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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. 

michael.jpg

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.

Drone LiDAR Going Mainstream

Done LiDAR

Until recently, flying a LiDAR sensor on a drone was cost prohibitive and often yielded inferior results when compared with other traditional high accuracy mapping methods.  Now with high quality LiDAR sensors specifically engineered to be flown on drone platforms such as the Riegl Mini-Vux and the Velodyne Puck, drone LiDAR mapping is going mainstream.

On sites with little obstructions we have consistently achieved high accuracy mapping solutions (under 5cm vertical and horizontal accuracy) with drone based image acquisition, ample ground control points and proper photogrammetric processing methods. The challenge arises when the target site has trees, tall grass and other obstructions that makes seeing the surface of the ground difficult (or impossible). In these conditions, LiDAR sensors shine.

LiDAR sensors send thousands of near IR light pulses each second at high frequency, oftentimes penetrating all but the densest foliage and measures the direction, location and distance of the returning light pulses to construct precisely defined 3D point clouds of the target area. DroneView Technologies, with hundreds of successful image based drone mapping projects completed continues to lead the market now with sophisticated drone LiDAR solutions.

DroneView Technologies: Year in Review and Outlook for 2018

2017 was a significant year with many great successes for DroneView Technologies. We emerged as a leading drone services company providing aerial mapping and geospatial services to enterprise customers throughout the United States.  

Below is a brief overview from the past year and our outlook as we fly into 2018.

Specialization and Market Focus

The markets that we serve are large and growing. We work for civil engineers and surveyors as well as landfill, mining, aggregate, earth moving, construction, energy, and telecommunication companies collecting aerial images and providing photogrammetric processing for high precision topographic mapping, stockpile measurement and inspection services.

With a seasoned team of drone pilots, photogrammetrists, surveyors, CAD technicians, data analysts and IT professionals, we assist clients throughout the US, acquiring and processing aerial image data and help them derive tangible benefits from enhancements to workflow, safety and productivity.

Aerial Intelligence: Expanded Fleet and Sensors

We take a consultative approach, working closely with our clients to understand their intended uses of this data, their accuracy requirements, their workflows and timelines and their various stakeholders. While drones are the right tool in many cases, there are some situations in which other tools are able to achieve a better result. As such, we now utilize many different platforms and sensors throughout the United States in addition to our multi rotor and fixed wing RTK drones including piloted aircraft and helicopters for image and LiDAR acquisition, mobile LiDAR, thermal and bathymetric sensors.

DroneView Technologies - Expanded Fleet and Sensors.png

Customized Training

As drones become accepted within enterprise organizations, some of our customers are interested in establishing internal drone operations. While this manifests in many flavors, the most common involves customized training for our clients’ employees to learn proper drone image acquisition and ground control placement/measurement procedures. Most still rely on DroneView Technologies to do the requisite photogrammetric processing, reporting, mapping and data storage.

Regulation

The FAA continues to make great strides in making the airspace more accessible for drone operators while maintaining safety. We expect to see increased access to instant flight authorizations in controlled airspaces in the coming year as the FAA continues to rollout their LAANC program [low altitude authorization and notification capability]. Additional progress is also being made in updated rules for flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), night time flying and drone flights over people.

 

Drone Market Outlook for 2018

1.   2018 will see significantly increased adoption of drones into mainstream business workflows as the tipping point for commercial drone use has arrived

2.   Drones used for surveying/mapping and inspection will continue to be the largest markets for commercial drone use and adoption - bringing real ROI to enterprise customers by improving accuracy, increasing timeliness of relevant data, enhancing safety and reducing costs.

3.   Autonomous (software controlled) drone flights will further increase with broadened commercial adoption and improved flight control software capabilities.

4.   The drone service provider market will continue to grow and segregate, with “higher end” drone service providers bringing increasingly specialized industry expertise.

5.   Increasing drone equipment and sensor capabilities coupled with falling costs will continue. Expect additional RTK (real time kinematic) drone offerings as well as more affordable LiDAR sensors for drone mapping.

6.   The public’s perception of drones as a useful tool and not an object of fear will continue to improve, with notably highly visible projects from Google Project Wing and Amazon Prime Air working on drone delivery, FaceBook Aquila working on solar powered long endurance drones used to beam internet connectivity, Uber working on passenger drones, among numerous others.

7.   Increased use of AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning, especially in the drone inspection markets to derive automated analysis and actionable insights from voluminous amounts of high definition images.

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 Singer
   Founder and CEO, DroneView Technologies