If you’re a longtime drone pilot looking to expand your
fleet or new to the world of professional unmanned aerial systems (UAS),
there’s a lot to consider when investing in a new drone platform.
Before we jump into the exciting details such as advanced
camera payloads, flight capabilities, data quality, and precision mapping outputs
that were not even imaginable years ago, it’s essential that you first understand
which type of aircraft is best suited for your business. Is a multi-rotor
drone, such as a four-propellor-powered quadcopter ideal for most application
needs, or a fixed-wing that more closely resembles a traditional airplane? Or
While there are a lot of differences between these two
platform types, the flight times that result from their unique aerodynamics,
stand to make the biggest business impact.
And the advantages are multi-faceted – let’s take a closer
When it comes to large-scale mapping projects, the eBee X fixed-wing design goes the distance by using efficient aerodynamics to fly up to 90 minutes in a single flight with its endurance extension, while most popular quadcopters can only achieve 30 minutes before requiring a battery swap.
It is crucial to employ a mapping platform that can reach virtually any site, capture critical data and return home – without the risk of running out of battery charge.
The eBee X fixed-wing drone can access a flight radius up to 5.3X larger than the typical quadcopter drone while providing regulatory advantages for conducting operations such as flying beyond a visual line of sight (BVLOS)
From data acquisition to battery changes and transition times, fixed-wing drones require less flights.
Below, the results of a recent test comparing mapping timings on a 100 ha (247 A) mission showed that an eBee X with S.O.D.A. 3D sensor was almost 2X quicker than a quadcopter due to its efficiency.
And these time savings are scalable — the larger the area, the greater the difference!
For business managers, the effect of reduced time on site is appealing (especially if an external drone operator is being employed.)
When applying the average labor costs listed below to a 300 ha (741 A) mission, it’s easy to see that the fixed-wing platform has the potential to net $249-$385 in savings to the operation. And this is just a single team!
Time savings means more mapping projects can be completed over a specific period. Flying a fixed-wing drone in place of a slower quadcopter was found to boost a team’s potential capacity by several projects per week to more than double when applied to larger projects.
Due to lightweight, impact-resistant Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) material, plus the smart design of the eBee (no hard front plastic parts, rear-facing motor) as well as pre-programmed emergency actions within eMotion, operators have a robust, safe drone for conducting mapping missions and a platform well-suited for advanced drone operations such as Operations Over People (OOP) and BVLOS flights – affording you a significant advantage over heavier platforms.
eBee are the only drones in the market to be approved for OOP in the USA and Canada. Moreover, they are EU C2 certified, obtained a M2 Ground risk Mitigation essential for OOP and BVLOS operations in Europe and are approved for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations in Brazil.
eBee X series drones seamlessly integrate with eMotion, an advanced, scalable, and intuitive flight planning software. When using active RTK, the eBee can directly geotag collected images with high accuracy during flight to provide you with a time-saving advantage in post-processing.
All eBee drones feature a modular design that enables you to quickly swap sensor payloads, conduct repairs, and interval servicing with ease. This feature, along with wide accessibility to parts, significantly reduces downtime in comparison to many VTOL platforms.
With up to 3X longer flight time, the fixed-wing eBee X can map up to 18.7 km/11.6 mi approx. 3X longer corridors than a typical quadcopter’s coverage of 9 km (5.6 mi) per battery by comparison. This difference could potentially enable a commercial operator to engage in a wider range of corridor projects or to map larger corridors up to 3X more efficiently.
The lighter your equipment, the easier it is to transport to your site. Weighing just 4.6 kg (10 lbs) empty and 10 kg / (22 lbs) when fully loaded with an eBee, laptop and accessories, backpack and drone is one of the lightest professional-grade platforms in the industry, allowing you to easily go – wherever the site takes you.
Today’s energy and utilities organizations are using drones to capture data that was previously too dangerous, difficult or expensive to obtain. While the full potential of drone technology is still being realized, it’s clear that drones are a must-have for energy companies looking to reduce costs, increase safety and revolutionize their workflows.
In this article, we’ll highlight some of the top use cases and benefits of drones as they relate to the transmission & distribution, wind and solar—and show how Measure Ground Control makes it easier. Let’s dive right in!
Drone technology can drastically reduce asset inspection time and save labor costs, while providing higher-quality data that enables companies to maximize energy production.
Using drone imagery, personnel can measure the health of entire operations to quickly pinpoint problems and develop rapid solutions. This is especially true for the most hazardous asset inspections, such as transmission towers and substations.
Imagine getting a call about a transmission tower in an area that’s inaccessible by a lineman. Traditionally, a transmission tower inspection would take dozens of hazardous worker hours to complete. With a drone, you can quickly access the tower, gather real-time imagery, and come up with a diagnosis within minutes.
AgEagle understands the importance of routine inspections, timely maintenance and compliance. Measure Ground Control gives you access to information about your inspections—flight logs, screenshots, playbacks and incident flagging.
Drones reduce the time it takes to investigate damage from storm-related power outages. Equipped with proper software and trained drone pilots, energy companies can observe entire paths of storm destruction and come up with a recovery plan.The aftermath of violent storms can leave a trail of destruction that limits road access. This is especially true after a natural disaster—the terrain conditions may be unknown and using drones can help assess damaged power generators.
