EANS has been working with Frequentis to create an environment where drones and civil aviation can coexist in the shared airspace. The drone market is already growing rapidly and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are used for everyday activities. This requires user- system for both manned and unmanned traffic and all this with flight safety in mind.
“One of our strategic goals is to develop a U-space framework and to support the state activities on advancing unmanned aviation sector in Estonia. EANS will take the role as a single Common Information Services (CIS) provider in Estonia, which offers a secure open protocol for data exchange between all stakeholders, enabling a competitive, innovative, and open market for U-space service provision,” says Teve Rahula, EANS Head of Business Development. “This will enable the drone services to thrive as we are able to increase efficient and safe access to airspace. For this reason, EANS is collaborating with Frequentis to realise the implementation of U-space in Estonia to advance the emerging uncrewed traffic management (UTM) UTM ecosystem.”
The cloud-based UTM system is provided as a managed service in the Frequentis cloud environment, allowing validation of use cases and business cases. The cloud architecture also enables a fully optimised deployment process, without the need for on-site activities. The UTM system complies with the requirements of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664 (draft) on a regulatory framework for the U-space.
“The Frequentis CIS platform allows the integration of all airspace users on one single platform, providing a single source of truth and real-time situational awareness for air traffic controllers, drone operators and service providers. This integration allows both crewed flights and drones to safely share the same airspace, to see airspace restrictions and flight rules, file flight plans, and receive updates from air traffic controllers in real time. This is what is needed for the safe integration of drones into the aviation ecosystem,” says Guenter Graf, Frequentis Vice President New Business Development.
Frequentis has been working together with EANS and other stakeholders in the Nordics & Baltics region on the SESAR GOF and GOF 2.0 projects, exploring the safe integration of drones in the Gulf of Finland, trailing and validating use cases in line with U-space regulatory framework.
Meet us at Airspace World in Geneva, stand F17, March 8-10, 2023, stand F17.
Drones designed for a more professional environment are perfect for mapping. They have high-end features, such as a camera with optical zoom and immense software compatibility.
But then are non-enterprise drones like the DJI Mini 3 Pro with incredible specs. What about these drones? Can they perform in a mapping environment?
Well, the answer depends on the application.
DJI Mini 3 Pro is a capable drone for mapping if you understand its flaws. At the time, it doesn’t support SDK, so you need to find other ways to merge the shots for an accurate 3D photo. You will need to seek ways for the drone to follow the required route, taking the necessary pictures. And all of that depends on the pilot’s expertise.
We understand that even though not all are professional pilots, you may want to use this drone for mapping.
So keep reading. We will explain all you need to know about mapping with the DJI Mini 3 Pro. What you can expect and what you can’t.
Drone Mapping: minimum requirements
For its price, most buyers think this drone is suitable for mapping. And indeed, it is.
As of the writing of this article, DJI hasn’t incorporated the SDK to run the apps necessary for a seamless mapping experience. However, DJI says this is just on the horizon.
But do you need those apps for mapping?
These apps do all the work, however, you will need to:
Set up the mapping mission
Selecting the location
Set the boundaries where the drone is going to fly
Set the points of interest
Set the mapping takeoff location and starting point
You can configure things such as drone speed and altitude. Also, you can make a mapping mission preview to understand how the drone will perform.
However, these functions aren’t entirely necessary to carry out a mapping.
You can perform manual mapping in specific scenarios. We will explain how later in this article.
Now, let’s understand what an SDK is. And what minimum requirements a drone must meet for mapping.
What is an SDK?
An SDK is a firmware upgrade where DJI frees the drone in the software section. This action allows us to use third-party apps, that work perfectly with our drone.
Once DJI releases the SDK for the DJI Mini 3 Pro, we will be able to install DroneDeploy or any other mapping app on our mobile device. That way this drone will be a guarantee when mapping.
The absolute minimum requirement for a drone for mapping is in the camera section. It needs to be a camera with at least 12Mp effective pixels.
The Mini 3 Pro has a 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera sensor with 48Mp effective pixels. This drone is more than suitable for mapping, as we will cover later in this article.
This camera hardware will guarantee high-quality pictures at max altitudes of 100m or 328ft.
Most enterprise drones for mapping last 30 minutes.
DJI Mini 3 Pro lasts up to 34 minutes in windless conditions, with the standard battery and 47 minutes with the Plus battery. So it covers the battery time minimum requirement.
