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UAV Helicopter Drones In The News

New FAA Part 107 has made it even easier to Fly Legally in the USA under 14 CFR Part 107. It's what we have all been waiting for.

FAA Automatically Grants  "blanket" COA'S - As of March 23, 2015, the FAA will automatically grant "blanket" COA's for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with a Section 333 exemption, provided the aircraft weighs less than 55 pounds, operations are conducted during daytime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions and within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilots, and stay certain distances away from airports or heliports.


FAA Releases Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking! - Check out the provisions being proposed in the FAA’s Small UAS NPRM.


Department of Justice UAV Policy Guidance - Domestic Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)


FAA Grants UAV Permits for Agriculture & Real Estate Companies - The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday, the FAA issued exceptions to the commercial UAV ban, permitting the monitoring of crops and real estate use for aerial photographs of properties for sale. This is the first time permits have been granted to agriculture and real estate companies.


FAA Poised to Include Limitations on Hobbyist UAVs - The FAA is proposing to amend its regulations to adopt specific rules for the operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS).


HSE Deploys the RDASS Q1000 UAV - HSE announces the deployment of the new RDASS Q1000 4 rotor electric UAV.  The RDASS Q1000 series is designed to meet the hi-tech needs of the user at a price to meet any city or county budget.


Judge Rules Against FAA in ‘Landmark’ UAV Challenge -  In a decision dated March 6, NTSB Judge Patrick Geraghty found that the FAA has no regulations that apply to model aircraft or that classify a model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft system.


Court Approves Use of Police UAVs - a North Dakota court has approved the use of UAV drones to help arrest citizens on US soil.


Arlington Police Dept Granted Permission to Fly UAVs by FAA -Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson announced that the Federal Aviation Administration has given the city permission to get the rotors turning on the police UAV drone project.


Supreme Court & The 4th Amendment - The US Supreme Court has held that individuals do not generally have Fourth Amendment rights with respect to aerial surveillance. Can the lower courts or State, county, city municipalities outlaw the use of UAV's for law enforcement?


Congress - UAS Privacy & Transparency Act - The proposed UAV Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2012 requires that police obtain warrants to use UAV drones for certain types of surveillance.


UAV FAA Regulations For more than five decades, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has compiled a proven track record of introducing new technology and aircraft safely into the National Airspace System (NAS).


FAA Fact Sheet – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) - For Immediate Release.


FAA Certificate of Authorization or Waiver (COA) - Before you can operate a UAV in National Airspace System (NAS) you must have a COA. The average time to issue an authorization for non-emergency operations is less than 60 days, 


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New & Used UAV For Sale - Commercial, industrial, military, first responders and police UAV's with 1 - 75 lb payload helicopter UAV. Autopilots, cameras and more. Check them out!

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GoPro Cameras & Lens


 

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera Kit

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera Kit with converted to NIR for conversion to NDVI imagery.

The HSE-CAM-AG1 is a Canon EOS SL1 DSLR Camera which is converted to NIR type imagery. The conversion is to HSE proprietary specifications for the best conversion to NDVI imagery by the leader in the industry LDP LLC commonly known as maxmax.com. Feel free to peruse the Maxmax.com website. Included with the camera is the Maxmax software to convert to a simple NDVI. We recommend the use of aftermarket data processors because there is a lot more to converting the imagery into usable data, but this is good software to get started with to learn the process of NDVI conversion.

Included with the HSE-CAM-AG1 is:

  • Canon EOS SL1 DSLR Camera body modified for NIR to NDVI imagery
  • Canon EF-S 24mm Pancake Lens
  • External Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver
  • Canon Hot Shoe / GPS Extension Cable made by Vello
  • Remote Sensing Explorer Software

It is vital that the proper camera and lens be used for quality NDVI conversion. There are several companies which specialize in cameras for NDVI. We have tested many of them at great expense. Some cameras are over $20,000. There are many different attributes which are critical to obtaining proper imagery which can then be converted for use by many types of softwares for NDVI. The camera is the most important part of the selection process BY FAR. If you purchase a camera which is too slow or with inadequate imagery you will probably purchase the wrong airframe to carry it as well and you will have a total loss on your hands. The camera and lens is proprietary.

