Professional recommendations about flying technics for your business and FAQ :
Nowadays the applications of UAV are very wide: from air surveillance and artistic shoots to the inspection of industrial facilities and mapping. Besides this, drones are often used for non-trivial tasks, such as monitoring wild animals in their natural habitat, the study of volcanoes or glaciers, search and rescue operations, etc. UAVs are classified depending on their design, which in turn affects their performance characteristics.
Due to their aerodynamic properties, these drones can stay in the air longer, and therefore fly longer distances. Plane type UAVs are best suited for working on large areas, shooting extended objects and shooting at a considerable distance. However, the design features also impose some limitations. Since the apparatus must be in constant motion in order to fly, it cannot hover on a necessary point or work in a confined space.
These include various different configurations: tricopter (3 rotors) quadrocopter (4 rotors), hexacopter (6 rotors) or octocopter (8 rotors). Copters are best suited for the examination of buildings and tasks connected with 3D modeling of objects or the inspection of high-rise structures, transmission towers, bridges, or dams. They are characterized by stable flight, simple design and high reliability. But their relatively low speed and flight time lead to a shorter range than plane type UAVs.
When selecting the most suitable UAV type, it is necessary to decide what tasks you are going to undertake using the drone and consequently what you need: speed and long range or maneuvering ability and accuracy. When you have made your decision on the UAV type, other selection criteria depend on the type of work for which you are purchasing the UAV. Let's consider several basic characteristics which should be taken into consideration.
This is one of the key UAV characteristics. It determines what range you will be able to shoot in a single flight, and hence the economic efficiency of your work. Often the same flight length is specified for a single class of models. It is important to understand how this assessment has been made. Typically, the maximum flight time under the most favorable conditions (no wind, temperature of +20°C) is indicated.
Therefore, before purchasing it is best to request a UAV demonstration from the manufacturer to check the flight time. The flight time should be considered together with the carrying capacity and take-off weight. Load capacity affects the ability to install different payloads and additional equipment. The vehicle weight affects the UAV's stability in the air, so the heavier it is, the more stable its trajectory and the higher the image quality.
When creating drones at GeoScan, our engineers strive to achieve record-breaking flight duration. For example, the GeoScan 401 quadrocopter, which has no analogues in Russia, can fly for up to 60 minutes. GeoScan 201 is an plane type drone, capable of flying for up to 180 minutes, shooting up to 22 km2 in one flight.
The drone can be equipped with payloads of different types: a photo or video camera, a thermal imager, a magnetometer, a gas analyzer, or a laser scanner. Select both the payload type and UAV type depending on your tasks and what kind of data you want to get. The shooting materials should comply with standard documentation for topographic, geodesic and land surveying operations. To get the required quality, it is necessary to use high-precision GNSS receivers and to shoot with large matrix cameras with between-lens shutter. If high accuracy is not required, it is possible to use less expensive models of camera without high-accuracy navigational equipment.
Many UAVs can be supplied with a different payload, but not all payloads can be changed by the operator. If you choose a UAV with an interchangeable payload, make sure that the replacement does not require additional tools and that the electronics automatically detect the type of payload, and can control it without any additional setting or reflashing.
If you are choosing a drone for agricultural purposes, you will need a camera capable of shooting in the near infrared range. This is necessary to calculate vegetation, such as NDVI. Another popular type of payload is a thermal imager. It provides photo and video shooting capability in the thermal range. This can be useful for finding leaks in heating networks, fault location in high-voltage lines or detection of wastewater discharge points.
GeoScan UAVs can be equipped with a number of payloads for different tasks. They include cameras for shooting in the visible range; multispectral cameras; gyro-stabilized platforms with a video camera or thermal imager; special solutions for shooting panoramas, and even a FullHD video channel. If you can't find the right payload, we are always ready to design and manufacture it specially for you.
It is very important that a UAV is reliable, portable and does not require lengthy preparation to start. Reliability is first of all determined by the materials used. They should be light and strong enough to carry loads during flight and, more importantly, during landing.
Composite materials provide the necessary rigidity and strength, but may not be sufficiently flexible and robust to take heavy impact loads. Polymeric materials are able to withstand impact, do not break in case of deformation, and retain their shape, but are not able to provide structural rigidity. Therefore, the combined use of polymers and composite materials is the best solution.
UAV portability is achieved through such solutions as a folding frame or modular design. Drones that can be placed in a sturdy carrying case and transported in a car trunk are the most convenient.
The time needed to prepare a UAV for flight by a single operator should not exceed a few minutes.
We were the first in Russia to create a series of drones with a demountable wing made of Expanded Polypropylene (EPP). This makes them shock-resistant during landings and facilitates repair in the field. The light and rigid frame of the quadrocopter GeoScan 401 is made of carbon fiber. It is able to withstand severe loads and harsh operating conditions. At the same time, its special folding mechanism helps to achieve maximum compactness for transportation.
