Drones: A real game changer

First off: Drones have a negative connotation but are a great attention getter. The word drone has a negative feeling because of military accounts of spying and death. 90% of consumer drones are less than 5 lbs and are used mostly for a hobby (aerial imaging and photography). Fun fact = you will struggle to find drone manufacturers call their aircraft drones, they rather would call them a UAV because it does not have a negative view.

Phantom 2: Our first drone purchase was the Phantom 2. We went with a well known company (dji) so we could upgrade parts and drone bodies in the future. With our drone we also purchased a 2.4ghz datalink that connects the flight controls to an Ipad. Unfortunately this device was not made for the Phantom models. With a little modification and drone surgery, we attached the device to the main control board.

Camera: For aerial imaging, we were worried about the "fisheye" looks of many cameras people fly. We wanted a nice camera on a light drone. We had to take into consideration how we would mount it and the camera specs themselves, but especially weight. We ended up using a Ricoh GR camera that we mount to our drone using foam (vibration) and zipt-ties. 

Processing: Agisoft Photoscan Pro is a great tool. It allows for stitching of images and calculates depth images to produce 3D models and DEMS. The stitching is so good that we do not need GPS on every photo, instead we just are using ground control. Photoscan was used for Orthophoto generation as well as 3d Point Cloud Extraction. Initial experiments have proved that precise measurement can be taken off the 3d models!

Processing POWER: Cloud processing provides a power without breaking the bank! The RAM dramatically helps in creating a mesh. It went from 16 hours to 30 minutes with the difference from 8gb. 

Results: 3D models, DEM's, Orthophoto's, Video's, Building extraction, Point Cloud Generation, Etc.

Disclaimer: In compliance with FAA safety regulations, we flew the drone on private land and under 400 feet. We also complied with airport zone restrictions and the demo was used for internal (non-commercial) uses.