BLOG


Equipment and Infrastructure Inspection/Monitoring Using Small UAV’s

Outdated are ‘human’ inspection methods of yesterday used to monitor power lines, wind turbines, solar panels, bridges, etc. without going through special planning.

Using newer UAV technology however, it is possible to inspect just about anything above ground in real time.

 

More than a problem discovery tool however, UAV bots are being used to carry out ‘preventive’ scans as critical infrastructure shows signs of stress. Even more profound are the newer ‘swarm’ UAV sweeps used to carry out large scale survey audits in a single shot.

UAV muti rotor or VTOL aircraft have previously been the primary choice for inspecting critical infrastructure, but are now proving themselves as limiting. VTOL’s or vertical take off and landing UAV’s can work great to reach and photograph an area of interest with precision, but not for long periods of time or at great distances. By using a motor glider style UAV such as ours, it is possible to inspect with high precision either high rise or large scale areas similarly or gather up close images by flying in manual mode.

Here is a beginners list of possible subjects a Zephyr UAV can monitor….

  • Oil & Gas Pipeline
  • Solar Panels
  • Wildlife Census
  • Critical Infrastructure Inspection
  • Thermal Isolation Analysis (Buildings)
  • Power Line / Cable
  • Cooling Tower
  • Algae Proliferation Detection
  • Gas Burn-Off Stack Tip Inspection
  • Wind Turbine Blade Inspection
  • Bridge Inspections
  • Forestry Management & Research
  • Aerial Terrain Mapping (Non-Urban Environment)
  • Historical Monument Inspection
  • Railway Track Bed
  • Flair-Tip-Inspection
  • Salt Water Infiltration Detection
  • Aerial Terrain Mapping (Industrial Site)
  • Radiation Measurement & Monitoring

Fixed or Rotary Aircraft Weaknesses

For what it costs to fly a single traditional flight from a manned rotary aircraft, it is possible to fly and own an entire UAV system. Rotary aircraft can provide great resultant picture and video data, but generally are only within reach of large corporations or governments.

Fixed wing aircraft however are cheaper to operate, yet have own set of weaknesses. Primarily, small UAV’s can maintain a slower cruise rate than other manned fixed wing aircraft, and therefore can generate a more detailed set of imagery or video data.

In summary, UAV’s can be deployed faster, cheaper, and with less technical skills then manned aircraft alone while still netting the same quality of data.

 

UAV’s Saturation In The Survey Or Inspections Market

Our goal here at Marcus UAV is to make the technology affordable to all individuals who need it. In 10 years, we very much see UAV’s taking over much of the critical infrastructure in the survey space, whereas Marcus UAV will have played a critical role in the process.

We can equip our systems with high res digital camera payloads, pan/tilt video camera gimbals, high zoom cameras, thermal cameras, or even multi/hyper spectral cameras for highly technical survey jobs. If your company specializes in many different areas, it will be in your interest to carry all of these various payloads in your arsenal. Payloads are swappable between flights, and will demand a very high consultation rate…

Whether you need to inspect power lines with thermal vision, or generate still images of stress points on a bridge, our product is the tool of choice.

 

Using Small UAV Technology To Create Aerial 3D Maps, Orthomaps, and DEM For Under $15K

If you are not a professional surveyor, you may not know about the power of 3D mapping software or it’s uses in industry. Due to the technical advancements of both computer hardware and software, it is possible for anyone to create real 3D models of landmarks or other large objects overhead inexpensively.

Also possible is it to create digital elevation models of any subject, calculate it’s approximate volume, or create highly accurate orthomaps. Professional surveyors have been using this kind of technical for years to create their 3D maps, but are now using small unmanned aircraft to ease the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using the Zephyr UAV system sold by Marcus UAV, it is possible to gather all pictures and data necessary for ortho mapping. Just feed data captured by the Zephyr and it’s associated ground station software into any 3D mapping software, and enjoy the feature rich 3D maps created.

The 3D mapping software Marcus UAV recommends you use with the system is named Agrisoft Photoscan Pro. You can find out more information in regards to it on their website… http://www.agisoft.ru/products/photoscan/professional/. Other 3D mapping software’s do exist and operate similarly, but are untested by us.

 

What Is Needed To 3D Map

Using the Zephyr UAV system and 3D map processing software, you can create 3D maps with only two strings of data…. Raw Images Files, GPX Data Log Files—You will also need to know your flying altitude which stays constant if you the operator specifies this.

After you have created your first ortho-rectified maps and DEM’s with the software, you can further create contour maps and elevation profiles with this data if you so wish.

 

 

 

 

How Does It Work?

Time stamps that are linked with the GPS data in the GPX log file along with time stamps that are present in the raw image EXIF data allows the 3D map software to work. GPS points are linked with a time, and each picture is linked with a GPS point. Images that are first mosaicked and geo-referenced by the software can be further processed through 3D rendering.

The 3D processing software creates a 3D map by referencing multiple images for each object in an image. Several images taken with the Zephyr will include the same object, and in different angles—from multiple sides of the object as well as
directly above. The software takes these image angles to process the 3D maps without any further input from the user.

 

GPS or Ortho-Map Accuracy

The Zephyr UAV operates off of a standard GPS module that has a 3M accuracy. Granted, a higher precision GPS could help if UAV’s
always fly in a straight line, but does not typically happen. Wind can affect the airframes flight path, and make centimeter accuracy pointless. With only 3M accuracy, maps are still very accurate, and work fine for most customers.

 

KML File Outputs

When you are finished creating 3D orthomosiac maps with the 3D processing software, they can be exported to Google earth or another GIS software such as global mapper in KML file format. The export makes for great logging capability and future access