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Considerations to make when integrating a drone into your operation

This story by Allison Baracz recently appeared in Pit and Quarry magazine. It features DroneView Technologies’ CEO Michael Singer presentation at the 2019 AGG1 Aggregates and NSSGA conference discussing key considerations when integrating a drone into an aggregates operation..

Photo by Allison Baracz, Pit & Quarry magazine

Photo by Allison Baracz, Pit & Quarry magazine


Making the decision to purchase a drone, or unmanned aerial system (UAS), requires a thorough plan encompassing a number of considerations, from flying to data analysis to safety.

It’s not a simple process, and people need to be mindful when making the decision to invest in a drone for a project, says Michael Singer, CEO of DroneView Technologies, at an AGG1 Academy education session.

The process begins with project evaluation. The aggregate producer considering a drone should map out the project requirements, location, desired outputs, accuracy requirements, project timelines, available personnel resources and budget to determine if a drone is the right fit for the project at hand.

In some cases, a drone isn’t the best solution.

“We have end cases where they’re developing, pushing into areas that may have forestation or foliage where lidar may be a better or more appropriate sensor for that particular use case,” Singer says.

Once a company decides to purchase a drone, it needs to understand the requirements for using a drone from both a legal and safety standpoint. For instance, drone use in commercial operations requires users to pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)– approved knowledge testing center. The drone also has to be registered by the FAA once the user passes the test.

Safety is another critical consideration to keep in mind when deciding to use a drone.

“You still have to realize there’s a safety factor,” Singer says. “As you think about bringing drones to your operation, it’s an important component to think about.”

The FAA has a number of safety requirements in place. According to FAA regulations, a drone operator is prohibited from flying a small UAS over anyone not directly participating in the operation, under a covered structure or inside a covered stationary vehicle.

Finally, drone operators must learn how to correctly and accurately evaluate their results, as well as determine how they’ll transfer data, maintain privacy, and store and download large files.

“As you start out, understanding who’s going to use it [the drone] and what flavor of reporting they’d like to see is an important way to find success to a program, whether it’s just starting or expanding in an organization,” Singer says.

Drones produce large data files, and users need to decide how they’re going to extricate the information. In many cases, users need up-to-date programs and enough free space on their computers so the data doesn’t download at a slow rate.

“Where that data goes, how you manage that data, is an IT problem that you need to think about in advance,” Singer says. “Understanding the data component from the beginning is important. Make sure you have the right storage in place, as well as the right capacities to do it.”

Whether an aggregate operation chooses to use a drone for mine planning, stockpile measurement, inventories, stripping, topographic mapping or any other use, it’s important to consider these factors. A proactive approach will help users see the return on investment.

DroneView Technologies: Year in Review and Outlook for 2019

DroneView Technologies completed a robust 2018 significantly growing the business, honing our focus/product offering and expanding the depth/capabilities of our team. Clearly more than “just a drone service company” DroneView Technologies has emerged as a market leader, providing aerial mapping and geospatial services to enterprise clients throughout the United States.  With a strong internal team of professionals with expertise in photogrammetry and LiDAR processing we are able to deliver high accuracy mapping products to clients in various industries including: infrastructure, energy, airports, mining/aggregates, landfill and construction.


Clients have come to value the diversity of DroneView Technologies’ image and LiDAR collection capabilities for their high accuracy mapping projects. Roughly half of the projects that we completed in 2018 utilized manned image or LiDAR acquisition or mobile LiDAR.

Piloted aircraft using large format image and/or LiDAR sensors allow for high precision mapping over larger areas and on projects with more complex mapping challenges

Piloted aircraft using large format image and/or LiDAR sensors allow for high precision mapping over larger areas and on projects with more complex mapping challenges

Looking back over the past year we see clear evidence that drones have moved from questionable fringe products to mainstream productivity tools. Their use cases are plentiful and have been broadly embraced and implemented in production workflows by organizations large and small for mapping, inspection, cinematography, public safety, among numerous other uses.


The drone product market, led by DJI, continues to experience increased performance capabilities with falling product costs, similar to what we witnessed over the last several decades  in the personal computer industry.


