Our Guest Column in Point of Beginning, September

Aerotas co-founders Daniel Katz and Logan Campbell were featured as Guest Columnists in this month’s Point of Beginning magazine. The focus of the article is on the critical steps in developing a survey drone program. The article covers the crucial categories of technology (hardware and software), operations, insurance, and regulation.

While technology often gets the most focus in discussions of mapping by UAV, our experience shows that operations and workflow management are the most critical but over-looked component in ensuring a successful program.

Firms that choose to take a self-guided approach invest substantial time, effort, and money identifying the “right” drone, only to then completely de-prioritize the importance of developing and implementing disciplined operations. The result is often bad or unreliable data, and sometimes unsafe or illegal flights. This is why operations procedures and rigorous training are critical components when we get our clients surveying by drone.

Read an operations-focused excerpt from the article below, or the full article on the POB website. To learn more about our approach to drone mapping, visit the Aerotas Mapping System page or email us at info@aerotas.com.

Essential Steps to Start Surveying with Drones

Implement smart operations

Understanding and implementing the right operations is key to reliably producing good results with a UAV. Training, planning for needed deliverables and planning for exigencies are all essential to effective operations.

In order to ensure reliable and safe drone operations, training is crucial. UAVs are an exciting new technology, but in order to be an effective part of a survey business, personnel have to understand how to operate them reliably. Ultimately, a drone must be considered another technical tool for a surveyor, alongside robotic total stations and GPS. Specific, focused training is a necessity if a drone investment is going to realize its potential.

As land surveyors know well, business success often hinges on having disciplined and well-defined operations. As the profitability of a survey project relies on minimizing site revisits, the effectiveness of a drone survey hinges on reliably collecting the right data the first time. Before embarking on any UAV survey, it is important to first be clear on the required deliverable.

The single most important operational consideration is safety. Commercial UAVs have become highly reliable, but the skies must be treated with excessive caution. Good operations are developed based on a thorough understanding of what emergencies could occur and having rigorous procedures for responding.

With UAVs, two dimensions of safety must be considered: ground and sky. While the UAVs we recommend are highly reliable, a safe operator will consider the consequences of the UAV failing mid-flight.