You can create a cohesive visual overview with Measure Ground Control. Upload ground control points, image layers or 2D data files to study areas in greater detail.
High-resolution aerial inspections allow energy companies to study growth that might interfere with nearby solar panels. Multispectral sensors can show you which vegetation is actively growing and needs to be cleared and which vegetation is dormant and isn’t going to encroach on your sites. That way, your team can focus on clearing brush that is an active problem while ignoring dead growth that isn’t.
Measure Ground Control makes progress reporting easy. Using cloud-based data, your team can plan flights, record data and review information to get a valuable perspective on sites whenever you need it.
We’d previously mentioned how major asset inspections, like those of transmission towers or substations, are expensive and time-consuming endeavors. As a result, energy companies often aren’t able to conduct those inspections as often as they’d like. Sometimes, they’re only able to inspect these high-value assets annually.
Since drones make it easier and more efficient to conduct these types of inspections, assets can be reviewed more frequently, such as quarterly inspections of wind turbines. More regular inspections enable energy companies to better track the natural degradation of their assets to see how they perform and hold up over time.
Measure’s secure online portal and customized reporting tools enable our users to easily track performance of assets over time, even comparing and contrasting different manufacturers.
Asset purchasers, financiers or energy off-takers have a limited amount of time to assess and accept a new solar or wind farm. Drones offer a quick way to capture data samples that stakeholders can use to measure the sustainability of entire wind and solar farms.
Commissioning with drones is more efficient than manual inspections and identifies defects, tracker misalignment, shading, tower and substation conditions that manual inspections might miss.
With Measure’s API integration capabilities, energy companies can disseminate information into data lakes immediately and automatically. No more manual logs and uploads required.
Drones offer real-time visibility of areas that stretch for miles, such as oil pipelines or miles of transmission towers. Corridor mapping via drones is more efficient, requires less manpower and yields better results than traditional surveying methods.
Traditionally, energy companies invest a lot of time and resources to gather data on these large survey operations. A manual survey of a large area may require workers to face hazardous conditions—extreme temperatures, wildlife and dehydration. Helicopters are a common alternative, but are expensive and unable to capture aerial imagery at the proper angle and are disruptive to wildlife and local residents.
Drones provide a safe way to get a detailed view of terrain in the shortest amount of time. You can create automated flights to capture the exact paths you want, or you can manually fly your drones to build your maps. You can also equip drones with a variety of sensors that can give you detailed information on topography, vegetation and more.
Measure makes it easy to build detailed maps from your drone data. Start your free trial today and build two free maps a month.
Informed decision-making begins with accurate data. Drones are the preferred solution for measuring assets because they give energy companies an accurate snapshot of stockpiles and sites in minutes.
Drones use images captured from dense grid pattern aerial photography to produce a point cloud and a digital surface model to estimate volume. This process is faster than traditional methods and requires fewer resources.
Measure Ground Control puts intelligent inspection modes and data analysis tools at your fingertips, allowing your company to better plans for the future.
Measure Ground Control remains the leader in aerial intelligence solutions. Our team has 30 years of combined experience in drone software and operations. We’re here to help with custom setup and onboarding processes and priority customer support to ensure that Measure works best for you.
Hexagon US Federal announced a collaboration with senseFly, an AgEagle company, the global leader in fixed-wing mapping drones and tactical mapping specialists, and Tough Stump Technologies to bring the latest ARTEMIS solution to market. Bringing together cutting-edge Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) from senseFly, laptops with the GEEP platform fully loaded with imagery and other mission data from Hexagon US Federal, as well as extensive support and training from Tough Stump Technologies, the Aerial Reconnaissance Tactical Edge Mapping Imagery System (ARTEMIS) is a first-of-its-kind integrated offering that allows operators to respond quickly, safely and with confidence. ARTEMIS is a turnkey kit designed to rapidly collect and analyze high-resolution imagery, filling critical gaps in situational awareness and intelligence collection. Featuring a 17.2-mile range (one way) and up to 90-minute flight time, ARTEMIS is suitable for tactical military operations, disaster response, public safety, and humanitarian assistance missions In addition to the eBee sUAS, the ARTEMIS solution includes Google Earth Enterprise Platform (GEEP) equipped laptops, containing custom globes of mission AOIs built from satellite imagery and other geospatial intelligence and forms the backdrop for the eBee TAC-collected imagery. GEEP provides an intuitive interface for visualization and planning, integration with mobile situational awareness tools such as ATAK, and enables ARTEMIS to operate in disconnected environments.
“We’re excited to be working with Hexagon US Federal and Tough Stump Technologies. Together we have developed a forward-thinking solution that is unlike anything else on the market today. Harnessing the advanced capabilities of the eBee TAC, ARTEMIS allows users to cover large expanses of terrain quickly and efficiently – even in remote areas that are difficult to access.”
Gilles Labossière, CEO, senseFly
“We’re excited to be working with Hexagon US Federal and Tough Stump Technologies. Together we have developed a forward-thinking solution that is unlike anything else on the market today. Harnessing the advanced capabilities of the eBee TAC, ARTEMIS allows users to cover large expanses of terrain quickly and efficiently – even in remote areas that are difficult to access.”
The fully NDAA-compliant eBee TAC weighs just 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs), features a unique digital camouflage (“digicam”) skin for increased stealth during missions and can be rapidly deployed from assembly to hand-launch in just three minutes and operated by one person in the field for added agility.
