The “monkey skills” (as I’ll refer to them for learning how to fly the drone) are not very complicated. While you wouldn’t want to just pull our brand new drone out of the box, charge the battery and launch it without learning something about it, around 3-4 hours of learning the basics of the aircraft and its associated software can get you to safely making takeoffs, landings and flying around.
Most of the flight functions for UAV mapping are automated (due to the precise patterns and image capture requirements), so much of the work is monitoring systems rather than hand flying the aircraft. Still, you’ll want to have some level of proficiency in being able to take over manually if there’s a problem…
|Size of Project||Up to 100 acres (~30 ac /flt)||1200 ac + (~400 ac / flt)|
|Learning Curve||Easiest + smaller datasets||More complex (+ larger datasets)|
|Landing/takeoff area||Vertical (Very small)||Larger clear area for takeoff/landing|
|Altitude / detail||Lower alt / higher detail / less coverage||Higher alt / less detail / greater coverage|
|Flt times||~15-29 mins||~45-59+ mins|
|Cost of entry||$2000 – $3000||$12,500 – $34,000|
To legally fly commercial UAV flights in the United States, either a Section 333 Exemption or FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot’s Certificate is needed.
The Sect 333 has largely been superseded by the Part 107 which requires a knowledge test and includes a TSA background check.
Details on the Part 107 can be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas
Expect to spend around 10-25 hours studying for the knowledge test, depending on your background.
Though you can download the study materials from the FAA for free https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/media/remote_pilot_study_guide.pdf, many people find that an online course, such as https://www.goldsealdroneschool.com/uav-pilot-courses is a much more efficient method of studying for and passing the test.
There is a $150 fee for taking the test (paid to the testing company). There is no fee from the
3. Mapping (General)
Drone mapping is a lot more than just what you’d see in Google Maps…
Check out our blog article on Uses for Drone Mapping to see examples of different products including
- Volume & Calculations
- Topographic (Contour) maps
- Real Estate – Management / Marketing / Inspection
- 3D Models
- Infrastructure Inspections
- Asset Documentation / Inventory Management
- Oil Field Documentation
- Terrain Analysis & Visualization (ViewShed)
- Visually Removing Vegetation
- Accident Reconstruction
The general components required for UAV Mapping are
- Drone (UAV) – fixed wing or multirotor
- Mapping Flight Planning software (controls drone in capturing numerous images with proper overlap)
- Most multirotors use either as an iOS or Android app (e.g. Pix4D capture app, Map Pilot for DJI (our favorite) or Drone Deploy)
- Fixed wings tend to use a Windows program through a laptop or tablet
- Post-Processing Software (where the heavy lifting is done – takes the images and provides the various output products)
- Desktop (e.g. Pix4D or AgiSoft Photoscan) or,
- Online Processing (Drone Deploy or Maps Made Easy)
There are two main methods . The way we learned I’ll refer to as the (Guess, Buy, Fly, Crash, Fix… repeat) process. There are numerous online videos, drone forums, software knowledge bases for those that want to self-teach. Most professionals and businesses find it much more efficient to hire a consultant to help determine your requirements, make recommendations on hardware and software and provide the training. We can help you through all of that, or if you prefer, we can provide the mapping as a service…or help you process your data while you’re developing your knowledge…
Check out our slide deck on Mapping on a Budget for further information
4. Mapping (Accuracy)
They are precisely known fixed points used to:
–Adjust a mapping project to these known fixed coordinates in order to obtain absolute accuracy in latitude, longitude and altitude.
–Correctly locate the project on the earth
–Correctly scale the project in all three axes
–Enable better measurements, volume calculations, etc.
Find more on this subject with our blog posting on GCP