Plane type UAVs have two launch methods, from the hands and from a catapult, and two methods of landing, with a parachute and on the body. Starting with a catapult is rightly considered the safest for the operator and landing with a parachute the safest for the drone. With a multirotor type UAV, the main feature is vertical takeoff and landing. It allows them to take off and land using any relatively flat surface.
The safety of the operator and the people and property over which flights are performed should be taken into account when choosing a UAV. It is best to choose drones with intelligent control of the application and built-in safety functions.
These functions include a warning system for battery levels and radio communication quality, automatic flight mission testing of feasibility and automatic return to the starting point when connection is lost or the battery is critically low. Another important function is the ability to set a maximum distance from the starting point. This enables the creation of a virtual perimeter which the UAV cannot leave. This will ensure the safety of property and people in the areas adjacent to the site being. These safety features significantly reduce the risks associated with the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.
All GeoScan aircraft drones take off from a catapult and land with a parachute, ensuring the safety of the operator and the UAV. Our autopilot and ground control station support the above mentioned functions, providing fault tolerance. This makes GeoScan UAVs among the safest and most convenient drones to use.
Another important feature of a UAV is the weather conditions under which it can fly, as well as its perform quality while shooting. Wind speed, precipitation and air temperature can greatly limit your options if the drone you have purchased is designed only for flight under conditions close to ideal.
For serious work, choose professional equipment intended for use in a wide range of temperatures and which can withstand significant wind speed.
If you plan to use the drone in harsh environments, such as in the mountains or at very low or high temperatures, it is likely you will need a UAV model specially adapted for these conditions.
Our equipment is designed to operate at temperatures from -20 ° C to +40 ° C. The maximum wind speed at which a drone can fly is 12 m/s. That's why we have completed many successful projects throughout Russia, as well as in Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Greece and Mexico.
The ground control station (GCS) is the most important part of a UAV. Its functionality largely determines the drone's features.
First of all, the GCS should provide easy tools for creating a flight task. A flight path for aerial photography should be generated automatically for the shooting area specified by the user. Besides this, it should be possible to set the desired resolution, the percentage of image overlap, the flight speed and the landing point. If the GCS does not have this functionality, it will be nearly impossible to normally perform aerial photography.
Meanwhile, the ground control station is needed not only in order to create a flight task, but also to control the UAV in flight. With the help of the GCS, the operator can monitor the flight task's implementation, program the flight by the given points or control the payload, and cancel the mission, if necessary. Besides this, many UAVs for air surveillance broadcast their camera images to the GCS screen online.
A GeoScan GCS enables you to control the spatial resolution of images, the percentage of overlap, flight speed and other important shooting parameters. The system will automatically check the feasibility of the created flight plan and, if necessary, propose to divide it into several parts. Also, you will be able to see the UAV's position, trajectory and telemetry in real time, and to completely control it at all stages of flight.
Even the most detailed and qualitative aerial photographs remain no more than beautiful images without photogrammetric plotting. To obtain a digital terrain model, a 3D point cloud and an orthophoto, you will need specialized software. There are various software products for UAV recording materials, and all of them provide about the same set of output data. However, the processing speed and quality of the results can significantly vary. To avoid disappointment from the poor appearance of an orthophoto or a rough 3D model, it is better to use established software.
To accurately determine the spatial position of the images, the coordinates of the centres of the photographs are used, recorded by the UAV's navigation equipment. Therefore it is necessary to check whether photogrammetric SW supports the import of the data from your drone. The ideal variant is when the UAV and the software for photogrammetric processing were originally created to work together and are integrated into a single workflow.
The GeoScan UAV comes with a program for professional photogrammetric plotting of images and creating 3D models, Agisoft Photoscan. Besides this, we provide a three-dimensional GIS Sputnik for data analysis and visualization. It is not necessary to be an expert in GIS and photogrammetry to use the GeoScan complexes. Our software takes all the complexity out of the processing itself, giving you easy measurement and analysis tools.
Price is an important factor when choosing a UAV. Naturally, the models seem more attractive when the price is low. But do not consider the drone's cost separately from the characteristics listed above.
Pay special attention to what you are getting for your money. Does the manufacturer offer training, technical support and a warranty? Is photogrammetric software included in the package, or you will have to buy it separately?
Also remember the operation and maintenance costs. From this point of view it is more cost-effective to purchase the modular units, since it is easy and inexpensive to replace or repair a separate part. In case of solid-body solutions you will have to send the whole UAV for repair, which would entail additional costs.
When comparing prices for drones, pay attention to their maintainability, the availability of spare parts and the service life of their components. If you are unable to perform minor repairs on your own right in the field, a small failure could disrupt a day's shooting. This means unperformed work and loss of money due to equipment downtime.
When you buy our shooting complex, you get everything you need for aerial photography: a UAV, a GCS, cases, a charger, a set of spare parts, and software. The cost of the complex also includes personalized training to operate the UAV and to use the photogrammetric processing software, after which an employee will be able to immediately get to work. All deliveries are guaranteed, with an extended warranty if required.