“We are very proud of our partnership with senseFly and Tough Stump Technologies in building and deploying the ARTEMIS solution. It’s inspiring to see what a difference ARTEMIS makes in providing organizations with the ability to develop reliable, detailed situational awareness at the tactical edge,” comments Tammer Olibah, CEO and President, Hexagon US Federal.
“We’re excited to be working with Hexagon US Federal and Tough Stump Technologies. Together we have developed a forward-thinking solution that is unlike anything else on the market today,” comments Gilles Labossière, CEO, senseFly. “Harnessing the advanced capabilities of the eBee TAC, ARTEMIS allows users to cover large expanses of terrain quickly and efficiently – even in remote areas that are difficult to access.”
Jarrett Heavenston, co-founder/CEO at Tough Stump Technologies adds, “There’s been a gap in situational awareness knowledge in the defense and disaster relief sectors for many years now. Other UAVs, like small planes or satellites, cannot capture as many details as a drone, which puts operators at a disadvantage in the field. Now, with ARTEMIS, there is access to a sophisticated, end-to-end offering for the first time that will be a game-changer for these industries which need a higher-grade of aerial intelligence.”
For more information about ARTEMIS visit www.toughstump.comFor more information about eBee drone solutions visit www.ageagle.com
By starting a drone program, you’ve already taken the first step to improve the efficiency and safety of your operations. And now to fully leverage the value of aerial data for your organization, you might be considering how to scale your drone program across your business.
At this point you probably have a few questions, for example:
Regardless of business size or industry, every drone program faces similar challenges when it comes to ramping up drone operations. You’ll need to take a forward-thinking approach and anticipate barriers to adoption—including organizational buy-in, cost and potential technical difficulties.Though there’s no ready-made formula for scaling your drone program, the steps outlined in this article will help you build a program that can handle larger demands and maximize the value of drone data for all stakeholders.
Once you’ve achieved measured improvements in efficiency and safety, the next phase of growth involves scaling up your drone program to multiply the benefits across your broader organization. Some ways to scale up your drone program include:
With so many ways to grow, it can be a struggle to stay focused. A step-by-step growth plan can remind you what your priorities are and keep your drone program on track. When building a growth plan, think about factors like:
These baselines will give you a clear picture of the benefits that different departments or regions could achieve from using drone technology. These benefits will form the basis of your discussions with other stakeholders and help clinch management buy-in.
Drones are capable of doing dozens of things that can help your business, from simple imaging to deploying payloads. That makes it easy to get options paralysis in brainstorming sessions. Instead of focusing too broadly on all the potential applications of drones, stay focused on identifying specific opportunities where drones will offer the most benefits.
For example, if you’re a construction company, it would make sense to allow your drones to tackle inherently dangerous, time-consuming, or expensive tasks across the enterprise, such as vertical asset inspections. You can grow your drone program by strategically planning out ways to expand your vertical inspection capabilities to more job sites. By putting a systematic plan in place, you can decrease those hazardous work hours across your entire organization with ease.
Effective communication is paramount in getting organizational buy-in. After all, how will the rest of your company understand how growing your drone program can help different departments if you can’t communicate the benefits? When you talk to other internal teams about how a drone program could help them, share the data products you have and demonstrate the ROI they have brought to your department.
For example, let’s say you’re a utility manager. How do you help teams understand how easy and fast data access becomes with drone-based inspections?
One way would be to show team leaders that you can pull up data from a flight earlier in the day on an iPad that clearly shows damage to a wind turbine after a storm the night before. Traditionally, that task might have included hazardous work hours and have been postponed several days.
Any enterprise-wide drone program should do at least two things:
In a well-structured drone program, it’s easier to immediately see the impact of drones. For example, let’s say that before adopting drones, you were only able to conduct asset integrity inspections annually. With drones, you can now conduct these inspections monthly. As a result, damage is detected and repaired earlier—bringing down the asset failure rate from “y” to “z”.
The efficacy of your drone program would depend on how well you log and manage flight operations data. Many companies prefer to use a software solution like Measure Ground Control for maintaining flight logs with screenshots and playbacks and to flag incidents. They like to track equipment usage and other detailed information about missions.
Tracking different parameters will give your program the oversight needed to ensure consistently safe and compliant drone operations. And you can easily generate reports demonstrating this to management, too.
Managing the tasks and responsibilities of a small in-house drone team is relatively simple. When you increase the moving parts across the business, the amount of coordination, oversight and execution of various tasks required grows as well.
At this point, it becomes essential to delegate responsibility and establish processes. For example, who will have the authority to approve flight operations and under what circumstances? Without clear standards, you might find your drone program overwhelmed with redundant or unnecessary mission requests.
As we note in our Guide to Managing an Effective Drone Program you should:
To improve safety outcomes and determine responsibility in case of an accident, it’s necessary to have clear delineations of responsibility within the team.
Safety violations can expose your business to major civil and legal liabilities. To keep your drone risks low and rewards high, make sure all pilots abide by federal FAA, state and local regulatory compliance guidelines.
Make standard operating procedures the foundation of your drone program. Maintain pre-flight checklists to ensure safe operations. Leverage airspace tools to check for weather and airspace approvals to request Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) authorizations.
