personal Privacy Devices

The construction site was close to a busy thoroughfare frequented by commercial vehicles whose movements are often monitored by tracking devices that include a GNSS receiver. Such devices ensure for example, that drivers don’t exceed legal driving times or avoid road tolls. 

Recent years have seen an increase in drivers turning to cheap GNSS jamming devices, such as those shown in Figure 1, in order to move around undetected or to thwart built-in anti-theft systems.

Septentrio_Altus_AsteRx_PolaRx_chirp_radio_jammers_interference_GNSS_GPS_signal_Personal_Privacy_Device_PPD

The problem is that, although these GNSS jammers or PPDs (Personal Privacy Devices) are low power, GNSS signals are even lower power. One PPD powered by a 12 V car cigarette lighter socket is powerful enough to knock out GNSS signals in a radius of several hundred metres. With the increasing use of GPS trackers for insurance or road tolling, the number of jamming incidents has increased significantly in recent years.   

A recent report from the Homeland Infrastructure Threat and Risk Analysis Center (HITRAC) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) documented the case at Newark Liberty Airport in 2011 where a PPD caused harmful interference on the new GPS-based landing assistance system. Subsequent monitoring has since confirmed an  average of 5 interference events per day. According to the report, PPDs are considered to be among the 3 biggest threats for GPS/GNSS disruption

 

GNSS is more than positioning

GNSS applications have long surpassed positioning. GNSS has established itself as part of the critical infrastructure in areas as diverse as cellular communication, where providers use GPS time to manage communications between mobiles phone and phone towers, to banks and stock markets who use GPS to time-stamp their transactions to help prevent fraud.

The effect of Personal Privacy Devices on GNSS signals

Most cheap in-car PPDs transmit a chirp signal which is a signal that changes frequency rapidly over time. In this way, a signal with a rather narrow bandwidth can cover large swathes of the GNSS spectrum. Figure 2 shows the effect of the signal from a chirp jammer on the GPS L1 band. The region between 1565 and 1585 MHz is dominated by the jammer effectively swamping the GPS L1 signal.

                                  Septentrio_Altus_PolaRx_AsteRx_GNSS_GPS_Interference_Radio_Mitigation_PPDs_Personal_Privacy_Devices_Chirp_Jammer


The Septentrio solution

The intermittent nature of most jamming events makes them difficult to detect and even more difficult to diagnose. That’s why Septentrio offers built-in protection against intentional and unintentional jamming in its GNSS receivers. As part of our patented Advanced Interference Mitigation (AIM+) technology, a sophisticated system of sampling and mitigation mechanisms has been developed called WIMU (Wideband Interference Mitigation). The red trace in Figure 2 shows the dramatic result when activating WIMU in the presence of interference from a chirp jammer. More details on WIMU can be found here.


The benefit to the user

The effects of WIMU are also illustrated in the Figures below. The white triangle indicates the location of a 10 mW chirp jammer in the centre of Tampa and the red zone is the region in which the jammer knocks out the GNSS signal. When WIMU is enabled on an AsteRx4 receiver for example, the ‘No RTK Zone’ indicated by the red region, is reduced from several hundred metres to a few metres effectively confining the range of the jammer to inside the car it’s plugged into.

Septentrio_Altus_PolaRx_AsteRx_GNSS_GPS_Interference_Radio_Mitigation_10_Mw_no_arse

Uptime guaranteed

AIM+ technology brings considerable cost benefits to users of Septentrio’s GNSS solutions. Whether in urban or rural locations, on construction sites or piloting a UAS, the detrimental effects of PPDs and other sources of jamming can be considerably minimised thus reducing downtime and costs due to lost man hours.

AIM+ is available on the following Septentrio GNSS solutions: PolaRx5AsteRx4AsteRx-U and the Altus APS3G.

Jamming of GNSS signals is illegal in most countries. If you suspect that jamming is an issue in the area where you work, please report it to the local law enforcement authority. 

(Title Image: Wing)

 

20 Things They Don’t Tell You About UAVs

Elliott Enterprises suggest investment in an extra GNSS Rover or two (much lower cost than a UAV) to collect more topographical data….unless the projects justify the risk of loss of equipment, poor results and operational cost, amortization of purchase cost plus initial training and licensing required to perform UAV photogrammetry professionally….the risk is much higher than the rewards!

