The Top 5 Drones for Inspection and Surveying

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The Top 5 Drones for Inspections and surveying


Inspection, surveying and mapping are a major application for drones within the realms of agriculture and construction, but the type of equipment chosen depends upon the type of inspection required. “Inspections” can mean anything from a basic real estate job requiring images of a steep roof to the complex inspection of an energy installation: and the drones required for each application differ significantly.
Depending upon the type of application, there can be other issues to think about: one of the best places to start is with the requirements. Then, choose the appropriate sensor and the system that can most reliably and safely carry that sensor. Often overlooked areas include data security and data management.
It’s not just the aircraft that you need to think about, but the combination of tools that make up the right solution for the job. Companies are rapidly focusing efforts to harness geospatial data to improve their business, but it is important to understand that not every geospatial problem and deliverable can be achieved with the same tool. At Aerial Motion Pictures we recommend that understanding the right combination of drone, sensor and software for inspecting vegetation encroachment around power-lines, versus measuring stockpiles at a construction site is critical to the success of the operation. 
When the requirements for you industry have been clearly defined, and payloads and platforms identified, one of the big questions we get from ICARUS students is which drones are most commonly used as the vehicle for inspections, surveying and mapping? Starting from the simpler applications primarily requiring imaging and moving up to more complex jobs, here are 5 of the top drones we recommend if you’re starting out. 
 

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#1. The Phantom 4 Pro
The Phantom 4 Pro is incredibly accurate and can be used to create detailed maps. It has a longer battery life than the Inspires, which in surveying and inspection can be seen as an advantage. The Inspire 2 has more options, in terms of ad-ons and extra for more complicated surveying, data capture and inspection, therefore it depends what you want to use your drone for. Some pilots prefer the Phantom 4 Pro as is has a mechanical shutter, over a rolling shutter which can sometimes generate distortion. This can be corrected in Pix4D if necessary, but it is definitely something to consider.


#2. The DJI Inspire 1 pro or 2. The DJI Inspire is a prosumer drone with a lot of advantages for professional operators working in inspections. The Inspire is designed to integrate seamlessly with many of the tools required for inspection applications: DJI’s professional Zenmuse camera systems, including the Zenmuse XT thermal and the Zenmuse X5 for 3D mapping. The Inspire is also sold as part of thermal imaging company FLIR’s Aerial Thermal Imaging Kits, ready to go solutions which provide the tools and platform required to provide thermal imaging for clients. These thermal imaging tools are required for many types of inspections including building and roofing inspections, solar inspections, and utility inspections.


#3. The Matrice Enterprise Drones. DJI’s enterprise solution, the Matrice pro family, is a durable and portable drone designed for industry. The Matrice 100 is a part of PrecisionHawk’s Precision Construction Package – a complete solution for the construction industry which includes the drone, sensors, software, processing and app to deliver all of the actionable data required in construction. The Matrice 200 Series, scheduled to be released in Q2, is a high performance, weather-resistant drone optimized for inspection applications including bridges, power lines, and wind turbines. The platform allows for the integration of third-party sensors such as LiDAR scanner or for the development of customised mobile applications.


#4. Intel/AscTec Falcon 8. When Intel purchased European drone manufacturer Ascending Technologies last year, they got not only the sense and avoid technologies that the two companies had been collaborating on, but an established fleet of well-engineered professional and research drones. With the Falcon 8 and the newly released Falcon 8+ professionals get the benefit of both companies’ strengths. The Intel Falcon 8+ is not designed – or priced – for hobbyists, but is built to handle all kinds of conditions, offering full electronic system redundancy and a triple redundant autopilot to compensate for potential hardware failures, or external factors like electromagnetic fields or strong winds. The Inspection Pro package suggests the necessary accessories for inspection professionals: including thermal and digital cameras, video goggles, and independent camera control for a second cameraman.


#5. The Sensefly Ebee Drone giant Parrot has put faith and investment into UAV agriculture startups in the past, and one of its companies has now produced a drone capable of making a big impact in the farming sector. The eBee SQ, from senseFly, is a precision agricultural drone designed to monitor crops from planting to harvest. The eBee can do health checks of crops from above, using infra-red cameras and thermal imaging to scout out areas which need more attention and generally keep farmers up to date with how their crops are progressing. The eBee also comes with analytic software, meaning farmers can sit back, watch the data come in and make decisions based on the latest information. The eBee offers what they call a “drone to tractor” workflow. You’ll be able to use Pix4dmapper Ag mapping software to create NDVI maps of your plants, and use those to identify problem areas and get to solutions all in the same day. The solutions that come from the eBee are all fully compatible with precision software for farming that is in use currently by any farmers working on a data based system.

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Drone technology offers clear advantages for inspections, providing more and better data in a safe and less expensive manner. The ROI for industry is significant, leading more and more verticals to utilise professional drones for inspections and surveying. As demand ramps up, the drone industry continues to develop new drones, payloads, platforms and tools to make inspections easier, safer, and more profitable for companies and drone operators alike.

We hope this is a helpful article, that provides the core information for our ICARUS Students before you decide which drone you would like to purchase. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to contact the office at 01491 526 700 or info@flyicarus.co.uk 

If you're interested in becoming a fully qualified Commercial Drone Pilot and earn your Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) then look no further. Aerial Motion Pictures is also home to Fly ICARUS the Leading Commercial Drone Training in the UK, find out more at https://www.flyicarus.co.uk/ or give us a call on 01491 526 700 today! Fly Safe - Fly ICARUS....

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