Australian UAV (AUAV) is one of the most experienced drone service providers in Australia, with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, and Perth. AUAV provides aerial mapping and inspection services to the survey, forestry, precision agriculture, industrial and natural resource management industries.
Australian UAV was one of the earliest adopters of AeroPoints, recognizing the potential in using smart ground control points to decrease overheads, save time and deliver centimeter-grade data accuracy to their customers.
For the project covered in this case study, the requirement was to accurately map and survey a landfill site for one of AUAV’s larger landfill clients, complicated by it’s proximity to a major airport, less than one nautical mile (NM) radius from the boundary fence.
In most cases drone operators are not allowed to fly this close to airports. While AUAV has an exemption from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to operate within 3nm of most airports, this particular airport is a very busy traffic-controlled airspace during opening hours, requiring the AUAV team to have the job completed with any drones back on the ground before 7am.
This short window between sunrise and 7am meant the AUAV team needed to be extremely quick in running the survey. Beginning at first light they traversed the site placing ten AeroPoints ground control targets, then flew it, being back on the ground by 6:40am. Within 20 minutes there were aircraft flying low in the landing circuit, directly over the surveyed site.
Ground control: conventional methods
Using traditional ground control survey techniques such as a RTK Rover would have taken at least an additional two hours, preventing the AUAV team would from completing the survey before the airport opened at 7am.
Due to safety risks, conducting the ground survey in the dark was also not possible and the additional costs of conducting it on the previous day would have exceeded the tight budget allocated for the survey.
Ground control: AeroPoints
According to AUAV’s Andrew Chapman, “Setting up ground control with AeroPoints couldn’t be easier.” AUAV operators placed the mats around the site, turned them on by clicking on a single button, flew, then collected them up again.
After the flight, the AeroPoints were connected to a WIFi hotspot and automatically uploaded position data to Propeller platform for processing.
“The accuracy in this case is on par with traditional survey, though in other scenarios (i.e. remote locations) their accuracy can beat traditional survey methods, so we’re very happy with them from a data accuracy standpoint,” Andrew Chapman, Director of Operations at Australian UAV.
Within 24 hours, the data was processed, QA checked and ready to be shared with the customer via Australian UAV’s branded portal.
Ease of use
AeroPoints are great for the operator’s workflow as they beat needing to carefully mark and survey ground targets. Place them across the survey area, press the button and your ground control is done.
Another key factor in selecting AeroPoints is their capability to deliver consistent centimeter-grade data accuracy when within the GNSS correction network. When outside GNSS range, high internal accuracy can be achieved, allowing for detailed models such as 3D point clouds to be generated. However, centimeter-grade global accuracy can still be achieved if the site has a known survey mark that you can place an AeroPoint on.
Being one of the earliest AeroPoints adopters, Australian UAV have been using them on various industrial sites ranging from five up to 200 ha. The success so far has encouraged AUAV to plan trialling a survey area of over 1200ha in the next few months.
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