Posts tagged "News"

If you’re a fan of beautiful pictures, you’ve probably seen some breathtaking aerial photos of mountains, rivers, cities and sunsets. Welcome to drone landscape photography. This is where creativity flows without limitation.

It’s easy to wonder what it would take to capture something so beautiful, crisp and colorful. We bring you this short but comprehensive guide on the most important tips & tricks to make your drone landscape photos really pop.

Essential Drone Features

The best drones for landscape photography will have a gimbal with either a 3-axis or 5-axis mechanical stabilization system. It must be capable of hovering in one spot on its own and a camera with full manual settings, including RAW file format, manual shutter speed, exposure and aperture.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on drone performance specifications such as maximum flight-time, altitude and range.

Regulations & Safety

Know the local laws. Not everyone thinks drones are cool. You should keep in mind people might feel threatened by your drone. Now, you can’t tender everyone’s feelings, but you should respect privacy of others and obey your country’s laws and regulations regarding drone piloting. Avoid no fly-zones such as city parks and airports.

Preparation & Settings

Preparation is everything. Take the time to explore the area on foot before you take off. Scan the environment and try to foresee what you’d like to capture. Maybe you’d like to shoot a sunset over the horizon, or maybe you’d like a top-down photo of a pattern on the ground. Once you’ve got some ideas, adjust the camera and drone settings before taking off. Set the ISO, white balance, shutter speed and other parameters to approximate values that’ll be needed once you’re in the air. This will save you valuable battery life in the air.

  • ISO number represents sensor’s sensitivity to light. Higher ISO levels mean more brightness, but more noise too. Keep the ISO number as low as possible.
  • Shutter Speed – Longer shutter speeds means the shutter will remain open for a longer period of time, in turn collecting more light and producing brighter image. You can use a slow shutter speed to compensate for low ISO number in dark environments. Just beware of motion blur that is a potential side-effect of long exposure shots.
  • Aperture (F number) – Faster aperture (smaller F number) means more light will come trough to your sensor. If you’re shooting a subject up-close, fast aperture will create a blurred background, putting more focus on the subject. Seeing as we’re primarily shooting landscapes, using smaller aperture would be more useful due to a deeper depth of field, resulting in sharper details in the distance.

RAW Format

Shoot in RAW. This is valid advice for any type of photography. Choosing the RAW file format instead JPEG will allow you to properly post-process your photos.

Shoot in Bracketing mode. This mode is designed to capture 3, 5 or 7 consecutive shots of the same scene, each with a different exposure (e.g. -2EV, 0EV, +2EV). You will then merge these images into one final image with a high dynamic range (HDR). This can be particularly useful when you’re shooting a scene with a wide dynamic range, such as a sunny sky in the background with shadowy mountains in the foreground.

Panorama

Shoot panorama. Whether or not your drone has this feature built-in, you’ll want to try out creating panoramas for your drone landscape photography. For this you’ll need at capture 2 or more photos. Start by capturing the central area of your scene, then move the drone horizontally either left or right so that 30% of the previous composition remains in the next shot. Later you will merge these photos into one ultra-wide composition using software such as Adobe Photoshop.

Experiment with slow shutter speeds. Yes, even some entry-level drone cameras have manual shutter speed selection, but you’ll need a drone that can hover in one place on its own, along with a gimbal stabilization system to pull off blur-free long shutter shots.

FPV

Use FPV. If you don’t already have one, you really should get a drone with FPV (First-Person-View) if you want to do drone landscape photography. The drone’s camera transmits a live video feed to your smartphone/tablet, giving you the opportunity to properly frame the composition, rather than shooting in the dark.

We hope you’ll find these tips useful next time you’re doing drone landscape photography. Happy shooting!

V-cube Robotics, Inc. (Headquarters: Shibuya, Tokyo; Representative Director and President: Taishin Demura; hereinafter “V-cube Robotics”), a provider of commercial drone solutions to enterprise and local governments, announced that it would begin offering SOLAR CHECK, a solar power plant inspection package service utilizing drones. Equipped with infrared thermography cameras, the drones autonomously fly around a facility, imaging the solar panels, which are then analyzed using AI, dramatically improving the efficiency of inspections and making it possible to discover discrepancies and report on the results of an inspection in a short amount of time.

  • About the service

The SOLAR CHECK drone’s flight path is set ahead of time to match the positions of the plant’s solar panels. It then autonomously flies along that path and images the panels from the air using its on-board thermography camera. The saved panel images are uploaded into the cloud, where they are automatically analyzed using deep learning to find discrepancies such as hotspots. The service also creates a report on the results of the inspection, showing the abnormal panels and where the discrepancy occurred.

