One-stop Shop for Drone Use?

July 7, 2016

Changes in technology occur at a dizzying pace. Dozens of new, more advanced models have probably already lapped the smart phone you picked up last week and that tablet you bought last year.

It has taken some time and angst, but I’ve finally become accustomed to just how fast technology advances: Now I think of high-tech items a little like I do new car purchases, in that there’s a degree of depreciation—obsolescence, if you will—the moment you leave the Best Buy parking lot.

Technology is not on the march; it’s in a dead sprint. So I’m not surprised there’s already a company with an app to automate the flight of almost any drone and explore map data. The company is called Drone Deploy, and its app (iOS and Android) allows you to fly and capture images, upload them to a “Map Engine” to generate maps and models, and analyze, annotate, and share maps right from your device of choice.

You can send ‘er up, shoot, see, and share.

For managers who might be overwhelmed by UAV and related technology, this could be a one-stop shop. (The app can be downloaded for free, but there are subscription levels involved for some of the more advanced technology.)

Drone Deploy recently added new elevation and volume tools for construction and mining.

“The ability to quickly get an overhead view of a job site is very useful for site planning and communications, but for many industries, particularly construction and mining, using drones to understand elevation data is even more valuable,” says Anya Lamb, Drone Deploy’s marketing manager.

The company had released initial elevation and volume tools in February so that flyers could capture relative elevation and data and measure stockpile volumes quickly. “With just one 15-minute flight, users can collect elevation data that would have taken hours, if not days, to collect with traditional, ground-based surveying methods,” Lamb says.

Improvements since that initial release include the ability to immediately view the elevation of any point when you drop a marker on your map; this capability allows measurement of the height of a structure or the use of elevation and distance between points to calculate slopes.

Also, for those who might need to calculate the volume of a bench in a pit mine or a walled stockpile where the base of the structure can’t be easily defined by drawing a perimeter on the ground, the company tweaked its initial volume tool. “A small adjustment to our volume tool now allows you to use the lowest selected point to define the base of the volume want to calculate, making the volume calculation useful and accurate for a broader range of volume calculations,” Lamb says.

Finally, the firm has made it easier to export data. “Previously, elevation data could only be exported as a point cloud, which is not compatible with many popular GIS tools,” Lamb says. “It required substantial manipulation before it could be used to calculate elevations or generate contour maps.”

The upgrades now allow users to export elevation data as a GeoTiff, which will make it much easier to use Drone Deploy elevation data in other software such as ArcGIS and Civil3D, especially for the generation of contour maps.

You can learn more about the company and its capabilities, and get a good education on these tools from its “Help Center,” here.

About the Author

Frank Raczon

Raczon’s writing career spans nearly 25 years, including magazine publishing and public relations work with some of the industry’s major equipment manufacturers. He has won numerous awards in his career, including nods from the Construction Writers Association, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and BtoB magazine. He is responsible for the magazine's Buying Files.