There is a lot of discussion around about drones and the enormous potential they provide for a variety of fields. Stewart Surveys has just implemented this latest technology with its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveying system. The UAV system allows us to efficiently and economically produce accurate survey models and high quality photography.
Our UAV is lightweight plane having a wingspan of 1.6 metres and weighing approximately 3kgs. It has an on board digital camera and a remote control device for operation. Flight planning and monitoring is carried out using a laptop computer.
The UAV is launched into the air and operates to a flight plan flying at elevations of around 100 metres. The system is managed by Lincoln Stewart our chief controller who has full CASA accreditation including a pilots licence.
A typical flight of 30 to 40 minutes might cover 50 to 100 hectares and has an 85% photo overlap producing over 1000 individual photographs. It flies at about 50 kph and can operate under cloud cover and low wind conditions. Using ground control targets measured with a GPS system the whole model is geo-referenced to a state co-ordinate system.
The software stitches all the individual photographs together to form a single photomosaic. The overlapping causes a 3D effect which allows for creation of survey elevation models and contours. This information can be transferred to GIS, CAD and other software for reporting, design and presentation.
We see the system being utilised for mapping and photography in a variety of land related developments, the mining, agricultural industries and for environmental monitoring. The UAV system is the latest addition to our surveying services and allows us to do broad scale surveys more efficiently and economically.
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