Initial preparations include configuring the system as required for operation, test imaging and training, which V-cube Robotics perform after a customer applies for the service. From the second inspection on, the customer can perform the inspections themselves with an easy operation.

  • Service features:
  1. Inspection time is dramatically reduced

Solar panel inspections that required each and every panel to be checked manually can now be done in a fraction of the time by imaging them with an autonomous drone. A manual inspection of a 2 MW solar power plant that used take 4 days can now be completed in 15 minutes with SOLAR CHECK.

  1. Accurate fault detection

SOLAR CHECK uses drones to take images matched to the angle of each panel, improving the accuracy of discrepancy detection, including hotspots, which are easily overlooked in conventional manual inspections. The service can be easily configured for steep hillsides and other areas that are difficult to inspect.

  1. Inspections can be made more often

Conventional solar panel inspections using drones required someone from outside of the organization to operate the drone, which restricted the frequency of inspections. SOLAR CHECK simplifies and automates drone operation, even making it possible for employees without special skills to perform inspections frequently. The service also allows companies to manage past inspection results, enabling them to see how their facilities are aging with time.

  1. Automatic analysis using AI, fast report creation

An issue with conventional drone inspections is that even though they reduced the imaging workload, matching images containing a discrepancy with the appropriate panel took an extraordinary amount of time. SOLAR CHECK uses deep learning to automatically analyze images for discrepancies and identify the affected panels, providing highly accurate reports in a short amount of time.

  • Image Recognition Using Deep Learning

SOLAR CHECK uses advanced image analysis technology that employs deep learning and other forms of AI offered by Datasection Inc. (hereinafter “Datasection”) to provide extremely accurate analyses.

One of Datasection’s strengths is its technology that processes large volumes of images instantly utilizing MLFlow, a platform it developed independently. The company applied this technology to the development of an algorithm tailored to detect discrepancies in solar panels specifically for the SOLAR CHECK service. It then developed this into a framework that improves detection accuracy using an AI algorithm that gets smarter the more it runs and that includes multiple deep networks in addition to existing image processing.

  • Example of How the Service is Used

  • Service Price Plan

Initial configuration costs + monthly usage fee

*Individual estimates provided depending on the number of power plants and their size.

*Customers with compatible drones can choose to only use the SOLAR CHECK application

  • About Datasection, Inc.

Datasection carries out business marketing research, data provision and processing, image analysis, overseas social media, and BI & business data optimization based on the data and know-how it has accumulated over many years of analyzing social big data.

In recent years the company has also been devoting its energies to areas that make use of machine learning (primarily deep learning technologies), which includes AI image analysis, and is making steady progress based on the company’s strengths of image recognition and analysis.

  • About V-cube Robotics, Inc.

Founded in October 2015, V-cube Robotics develops solutions combining video communications and drone computing technologies in the robotics field. The company is committed to creating environments that enable anyone to easily and safely control drones without professional knowledge or skills to perform real-time monitoring and communication from remote/multiple locations, allowing them to make required decisions instantly. V-cube Robotics aims to create a world where drones are active as an ordinary part of society by further expanding the possibilities of communications, and entrusting them with many day-to-day operations.

Wilfried Joswig, Director of the VfS (Association for Security Technology) is an acknowledged expert in security technologies and applications. He is involved in evaluating new risk situations on a daily basis. It is an indisputable fact that the security sector is constantly facing new challenges as a result of new technologies like digitalisation or unmanned systems. On Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 March 2018, experts will once again gather in Exhibition Centre Nuremberg to attend U.T.SEC – the Unmanned Technologies & Security Expo & Conference. Their discussions will focus on the use of drones to improve security and protection against these technologies in security-related structures. In the run-up to the trade fair and conference, we spoke with Wilfried Joswig about the challenges of unmanned systems (UAS).

How have the security sector and the tasks changed in this era of digitalisation?

Wilfried Joswig (WJ): In the security sector too, digitalisation is nothing new. And it has actually brought about new opportunities, for example in the case of sensor systems, where thanks to improved analysing units or networking of systems it has been possible to significantly reduce false alarm rates and as a result increase acceptance by users.

Has digitalisation resulted in new tasks or threats?

WJ: Of course there are also new challenges. The networking of systems imposes new requirements on network security and availability. With every additional network element installed the number of options for attacking my network increases. In this context, special requirements on system hardening are necessary at the technical, organisational and human level. Unfortunately not everyone is aware of this or it is not being implemented rigorously.

What role do unmanned systems play in this context?

WJ: In the meantime, UAS are an integral part of all risk analyses and security concepts, as both a practical system and a security risk.

Have UAS changed the type of danger?