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
Although the SDK is still unavailable on this drone, it will get this upgrade sooner or later, per DJI.
The mapping apps need the drone to be spatially oriented, so you can command it through a path of specific coordinates where it takes the shots.
The Mini 3 Pro has a GPS receiver that ensures that the mapping apps work, once they are available.
So, the Mini 3 Pro satisfies the requirements to be a mapping drone.
What software can I currently use with the Mini 3 Pro?
For mapping vast and complex terrains full of detail, you will need an app.
At the time, the Mini 3 Pro isn’t compatible with mapping apps such as DJI Pilot, Dronelink, DroneDeploy, DH Mobile, or DJI GSP PRO.
So, you won’t be able to divide the mapping zone into a specific route in which the drone will fly automatically.
However, you can do manual mapping, then process the images with a PC or laptop software.
For most users, PIX4D is the best cloud software for its price.
DJI Mini 3 Pro isn’t an enterprise drone made for mapping, so this software is the best option. You can customize the features you need, avoiding high-ticket features you don’t need.
Also, you can set up a 15-day free trial to check which features satisfy your needs.
Agisoft Metashape and DroneDeploy are software for enterprise use. These also come in different packages, and they can be pricey.
Any of these three apps will do the job, as you only will use them to merge the photos you upload into a 3D view.
If you want a more in-depth description of each software and others you can use, look at this link.
How do you do manual mapping?
The crucial aspect here is to take pictures that overlap with precision. Then, one of the software above can model a 3D view with those pictures.
To take the pictures, you can fly the drone manually or use FocusTrack. Spotlight and POI are practical when you need to model buildings and constructions in general.
Let’s say you are tracking the progress of a building. Using POI, you can fix the drone in a circular movement around that building.
Using the lowest speed, you can take precise pictures at specific points and at every angle you need.
Once you have a complete set of pictures, upload them to the desktop software or its HTML version, and model the 3D photograph.
Of course, it will give you less accurate images as using manual flight controls isn’t as exact at taking pictures as an automated computerized system.
DJI Mini 3 Pro mapping recommendations
We recommend using this drone for mapping only in small areas until DJI releases the SDK.
At the time, you can make the photogrammetry of the collected images, understanding it will be a completely manual process.
But until DJI releases the SDK, it’s not the best option for topography applications.
Does the Mini 3 Pro work for photogrammetry?
Photogrammetry is a process where you input a collection of images of a location from different points and angles, and a computer returns a corrected 3D model or orthophoto.
Orthophotos are a must in mapping activities, as they are in scale, translating into accuracy while taking measurements from that image.
You now will have a 3D blueprint, where you can get longitudes to calculate perimeters, areas, and volumes with precision.
Thanks to the 48Mp 1/1.3-inch CMOS camera sensor, the Mini 3 Pro can take accurate photographs at 100m or 328ft from the ground.
This capability makes it a perfect non-enterprise drone for photogrammetry.
Does the Mini 3 Pro work for topography?
However, for a topographic image, you would need the highest level of precision.
The drone must take pictures in exact previously calculated spots. Follow a predefined route where it will take shots with exact coordinates.
This is only achievable with the help of a mapping app.
For topography applications, it is not yet suitable.
Which scenarios should I use my Mini 3 Pro for mapping?
Consider the altitude as a crucial factor. The Mini 3 Pro camera zoom is digital. This means every time you zoom in, the image quality decreases.
The higher the altitude, the more you will need to use the digital zoom in on specific areas, losing image quality.
And for mapping, imagery with a high pixel density permits accurate measurements for posterior calculations and analyses.
It is a lightweight device, so windy conditions affect it heavily. The aircraft will need to stabilize frequently, diminishing the battery life.
These two factors make this drone suitable for mapping small areas only, where it doesn’t need to go to higher altitudes where adverse wind conditions are.
So this drone is helpful for overviews of risk analyses, species identification, construction monitoring, and other mapping needs that don’t require massive detail.
Is DJI Mini 3 Pro useful for mapping?
You can use the DJI Mini 3 Pro for mapping. But if you need laser-beam precision, you must use a mapping app.
For now, the final 3D modeling will lack exactitude, as you need to take the shots manually. It will depend on your piloting abilities. So, If you are a beginner or intermediate pilot, it’s better to wait for the SDK.
Will DJI release the SDK soon?
As this drone has become very popular, it will upgrade without any doubt. We will be able to use third-party apps to map with accuracy. But at the time, there is no Mini 3 Pro SDK release date by DJI.