It helps that some enterprise drone solutions like Measure Ground Control come with a built-in system of audits and alerts. This ensures any drone activity outside of safety best practices is automatically flagged and checked.
The ultimate goal for establishing authority and safety processes is to keep your drone program as standardized and transparent as possible. If there is a possible liability, it should come up during an audit. If there is a problem or an accident, you should be able to analyze the incident records to prevent it from happening again. Including safety protocols early on in your drone program is paramount to growing your drone program successfully.
Data is the core of your drone program. As you grow, this data can multiply exponentially, making it difficult to track, manage and analyze the information.
As you scale up your drone program, ask yourself these questions:
Sure, it’s inconvenient to manually download data from your drone fleet, upload it separately for analysis and then again download the results for sharing. But it also raises the question of data security, especially if you are working with external clients. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, has made companies worldwide rethink customer data security.
As your drone program grows, being able to find the information you need from a basic storage folder—much less extracting actionable data from it—would become next to impossible unless it’s baked into your growth plan.
By investing in a centralized program management software platform, you can help to future-proof your drone program. Solid drone fleet management software allows you to securely upload and store high-resolution image and video files from each mission directly to the cloud, along with all other mission essentials—scheduling, logs, pilots, aircraft, flight plans, files and more.
You also get the freedom to limit access to the data with predefined roles. You can combine the monthly image processing allocation from all users into a single, shared account and can optimize the team’s usage the way you like.
While efficient data management is a pivotal part of any large-scale drone program, at the end of the day what you really want are usable, actionable insights. You don’t want to bury the end-user in unnecessary images and point clouds—you want to make sure the ROI of the program always stays visible to the top management.
A user-friendly technology platform will play a fundamental role in visualizing, analyzing and distributing aerial data to stakeholders throughout the organization.
For example, Measure Ground Control is an all-in-one solution that comes packed with industry-leading data tools such as Pix4D. This means you can process imagery into high-quality orthomosaics, digital surface models, contour maps and agricultural indices from within the same software that you used to set up automated grid flight paths.
You can also increase image processing accuracy with RTK drone data or upload ground control points with your maps for increased accuracy. All individual 2D and 3D data products can then be shared and accessed easily via links without requiring any logins.
Similarly, you can sort and upload asset inspection images to an interactive map powered by predictive maintenance leaders, Scopito. What’s more, you can create and download a PDF report customized to show the inspection results important to your business.
The drone industry landscape is constantly adjusting to new technologies, regulations and use cases. Lean on your vendors (both hardware and software) to learn how their other customers are leveraging drone technology. Join an industry council to keep up with all the latest developments, especially regulations.
For example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is rolling out requirements for remote identification of drones. While the rules don’t require you to start complying today, these regulations will guide your investments in drone hardware for the years to come. You should also think about your organization’s need for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and whether you need drones that can capture and process mission-critical data autonomously.
This kind of forward-thinking that comes from continuous education will help you to focus on the longevity of your drone program. Just like you don’t want a drone platform that would become obsolete after two years, you don’t want a software solution that can’t adapt to the needs of your growing business.
Keep yourself informed so that the solutions you choose offer the features, integrations and support you need to make your drone program a success year after year.
Running a drone program can feel like running a mini-business within your own organization. Between ensuring regulatory compliance, administrating multinational operations, managing data processing and running enterprise-wide integrations, there are a lot of processes that need to be followed correctly to ensure the growth and success of the drone program.
While looking to solve the challenge of bringing drone operations to scale, you should count on experts that will help you to get the ROI as quickly as possible. Invest in a solution that will help you to plan missions confidently, fly safely, collect quality data, post-process that data and deliver actionable insights—all in one place.
We trust Measure Ground Control. But you don’t have to take our word for it—sign up for a free trial today and see the results yourself.
AgEagle in collaboration with drone engineering and consulting specialists AL Drones and geotechnology company Santiago & Cintra announced that the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) has approved Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights to be carried out in Brazil using eBee X , eBee Geo, eBee Ag fixed-wing drones.
Building on the momentum of a fast-growing commercial drone industry, ANAC’s decision means that the eBee X series is officially approved for use in future BVLOS missions carried out by Brazilian drone operators. The drone received approval by demonstrating the safety requirements of the ANAC RBAC-E 94 Regulation for Unmanned Aircraft, through detailed engineering analyses and in-depth flight testing. Following the certification, eBee X series operators in Brazil now only require a CAER (Special Airworthiness Certificate for RPA) waiver for the aircraft with Santiago & Cintra before flying BVLOS operations.
AL DRONES partners André Arruda and Lucas Florêncio during tests with the eBee X fixed-wing drone.
“The commercial drone industry in Brazil has been growing at a phenomenal rate – and we’re excited that the eBee X series is at the forefront of these regulatory developments,” said Pierre-Alain Marchand, Head of Regulations at AgEagle. “BVLOS is becoming an important tool for operators as they start to explore the potential of more advanced drone operations, and we’re pleased that our technology continues to help define frameworks and legislation in the country. Historic approvals passed in recent years has shown us that Brazil is one of the countries to watch for drone commercialization, so continue to watch this space!”