WJ: UAS have changed the type of danger significantly. Previously, perimeter security ended at the top of the fence or the scaling barrier. With UAS this rule no longer applies. We also need to include the airspace above the perimeter fence it in our security concept.

Can UAS take over certain jobs – and how does this affect service providers from the security industry?

WJ: UAS can perform important roles associated with status reports and alarm verification. However, the interaction between humans and technology as part of the security services offered is still very important, e.g. the integration of UAS into security concepts, base station for the UAS, operational times etc. In addition, the training of service providers needs to be extended to include the use of such systems.

UAS are a relatively new technology application. How do you envisage the future of unmanned systems in the security sector?

WJ: With UAS we are experiencing a very dynamic development in performance characteristics. Naturally, with every development stage the options for application also increase. I am thinking in particular of flight duration, speed and integration into management systems.

What legal and insurance-specific frameworks have to be in place so that UAS can be used by security service providers efficiently and systematically?

WJ: We are talking about the useful deployment of UAS as part of intervention measures. In this context many aspects have already been regulated. One thing that considerably restricts the use of UAS is that they are only allowed to be used within the field of vision of the pilot.

Do we have to think about separate training for the use of unmanned systems in the security sector?

WJ: Of course, the use of UAS presupposes proper training of security service providers. Alongside the obvious things like flight training, it should also include a legal consideration of the special risk situation and the associated rules of contact.

Your association supports U.T.SEC. What role can this kind of trade fair play in the integration of new technology in the sector?

WJ: For us as an association, but also for users, there are diverse benefits to such an event. Particularly for a technology where changes are happening rapidly in almost all areas, a conference and trade fair for information-sharing is important. The event can serve to present the latest state-of-the-art, to illustrate and discuss future development steps and potential applications, to discuss integration options for security concepts, formulate requirements that users want the sector to meet, address legal issues and the development of application options and share experience.

Feb 14, 2018 – Stony Mountain, Canada – MicroPilot autopilots already fly a wide range of UAVs, including fixed wings, multirotors, helicopters and even tail sitters. Now, MicroPilot has added support for transitioning drones. UAV manufacturers making and designing transitioning drones now have a high-reliability professional autopilot option.

Transitioning drones will benefit from the many options that are standard with MicroPilot autopilots. A built-in VTOL simulator in MicroPilot’s HORIZONmp ground station software helps speed up the learning curve and provides an operator training mode. Customers also have the ability to differentiate themselves from other transitioning drone manufacturers through MicroPilot’s XTENDERmp software development kit. In addition, MicroPilot’s trueHWIL2, the highest fidelity simulator in the industry, also supports transitioning drones.

“I’m very pleased that we now have a solution for our customers that want to fly transitioning VTOL drones” says Howard Loewen, President of MicroPilot. “As the industry matures, high reliability professional products are becoming more important. Manufacturers of transitioning VTOL drones can now choose an autopilot designed with the professional in mind.”

Manufactures choose professional grade autopilots for their drones to ensure high quality and reliability. MicroPilot’s professional grade autopilots are subject to 100% environmental stress screening and multipoint calibration and testing during the manufacturing process. This ensures that all of MicroPilot’s autopilots offer consistent performance and outstanding reliability.

By supporting transitioning drones, MicroPilot shows its ongoing efforts to support a wide range of UAV types and adapting to the constantly changing nature of this increasingly high-tech world. As new UAV types appear, MicroPilot will be there to ensure that customers have a high-reliability autopilot option to fly them.

About MicroPilot

Started in 1994, MicroPilot is the world leader in professional autopilots for UAVs and drones. MicroPilot is an ISO 9001 certified autopilot manufacturer that markets single-board autopilots, enclosed autopilots, and a triple redundant autopilot. MicroPilot offers a family of lightweight UAV autopilots that can fly fixed wing, transitional, helicopter, and multirotor UAVs. MicroPilot also provides complementary products such as the XTENDERmp, SDK, and trueHWIL2. MicroPilot autopilots have been purchased by more than 1000 customers in 85 countries.

Dronefly.com has released its third infographic on drone use applications. This time they discuss one of the largest addressable commercial market segment: agriculture. Below they have outlined the four main use cases that the infographic goes into detail about:

1.    Multispectral imaging sensors mounted to drones are changing the game for the agriculture industry. In the past, these sensors were much larger and would be typically outfitted on a manned aircraft, which would then be flown over the crop field area. This method was extremely expensive and could only be done a few times a year. Today, with drones and compact sensors, farmers can pilot the drones themselves and scan their crop area as frequently as they want to, all at a fraction of the cost. With increased field scanning to evaluate crop health, better, more informed decisions can be made.

