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Snap 2014: Aerial drones and 3D mapping software for civil engineering surveying

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06 January 2014



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An Irish surveyor tested results (and had those results peer reviewed through the local university) of surveys done by drone and software vs. doing it by hand (which took days longer). The surveyor is now prepared to stand by drone and software results in a court of law. 

The Irish surveyor used a Slovenian UAS from C-Astral Aerospace and a Russian mapping system, Agisoft.

In Japan, they’ve been using Yamaha R-Max unmanned helicopters for a variety of agricultural spraying and monitoring activities for years. From Canada to Switzerland and all over Australia and New Zealand, farmers and agricultural providers are experimenting with UAS to build the best apps to fit their needs. America must wait until the FAA decides (late in 2015) what rules and requirements will be needed to fly UAS in US airspace and when, after that, UAS will be able to enter the airspace.

In countries with less tight restrictions than in the U.S. commercial uses for aerial robots have been popping up in the news and experimented with by businesses.

The surveying profession is just one of many that will be disrupted as aerial robots are allowed to enter civilian airspace for their various tasks. Others include aerial surveying of crops, acrobatic aerial footage in filmmaking, search and rescue operations, inspecting power lines and pipelines, counting wildlife, delivering medical supplies to remote or otherwise inaccessible regions and some of these:

  • Remote sensing;
  • Commercial aerial surveillance;
  • Weather monitoring and surveillance;
  • Commercial and motion picture filmmaking;
  • Domestic policing;
  • Oil, gas and mineral exploration and production;
  • Transport of materials;
  • Scientific research;
  • Armed attacks;
  • Aerial target practice in training of human pilots;
  • Search and rescue;
  • Conservation;
  • Maritime patrol;
  • Forest fire detection;
  • Archaeology;
  • Thievery (yes-burgulars in Hong Kong were arrested after flying Parrot AR.Drones up to condo windows on hi-rise buildings to see whether people were home and whether there were goodies to be had);
  • Commercial surveying;
  • Agricultural spraying.


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Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.
Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report, and is also a panel member for Robohub's Robotics by Invitation series.





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