Neil Vancans and Doug Daggermond - UAV

Jack Dangermond, ESRI and Neil Vancans, Septentrio admire the Septentrio enabled C Astral UAV at Esri UC 2016

I have worked on projects with Mark Deuter’s company, AEROMETREX (the author of the blog) as a mapping and survey consultant in Australia.  AEROMETREX are an industry leader in photogrammetry and are respected across Australia. Their client portfolio consists of goverment, mining, environmental and real estate mangement.  by Desmond Elliott

To UAV or NOT to UAV…! by Aer0metrex_admin

RQ-84Z AeroHawk UAV system at hte end of a mapping mission.The energy, enthusiasm and the inventiveness that is going into UAV* technology these days is truly remarkable. There has been a proliferation of manufacturers, suppliers, users and conferences promoting the technology. We have all seen stunning video clips and images taken from UAVs – the low altitude aerial perspective enables unique views of a wide sweep of surrounds as well as the foreground focus of attention.

In July 2012 I attended the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego and assisted a UAV manufacturer on their trade exhibit, fielding questions from potential customers of this technology. It was a revelation, not only because of the technology, but because of the reaction of the punters. I could see it in their eyes. Everyone wanted to do this for a job. “Get paid to have fun? I’m in!”

As a long-standing aerial surveyor I have watched the rise of UAVs with an open mind. Indeed the company that I part-own and work for is a CASA-registered UAV operator and we have invested heavily in the technology. We know what it takes to make a good UAV aerial survey and we can show some great examples of our work. However we are in the somewhat unique position of being able to compare the cost-effectiveness and the results of UAV aerial surveying against the latest full-scale aerial surveying equipment and methodology, because we have both capabilities.

I can say right here and now that the concept of UAVs as a platform for aerial surveying is suffering from a typical problem that plagues new technologies. It’s over-hyped. Yes, you can take an aerial photograph with a UAV. Yes, that photograph can be used to map an area of interest. But no, in 99% of cases you cannot do it as well, as fast or as cheaply as you can with a large-format aerial camera in a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. That may surprise you but it’s true.

With apologies to Ha-Joon Chang, the author of the excellent book “23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism” ** I have set out here 20 things they don’t tell you about UAVs.

Please note that in this article we are referring to very small to small UAV ( A very small UAV is defined as an unmanned aircraft of mass smaller than 2 kilogram –  A Small UAV is defined as an unmanned aircraft of mass greater than 1 kilogram yet less than 150 kilograms (fixed wing) or 100 kilograms (rotary wing)).

SENSOR

Thing #1. A UAV is just a platform for a sensor

A lot of discussion in the UAV industry revolves around which UAV is best. Every manufacturer stridently proclaims the advantages of their system in terms of battery life, stability, payload, range control functions, etc. But hardly anyone acknowledges that a UAV is just a platform for a sensor. We don’t make a big fuss about whether we use a Cessna 441 or a Cessna 404 or a Piper Navajo to fly your aerial survey. To us an aircraft is just a means of positioning a sensor. It’s not about the aircraft, it’s about the sensor.

Thing #2. A small UAV carries a small payload which means small format sensors

There is no doubt that you can cram lots of megapixels into a compact camera or a DSLR these days. But even a 36MP DSLR camera is small format compared to the latest generation large-format aerial mapping cameras, at 360MP or even bigger. Small UAV = small format sensor = lots more runs and photos = inefficient capture.

Thing #3. A $1,000 sensor is not as good as a $1.5m sensor

There are sensors and sensors. Most UAV systems carry small compact cameras to eke out precious payload. More sophisticated systems may be able to carry a DSLR camera. But these are non-metric consumer grade cameras, with uncalibrated lenses, prone to temperature variation, with limited storage on-board and using Bayer-filtered 3-band RGB imaging systems. They are not to be compared with modern aerial mapping cameras which have much bigger formats, separate lens cones for each multispectral channel, often in 4 bands (R,G,B and NIR) along with dedicated panchromatic cones, which have geometrically calibrated lenses with known distortion characteristics, with gyro-stabilised mount correcting level and drift, with almost unlimited storage and extremely sophisticated airborne GPS, IMU and navigation systems. Not surprisingly, a $1000 sensor is just not as good as a $1.5m sensor.