2.    Drones can create detailed GPS maps of a crop field area with their on-board cameras. From these aerial images, orthomosaic maps (smaller pictures stitched together to form one large picture) can be created, giving farmers a new perspective of their land. This allows farmers to better plan where crops are being planted to maximize land, water, and fertilizer usage.

3.    Heavy lift drones can carry large liquid payloads with the ability to spray crop fields with the necessary fertilizer and pesticides. These flying crop dusting platforms are a fraction of the cost compared to manned aircraft and can be deployed autonomously.

4.    Drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras provide farmers a new way to monitor livestock. This technology is especially useful when checking in on the herd to see if there are any injured, missing, or birthing animals. This setup also provides increased security to farmers as it gives them a new tool to monitor their property remotely.

Drones are the future of farming and as machine learning and drone efficiency improves, we will see drones continue to be integrated into the agricultural farming sector. Dronefly.com will be here to facilitate and educate the public on just how beneficial drones are to the agricultural market.

For more information about Dronefly’s Agricultural Drone Infographic, visit: https://www.dronefly.com/pages/drones-in-the-field-infographic-agriculture-drones

Police Drones

Infographic Provided by Dronefly.com

Montreal, Canada, February 13th, 2018 – SimActive Inc., a world-leading developer of photogrammetry software, is proud to announce that the National Gendarmerie of France has been using Correlator3D™ to support Saint Martin following Hurricane Irma. The software has facilitated rapid mapping from UAV images for damage assessment, aiding reconstruction efforts.

“Correlator3D™ generated orthomosaics of excellent quality with the UAV missions post-Irma”, said Mathieu Cerciat, Geomatics Chief of the National Gendarmerie. “Coupled with SimActive’s exceptional responsiveness, we were able to complete the missions successfully, with processing done on-site”.

“We innovate to provide the speed advantage that makes Correlator3D™ ideal for emergency and disaster response”, said Dr Philippe Simard, President of SimActive. “It is a privilege to continue collaborating with organizations like the National Gendarmerie to assist those affected in their rebuilding efforts.”

For a live demonstration at Japan Drone (March 22-24, Chiba) please visit SimActive’s booth or send an email to sales@simactive.com.

About National Gendarmerie

The National Gendarmerie is a police force in France placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior with additional duties to the Ministry of Defense. Its area of responsibility includes smaller towns, rural and suburban areas. Due to its military status, the Gendarmerie also fulfills a range of military and defense missions.  For more information, visit www.gendarmerie.interieur.gouv.fr.

About SimActive

SimActive is the developer of Correlator3D™ software, a patented end-to-end photogrammetry solution for the generation of high-quality geospatial data from satellite and aerial imagery, including UAVs. Correlator3D™ performs aerial triangulation (AT) and produces dense digital surface models (DSM), digital terrain models (DTM), point clouds, orthomosaics and vectorized 3D features. Powered by GPU technology and multi-core CPUs, Correlator3D™ ensures matchless processing speed to support rapid production of large datasets. SimActive has been selling Correlator3D™ to leading mapping firms and government organizations around the world, offering cutting-edge photogrammetry software backed by exceptional customer support. For more information, visit www.simactive.com.

Protecting sensitive data

As drones enter the mainstream of commercial usage, concerns have arisen about the safety and protection of sensitive data they gather from theft by hackers.   There isn’t a week that goes by without news about hacking attacks against companies and technologies.  As the application of drones increases, the question needs to be asked: are drones safe from hacking?

One company, Sharper Shape Inc., based in Grand Forks, North Dakota uses drones to monitor the health of critical national infrastructure, including  the electric grid, transmission lines, solar and wind power installations and oil and gas transmission and distribution and providing that sensitive data to utilities securely in the Cloud.

Utility concerns about drone data safety

If a company is using commercial drones manufactured in China or elsewhere, should utilities fear potential data leaks? Do some utilities, used to having old school internal data protection systems, not trust modern cloud based solutions used by drone software companies?

Ilkka Hiidenheimo, CEO of Sharper Shape Inc., is an acknowledged expert on drone cybersecurity.  Previously, he was the founder of Stonesoft, a cybersecurity company acquired by Intel MacAfee.

In the words of Mr. Hiidenheimo: “Cybersecurity is very important in the drone/drone software industry. Naturally for drones the number one issue is aviation regulation. For example, nowadays commercial drones support “no fly-zones”.  What size drones are flown also affects how they are regulated.”

Of course, not all drones are subject to cyberattacks.   If you have only a radio link to your drone, which you are flying manually, there is no connection to the cyber world. If your system is connected to the Internet then, yes, you are vulnerable.