• The U-ELCOME project has launched with funding from the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) in cooperation with the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking as one of its flagship Digital Sky Demonstrators (DSDs). • In answer to a call launched by CINEA under the Connecting Europe Facility, the 3-year U-ELCOME DSD project is coordinated by the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub and involves 51 European partners. • This DSD project is part of an innovation pipeline to bridge the gap between applied/industrial research and industrialisation, and to accelerate the market uptake of U1 and U2 U-space services with the involvement of early movers. It also has a strong and close connection with relevant standardisation and regulatory activities and bodies.
The European Commission (EC) has recently announced the launch of a series of Digital Sky Demonstrator (DSD) projects that will contribute to the objectives set out in its Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy through accelerating the market uptake of U-space and urban air mobility (UAM) services. These DSDs will also contribute to the “Action plan on synergies between civil, defence and space industries” which was adopted in February 2020, and which includes an “EU Drone Technologies Flagship” project.
Opening the sky to these new airspace users is a political and economic imperative for the EU.
The Drone Industry: key for the EU’s economic future
Developing services for uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS, more commonly: drones) supported by a competitive industry can also strongly support Europe’s twin transition to a green and digital economy, and contribute to post-COVID-19 recovery and to the future resilience of the EU economy. From daily commuting and goods delivery to the proper functioning of global supply chains and the development of a wide spectrum of new applications and services, drones are an enabler of our economic and social life.
The European Green Deal, the EU’s new growth strategy, calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the development of digital transformation. In this context, the whole transport system should be made smart and sustainable, with the use of electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft and digital services. In this framework, the EU needs to ensure the safe, efficient, and sustainable development of drone operations, addressing other related concerns such as safety, security, privacy, social acceptance, and environmental protection, while simultaneously ensuring a sustainable economic environment for the growth of the European drone industry.
Innovative U-space services and the development of smart, automated, interoperable, and sustainable traffic management solutions will be key enablers for achieving the necessary high level of integration with Air Traffic Management (ATM).
Indeed, the European ATM Master Plan states that these challenging objectives can only be achieved through an evolutionary development process that ensures the timely deployment and certification of appropriate, advanced, and interoperable air and ground infrastructure, technology, and traffic management capabilities, and that provides an adequate level of services that fit with expected types of operation and levels of demand.
Following the adoption of a first EU regulatory framework for UAS (Delegated Regulation 2019/945 and Implementing Regulation 2019/947) and U-space (Implementing Regulation 2021/664), it is important to foster the uptake of these innovative operations in Europe.
15 locations in Italy, Spain and France to test and mature U-Space solutions
Building on the above-mentioned regulations, several EU countries have already started to invest in the development, procurement, and certification of ad-hoc U-space systems to enable and properly manage the expected types of commercial drone operation.
The U-ELCOME project intends to foster a fully scalable market uptake of U1 and U2 U-space services through a set of tests and demonstrations in various operational environments and European locations.
To do so, U-ELCOME, under the coordination of the EUROCONTROL Innovation Hub, will develop, test, and demonstrate early U1 and U2 U-space solutions across 15 locations distributed in Spain, Italy, and France.
Combining digital and physical infrastructure capabilities, U-ELCOME will set up, deploy, and demonstrate the following SESAR solutions up to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 8: • U-space U1 — foundation services: these will identify drones and operators, and inform operators about known restricted areas. With the deployment of U1, more drone operations are enabled, especially in areas where the density of manned traffic is low.
The U-space foundation services include e-registration, e-identification and geo-awareness.
• U-space U2 — initial services: the main purpose of these is to support the safe management of “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) operations and a first level of interface and connection with ATM/ATC and manned aviation. With the deployment of U2, the range of operations at low levels will increase, including some operations in controlled airspace. Drone flights will no longer be considered on a case-by-case basis, and some BVLOS operations will become routine. At least the following initial U-space services will be included: tactical geo-fencing, emergency management, strategic deconfliction, weather information, tracking, flight planning management, monitoring, traffic information, drone aeronautical information management, and a procedural interface with ATC.
The U-space system: a real interface with the ATM system
The U-ELCOME project will build on the outcomes of the previous European projects – from research, through industrialisation, to implementation; at the same time the U-ELCOME project complies with Regulation 2021/664 on a regulatory framework for U-space, and related amended Regulations 2017-373 and 923/2012. U-ELCOME relies on real U-space systems, which are in operation or will be deployed by ENAIRE, ENAV, ASLOGIC, ITG, D-Flight and Thales during the execution of the project.