High end and very expensive drone products and sensors including LiDAR, thermal and PPK/RTK solutions are emerging into the mainstream with more affordable costs and tremendous capabilities.

Riegl miniVUX UAV Sensor on a DJI M600 provides high accuracy mapping especially in vegetated areas

Riegl miniVUX UAV Sensor on a DJI M600 provides high accuracy mapping especially in vegetated areas

The drone industry “hype” is dissipating. Successful drone service providers are bringing specialized subject matter expertise to their customers and are adding real, sustainable value. Those that cannot do this are disappearing. Significant venture capital has been raised in the drone industry over the past few years ago and now the race is on for these companies to find a real and sustainable path to profitability. 

DroneView Technologies: Drone Market Outlook for 2019

  1. Drones are here to stay and will become increasingly more relevant and valuable in mainstream business workflows.

  2. Drones used for surveying/mapping will continue to be the largest market for commercial drone use.

  3. LiDAR sensors on drones will become increasingly more prevalent as their costs continue to fall.

  4. Workflows leveraging RTK/PPK solutions will become more widespread and lead to improved mapping project efficiency and accuracy.

  5. As companies move from trial drone projects to widespread use of drones in production, “hybrid workflows” will evolve - using internal company resources for some of the drone image acquisition and relying on third party providers with survey/engineering expertise to do the photogrammetric processing and create client specific deliverables.

  6. Anti-drone solutions will become more prevalent, with heightened interest at airports, prisons, stadiums, etc.

  7. Drone industry consolidation will increase through acquisition, strategic partnerships and company failures.

  8. Drone operations Beyond Visual Line of Site (BVLOS) will experience increased FAA waivers (permission) in specialized use cases leading the way for the potential in future years for drone delivery and industrial use in long corridor applications.

  9. Exploration for a viable long term solution for drone registration and tracking will gain momentum with expected implementation several years away.

We offer our gratitude and sincere thanks to the many people that have helped guide us on our journey. With clarity to our business and strength in our market leading team of professionals, we are extremely excited for what lies ahead for DroneView Technologies in the upcoming year and beyond.


Our best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

michael

Founder & CEO

DroneView Technologies




Commercial UAV News: 2019 Predictions for the Commercial Drone Industry with Michael Singer

Jeremiah Karpowicz of the Commercial UAV News recently interviewed Michael Singer, CEO of DroneView Technologies.

2018 saw more and more companies realize that there often isn’t an “either/or” answer when it comes to building a drone program or outsourcing UAV services, and that challenges related to adoption and integration often have little to do with the drone technology itself. These are issues that Michael Singer, CEO of DroneView Technologies, has seen evolve firsthand.

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As the leader of a company that specializes in aerial mapping and geospatial services, Michael has witnessed a transformation around the understanding that companies have when it comes to the real benefits of drone technology. That understanding has influenced how more companies in a variety of industries will adopt the technology in 2019 and beyond.



Jeremiah Karpowicz: DroneView Technologies works with enterprise customers throughout the United States to collect, process and extract real value out of aerial data. What can you say about how the way in which you’ve been able to work with those companies in 2018, and how you think that will evolve or change in 2019?

Michael Singer: I can certainly say that we’re seeing increased sophistication and a better understanding of the capabilities and benefits of drones in our clients. As an example of that, not too long ago, certain clients might wait for leaf-off conditions in the fall or early spring to gather aerial image data from manned aircraft. Today, they have come to understand that they can do the same project throughout the year with a drone using a LIDAR sensor that they weren’t able to do in the past with image-based photogrammetry. We’re using LIDAR sensors on drones with far greater frequency than ever before especially on sites with vegetated areas to do this kind of work for our clients.

The approaches for gathering data are changing as well, and I expect that to continue in 2019. We have seen increased drone adoption for precision mapping projects, in many cases supplementing or replacing traditional field survey methods. For some clients, especially those with frequent mapping or stockpile volume project needs, we have trained them to do some of the image and ground control acquisition work with their own equipment and resources. We continue to do all of their image processing, post-processing and final mapping for them.