Comparing drone data protection today and a few years ago

The current situation is extremely challenging. Earlier it was enough to maintain good software policy and keep your anti-virus protection up to date. And of course you have to train your people.  Now if you have valuable information in your possession, or your system can be used as a way to hack other systems (if you are, for example, a subcontractor of an interesting company) you will be hacked one day. This is inevitable. You need to think early on how you build your defenses and split your network, so you can limit and isolate your damages. This is also the way to minimize your recovery costs.

Military drones are logical targets for hackers, but that is really a different ball game and subject to change.  To date, drone hacking has not been a big issue. Using anonymous drones to collect information for terrorist purposes, like from a nuclear power station, or using drones to deliver explosives are thought to be the biggest security risks related to drones.

Preventing “data leaks” in the drone industry

There have been discussions about the safety of drones sending information to manufacturer’s servers. There are questions about what kind of data and how much is sent.  That represents a risk.  Sharper Shape’s priority is protecting information and preventing unauthorized use of data.  Today, it is one of very few companies with real experience of performing commercial autonomous drone flights beyond an operator’s visual line of sight.

Belaboring the obvious, but it needs to be said: control systems must be properly protected. Your communications should be encrypted and protected against hijacking.  Physical security is also important. Drones should be protected against theft or physical changes to the system or components.

Local vs. Cloud data processing

Sharper Shape processes captured data in the cloud. This includes the data that is processed and used for drone flight planning.  Cloud protection is a different animal than normal company data protection.  Sharper Shape’s cloud only runs our software, which is used to deliver our solutions. There’s nothing extra used inside the server where our services reside and only way from application servers to database information is through application, which means that hacking application server is not enough. Cyber security is a mentality. Either you try your best and you accept the always evolving security landscape or you think that business comes first, and if something happens I will fix the issues at that point. There are two problems with the latter approach. Firstly you take unacceptable risks, and secondly, sometimes implementing security to a poorly designed system is almost impossible or at least very demanding.

Security is something Sharper Shape regularly analyzes and benchmarks against known best practices. Nobody can promise 100% security. If someone claims that, you know that he or she does not understand what he or she is talking about, or he or she is purposely lying to you. You need to have protection based on what you are protecting, and who are your opponents. One thing we learned from Stuxnet is that protection against state level hackers is a difficult task.

Cyber security is no longer an Information Technology or Computer Department task

You basically can divide threats and solutions into two categories. Those are threats and solutions which are related to the platform provider (in our case Amazon Web Services) and others which are related to the business software that is run using this platform.

Unfortunately, security usually comes as an afterthought. The drone industry is part of the aviation industry, which, based on its knowledge, keeps safety as a number one issue. Part of the safety is to have proper protection for your systems, including having security as one of the design principles.

Cyber security is no longer an Information Technology or Computer Department task. This work should start at the board level. This also requires thinking of the need for never ending learning and humbleness. If someone with enough resources makes you a target, preventing that is an almost impossible task. You need to create defense in depth with multiple different protection methods, including honeypots, etc.

The biggest challenge is that the bad guys’ knowledge and capabilities are growing faster than our capabilities to protect us; especially if you keep your security in-house, with limited resources.

About Ilkka Hiidenheimo, CEO of Sharper Shape Inc.

Ilkka Hiidenheimo, born in 1960, took the helm of Sharper Shape as the CEO. Hiidenheimo was the founder of Stonesoft Corporation in 1990. He served as CTO until 2004. Between the years 2004 and 2014 he held the role of Managing Director and CEO. Hiidenheimo has more than 30 years of experience working in the computer industry and IT-security. Stonesoft was sold to Intel for $389 million in cash in 2013.

About Sharper Shape, Inc.

Based in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Sharper Shape, Inc. is a “Drone Software as a Service™ (DSaaS™) company, driven to automate the entire process of utility inspections.   Sharper Shape does not manufacture drones, they make them better.  The company has created one of the world’s most advanced aerial sensor systems and their technology powers the automatic collection and analysis of unmanned aerial inspection data.  More information is available at: https://sharpershape.com.

As the UAV market spreads, people are realizing the numerous safety and economic benefits that the drone inspections provide. From reducing the safety risks to reducing the time it takes to inspect a facility, the drone-based inspections can save huge amounts of money for companies and individuals.

The drone-based aerial inspections can be used for general asset inspections, pre-shutdown assessment, post-incident inspection, checking the integrity of facilities such as flare systems and more.

Hiring drone inspection services

Since organizations require the inspections once every few months or years, most of them do not see the need to purchase the drones and train their staff on how to operate them. Furthermore, a successful inspection requires more than just the hardware. It requires experience and people who are inspection experts for the specific structure or facility. For these reasons, the majority of companies prefer to hire the services of drone inspection providers.