The U-ELCOME demonstrations will interface the U-space set of services with existing ATM systems, and to each other. The U-space capabilities and U1 and U2 services of the pre-operational U-space ecosystems will be demonstrated in several live use cases in various operational environments that represent the most typical missions for both business and civil authority use such as medical and goods deliveries, Inspection flights, aerial work in urban and sub-urban environments, in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.
The project, working in close cooperation with EASA and other international and national authorities and organisations will also contribute to the consolidation of standardisation and regulatory requirements of the proposed U-space services to further accelerate the deployment of relevant U1 and U2 services and U-space-based operations.
This project has received funding from European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) under grant agreement No. 101079171.
The Optimus Drone and Airbase in Urban Environment (Credit: Airobotics)
Airobotics Deploys Optimus Urban Drone Infrastructure in the UAE
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby
Ondas Holdings [NASDAQ:ONDS] is one of the holdings in the AdvisorShares Drone Technology ETF [NYSE ARCA:UAV], the only ETF dedicated to the drone economy. For complete list of holdings click here. The AdvisorShares Drone Technology ETF is a thematic investment strategy seeking to capture the growth opportunities in drones and autonomous vehicles (AV). AdvisorShares is a DRONELIFE sponsor.
Israeli drone manufacturer Airobotics has announced that it is supplying a UAE government entity with additional drone systems and services for the deployment of a larger fleet that will make use of Airobotics’ Optimus Urban Drone Infrastructure.
Continue reading below, or listen:
The customer previously placed an initial systems and services order at the Dubai Expo, during which Airobotics performed thousands of autonomous drone flights under challenging environmental conditions within densely populated areas.
Designed to function as a network of smart drones connected to an urban control center, the Airobotics system will serve as a municipal infrastructure granting a range of automated data solutions. The deployed Urban Drone Infrastructure’s main purpose is to allow for faster response times by security and rescue forces to emergency situations, assisting law enforcement and homeland security operations, and streamlining municipality services. Airobotics is additionally exploring drone parcel delivery and other smart city applications for the infrastructure.
The company believes its Optimus Urban Drone Infrastructure will be widely deployed across this specific UAE city over the next few years, with two systems already deployed, and completion of this new transaction bringing the total to four.
Active in several countries including the UAE, Airobotics has plans with other customers to establish permanent infrastructure which rely on fleets of autonomous drones able to operate as an information supplying taskforce. The infrastructure is designed for urban environments and strategic facilities necessitating immediate security, monitoring and emergency response. Each system features a smart airbase providing automated battery changes, the automated loading and installation of sensors appropriate for each specified mission, and a range of up to 80 square kilometers covering the perimeter of the airbase. The drones can be activated for longer, more complicated missions, and flights are monitored by remote operators in a command-and-control center.
Read more about Airobotics:
Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies. For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
UAS Cybersecurity is Critical to the Modern Battlefield.
Uncrewed aircraft systems have helped stave off Russia’s invasion of Ukraine despite Russia’s five to one advantage in regular military manpower and at least 10-fold advantage in conventional airpower. At the same time, UAS remain vulnerable to foreign cyber interference. The U.S. Department of Defense already has, in part, addressed this problem through the Blue UAS program, which it defines as a “holistic and continuous approach to rapidly prototyping and scaling capable and secure commercial UAS technology for the Department of Defense.” Given the importance of UAS technology in today’s fight, perhaps it’s time for all of us to sing the “Blues.”
In modern warfare, UAS easily provide access to air power previously reserved for large military forces. Increasingly, combatants employ commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) UAS. Even small UAS (sUAS) can provide the warfighter with an asymmetric advantage.
In the current Ukraine-Russia conflict, sUAS use has ranged from tank-column destruction, to providing valuable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) information and safer logistical support, to rapidly delivering medical and humanitarian battlefield assistance.
A flurry of private UAS donations have been sent to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence and its territorial forces. Perhaps most notably, AeroVironment donated more than 100 Quantix Recon UAS, accompanied by trainers [see the “Up Close With…” Wahid Nawabi of AeroVironment Q&A elsewhere in this Ukraine package].
