Drones are used for just about everything these days, including Road Surveys which avoids many issues that can be seen from the air, but not from the ground.
The Commemorative Air Force in Midland, Texas has an airshow every year. This year, ThermalCam USA participated by donating time, talent and hardware to the show.
Participating was Peter Walper and Lyn Fite. Their job was to offer Ground Power to the planes that need a “jump start”. The show was also attended by the United States Air Force and many other groups that fly in to the pleasure of large crowds who love the old war-birds and just flying in general.
Lyn Fite, Safety Officer
When aircraft have an issue starting, Ground Power provides that extra “Boost” needed to start those enormous engines. Those units are called GPUs, or Ground Power Units. They are desperately needed especially in cold weather, and were heavily relied on during World War II when fighting the Axis Nations which included Germany and Japan.
While Thermal Cam Could not fly any drones during the event, they had the privilege of contributing to a successful CAF 2018 Air Show, in Midland, Texas.
There has been an influx of new and, in some cases, game-changing surveying technologies that have popped up over the past few years. Arguably the biggest of these technologies is unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which has allowed surveyors to collect data in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods. The rise of UAV surveying has also created a choice for those that need aerial data: LiDAR or photogrammetry. Here are a few key ways in which these two technologies are different.
Imaging Technology: Light Sensors vs. Photographic Imaging
Aerial LiDAR imagery is produced through light-based sensors, which bounce waves across the surface of the terrain below. Due to the way this type of imaging is completed, it can pass through objects such as brush or bramble, creating an accurate image of terrain that may not be visible. LiDAR is extremely sensitive and accurate and is, therefore, able to take high-resolution surveys of large, overgrown areas. The sensor data is then used to create a 3D map of the terrain, which can be imported into software to create a simulation.
Photogrammetric imaging is based on photographic imagery. This type of imaging takes large numbers of snapshots to render a two dimensional or three-dimensional version of the terrain. There are limitations to this system: it is unable to penetrate below even thin brush, and consequently may have a skewed perception of the actual ground terrain. On the other hand, photogrammetry can preserve the color of the terrain, which can make it easier for people to interpret results.
It should be noted that photogrammetric imaging depends a lot on light and shadows to identify areas of terrain. It may fail in areas that are not lit properly; as an example, photogrammetric imagery has a very difficult time with things such as sand, because the sand will reflect an even surface even if the surface isn’t even at all.
Cost: The Cost of Imaging vs. The Cost of Overhead
LiDAR imagery can be about ten times the cost of photogrammetric imaging. This cost is going down steadily, however. Right now, LiDAR is a newer technology. As more companies adopt its use, it will become more affordable. In terms of up-front cost – photogrammetry is currently a much more affordable option, especially for smaller budgets and projects.
However, there is something to be said about the cost of overhead associated with LiDAR and photogrammetry. If an organization’s overhead could be substantially reduced by having more accurate imagery, LiDAR could ultimately prove to be less expensive. As an example, an organization may be able to reduce the costs of their project through the use of accurate 3D models and simulations. Both solutions can be used to create 3D models, but LiDAR could provide more accurate simulations, while not missing things that photogrammetry might. Depending on the project, LiDAR may actually be the most cost-effective option in the long run.
Software: Developing Data Points and Simulations
LiDAR imagery is produced at a greater level of accuracy and precision than photogrammetric images, which naturally means that it has more data points. This can add to the time and expense necessary to process this data into working simulations, as more processing power is needed. Depending on the processing power that you or your surveyor has on hand, this can take anywhere from hours to days to completely process. That said, you can be pretty confident in the end result.
Photogrammetric images, on the other hand, rely upon software and algorithms to interpret the data that has been collected. Automated algorithms stitch together photographic images in a way that makes sense to them, which means that the software itself has a great deal to do with accuracy.
Air Technology: Manned and Unmanned Aircraft
One thing that LiDAR and photogrammetry both have in common is that they can be produced either via manned or unmanned aircraft. Manned aircraft tend to be expensive and can also be dangerous; both planes and helicopters can encounter emergencies. UAVs tend to be faster and more effective, as they can fly closer to the ground and take higher precision scans.