The authorization comes following landmark approval of AgEagle’s proprietary drone technology in 2017, where the use of drones for civil applications in Brazil were legislated as part of the RBAC-E94 regulation. eBee drones became the first and only in the country permitted to fly 400 ft (120 m) in height with a 5 km radius from a licensed pilot or observer, instead of previous VLOS operations, which restricted the current use of drones to a 500 m radius.
“The authorization of eBee X series for BVLOS operations is another step towards commercialization of the sector,” says André Arruda, co-founder of AL DRONES. “After years of collective hard work and effort from all parties, this certification presents a real opportunity for operators in the future to expand their mapping operations and achieve a robust return-on-investment. We look forward to seeing what this means for BVLOS operations in Brazil in the coming years.”
eBee X drone revolutionized the unmanned aerial vehicle sector with its ease-of-use and multiple, state-of-the-art sensors designed to suit a wide range of mapping jobs. At just 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs.), eBee X is a lightweight, ultra-portable solution that is easy for a single person to operate. With a unique Endurance Extension option enabling a flight time of up to 90 minutes and single-flight coverage of up to 500 ha at 122m (1,236 A at 400 ft.), the eBee X is a premium drone that offers users the high-precision of on-demand RTK/PPK for achieving absolute accuracy of down to 1.5 cm (0.6 in) – without ground control points. This capability makes the eBee X ideal for BVLOS operations such as long corridor mapping missions for utility companies, expansive crop scouting in agriculture and by enterprise customers who desire a robust and professional drone fleet.
For more information on the eBee X, visit www.ageagle.com
Drone technology is revolutionizing countless industries, making it possible for businesses to expand operations, extend reach and capability, and improve operational efficiency.
Whether you run a wind farm and need to monitor your turbines or manage construction sites and want to track progress, you’re probably here because you suspect that drones can help your business thrive. And you might be wondering what you need to know before starting your own drone program.
No two drone programs are the same—even within the same industry, such as agriculture, drone programs in different organizations are going to have different needs and challenges. However there are some common questions that every business should consider when starting a drone program.
This article will help you understand what to consider and how to fulfill your specific needs.
Drones can help your business. You have no question about that. But the first step in starting a drone program is answering a very important question: do you really need to build out an entire internal drone program, or will a drone service provider suffice?
The truth is, not all companies need to have their own drone program. Sometimes, hiring external drone services will be sufficient for your company, at least in the short run.
Here are some reasons you might want to consider hiring a drone service provider instead of building your own program:
Now that we’ve covered the reasons you might want to outsource your drone program, there’s one big reason you wouldn’t want a service provider—the long-term cost.
That’s right, cost as a factor can go either for or against outsourcing your drone program. While starting a drone program does involve a lot of upfront costs, outsourced programs can be expensive in the long run if you’re doing a lot of flights. So if your organization is committed to making drone technology a permanent part of operations, it might make sense to build your own drone program.
Once you’ve decided that you want to start your own drone program rather than hiring a service provider, it’s time to think about what kinds of flights, also known as missions, you’ll do. After all, the types of flights will impact the equipment you buy, software you use and what kind of data you can collect.
The different types of flights include:
You may decide that over the long run, your organization will be involved in multiple flight types from the list above. However in the early days it’s helpful to start with one or two primary use cases and understand that your needs might change over time.
When it comes to your company’s drone program, what data will you need to process and how often do you need to process it? The answer to this question will guide your drone, sensor and software purchases.
For example, is the primary goal of your drone program standard data collection, such as analyzing standard RGB images of job sites? If so, you probably don’t need thermal sensors or advanced software solutions. However, you will need a software data management solution to store those images.
If you’re trying to automatically detect deterioration (which is common in transmission and distribution) such as the laminate deterioration on a wind turbine, you’ll need a software solution like Measure Ground Control.
Mapping also requires a software solution. Something like Maps Made Easy is a good starter mapping software, but advanced jobs such as elevation mapping might require more advanced sensors and software.
After you’ve chosen those first two primary types of flights, it’s time to select the equipment you need to have a successful drone program. Looking back to the last question, the types of flights you plan on taking will be the primary driver of what kind of drone or drones and sensors you’ll want to buy.
There are four types of drones, all of which have their own advantages and use cases.
Take vertical building façade inspections as an example. A quadcopter of some kind is more suitable than a fixed-wing drone because fixed-wing drones can’t fly straight up or hover. By contrast, if you’re mapping larger areas, you’ll want a drone that has a longer battery life and perhaps a larger size overall.
You also might be limited to using or avoiding certain brands of drones. For example, if your company has government contracts, you may not be able to use DJI drones to service those contracts.
AgEagle’s eBee TAC drone was the first fixed-wing approved drone to be added to the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) Blue UAS Cleared List for procurement by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and government agencies.
The types of data you want to collect—and what you want to do with it—will help you decide which cameras and sensors you need. The primary types of cameras and sensors include:
There are two especially important elements to running a drone program—the software you need and the person who will manage it.
Drone fleet management can be as advanced as a software solution like Measure Ground Control or as simple as a manual flight log or digital drone log book.
For smaller drone programs, you might be able to get by with a manual log book. However, the problems with manual flight logs become apparent as you begin to scale up your drone program. When you start adding drones, pilots and flights, the manual log book simply can’t keep up.
That’s why even smaller drone programs use software solutions like Measure Ground Control on day one. They understand that starting and growing with a software solution will be easier, less time-consuming and ultimately less expensive than starting with a manual log and eventually porting your data over into a software solution.