  1. Distortion: It is very important that the lens has very little edge distortion, and the filters are high quality glass which offer low distortion throughout the image.
  2. GPS: The GPS must be fairly accurate for precision agriculture work, but not sub centimeter accuracy. For volumetrics, then a higher precision GPS is required.
  3. Camera resolution: The ground resolution changes with altitude, the higher the flight, the lower the resolution. Starting with a very high resolution camera allows higher and faster flights which reduce flight times and thus operating costs. Resolution is all about the sensor size, not the mega pixels. The chart below shows sensor sizes. Spending a little more on a camera is a no-brainer! It will pay itself back in shorter mission times after a few jobs.
  4. Weight: The weight of the camera is important because this determines the size of the airframe necessary to lift it. Full frame cameras are very large and heavy, and they can be supported with the RF70. The advantage of the RF70 is that it is large enough to carry larger cameras, but can also carry smaller cameras as well. It is a very flexible airframe which allows a variety of equipment to be used.
  5. Lens: The lens of the camera is critical in terms of focal length and to a lesser degree aperture. The focal length determines the altitude that the UAV must fly to obtain a given resolution. After exhaustive study we have determined the best price/performance lens. It has the best blend of performance specifications to allow the fastest airspeeds. It has very low distortion, especially edge distortion which allows for fewer photos to be taken and fewer bad photos which must be discarded.

Image processing is required to convert the hundreds or thousands of images into one image, and then that is converted to what is known as NDVI. We have relationships with PhD agronomists with decades of experience in precision agriculture. If you are already performing these processes then the equipment we offer will provide you with excellent results. If you have not been involved with this specific image processing in the past, then it is highly recommended that you contact a professional processor as the procedures are very tedious and require much time, computing power, and monetary investment. You can purchase Pix4D or an equivalent for $5,000, spend thousands on a high speed computer, take countless classes, and still be frustrated. To reiterate, it is highly recommended to start off using post processing services from a company such as Roboflight. Roboflight, and other companies, have upload portals to upload images, super computers to process the data efficiently, specialized software, and PhD agronomists to provide you with the proper data. Get your business up and running using a data processor, first, and if, later, you find you have excess time, money, and patience, you may attempt to process the data yourself. Even then, the cost assessment and resulting quality of data between using an online post data processing service and performing the task yourself is highly in favor of using an online service. Provided you have the proper background, this may not pertain to you; however, for those who are inexperienced in this type of data processes, using an online data processor is strongly recommended. Using an online service is both more cost effective and simpler (no equipment to purchase or software to lease) and the results are guaranteed. Using one of these services will guarantee the availability of the data to your customer for certain.

Sensor Size Comparison: The HSE APS-C (Canon) vs. typical point & shoot camera 1/2.3. Sensor size, not MP is the determining factor for imagery in NDVI applications. APS-C (Canon) sensor is nearly 8 times larger than the 1/2.3 sensor. Don’t be fooled by MP! This means that far fewer photos need to be taken using the APS-C (Canon) format than the 1/2.3 sensor. This translates to much shorter flight times and much faster data processing times. Don’t spend any more time in the field than is absolutely necessary. Cloud cover and other weather conditions can spoil data, and time is money!

This camera is backed by a 30 day warranty against manufacturer's defects/

NDVI Explained

A simple overview of how drones are used in the farming industry to provide aerial imagery to create NDVI maps to improve crop yields, reduce farming costs, protect the environment and quantify crop damage insurance claims

The FAA recognizes that drones are essential to increasing the productivity of farmlands. Small drones pose a limited risk of injuring people, other aircraft, and property. Thus FAA approval to use drones for farming is coming soon.

Probable FAA policies will revolve around safety, primarily collision avoidance.

  • Daylight operation
  • LOS (Line of Sight) Operation
  • 400' Ceiling
  • Various safety devices, pilot and aircraft certifications, training, safety protocols, etc.