LiDAR is still an expensive technology, and consequently, it may not be the best choice for every project. Though LiDAR is a more advanced technology, it’s also a specialized tool: its primary benefit is its ability to penetrate to the ground and to produce clean, readable, and accurate 3D files. For many surveying applications, photogrammetry may still be a suitable choice — with the understanding that it isn’t as likely to be precise or accurate as LiDAR. It all depends on the type of surveying that has to be done, as well as the budget.
Dustin Price is a licensed land surveyor and the operations manager at Landpoint. He leads the company in determining the technical approach for delivering professional, tailored surveying services through UAV technology.
Drone Technology Can Help Insurance Companies
Cut Costs And Reduce Response Times For Claims In 2018’s Storm Season
DataWing Global, an aerial data collection company that works with independent drone pilots to help homeowners and insurance companies cover claims, estimates that drone technology could save insurance companies up to 40% during the upcoming storm season.
Storm season is fast approaching and costs insurance companies billions of dollars every year. In fact, last year’s Hurricane Harvey, Maria and Irma have already cost the industry at least $14.5 billion, according to annual reports filed by 15 major insurers. Accordingly, to better prepare for 2018’s upcoming storm season, an unprecedented number of insurance businesses have turned to drone technology to record data and help process claims more quickly and cost-effectively. In fact, Goldman Sachs forecasts in their widely covered drone report that the insurance claims drone market represents a total addressable market worth $1.4 billion.
Rather than sending out traditional “ladder teams” to closely inspect roofs and other home facilities (which costs around $150 to $250 per inspection), insurance adjusters can sort through 2-3 times more claims every day by employing trained drone pilots to fly over properties, take pictures, and deliver the data via cloud. Not only is this service roughly 40% cheaper, but it significantly reduces safety related risks, ensuring less people are climbing onto roofs.
Once a homeowner files a claim with his/her insurance company, DataWing will receive and act upon this claim in less than 4 hours. Within 12-18 hours, data will be collected and given to the data analysis team, which then prepares and returns it to the insurance company. DataWing maximizes job scheduling efficiencies by grouping jobs together with similar times and geographies for each of their network pilots, thereby striving to turn a job requests into results within 24 hours.
DataWing uses SmartSky, an internal scheduling program that gives them eyes on their pilot in the field. This secures a constant communication between DataWing and the pilots, which helps monitor jobs and the pilot’s time availability. It also provides pilots with the tools to input their availability and respond to jobs immediately, which further streamlines the process.
DataWing also follows strict compliance standards (background checks, drug tests, airspace checks) when selecting drone pilots to ensure they’re delivering the highest standard of service for their insurance clients and homeowners. Through a robust quality assurance program, DataWing currently manages a large and growing portfolio of certified pilots, operating nationwide.
“DataWing is helping insurance carriers in three main ways: increasing adjustor efficiency in completing claims, decreasing safety risk by allowing personnel to stay off of the roofs, and also achieving faster payment turnaround for the benefit of the insured,” said Steven Fargo, CEO, DataWing Global.
Drone powered solutions, such as DataWing, are set to save the insurance industry billions of dollars. Part of this cost saving lies in preparation, including walking through response methods with insurance companies, and advancing SmartSky to scale up and keep track of jobs. In the aftermath of hurricanes, customers can often experience delays in response to claims. DataWing, however, is determined to help both insurance companies and homeowners be ready to undergo quick turnarounds, particularly after natural disasters. This year, DataWing is prepared to carry out response to claims in 12 hours, rather than 60-90 days.
“Our mission is to help homeowners get their lives back together, faster,” said Landon Phillips, COO at DataWing Global.
Wind Turbine Maintenance is something that can be costly and often unnecessary. Scheduled Drone flight Inspections shows which turbines are in need of attention without any wasted expense.
Drone Wind Turbine Inspections
Zach Delarosa Pilot: ThermalCamUSA
Recently, the Midland Reporter Telegram ran an article on Drone Services and the wonderful things that they can accomplish for the Oil Industry as well as all Commercial Businesses. The article was true and accurate, but the service is not new. What has really happened is that the technology has greatly improved, and the Drone Pilots have gotten much more skilled and experienced over time.
ThermalCamUSA, based in Midland, Texas, has such Professional Drone Services available for the West Texas, and indeed, the entire Permian Basin Area and beyond. Thermal Imaging and Aerial perspectives are services that can improve profits, identify situations before they become problems and is extremely cost effective.
Contact ThermalCamUSA for a list of services available. You don't even have to be in West Texas to obtain their services. Call and find out what they can do for you and your company.