But with so many companies claiming to offer drone services, it can be challenging deciding on who is best suited to perform a successive inspection. The choice of an inspection company is critical in ensuring reliable results. As such, it is always important to pay attention to the important aspects of an inspection before hiring a company.

Why you should aim at a good inspection

  • A bad aerial inspection gives inaccurate data. Analysing such data produces misleading results that have potential to increase risks, accidents, and losses.
  • If unsuccessful, a repeat inspection becomes necessary and this increases the costs.
  • A bad inspection increases the possibility of accidents and safety risks for the employees and people in the facility. This is especially so if the aim was to analyze the structure and improve safety.
  • When inspecting a building or structure for marketing purposes, inaccurate reports such as poor images and videos may drive away potential customers.

Click to Download a Sample Drone Inspection Report 

Considerations looking for a drone inspection provider

To help you make the right decision, here are the 7 things to know before choosing a drone inspection provider.

1. Ensure you are engaging an inspection company

There are several companies providing different drone based services. Some are purely for aerial photography which is fairly simple. These may not have the capacity, skills, and experience carrying out detailed inspections which require more expertise and different approach.

That is why it is critical to ensure that you are engaging an actual inspection service provider and not just an aerial photography company. A drone inspections company will have an understanding of the tasks involved and have the expertise to carry out the project according to your requirements.

Most often, the inspection company has the expertise and ability to fly the drones close to the structures while capturing high-quality images that other professionals can use to obtain useful details. This enables the structure or facility owner to get critical information and make better engineering decisions.

Generally, the inspection company carries out the tasks using a team of at least two people. This includes an experienced pilot to control the drone as it hovers over the facility. The other person is usually an experienced inspection engineer who looks at the live video feeds and then controls the cameras to capture the relevant images.

2. Licensed and Competent pilots

In addition to possessing the mandatory qualifications and licenses such as the CAA and FAA, the drone pilots must be competent and highly qualified to undertake complex inspections safely. In case of a complex installation or harsh environment, they need to analyze it and determine all the internal and external risks, especially in the petrochemical, oil and gas inspection. They need to have experience working in difficult weather conditions such as strong winds or working near dangerous installations such as power lines.

Other considerations include the ability to safely operate the drone in low or high-pressure environments as well as manually controlling the drone when it is impossible to use the GPS positioning options.

Companies which perform several inspections in a wide variety of industries will obviously have more experience handling complex inspections. The inspectors in such companies will have more expertise from the field compared to the less busy companies with single or no inspection per month.

Click to Download White Paper on How to Implement Preventive Maintenance In Oil & Gas Industry through Drone Inspections

3. The provider should have professional grade inspection drones

While a quadcopter is ideal for simple tasks such as aerial photography, they have limitations when it comes to carrying out inspections. These have higher safety risks, especially if a rotor or two fail.

Ideally, the company needs to use a professional grade hexacopter as a minimum; an octocopter is much better. These are safer, and even if a one, two or three rotors fail, there are higher chances of the pilot landing the drone safely.

Another safety consideration is the condition of the devices and equipment for the inspection. It is important to hire a provider who performs regular maintenance and upgrades of their inspection equipment. This prevents the breakdown of the equipment at the site since these will often lead to delays, inaccurate or poor inspection data.

When equipment fails on site, the provider should commit to replace them as soon as possible.

4. Ensure that the provider has the capacity and skills to provide expected results

Depending on the reason for the drone inspection, ensures that the company is capable of delivering. For example, if you need high-quality images of specific areas, the provider needs to have experience and ability carrying out similar tasks.

They should have the right type of drones and sensors such as high-quality cameras to deliver according to the requirements. It is much easier to analyze still images compared to video. But it is also good if the company can provide both. However, the drone needs to be equipped with the best cameras for the tasks.

5. Company must provide the inspection report in required format

An inspection report provides the relevant information that a customer is looking for. In most cases, it forms a basis or a guide for further actions such as maintenance or marketing.

During the inspections, the drones collect large amounts of data from the facilities. This includes hundreds or even thousands of raw images. The provider must present them in a format that the client can access easily and analyze. Normally, a drone inspection software is used during the process.

The results should clearly make it easy to identify the defects and their locations. This eases the repair or maintenance work. It is important to see the kind of reports they provide and see if they align with your requirements or if the company is ready to customize it for your needs.

Additionally, the drone inspection company may have cloud-based reporting platforms. Some have advanced software tools to analyze images and generate reports which a customer can then access and interpret easily from the internet.

With cloud-based systems, a company can provide the hard and soft copies as well as an online version. In some cases, the company can review the inspection reports almost in real time, and probably request for further information when the inspection company is still at the site. In case this is foreseen, the provider must be flexible to accommodate such requests.