Agronomists using drones to assist their recommendations for fertilizer and pesticide application can improve the bottom line to farmers by as much as 15%, and help the environment as well.

The world's farmers must increase yields to feed the world's rapidly growing population. Drones are the latest technological advancement to assist in increasing crop yields while lowering pollution and costs.

Large fields and tall crops are extremely difficult to assess from the ground. Drones provide aerial access at a relatively low cost.

Agronomists operate the drones themselves or hire local drone service providers to fly the fields.

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is an extremely important tool to determine if crops are stressed. NDVI compares bands of light to accurately determine plant stress. This is state of the art technology. Wikipedia explains NDVI in detail.

Photos directly from the onboard NDVI compatible camera are unusable as is. The photos must undergo special processing.

First, individual photos are stitched together to make one large photo. Online processors are used for this operation due to the high cost and complexity of the hardware and software.

The high quality single image is converted to a NDVI image. NDVI processing software is inexpensive and easy to use though the same online processors who stitched the photos offer this service inexpensively.

The agronomist uses both the normal and the NDVI images with more traditional methods to assess plant stress.

Plant stress can be detected well before it can be seen with the naked eye as well as after obvious damage is apparent.

The agronomist then performs "ground truthing" combined with other traditional methods to verify the NDVI data and determine the cause of the stress. Often the agronomist physically walks into the field and looks at the plants where the NDVI has identified problem areas.

The agronomist then makes recommendations to the farmer. If variable rate applicators are used by the farmer, then varying rates of fertilizer and pesticides are recommended which reduce treatment costs, protect the environment by reducing unnecessary over-applications, and increase yields.

The three photos below are all derived from only one camera. Special processing converts the image from the NIR (red) image that is taken by the onboard camera to the "EO" (normal) image as well as the "NDVI" image. Only the EO (Electro-Optical or "normal") and the NDVI images are used by the agronomist. In the NDVI image the green areas are healthy, the red are not. The area we are concerned with is marked with a blue border. The area is a sod farm. In the NDVI photo the dark green areas around the sod is trees. The large patches of red are areas which were harvested. The red line down the middle is a dirt road. The small red patches of red mixed into the healthy green area are problem areas. The problem is confirmed by looking at the EO photo and by physically walking into the field. There is no grass in the red spots. While you see a low resolution image here, the resolution of the actual photo is high enough to see individual blades of grass! The agronomist saves time because if bare earth, standing water or another obvious problem is identified using the EO image there is no need to walk the field. The sod farmer in this case uses this data to identify excessively large bare spots early on in the growing cycle to replant problem areas and improve yield per acre.


Invasive Species Detection: Canadian Thistle

An NDVI map helped confirm the presence of a Canadian Thistle infestation on this 122 acre corn field. A flat rate herbicide prescription was applied to the entire field.

As shown in the aerial imagery, inspections confirmed that only 0.6 acres required treatment. An herbicide reduction of over 99% would have been possible with a variable rate prescription, decreasing the overall environmental impact and yield loss.

What is the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)?

NDVI maps are useful for detecting plant stress that may be invisible to the human eye. By measuring the spectral characteristics of plants with remote sensors, vigor can be assessed based on the amount of visible light being absorbed in relation to the amount of near-infrared light being reflected by the plant. The healthier the plant, the greater the difference between the two spectral values.


Crop: Corn
Location: NE Kansas
Acreage: 121.82


Environmental Impact

Prescription: 10 gallons/acre (diluted)
6.6 pints/acre (concentrate)
Flat rate area: 121.82 acres
Variable rate area: (-) 0.60 acres
121.22 acres
Herbicide reduction:
1,212.2 gallons (diluted)
100.0 gallons (concentrate)


Cost Savings Impact

Herbicide cost

$32.27/acre

Flat rate treatment

$3,931.13

Variable rate & services

(-) $506.63

Net cost reduction

$3,424.50

Potential savings / total acreage
($3,424.50 / 121.82) =

INPUT COST SAVINGS:

$28.11/acre

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