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UAV’s for GIS Mapping and Data Collection – Three Key Attributes

How GIS Mapping and Data Collection can be done effectively by UAV's.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have seen a rise in popularity in recent years and hundreds of thousands of organizations spanning into every field possible are using these systems to communicate, analyse and share information to be able to solve problems associated with their activities. While these systems can be implemented using several different methods ranging from manual robotics to field analysers, there’s been huge steps taken due to UAV technology placing itself at the forefront of information gathering systems. 
 
 
 
 
In relation to the historical combination of these two fields, it derives its use from an area that many would associate them with: the military. According to Devon Humphrey, a GIS specialist in Texas, it was the contributions of the military that had combined autonomous flight with advanced optics for UAV’s and GIS to move to a commercial brotherhood. 
 
Regarding its everyday use it has a lot to do with the technical components inside, such as theautopilot and the processing software that are used to create orthomosaics and 3D point clouds for GIS. The general effectiveness of combining these two technologies can be outlined in three principal strengths.
 

      Motion flexibility

 
As manual, static methods limit the way that geospatial information is mapped – this can be solved using drones that can capture over-reaching dimensions above and between various sites. The manoeuvrability of drones allows information to be mapped in various angles and perspectives and ultimately creates a greater sense of agility in order to work around projects involving sites with obstacles and other hindrances. 
 
The downside in this particular case is that businesses located in areas where there is a buildup of wild animals, can be prone to attacks. Large flying animals, such as eagles, have in the past targeted drones that were in the process of mapping important information. In such cases, it is recommended to backup all data through cloud-connected storage. Similarly, it is the current average lifespan of a drone being approximately four hours which causes a nuisance for projects where detailed, long-term geomapping is needed.
 

Data transmission in 360-degree panoramic view

 
Land surveyors can greatly benefit from the panoramic view that is available in almost all UAV surveying equipment. There’s a reason why the military has continued to implement it in areas where a general overview of the battlefield is needed; heat and survey mapping allows for quick and accurate data which is able to plot millions of data points in one short flight. By focusing on the analysis of this data instead of the gathering of it, it is time well spent. 
 
The mapping of quantitative and density data, it offers the possibility to achieve detailed map concentrations represented by either dots or in terms of density. Panomaric display can similarly assist with the overall geographic unity of an area and can be used in property management, allowing the user to see buildings in great detail, being updated in comparison to old or updated images. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Photogrammetry

 
Usefulness of UAV’s remains also in its possibilities for photogrammetry which is the science of making measurements from images. According to EiseinbeissUAV photogrammetry describes photogrammetric measurement platforms, which operate as either remotely controlled, semi-autonomously, or autonomously, all without a pilot sitting in the platform, and the photogrammetric processing of UAV images. With UAV’s, not only is there a possibility to give 2D equalization of the data received, but with 3D laser scanning, all dimensions can be effectively analyzed and serve a variety of different purposes. AscTec Falcon 8 is a prime example of how successful such a function could be. 
 
 
Terrain mapping and modelling are especially useful for businesses dealing in areas including energy waste management. To harness the information associated with heat and scanning in facilities related to the business, it’ll be of great interest to those wishing to cut back on costs: UAV’s and GIS mapping can take business to the next level in this field of physical cost management. 
 
The developments in UAV and drone technology continues to reach new heights. The three prime attributes of combining it with GIS are those that contribute to the overall growth and success of businesses worldwide. It’ll be interesting to find out how it could evolve into something even greater in the future. 
 
To see how Shell uses this technology in action, see the video below: 
 
 
 
For full interview, see: http://www.esri.com/esri-news/arcuser/spring-2014/uav-and-gis-an-emerging-dynamic-duo

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