You might even want something like Measure Ground Control even if your drone program is small with no real intention of scaling up—especially if your pilots are flying a lot. That’s because even small companies and programs may need the advanced compliance features of Ground Control.
The bottom line is, if you need compliance at scale and large-scale management, you want a solution like Measure Ground Control.
At Measure, we’ve noticed a trend. The person in an organization who pushes hardest for a drone program tends to end up being the first person to head that drone program.
Sometimes, that’s totally fine. There’s a lot to be said for having the person with the most passion for drones running the show. They probably even know their way around a drone and have certainly done the research to see how drones can help your company.
However, there are downsides to not having a dedicated drone program manager.
One big downside is a lack of time and attention. If the person pushing for the drone program already has a dedicated job and many other tasks, asking them to head a drone program is simply adding more work to their plate.
Another downside is lack of expertise. Unless the person pushing for the drone program has previously run a drone program, there could be a big knowledge and experience gap. Before the program can be successful, that person has a lot of training and education ahead of them.
Since drone programs are still relatively new, it’s hard to find talented, licensed drone pilots who will be ready to fly on day one. One popular option for new drone programs is to train existing employees or hire and train new pilots who might have some hobby experience.
There are three primary methods of training and certifying new commercial drone pilots. The first is to send pilots to a drone pilot school or training program. During their training program, their curriculum will include use cases, practical skills, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety regulations and more. At the end of the program, they’ll have a remote pilot certificate.
The other two ways are to hire a drone consultant to come in for a period of time or to hire a chief pilot.
Both of these options will enable employees to learn to fly on-site and prepare for certification and licensing directly from industry professionals. The only difference is that a chief pilot would be a long-term hire and a consultant will simply fulfill their contract and move along to their next assignment.
Ultimately, drone programs are only as successful as the time and energy put into them. If you’re willing to commit to making your drone program a success, then it likely will be. If you have a main point of contact who has the time and energy to commit to setting everything up and making the important decisions, you’re well on your way to a drone program capable of improving and elevating your business.
Are you ready to get your drone program off the ground? Reach out to our team to see how Measure Ground Control and its partners can help make drones work for you and your organization.
By Brandon Torres Declet, Former Chief Operating Officer & Board Director of AgEagle, and Former President & Co-Founder of Measure.
We’re pleased to announce that we were recently acquired by AgEagle Aerial Systems (NYSE: UAVS), an industry-leading drone solutions provider. The acquisition was finalized on April 19, 2021 and will provide our team with the resources to drive innovation, deliver exceptional customer support, and foster long-term growth. With Measure’s advanced software platform now part of the AgEagle family, customers across a wide range of industries can further capitalize on the benefits of a robust drone program.
Measure brings to AgEagle a world-class team of drone technology experts with deep operational experience, tens of thousands of successful missions, and industry recognition and respect as one of the world’s leading aerial intelligence solutions companies. The acquisition represents a powerful marriage of strengths, experience and highly complementary capabilities and know-how that should earn us distinction as the leading global provider of true end-to-end drone solutions.
Now that we’re part of AgEagle, our team will continue to operate with the agility of a startup, while also benefiting from the resources of a publicly traded company. Customers can expect a faster pace of innovation and feature rollouts, as well as more resources and customer support. And above all, this enables us to position Measure as a reliable solutions provider for years to come in this rapidly evolving industry.
Current Measure customers might be interested to know that AgEagle was an early pioneer in the delivery of advanced commercial drone technologies, services and solutions. The Company’s founding premise is rooted in high performance, next-level thinking and technological innovation. Like Measure, AgEagle is focused on a range of diverse industries and applications beyond Agriculture. Rest assured, Measure will continue to support all current sectors, with plans to expand into even more verticals and industries moving forward.
Another exciting benefit of the acquisition involves MicaSense, a leading developer of patented, high precision thermal and multispectral sensors. MicaSense was also acquired by AgEagle in early 2021, and the Company will integrate Measure technology into MicaSense products. This will provide customers with the industry’s most advanced turnkey solutions for drone mapping and in-flight data.
As part of the acquisition, I’ve been appointed as AgEagle’s Chief Operating Officer and a Member of the Board of Directors, while Jesse Stepler moves into a new role as Senior Vice President, Strategy and Product at Measure.
On behalf of the entire Measure team, we’re beyond excited to team up and provide you—our valued customers—with even more innovation in the years to come.
While growing and scaling your commercial drone operations will pay off in the long run, some short-term complexities such as maintenance and management are worth addressing right away. Monitoring certification currency, eligibility, and drone accessories for a single pilot is one thing; doing so for dozens of drone pilots and an even larger fleet can quickly overwhelm a drone program manager. As the number of drone jobs increases, so do the types of job tasks, aircrafts, and equipment you’ll need to keep track of.
Fortunately, Measure Ground Control makes it easy to manage not only your drone program, but also the various drone gadgets needed to complete missions and collect valuable data. In this blog post, we’ll explore how users can streamline and scale their operations simultaneously using the equipment management feature of Measure Ground Control.
The drone list in Measure Ground Control provides a high level look at available equipment, showing which drones are active, disabled, or quarantined for repair. Adding new equipment to your fleet is as easy as filling out a simple form within the app. Once you’ve completed your list of equipment, you can track information regarding maintenance, location, and more.
