Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Drone Technology: Client Specified, High-Resolution, Aerial Imagery Collection

What imagery collection mechanism can be scheduled independent of cloud cover, at a fraction of the cost of contracting an aerial survey, at resolutions tens of times more detailed than satellite images, and with custom collection areas editable by you, the customer, up to minutes before flight time? Answer: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones.

CompassData is ready to provide this cost efficient imagery solution. We have three Trimble certified remote pilots ready to fly a state of the art Trimble UX5 UAS (under current regulations) for your custom high-res imagery needs. Imagery collected will be very detailed and as accurate as needed (through orthorectification and use of GCPs). The “sky’s the limit” with potential applications: volumetric mapping, utility corridor mapping, crop analysis, terrain modeling, mine mapping (see video below), tree height calculations, disaster relief, wildfire monitoring, border patrol, livestock management, change detection, wildlife management and ranch mapping to mention a few.

For example, what if you were a rancher near Calgary, Alberta, Canada who needed to prepare for spring flooding? As part of the pilot training, CompassData flew the Trimble UX5 drone for fifteen minutes on a snowy March day (before the spring melt) and gathered the high resolution images shown in the final ortho mosaic (shown below), note the piloting crew’s vehicles in the close up.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Once the imagery was on the ground, our staff created a Digital Surface Model and used it to create the ortho mosaic – all within a day! Unlike traditional DEM creation requiring stereo pairs from aerial or satellite sensors, a UAS uses extensive mono image overlap to generate the elevation points. Imagine how valuable this quick turnaround could be in scenarios of natural disaster or other events posing public safety concerns.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

DSM – Digital Surface Model of ranch in Alberta, Canada. Note the risk posed by flooding to the structures located closer to the stream. Also note the low elevation of the road on the left side of the model.

CompassData purchased their first unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the Trimble UX5, in early 2014. We are one of just a handful of US based companies with UX5 experience. The UX5 was selected because of CompassData’s long history as a Trimble Business Partner and also because it has received excellent reviews. The UX5, which comes with a custom uav camera system, was engineered specifically for mapping and surveying professionals who require highly accurate deliverables. In addition, it has a robust airframe and is easy to operate.

If your pixel resolution needs are more in the range of 1 to .5 meters, CompassData is also an authorized DigitalGlobe image reseller.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
The FAA recently announced that it has granted an exemption for the commercial use of the Trimble UX5 drone. Please read the press release.

Here are some of the services we offer for Oil and Gas:

CompassData has also been granted an FAA exemption for commercial operation of the UX5 UAS for land surveying and mapping purposes within the U.S. airspace. Please read the press release.

These exemptions allow CompassData to accelerate the process of acquiring certificates of authorization (COA) from the FAA for our clients.

For more information on the commercial UAS / UAV aerial survey services offered by CompassData

Read this Case Study to find out more about the UX5 and the volumetric applications of the technology.

Mitch Tweedy
CompassData, Inc.
Senior Orthoimagery Analyst and Project Manager