Other companies with deep DOD roots have joined in with donations. Quantum-Systems GmBH, whose Vector 2in1 VTOL reconnaissance UAV remains a favorite among U.S. forces, originally donated three of its Trinity fixed-wing VTOL mapping UAS. According to Dave Sharpin, a U.S. Air Force veteran who is now CEO of the Munich company’s new U.S. subsidiary, Quantum-Systems Inc., “Ukrainian forces are already using Trinity for tactical mapping, mission planning, battle damage assessment and collecting evidence of war crimes. Now we are sending our Vector, a swappable fixed-wing-to-quad copter configuration. I hope this will be a game-changer for our Ukrainian partners. We stand with Ukraine.”
Several commercial UAS companies have also joined forces with nonprofits to make a difference. Volatus Aerospace, a global drone technology and aircraft management company, is working with Mriya Aid and Second Front UA. It has shipped 30 thermal imaging drones to Ukraine “with more to follow,” said Glen Lynch, Volatus’ CEO. “We are proud to support allied forces globally. ISR drones provide accurate real-time intelligence while reducing risk to the people who have chosen to serve, and as recent videos have highlighted, civilians are at significant risk. I hope that our drones will save lives.”
Commercial drone solutions and systems developer Draganfly partnered with Coldchain Delivery Systems to successfully deploy its first Medical Response Drone to Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU). Equipped with Draganfly’s temperature-managed Medical Response Payload Box, the drone can transport up to 35 pounds of temperature-sensitive medical supplies, such as blood, pharmaceuticals, insulin, medicines, vaccines, water and wound care kits. Draganfly plans to provide at least 10 North American-made Medical Response and Search and Rescue Drones to RSU for use in Ukraine.
“To save lives, high-tech solutions like Draganfly’s Medical Response Drone are crucial,” said Iryna Vashchuk Discipio, president of RSU. “Donations, training deliveries and help from philanthropic partners like DroneAid will help us effectively scale up our humanitarian aid operations in Ukraine.”
Until recently, even Chinese COTS UAS, specifically those made by Da Jiang Innovations (DJI), featured prominently in the mix. Ukraine spent $6.8 million of privately donated money on, among other things, more than 2,000 Chinese quadcopters.
And then troubling reports of potential third-party manipulation joined allegations of remote intrusions from China.
Ukraine leadership claimed China had preferentially disabled the UAS’ AeroScope functionalities to allow Russia to target its forces but blind its own forces from seeing the enemy. Videos on social media also seemingly indicated China had triggered geofencing features to preclude Ukrainian-purchased DJI UAS from taking off.
DJI strenuously denied all of these claims and ultimately pulled its business from both Russia and Ukraine. However, this does not preclude private parties from sending DJI UAS to the front.
Whether China engaged in foreign interference through its UAS, the fact it could do so should raise eyebrows.
At least with regard to geofencing, even the commercial UAS pilot crowd has grumbled about DJI’s ability to ground their UAS. Jamar Williams, CEO of San Diego-based PromoDrone, a startup that makes drones that display banner advertisements, recalled his frustration when, even indoors, his team could not fly a planned demonstration in Las Vegas earlier this year. “The FAA had put a TFR [temporary flight restriction] over The Strip for a state funeral. We were inside, in an enclosed theater. FAA rules don’t apply indoors, but DJI locked off GPS and some flight systems on our drones anyway. It kept us from demonstrating our tech live to thousands of global leaders.” A soldier can’t afford such a risk.
THE BIRTH OF THE BLUES
In 2020, Congress forbade the DOD from operating or procuring UAS and any related services and equipment from China. This prohibition, codified in Section 848 of the Fiscal Year ‘20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), energized the DOD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to create the Blue UAS program. The initiative’s goal: to rapidly onboard commercially available, cybersecure and legally-compliant prototyped UAS and components.
The Section 848 directive originally aligned with the U.S. Army’s ongoing Short Range Reconnaissance (SRR) effort. An official Program of Record (POR), SRR aimed to equip soldiers with a rapidly deployable military grade sUAS solution to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S).
Five companies’ UAS originally made the SRR short list: the FLIR ION M440, Parrot ANAFI-USA-Gov/mil, Skydio XD2, Teal Golden Eagle and Vantage Robotics. They ultimately worked with DIU to meet the Section 848 cybersecurity and legal requirements for placement on a General Services Agency (GSA) “blue” list as a pre-approved procurement option. And so “Blue” was born.