6. Adequate resources, experience, and manpower

The aerial inspection provider must have experience performing similar tasks. To confirm this, see the testimonials from previous clients, and if possible ask for references that you can approach and find out how they were served.

Checking with the references is a good way of getting an honest opinion of the provider’s services and ability to deliver on projects.

Find out if the provider has the capacity, skills, and resources to meet your requirements and deadlines. If you plan to carry out the inspections in different locations within a certain period, find out if the inspection company has the capacity or ability to mobilize multiple resources and teams. An ideal company should be able to provide this locally as well as internationally if there is a need.

Research on the drone inspection projects they have undertaken and how they delivered. If possible, compare similar projects from different providers and see who delivers the best and at what cost.

7. Check the company’s aviation audit report and reputation

The aviation department can perform an audit and provide you with an honest report about the company’s operations. This will include their safety records and issues, if any, whether the company trains their staff, and how they carry out their inspections. This will help you understand their approach and whether to trust them with your facility, based on their experience, procedures, and safety records.

While evaluating the company’s competence, see if they can open up about incidences which could have happened. This gives the company an opportunity to express themselves and let you know what they have done to avoid similar occurrences or what they will do in case it happens.

Conclusion

Before you hire a drone inspection service for your facility or complex structure, there are a few things you need to verify with the provider. The company you choose must have the ability and expertise to safely and effectively carry out the exercise without compromising on quality.

Click to Download Oil and Gas Drone Inspection Sample Report

About Industrial SkyWorks:

Industrial Skyworks (ISW) is a commercial, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) and data management solutions company with offices in Houston, Toronto and Trinidad. Founded in 2012 by pilots with backgrounds and expertise in aircraft safety systems, risk management and aeronautical sciences, ISW inspects buildings, and oil and gas infrastructure using small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS). They are the first company ever to receive FAA approval for night-time commercial drone operations and flew the first ever FAA-sanctioned night flight in the U.S., in the Fall of 2016.

MINNEAPOLIS — The votes are in and the best drone videos of 2017 have been chosen.

Thirteen aerial content creators were voted on as the winners of the 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards.

Moscow Aerial 5K Timelab.pro by Russian drone pilot Timelab.pro was voted the Drone Video of the Year, while Paul Nurkkala won the FPV (First-Person View) Video of the Year for NURK’s Flight of the Year.

Five finalists in 13 different categories were selected by the staff of AirVūz, based on the quality, originality and creativity of the drone video or photograph. All AirVūz content creators had the opportunity to place their votes for which finalists they thought were the best of the best.

The voting concluded on Jan. 21 and the winners were announced on AirVūz Live on Facebook on Feb. 5. Each category winner will receive a plaque, cash and prizes. The categories included: People, Cities, Countries, Landscape, Freestyle FPV, Drone Racing, Tiny Whoop, Animals (including pets), Dronies (selfies taken with a drone), Sports, Originality, Reels and Photo.

For more information about the contest, go to www.airvuz.com/drone-video-awards-2017 or contact Tyler Mason, Director of Public Relations, at tyler@airvuz.com.

A list of the 2017 AirVūz Drone Video Awards winners can be found below:

DRONIE — There Is No One Else by Wellington Visuals

LANDSCAPE — Perspective by Jay Worsley

RACING — Drone Racing Underground by JohnnyFPV

COUNTRIES — “Awaken” Iceland by mikebishop.tv

PEOPLE — This is Yunnan by Face du Monde

ANIMALS — Majestic Beast Nanuk by Florian Ledoux

CITIES — Moscow Aerial 5K Timelab.pro by Timelab.pro

TINY WHOOP — エアリアルヨガスタジオ y+AERO × TINY WHOOP JAPAN by KatsuFPV

FREESTYLE — NURK’s Flight of the Year // Trains, Bridges, Rapids, Mountains, Sunsets, Gapping, Perching, Powerlooping by nurkfpv

SPORTS — Dream… by PilotViking

ORIGINALITY — Cardboard Cadet by chrisxgxc

REEL — Drones are Awesome by ThisIsTilt

PHOTOGRAPHY — Floating in the Unknown by zimydakid

About AirVūz

Since its launch in 2015, AirVūz has become the world’s leading drone video and photography sharing platform and global community for drone pilots and aerial media enthusiasts. Drone enthusiasts worldwide can upload and share videos and photos in unlimited quantity and at no cost. Site users have free access to an ever-growing library of drone media content including easily browsable categories such as travel, extreme sports, golf courses, drone racing, landmarks and more. AirVūz users also have access to original AirVūz content, including the weekly AirVūz News program, profiles of top content creators, product reviews, and how-to information for drone pilots on how to take and edit high quality drone video.

