Surveying with Drones With helicopter and pilot time often running in excess of £1000 per hour you don’t want to be wasting any time surveying whatever it is you need to see. When trying to assimilate data or looking to take a considered approach it also helps not to be pressured and rushed by the ticking clock of budget constraints. Enter the photographic UAV with an ever increasing portfolio of reasonably priced mapping software. Patrick Meier, the director of social innovation at the Qatar Computing Research Institute recently realized the importance of effective drone-mapping software and the time and money it could save him. He spearheaded an operation in which drones made 90 flights looking for endangered black rhinos at Namibia’s Kuzikus Wildlife Reserve. With constant attacks by poachers after the very lucrative horn that is sold to Asian markets, black rhino numbers have been come perilously low. There are now roughly 29,000 rhinos in the wild. The figure was 70,000 in 1970 and 500,000 in 1900. If the wardens on the ground know where there are no rhinos they can concentrate their efforts in patrolling areas where they are and the UAV/drone will show them this. The problem of then looking at more than 25,000 drone photographs had to be talked and Meier asked volunteers to draw white outlines around the animals they saw An army of 500 digital rangers from around the world analyzed the images in under 48 hours. Experts in conservation and disaster relief, who have previously used satellite imagery, welcome the introduction of drone mapping. Imagine talking to humanitarians on the ground and telling them you can get the data faster, cheaper and in a higher resolution than ever before. The same technology has far reaching benefits across a plethora of other professions from drug smuggling watches over forested areas to cemetery surveys. Yes you read that right In Northern Ireland, Sean and Leona McAllister co-founded a drone cemetery-management tool named PlotBox. Instead of relying on ancient and often patchy records of funerals and burial plots with some poor surveyor walking around a graveyard taking GPS readings at every corner of every grave, a task I am reliably informed usually takes over 100 hours work for a 12 acre cemetery enter the drone which surveys the same site in just two hours. Back in a warm office he can then link the thousands of records correctly to the plots in the cemetery. In 2015 we will be releasing some very interesting new technology in this area, which we are sure, will make life a lot easier for some of these previously challenging working environments. Source January 2015 issue of Popular Science

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