We’ve compiled a sample list of drone accessories that pilots typically find helpful as they carry out drone missions. Your list might vary from the following depending on your industry or project type.
Drone equipment list:
“Part 107 and other certifications require regular renewal, which can sneak up on pilots and managers alike,” says Grant Lowenfeld, Senior UAS Pilot and a former UAV Flight Test Remote Pilot at General Electric’s AiRXOS. “It’s incredibly convenient to open the Measure Ground Control app and automatically see when a pilot’s license is up for renewal.”
Aside from ensuring licenses are renewed on time, the ability to track certification status enables managers to assign missions appropriately, as some jobs require specific or advanced certifications.
Through Measure Ground Control, users designate a location for each piece of equipment, so it’s assigned to a particular project, team or pilot, office or job site, etc. Unlike other types of drone software, MGC’s ability to assign equipment provides users with more flexibility as they have varying requirements.
Through assigning equipment to a particular user and collecting automated flight logs, drone program managers can stay on top of the condition of their drones and drone add ons, as well as determine the cause of damaged equipment or FAA violations.
“Measure Ground Control makes it easier to monitor expensive, highly valuable equipment,” says Lowenfeld. “Whether your flights need to stay below an altitude of 400 feet to avoid collisions, or you need to be made aware when drones land with less than 30% battery remaining, these custom alerts can be tailored to your program and altered in real time.”
Companies often employ drones for predetermined, replicable missions, and therefore have standard equipment requirements based on the job at hand. For example, the equipment used for land surveying in agriculture might differ greatly from the photogrammetry equipment used to map a construction site.
Within Measure Ground Control (MGC), users can create equipment bundles and associate the bundles with specific missions. Equipment bundles are created by adding accessories to select aircrafts and can be updated at a moment’s notice. The ability to set customized equipment bundles makes scheduling missions and keeping track of equipment that much easier.
Not only can MGC users assign equipment to a particular mission, but they can also attribute accessories to a specific drone.
“A drone is useless without essential pieces like a battery, a controller, a propeller,” says Jesse Stepler, Co-Founder of Measure (now AgEagle). “This feature provides users the ability to create ‘kits’ for drone equipment and track those key accessories as a cohesive package.”
“Tasking drone program managers with manually monitoring battery life sets drone pilots up for failure and can lead to safety risks in the field,” says Lowenfeld. “For instance, any experienced drone pilot knows ‘30% battery remaining’ means one thing for a healthy set of batteries versus an old battery.”
As any drone program manager knows, it’s vital to keep stakeholders updated regarding compliance, risk, maintenance, and return on investment, and the condition of your equipment plays a significant role in these aspects of your operations. Your drone program was likely created with your company’s goals in mind, therefore it’s crucial to track and communicate progress toward those objectives.
“This area is really where Measure’s reporting comes into play,” says Stepler. “From your drone insurance provider to your finance team, the ability to provide stakeholders with accurate data goes a long way in communicating the value of your drone program.”
Want to learn more about how Measure Ground Control can help with tracking equipment and managing your drone operations? Contact us.
*This blog was originally published in June 2019 and has been updated in January 2021.
The platform is an e-learning training method designed to help eBee operators take their skills and operational confidence to the next level. They can either complete single courses depending on where their interest is, or they can complete all the modules and become a certified senseFly drone operator.
The e-learning platform can be accessed from directly via our Academy portal. Users simply register on the page, which then gives them access to the course catalog as well as the option to enroll in our Certified eBee Operator Program.
Yes! Modules contain courses and some modules have up to four or five courses. We’ve found that one course typically takes up to 30 minutes to complete. Some feature a video presentation as well as exercises and even quizzes to help self-test the users’ knowledge and comprehension of the topic.
The Certified eBee Operator Program means you’ve undertaken all the courses to completion. The courses have been designed to follow the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard of UAV operators training as much as possible. So, once one becomes a certified drone operator, they will have a type certification—like what pilots have for a specific airplane. However, this certification doesn’t replace their country-specific drone pilot license requirement.
Complying with safety and regulations is important to us, and we believe this is a good resource for eBee pilots to take advantage of. Even those who are not yet eBee customers but want to learn more about general drone operations and mapping principles can benefit from the platform.
That’s correct. Anyone will be able to go to the platform and complete some courses. Obviously new and existing eBee users will gain the most benefit from the modules and courses, but there is enough general information to prove useful to others, too.
There are so many factors that connect good training to success! One of the most important reasons is that drones are flying in the air, sharing that space with other aircraft, and even flying above people who may not be involved in their operation. If operators don’t know how to plan, prepare or troubleshoot properly, that poses risk and we want to help mitigate those risks as much as possible, so it’s important that our pilots know how to handle any issues that may impact safety.
The second reason is that how you set up and plan your mission has an impact on the data quality you get. If you’re a service provider and quoting for a day of flying and a day of processing [the collected data] but you end up needing more time – that’s not good for business. Neither is thinking you set up your missions properly, getting out into the field and realizing you did not—that’s really frustrating! So again, it comes down to helping our customers become more knowledgeable, efficient and ultimately more successful.