The second edition of U.T.SEC – Unmanned Technologies & Security Expo & Conference will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, 7-8 March 2018, at the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg, in parallel with Enforce Tac, the special exhibition for police equipment. The entire focus of this still quite new trade fair is on drones and unmanned systems, how they can be used to improve security, and also how to defend against these technologies in structures that are relevant from a security perspective. The patron for the event is Franz Josef Pschierer, Under-Secretary at the Bavarian State Ministry for Economic Affairs and Media, Energy and Technology.

The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will increase greatly in the next few years, including – and in particular – in the security field. In the lead-up to U.T.SEC, we spoke with an expert in this area: Karsten Schudt has been Managing Partner of 3W-International GmbH since 2009. The Hesse-based company is a world leader in the supply of two-stroke combustion engines for unmanned aerial systems. The global activities of 3W-International have given Schudt extensive knowledge of international UAS applications.

Your work has given you a broad overview of international developments in the area of UAS technology. What general trends do you perceive?

Karsten Schudt (KS): The industry is currently undergoing a major transition. We assume that more systems are now being used for civilian than for military applications. This is placing new demands on unmanned aerial systems. The use of UAS swarms, hybrid drive technologies, self-determining flight systems, even smarter camera and sensor packages and increased performance at lower and lower costs are just a few of the changes that are happening right now. It is safe to say that UAS will change our lives fundamentally, including in the security field.

The focus on the efficient use of UAS seems to be constantly increasing. What technical developments can we expect in this area?

KS: Previously, efforts focused on developing flight-capable systems. The drivers at that time were military applications. But with the growth in civilian applications, the focus has switched to questions of economic and efficient use. Systems that don’t fly don’t earn money. This focus on efficiency has now also reached the military sphere. In other words, we have to be efficient in every area of application now: the market demands greater and
greater ranges, higher payloads and longer flying times, with the same or
lower energy consumption.

What effect will these developments have on the use of these devices in the area of security?

KS: The costs for using UAS will fall, regardless of how they are powered. UAS will also be used for an increasingly wide range of applications. The lower costs and greater flexibility will of course also play a part in how they are used in the area of police activities. Small systems with powerful cameras don’t cost a fortune, so they are a manageable investment for police and private security services. That also applies to larger systems fitted with combustion engines, for example. A helicopter of this type can be used for border protection on the one hand, but on the other it can also be used to search for boat people in the Mediterranean or to monitor shipping in the English Channel. The same goes for transportation tasks. Whereas in the past it was only possible to transport small quantities of medications or stored blood, now it is possible to transport full weeks’ worth of rations to
oil rigs far out in the North Sea, for example, for just a fraction of the usual cost.

Must we assume that UAS will redefine security tasks?

KS: Yes. We increasingly see in the press that UAS used in leisure time are violating security-relevant zones. We need to invest more in user education in this area. There are also threats that were previously unknown, such as industrial espionage or terror attacks using unmanned systems. The result will be substantial growth in drone defense. But some quite new opportunities are also arising. The combination of high-resolution camera,
face recognition software and drone will offer new possibilities in combating crime.

The wider public still often has a skeptical view of the use of UAS. To what extent could UAS provide decisive support in humanitarian activities, for example?

KS: UAS are extremely flexible and can be rapidly deployed. For humanitarian uses, in particular, speed is of the essence. Consider maritime rescue and compare the use of a traditional helicopter against a hybrid VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) unit. In terms of camera systems, both vehicles are just as high-performance. But when it comes to
costs, the unmanned system beats the helicopter. That applies to acquisition, maintenance and actual use. In addition, the only limitation on flying time is fuel consumption, since there are no regulations governing pilot flying hours to consider. The autopilot system enables overflights of large areas to be performed automatically. The VTOL function means that a system like this can be used anywhere, just like a helicopter, since no large-scale infrastructure is required. The advantages are obvious.

What tasks can UAS assume besides these to improve their image?

KS: Essentially, if tasks have to be performed quickly and at low cost over large areas, UAS always have the advantage. For example, in the fight against poaching in Africa or the transportation of medications to remote areas of Papua New Guinea, or following a major earthquake, where the entire infrastructure has collapsed.

This is the second time that you are participating in U.T.SEC as a speaker. How relevant do you find this exhibition for questions of using UAS in security activities?

KS: The fast-moving nature of this sector means we need continuous, rigorous discussion about deployment opportunities, technical developments, and also risks. The first edition of U.T.SEC in 2017 showed that it provides the right framework for security applications relating to unmanned systems. The quality of the discussions was very high. It is
important to have an event like this, to facilitate discussion between all the players.