OPERATIONS

Hawkeye-UAV groundstation

Hawkeye-UAV groundstation

Thing #4. A UAV is not unmanned

Strangely, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is not unmanned at all. The men/women are on the ground. Hence the new terminology RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial System). There are usually two operators, just the same as the aircrew in a light aircraft. Where is the saving? 

Thing #5. Labour costs make small UAVs uncompetitive

Do the maths. Don’t forget to include the time and cost of getting the UAV operators to and from the survey area, the time needed to conduct the survey, the costs of accommodation and travel allowances, and the cost of masses of GPS ground control. As well as the salaries for 2 skilled people (UAV operator, surveyor). Adds up pretty quick. We reckon it’s more efficient to get a large-format system in for anything bigger than a few km2, even if you’re right there on the spot with a UAV.

Thing #6. UAVs are justifiably limited by airspace regulations

CASA (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority) is very concerned about the prospect of an airspace swarming with UAVs and has imposed strict limits on commercial UAV operations. We have already seen one instance in which a UAV operator (not us!) lost control of a UAV which flew across the flight path of a military airport. And one has now hit a jet aircraft in flight.

UAVs may only be operated by CASA-certified operators and can only legally be operated as follows:

  • Not above 400’

  • Not over a populated area

  • Not within 3.5nm of an airport

  • Not outside VLOS (Visual Line of Sight)

unless specific approval has been granted. These applications are considered on a case-by-case basis by CASA and the waiting period for a response was out to several weeks last time we applied. Fact is, if you operate legally there are not many places you can fly a UAV commercially.

Thing #7. Line of sight is no more than 500m

Try spotting a small UAV flying away from you. It takes about 15 seconds to completely disappear. Therefore run length is limited to 30s flight time, unless you station observers along the flight path equipped with radios for back-to-base comms.  This has been tried. See Thing #5. 

Thing #8. You will need formal training to operate a UAV legally

To be qualified as a UAV operator, you will need:

  • Basic Aeronautical Knowledge (BAK) or Private Pilots Licence (PPL).

  • Radio operators licence

  • Manufacturer training on type

and then pass the CASA exam. You can’t just take it out of the box and start flying.

Thing #9. A UAV is capable of killing you

Our small UAV system weighs 3.8kg (the same as a brick) and it travels at up to 120km/hr (33m/s). If it hits you in the face at that speed it will decelerate almost instantly, say in 0.1s.  No laughing matter.

My high school physics tells me Force = mass x acceleration.

So F = 3.8kg x (33/0.1) m/s2 = 1,254 Newtons. In the face.

Serious injuries have been caused by powerful UAV propellors and, as was demonstrated by Mythbusters recently, a large multi-rotor UAV propeller could sever an artery. There are a number of accounts on the web of unmanned helicopters decapitating their operators. Check your training, your safety systems and insurances. Don’t think they are too small to hurt anyone.

Thing #10. UAVs suffer from local environment effects (especially wind)

UAVs are very small aircraft and subject to forces that would not affect larger aircraft. Wind is especially problematic for small UAVs, and wind is often stratified, ie, much different even at 400’ than it is at ground level. Weather forecasts are usually published for ground level conditions. Can you really keep your UAV on track? Will your UAV be able to grind its way back to base in a 40 knot headwind?

Thing #11. The logistics of UAV operation are problematic

Think again if you are planning to provide a UAV service in remote areas, which if Thing #6 is properly observed, is where you will end up. Do I drive or do I fly to the site? If it’s too far to drive or the roads are rubbish, or don’t exist, perhaps I could get there in a light aircraft, or a helicopter? Wait …

Thing #12. Blurry images cannot be used to generate accurate results

We are sometimes asked to save UAV surveys which are comprised of blurry, badly exposed imagery.Lack of detail destroys the effectiveness of image matching algorithms, resulting in lack of tie points and geometric accuracy. Such surveys are usually unsalvageable and must be reflown.

