Australian technology company Propeller Aero has developed a system that enables drones to produce aerial maps with what it says is “survey level accuracy”.
It does this by locating a number of GPS receivers, called AeroPoints, on the ground around the area to be mapped. Because these are in fixed locations they can determine their location from the GPS satellites with great accuracy, to within 2cms according to Propeller.
Propeller says: “Typical ground control requires establishing precise geolocation position using expensive surveying equipment, and then securing a visible ground marker exactly on the pre-marked GPS point. AeroPoints are portable ground control markers, visible from the air and capable of quickly capturing their own position down to 2cm absolute accuracy.
Propeller’s co-founder and co-CEO, Rory San Miguel, contrasts this with current methods of aerial mapping using drones. "Drones can fly over a site and capture incredibly valuable data for surveyors and engineers in just minutes. But if you want accurate data, you need to spend hours on site creating ground control points before the drone flight,” he says. “These calibration points are critical for a reliable result, but they add a significant amount of time, labour and expense.”
Propeller says its AeroPoints work with any camera or drone, and integrate seamlessly with its cloud-based data platform and processing engine.“They’re solar-powered, durable and weather-resistant, and they don’t require any on-site connection.”
To use AeroPoints, customers “simply lay them down, fly their drone, and then pick them up again. They’ll automatically connect to a wireless or mobile hotspot when back in range to upload captured positional data – and precision georeferencing is done,” Propeller says.
One user, Gavin Docherty, the UAS product manager at Position Partners, said: “The AeroPoints have exceeded all expectations for delivering repeatable and precise data. This is a genuinely transformational technology."
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