In 2021, based on the success of the original program and its offshoot, the Blue Framework (for cleared parts), DIU initiated Blue UAS, version 2.0. Ultimately, it selected 11 companies and 14 of their combined UAS. Among others, the second Blue UAS group included the SenseFly eBee TAC, Inspired Flight IF750 and IF1200, Wingtra One, Easy Aerial SAMS, Skydio X2D Color and Freefly AltaX.
According to the Defense Innovation Unit, UAS vetted by the Blue UAS On-Ramp effort “do not” [emphasis theirs] require a continuous exception to DOD policy renewal, reducing the administrative burden on end users.” The program is not “an exclusive path for government validation of UAS; however, it is built with the intention of being the most efficient method available for commercial systems.”
“FOR OUR NEXT NUMBER…”
Despite progress on advancing cybersecure UAS for the warfighter, much work remains. Many of the Blue 2.0 selectees remain in the process of obtaining necessary administrative approvals. Of the 11 companies selected for Blue 2.0, currently the eBee Tac by senseFly, an AgEagle company, AltaX by Freefly Systems, WingtraOne by Wingtra and Spirit by Ascent Aerosystems have successfully made it onto the “Cleared List.”
The DOD has also still not created a common standard for rapid COTS UAS vendor onboarding. Nor has DIU revealed a timeline for a Blue UAS 3.0 Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) and Area of Interest (AOI) request. Industry rumors have it that DIU will push out a call for Blue 3.0 “soon.”
Given the importance of UAS on the battlefield, maybe there should be a greater sense of urgency to ensure all qualified UAS receive the now-coveted Blue UAS designation.
Perhaps more importantly, Congress should direct—and fund—sufficient support so a robust program can ensure that any UAS that could deploy with our forces and those of our allies and partners rapidly pass muster for cybersecurity, privacy and operational requirements.
In the meantime, companies that otherwise meet the Section 848 and DOD security and legal criteria wait in the wings… but fly for Ukraine.
GDG Environment, a partner of SPH Engineering, reports a case study from a drone-based larviciding research program under the PMRA, Canada’s pesticide regulatory agency. The goal was to find a solution to quickly manage biological larvicide treatments in large and difficult-to-traverse locations. With only a single drone treatment it became possible to treat nearly four times faster than ground teams, and in areas very difficult or impossible to treat on foot effectively.
For a nuisance reduction program, after a summer rainfall 2021, GDG was challenged to monitor a several thousand-hectare region and treat all mosquito breeding sites within it in just five days. As a result, biological larvicide treatment was applied to nearly one thousand ha of areas producing mosquito larvae by GDG’s drone division in 2021. “Once a mosquito egg has hatched, in ideal conditions, the mosquito larvae can potentially pass all stages of development and emerge as an adult as fast as in five days,” Benjamin RUSSELL, a Project Supervisor at GDG Environment, explains. “When a mosquito emerges as an adult, the only effective pesticides are adulticides, harsh broad-spectrum chemicals, which we do not use. Timing and speed advantages offered by using a drone were critical for the program’s success”.
As the world of drone technology moves quickly, GDG Environment brings different drone and payload models into their fleet to work on reducing mosquito nuisance. Since 2018 it has been opting for SPH Engineering’s solutions, UgCS, a ground control software, and later on UgCS .NET SDK, a tools set for developing custom applications on top of UgCS. The company has developed an in-house platform for automating their payload functions. With automation, GDG can now begin to scale into performing treatments with multiple drones. The platform simplifies the procedure, allowing the same number of personnel to safely employ more complex operations.
“SPH Engineering does a lot of the heavy lifting for us, like creating area scans, sending GPS missions to the drone, providing real-time telemetry, and it’s reliable. It wouldn’t make any sense for me to rewrite all of that myself when I could just integrate automation into UgCS with SDK”, Benjamin RUSSELL adds.
“I believe that any modern industry can be measured by the amount of available technologies, helping to deliver socially important products to the market faster. I am proud to see how UgCS .NET SDK has become a software base for a drone service provider to address the issue of protecting local communities from a natural threat”, Alexei YANKELEVICH, Head of Software Development at SPH Engineering, comments.
For pesticide application within Canada GDG obtained authorization from Health Canada for the purpose of conducting research under the Pest Control Products Regulations only. As of today, drone-based pesticide application services outside the scope of the current research cannot be offered, however, GDG is looking to use their technology to expand the drone services they offer into the fields of agriculture, forestry, public health, and food safety.