We call that our “hybrid solution”, and it’s the best of both worlds approach for some clients. We often provide initial training on the right method for ground control placement and optimizing drone flight settings to achieve the desired result. More and more companies are realizing that even if they do want to set up their own program, they need this kind of training.

Jeremiah Karpowicz: What can you say about how this better understanding of the value drones can provide came about? Do you see that further evolving in 2019?

Michael Singer: You have to remember, success with this technology requires moving large image files, incorporating survey methods and ground control, processing those files on relatively robust workstations and then doing some manual post processing to ultimately drive accuracy and consistency in someone’s mapping solution. This better understanding ultimately came from many companies realizing that while they are capable of some of those components, they’re not as well suited for others. That creates the opportunity for a symbiotic relationship with us, and some clients are seeing the benefits of this kind of relationship.

As a specific example of that, many organizations in the civil engineering world have come to us to figure out how we can help them, because they’ve realized the countless nuances that need to be considered to achieve consistency and reliability of result. It takes a skill and expertise that usually requires someone to be doing a specific task on a regular basis. They’re not dealing with a handful of details, but instead with hundreds of them. More and more organizations are realizing that, and coming to us to ask about the kind of training we can provide which can include where to put targets, how to use them, how to check the accuracy, etc.

Jeremiah Karpowicz: Do you think that mentality around hybrid solutions and realizing adoption doesn’t have to be about either setting up a program or totally outsourcing UAV services will extend across the drone industry?

Michael Singer: It certainly goes beyond the industries we’re focused on, but you have to remember that the “drone industry” is really several industries all under the same umbrella which all have discreet skillsets and requirements. The skills required to do aerial mapping with survey grade precision are dramatically different than what’s required in public safety/first responders or for insurance inspections. Exactly what a hybrid solution looks like for us will be different from what it looks like for someone who’s focused on other vertical markets.

That said, yes, I certainly think you’ll see more of these hybrid solutions across disciplines. A better understanding that service providers should really have a discreet subject matter expertise is driving some of that. Don’t try to be all things to every industry. The concept of, “flying a drone is my new career and path to getting rich,” is becoming less and less prominent. With better specialization, we’ll see hybrid solutions that provide definitive value in totally new ways.

Jeremiah Karpowicz: What are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Michael Singer We’re excited to take the next step with our clients and projects. With increased complexity, and with a greater trust of our professional guidance, we’re going to be able to use this technology in ways that are both innovative and powerful to bring even more value to our clients and the marketplace. There’s a discrete set of skills and expertise that’s required to bring value to any marketplace, and I think we’re going to be able to take that to a whole new level in 2019 because the foundation we’re building and expanding on is stronger than ever.



The full Commercial UAV News story is available HERE

Precision Mapping - Critical for the Future of Autonomous Driving

Photo Credit: USHR, Inc.

Photo Credit: USHR, Inc.

DroneView Technologies has emerged as a leader in precision mapping solutions for enterprise customers throughout the United States.

While drones are the right tool in some cases, there are many situations in which other tools are able to achieve a better result. As such, DroneView Technologies now utilizes many different platforms and sensors in addition to our multi rotor and fixed wing RTK/PPK drones including piloted aircraft and helicopters for image and LiDAR acquisition, mobile LiDAR, thermal and bathymetric sensors.

Autonomous driving is an emerging industry that is and will be dependent on precision mapping.

Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal recently discussed “The Key to Autonomous Driving? An Impossibly Perfect Map. Self-driving cars may eventually work together to create nearly real-time maps. But we’re not there yet.’

Excerpts from his October 11th article follow.

“To achieve the dream of autonomous vehicles and robots, it’s going to take much more than computer vision and artificial intelligence. Cars, drones, delivery bots, even our vacuum cleaners and robot chefs are going to need something that our ancestors developed millions of years ago: a sense of place.

“I definitely don’t think people understand how reliant autonomous cars are on the fidelity of the map,” says Mary Cummings, a professor of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering at Duke University. “If the map is wrong then the car is going to do something wrong.”…

“That self-driving cars—and eventually, all other forms of autonomous robots—require such a map has big implications for who will need to partner with whom in the autonomous driving space. It implies a great deal of collaboration, or at least licensing, because the amount of data and engineering required to build these maps is so gargantuan.”