Commercial Drone Services are becoming more and more necessary for Aerial Inspections of:
- Wind Turbines
- Cell Towers
- Solar Farms
- Oil Field Construction
- Pipeline Surveys
- Storm Damage
A recent MRT article explains what is happening in the Oil Field:
Whether it’s siting a drilling pad, checking the right-of-way for a pipeline or inspecting for leaks, having an eye in the sky is invaluable to the energy industry.
That eye in the sky has evolved from airplanes in the early days to helicopters to drones, formally known as unmanned aerial systems. These systems are forecast by Goldman Sachs to grow to a $100 billion market between by 2020, dominated by the $70 billion military market, $17 billion consumer market and $13 billion commercial/civil market, the fastest growing of the three segments. The Federal Aviation Administration is forecasting that the number of UAVs will leap from 600,000 units in 2017 to 2.7 million by 2020.
“Drones are well-suited to meet the needs of operators visually assessing their assets, gathering and providing data sets,” said Danny Avant, director of sales for Arch Aerial.
Avant and Ryan Baker, company founder and chief executive officer, were in Midland to address the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.
“Inspections done by foot or helicopter can now be done by UAS and reduce the safety risk associated with right-of-way operations,” Avant said. “(Drones) are pushing the boundaries of methods that required excessive labor, time and resources.”
Following the presentation, Avant told the Reporter-Telegram that the oil and gas industry had “held back” on adopting the use of drones but energy companies are now jumping into the technology.
Avant said drones can provide 2-D mapping of land development or right-of-way inspection, 3-D aerial mapping of refineries, volumetric analyses of petrochemical coke or the depths of frac ponds and 2-D mapping of pipelines and pipeline right-of-way. Add infrared and thermal imaging capability and drones can inspect the integrity of production facilities, he said.
“Emission control is a new area,” said Avant.
Baker said the midstream sector is big business because the drones can offer better, more accurate data.
“They give more visibility and the ability to annotate vegetation,” he said.
For example, if a company sends a crew to cut tree limbs encroaching on a right-of-way, telling them the limbs are 50 feet from the gate can still send them in the wrong direction. With drones, the GPS coordinates can be sent to the crew, leading them directly to the site.
The advances in drone technology means an increase in the data gathered and provided by the machines, Baker said.
“We’ve spent a lot of time developing the infrastructure to process that data,” said Baker, who said that in the next few years his company will be on track to create a pedabyte of data.
There are challenges to address as the use of drones increases, Avant said Those challenges include privacy concerns, certification of operators, standards of operation and cybersecurity concerns.
Flying drones at night has rules and regulations that still need to be followed. Night flights are done when needing to see water damage on roofs after a storm or heat loss due to windows and other thermal anomalies caused by natural disasters or construction issues.
Commercial and Industrial companies financially benefit from Thermal Inspections, but so can residential customers. Is your house leaking hot or cold air? What needs to be replaced? Anything, everything? Getting an aerial thermal inspection provides you with the facts you need. This saves time, money and inconvenience.
So, if you are wondering why your bills are so high, find out. Call ThermalCamUSA and find out.
Aerial Surveys show accuracy of the pipeline construction and can spot issues before they become problems.
Our Drone Pilots are part 107 Certified. Drone missions vary with every client and project.
Here are some of our more specific missions:
Commercial and Residential
A Thermographical Flight is used to identify the condition of building envelopes, machinery, electrical systems and gas leaks.
Flights identify issues with battery installations, motor conditions, and turbine blade conditions that can cause noise and turbulence issues.
Thermal Cam USA adheres to all FAA rules and regulations concerning flights, flight safety and security. All Pilots are UAS commercially certified and pass all flight and safety classes required
AG Flights offer aerial inspections of fields ensuring optimum field use by planning out the acreage, and crop health via thermal inspection for pests and storm damage.
Solar Panel Damage, battery and transformer heat issues can be monitored. One of the advantages is to be able to identify dead cells for scheduled panel replacement.
Overflights quickly identify issues on the ground before they become catastrophic and financially costly.
New building, new solar roof.
Drone Cell Tower Inspection by ThermalCamUSA
Aerial survey of Solar Panels
The Permian Basin Area Foundation's new Solar Panels was inspected by ThermalCamUSA's Thermal Drone Friday.