Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are aircraft that can fly autonomously, using computers and predetermined flight plans, or be piloted remotely.
The use of commercial UASs is growing and the applications of the technology can be endless. One way in which UASs are increasingly being used, both by private industry and government, is as a new tool to conduct surveys and mapping.
Equipped with on-board cameras, UASs can capture timely aerial images at a fraction of the cost of traditional manned flights. UASs can also fly at lower altitudes, allowing for better ground resolution and more accurate mapping information to be collected. After a flight, the images captured by the UAS can be quickly downloaded for analysis and the results obtained within days of the survey. These results can then be used by organizations to make better informed decisions about resource management or land use planning.
For organizations concerned about sustainability, UASs have a lower environmental footprint than manned flights as they are smaller, lighter and tend to be battery operated.
Due to their low operating cost and their ability to follow complex flight patterns, areas that were once inaccessible to field investigations can be easily surveyed and mapped using UASs.
For mining, pits and quarries, the high resolution surface data collected by UASs can be used to effectively calculate mining and aggregate stockpile volumes to within 1-3%. Using the imagery captured, ground surface topography can be rapidly generated and semi-automated photo stitching processes can create geo-referenced, 3-D information.
Accurately calculating stockpile volumes allows companies to better manage their resources and costs.
Environmental Assessment and Management
For natural resources, agriculture and forestry, aerial photos can be acquired using an on-board infra-red cameras that will clearly show chlorophyll inside any type of vegetation. Once analysed, this data can provide vital information regarding the state of crops and tree stands as well as differentiate between various vegetation types and stages of growth. Leaf area index (which is a ratio of canopy to sub-lying ground) can also be assessed as can other biomass indexes used to determine plant health and stress.
Sometimes forest and land management plans require detail that may only be accessed from old photos that are incomplete or obsolete to a site. Unmanned Aerial Systems can be used to quickly gather detailed topographic and vegetative images in regions that are not easily accessible to field investigations. These highly accurate images provide forestry and natural resource professionals with species habitat information to be used to develop land management and resource plans.
Who Can Benefit From UASs?
- Exploration and Large Scale Mining Industry
- Aggregate Industry
- Waste Management and Solid Waste Operators
- Forestry Planning and Transformation Industry
- Local and Regional Municipal Government
- Conservation Authorities
- Agricultural Sector
- Consulting and Engineering Firms
- Land Developers and Real Estate
- High Resolution Aerial Surveys
- Environmental Assessment and Management
- Topographic Mapping and Surveys
- Infrastructure Inventory and Land Management
- 3D Site Visualization
- Crop Growth Assessment
- Surface Water and Drainage Modelling
For more information about using UASs in surveying and mapping, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.