Yes, we’ve based it off many existing protocols and best practices. There is ISO recommendations for the training of UAV pilots. The other is the Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) procedure, which is a method to build a concept of operations and is required to be submitted to a local CAA for flying in specific categories for example. One would have to provide proof of Operation Safety Objective (OSO), where one of those is the proper training of the pilots.
From an application point of view, we’re covering what types of settings are best for different types of missions. For example, we have modules on data processing and data quality to learn about the different factors that influence data quality and what to do about them. There are also courses for each type of camera and its main application.
We also cover the basics of photogrammetry, such as software, how it works and how you can take images you’ve collected and output the data at the precision and quality you need.
Sadly, no. We can’t account for every country and local rules. People will also have to do a local operator course or certification based on the requirements of their local CAA. But our program and certification will help operators get insurance for liability and insurance on their drone, as well as approval by their local CAA since they have proof of skill and knowledge about their senseFly eBee UAV. It could also be part of a tender for a service provider who is required to prove they have the skills for specific projects.
No matter your industry, it’s no secret that documentation is essential for project execution and success. Because drones play a significant role in a wide range of business endeavors, documenting drone flights (and the vast amount of information collected on those flights) can only amplify progress toward overarching goals.
So, how can businesses ensure this documentation is incorporated into everyday practices? That’s where drone flight logs come in. In this blog post, we’ll cover how flight logs can benefit your drone program, the type of information that should be logged for each drone flight, and how to implement detailed, automated flight logs using Measure Ground Control.
Also known as drone pilot logbooks, drone flight logs are documents that contain important, predetermined details about your drone flights.
Some pilots log their flights using handwritten books, while others prefer to log their flights digitally using a drone flight log app. While flight logging software tends to be more convenient, detailed, and accessible, both methods are valid as far as the FAA is concerned.
Not only do drone flight logs provide important information regarding the drone itself (such as safety and maintenance), but they also enable pilots and companies to track their level and type of experience in terms of carrying out drone missions.
Measure Ground Control makes it easier to keep a drone pilot flight log by enabling users to collect detailed, automated data. When using MGC with a DJI drone, flight logs are uploaded automatically, saving time for pilots and ensuring that no flight logs are missed. This documentation helps validate program compliance, track pilot and equipment performance, and showcase trends to stakeholders; thus providing the information needed to build a drone program that is safe and effective.
Reasons for keeping drone flight logs:
Logging flight information is not only a good business practice, but is highly recommended by the FAA. Take a look at this excerpt from the FAA, section 107.7:
“A remote pilot-in-command, owner, or person manipulating the flight controls of a small unmanned aircraft system must, upon request, make available to the administrator… (2) Any other document, record, or report required to be kept under the regulations of this chapter.”
Accordingly, Measure Ground Control’s automated flight logs provide detailed information such as:
In the event of a safety mishap or a complaint, your flight logs serve as a source of information about safety practices, pilot performance, and equipment maintenance. For instance, you would be able to pinpoint the exact flight path of the drone in question to validate or invalidate a complaint. You could also confirm that the pilot completed a pre-flight checklist and followed company and government regulations.
In the event you need to request a waiver, your flight documentation will greatly help in the approval process with the FAA.
Logging flight data means you have instant access to review pilot and drone performance. With manual processes, data can be subject to human error or even missed altogether. But when flights are automatically logged in a program such as Measure Ground Control, you can easily monitor equipment usage as well as verify that pilots are adhering to flight plans and parameters.
MGC goes a step further and automatically flags incidents when a pilot operates the drone outside of customizable criteria like battery level or altitude. You’ll know when additional training or corrective action might be needed to keep your program operating safely.
With automated flight logs, you can quickly reference where pilots have flown and stats such as total flight hours logged. Flight logs aggregate data on drone equipment as well, such as battery use and firmware allowing detailed fleet reports to be exported for equipment tracking and management.
In order to properly showcase your drone program’s performance to stakeholders, it’s helpful to aggregate flight information and present data in meaningful ways. Through MGC, you’ll be able to easily manage flight data at a program level to reduce risk, create reports, and maintain visibility on your drone operation.
At Measure, we take an open approach to data management by allowing users to easily integrate external tools they consider essential for reporting. For example, those who rely on industry-leading photogrammetry company Pix4D for data processing and mapping or Scopito for asset analysis, inspection and reporting can easily integrate these tools with MGC. Alternatively, if your organization has a standard data management system, it could be possible for us to integrate with that system as well. Our ability to operate as an open platform provides the flexibility for programs to get their data to the right place in a streamlined fashion.
When using Measure Ground Control for your organization’s drone operations, you will be able to easily visualize flight data and export reports to PDF. Not only can this process be done with little advance notice, but it also eliminates human error as manual logging in Excel spreadsheets can produce complex, inconsistent, or incomplete data.
At minimum, the following elements should be accounted for within drone flight logs. Depending on the purpose and nature of your flight, you may want to add items to this list. Also, keep in mind that coupling flight logs with proper flight planning further improves the success of your drone operation by accounting for equipment and airspace checks, authorizations, and other pre-flight logistics.
As you can see, automatic flight logging is a huge benefit to drone organizations and is crucial to the success of a commercial drone operation.
While automated flight logs can save time, money, and build credibility among pilots and businesses alike, Measure Ground Control has plenty of other features suitable for companies that have implemented drone programs.
*This blog was originally published in 2018 and has been updated with current information in 2021.