Thing #13. Eagles hate UAVs

With a passion. The last thing any self-respecting eagle will tolerate is another predator blundering through its territory not even bothering to look up – the arrogance! Eagle hits on UAVs are common. See Thing #14.

ECONOMICS & RISK

slip-up-709045_640

Thing #14.  The capital cost of a UAV is significant

A sophisticated UAV is likely to set you back anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000. Let’s say you get a bargain at $50,000. What is its useful life? 200hrs? Let’s amortise that cost over 12 months assuming you’re a skilled pilot and can run the gauntlet of crashes resulting in total loss that long. It will cost $260 per hr in capital burn alone. About as much as the total running cost of a Cessna 172. 

Thing #15.  UAV crashes are common

The stories are mounting. UAVs escaping, getting lost, slamming into mine walls, crash landing, etc, etc. All expensive stuff. What is the life of a UAV system? Who knows? Only as long as your next uncontrolled event.

Thing #16. UAV insurance is hard to get

Not unrelated to Thing #15. UAV hull insurance (the aircraft and payload) is usually uneconomic and most operators insure for public liability risk only. That means a crash is usually a loss borne by the operator, and will add tens of thousands of dollars to your depreciation for the year. Hope you weren’t still paying off that loan. Please tell me there aren’t any UAV operators flying without Public Liability insurance. That would be financial suicide. See Thing #9. 

Thing #17.  You will need Professional Indemnity Insurance if you offer an aerial surveying service

Don’t even think about offering your services to a mining company or other engineering firm if you don’t really know what you are doing and you don’t have PI insurance. Your clients have too much money at stake. An error in calculation is a recipe for financial ruin. PI insurance is both expensive and necessary.

SKILLS

Thing #18.  If you’re not skilled in photogrammetry, you’re not an aerial surveyor

Most registered UAV operators optimistically put ‘aerial survey’ as a work category on their CASA application forms. Aerial photographic surveying is an exact and demanding science. A thorough understanding of photogrammetry is required to offer these services. Photogrammetric qualifications are usually offered as an advanced specialisation of a Surveying Degree. Buying a software package that promises centimetre accuracy does not enable anyone to become an overnight expert.  There are many traps for the unwary and industry best practice and university qualifications cannot be ignored.

Thing #19.  Airborne GPS and IMU for UAV are not accurate enough for direct geo-referencing

The Airborne GPS and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) technology that has been used in large-format digital aerial cameras since 2005 is the same technology that is used in guided missiles. Not surprisingly, some of it is embargoed by the US State Dept. It’s very sophisticated. The resolution of these measurement systems is very precise and is vital to determining the accurate position and attitude of the camera in flight. While advances have been made in the miniaturisation of these devices for consumer application in smart phones as well as UAVs, they really lack the resolution needed for accurate measurement.

FUTURE

Thing #20.  While we’ve all been watching UAV developments, other things are happening

The developments that have taken place in our industry are profound, and we should be very proud of them. But they are not really to do with UAVs at all. They are things like:

  • Much more efficient sensors. The Ultracam Eagle Prime, and the A3 Edge come to mind. Huge aerial camera sensors with outstanding capture efficiency and storage.

  • 3D models – the base map of the future. Great advances have been made in the accuracy, realism and applications of 3D models during the last 4 years. The transition from 2D to 3D mapping systems is happening faster than you think.

  • Automated processing and data extraction from aerial imagery.

These developments are the real direction of the industry and where we should be focussing more resources.

CONCLUSION

RQ-84Z AreoHawk UAV after take-off

RQ-84Z AreoHawk UAV after take-off

The UAV industry is what it is – there is no doubt that UAVs have many intriguing applications in many fields, although we have seen the existing service providers back-pedalling from things like pizza delivery or parcel delivery. At the current rate of development and with the concentration of resources being applied to the industry there is no doubt that further advances will be rapidly made.

But beware of the hype, and remember, in our industry it’s not about the platform, it’s about the sensor.  

Author: Mark Deuter, Managing Director AEROMETREX