“….maps are so critical to self-driving….”

The full story can be found at Wall Street Journal

Project Spotlight: Large Area (83,200 Acres) Piloted Imagery Acquisition + Mapping

Aerial Mapping

DroneView Technologies (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan) was contracted to provide aerial imagery acquisition and mapping services in support of a new wind farm development project for a local utility.

Services included:

  • New Aerial Imagery - over 130 square miles of fixed-wing manned aerial imagery acquisition - with a large format sensor

  • Ground Control

  • Aerial Triangulation

  • Topographic Mapping

The products delivered included:

  • Color and Color-Infrared Orthoimagery

  • Planimetric Features

  • Digital Terrain Model

  • Contours, meeting (or exceeding) ASPRS accuracy standards

All data was delivered on schedule and in a format compatible for use with AutoCAD Civil 3D and ESRI ArcGIS software. DroneView Technologies is an ESRI Business Partner.


DroneView Technologies' CEO Named as one of 7 Top Drone Visionaries

The Commercial UAV News Named the top 7 Drone Visionaries in 7 Commercial Markets. The full story is available HERE

Excerpts follow:

Enabling success with drones in mining & aggregates means something different for different organizations. For the most part, that success comes down to being able to perform tasks in a faster, cheaper or safer way, but the distinctions when it comes to where value can be found vary from providing better visibility of a stockpile to being able to automatically generate inventory reports.

To highlight some of the people who are defining this value, we’ve put together a list of 7 drone visionaries working in this field along with a bonus visionary whose interest goes beyond this specific application of the technology. 

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Michael Singer, CEO
DroneView Technologies

Who is he?

Michael is the founder and CEO of DroneView Technologies, an organization that works with enterprise customers throughout the United States to collect, process and extract real value out of aerial data. The company is focused on commercial applications and photogrammetry where the benefits of using drones and piloted aircraft to collect and process aerial image/video data can yield discernible value.

How is he making an impact?

Michael has been part of the push to help enterprise stakeholders realize that drones are effective, safe and reliable tools that have a permanent place in the mining and aggregates industry. He’s at the forefront of the tipping point the industry as a whole has reached, as early adopters of drone technology have proven the value of drones and have paved the way for many, many followers to adopt drones into their organizations and workflow.

Specific to mining and aggregates, he’s helped enable the continued growth and widespread adoption of drone technology to change the approach and expectations for both large and small companies. These changes include an increase in the frequency of stockpile inventory measurement, a quicker turnaround of processed actionable base inventory data and tighter data integration with established corporate inventory management and accounting systems. All of these improvements have allowed organizations to truly realize the potential drones have to make a task or process cheaper, faster and/or safer.

What’s on the horizon?

The improvements that Michael has helped organizations recognize and enable thanks to drones will continue to grow and develop, but he has his eye on what can and will change for the underlying technology.

“As the three-year-old commercial drone industry in the US continues to evolve, like we experienced in the personal computer industry, equipment capabilities will continue to improve and their prices will trend down,” Michael said. “New sensors, particularly LiDAR will see increased adoption for precision mapping projects, especially in vegetated areas.”

Project Spotlight: UAV LiDAR

UAV LiDAR pfoject

DroneView Technologies was contracted to provide the
following services to support a high-profile
engineering design project in Michigan.

  • UAV Imagery acquisition and processing
  • UAV LiDAR acquisition and processing
  • GPS Ground Control and
  • Topographic Mapping

The deliverables included:

  • Orthoimagery
  • a Digital Terrain Model
  • 1-foot contours
  • Planimetrics
  • Over-Head Wire Data
  • Bare-Earth Model classified to Ground in .las 1.2 format and
  • an AutoCAD Civil 3D surface model

Significant challenges included: restricted
access to the property, acquiring permissions
from adjoining property owners, safety
certifications and training were required for
access to the client’s property, significant
vegetation cover required the acquisition of
UAV LiDAR to support accurate terrain
elevations which also enabled us to extract
Over-Head electric wire data and an aggressive
schedule meant all products were successfully
processed and delivered within 2 weeks.