We have been locating, documenting, and mapping vertical obstructions for one of our many customers. As a retired US Air Force C-130 Navigator I flew low level missions at 300 feet almost every day. I know the value of knowing where your vertical obstructions are located before you go fly. We recently worked on an area with an incredible amount of new obstructions. The red dots on the above screenshot represent powerline pylons and the blue dots represent light standards either along roads or within athletic areas. Every dot on the map represents an obstacle that is taller than 50 feet. Most are between 50 and 100 feet, but there are occasional vertical obstructions that reach up to 1,000 feet or more. Those could ruin your fun day of flying whether you are in a C-130 or a Cessna 172. We use a VerticalGeo proprietary process to determine the location and height of each vertical obstruction, increasing the accuracy and quality of the data we create. For safety of flight reasons it is imperative to know where these obstacles are. The work we do eventually makes it into FAA and DoD flight charts to help promote safety of flight.
VerticalGeo exhibited at the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Industry Day in O’Fallon, Illinois on April 27. We met a lot of great military and civilian engineers and were fortunate enough to listen to the local United States Army Corps of Engineers Districts present their project forecasts for the near future. It was a very informative day with an opportunity to meet a lot of new people and see some old friends. We had so many people come up to our booth and talk about the UASs we had on display. We had a great time.
We started a wonderful science project yesterday. We took one of our drones (our DJI Mavic) over to Shafer Metro East Airport to test the capability of the drone and its ability to integrate with our photo processing software (Drone Deploy). We flew the Mavic for about an hour on a search pattern over Shafer Field, covering every inch of the airport. We ended up collecting about 1200 photos. Drone Deploy’s maximum upload is 999 photos per map, so we edited out the ones we didn’t think we needed and uploaded the 999 we kept. It took about 2 hours to upload the photos and then Drone Deploy worked for about 6 hours to process them in the cloud into a seamless photo mosaic. The Mavic is a very impressive small drone. It folds up to about the size of a small shoebox, and the quality of the photos are amazing. The resolution of the photo is approximately 1″ per pixel. The colors are very nice and the photo looks fantastic. For all of our friends in California, yes, we have had a lot of rain the last couple of weeks and things are really this green.
Here is a sample of the photos we took yesterday. Below the photo is a link that will take you to an interactive web-based map of the airfield where you can zoom in and out and pan around the photo.
The downside of the photo is that it is not all that accurate. It is definitely not accurate enough to use for survey work, which we are trying to accomplish. Most of the points in the photo are within 2 to 5 feet of their actual position on the airfield, but the end of Runway 31 down in the lower right corner of the mosaic is about 20 feet off of its actual position on the ground. We are looking to add Ground Control Points to our future work to ensure more accurate photos, but there is also the possibility of adding Real Time Kinnematic (RTK) correction our larger drone’s navigation system so that the camera will know more accurately where it is taking the photos from and helping the system to produce more accurate photos. We will have to decide whether we want the convenience of taking our Mavic out to the field with its longer flight time and easier logistics, but have to place ground control points in the field before we fly, or do we go with our more expensive and huge DJI S1000 and add RTK correction. It makes for an easier process, but the S1000 is so much bigger and requires a lot more equipment and logistics to do the same job. It will be interesting to see how we implement this. We have a fantastic science project that we will be working on this summer for now.
We have been flying our DJI Mavic Pro UAS for a month and we really love it. The video is very nice and clear and the still photos are wonderful. Included in this post is a video we took at O’Fallon’s St Ellen Mine Park last month.
We are still learning how to use the Mavic, but it is an incredible UAS. This UAS is very revolutionary in its workflow and integrated systems.
Exhibiting at the AAAE Airport Geospatial Technologies Conference in Reno this week. Meeting lots of great geospatial professionals all focused on airfields. Only 5 exhibitors here, so a good opportunity to stand out.
Last week we exhibited at the Missouri GIS Conference. We brought our large DJI S1000 Spreadwings UAS with the FLIR Thermal Camera attached to show conference attendees what you can learn from thermal imagery. We had a great time at the conference and met lots of wonderful people. We will see you again next time!
I just came across a great White Paper by Black Swift Technology that compares their Swift Trainer Fixed Wing UAS with the Sensefly Ecobee and the Trimble UX5. Of course, it shows how well the Swift Trainer does compared to the others. Shocker that their study shows it out pereforms the rest! If you are interested in Fixed Wing UAS Technology you should read the comparison.
Abstract: East-West Gateway Council of Governments has invested in several datasets to improve geospatial analysis and planning efforts in the St. Louis region. This presentation will showcase investments in orthoimagery, detailed land cover mapping, and wetland mitigation/restoration potential. All of the data presented is available for anyone to use at no cost. Come learn about what we have, how we use it and how you can use it too!
Bio: Jennifer Reiman is the Manager of GIS Services at East-West Gateway Council of Governments, serving the St. Louis region of Missouri and Illinois. Ms. Reiman supports the transportation, environmental and community planning efforts of the Council by providing maps, database reports and spatial analysis services. She earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies & Regional Planning from the University of Kentucky in 2004 and has been at East-West Gateway since 2007.
Location: Des Peres Hall, Room 204, 3694 West Pine Mall, Saint Louis, Missouri 63108