Drones are a hot topic on social media and news stories, with an endless stream of breathtaking videos taken from places we never thought possible before. Drones are an amazing tool for photography and video, but drones have many more applications. Unmanned Air Vehicles (commonly referred to as drones or UAVs) are also taking us into the future of data collection. These high tech flying robots allow us to collect data from a wide array of sensors at unbelievable precision, speed, safety, and cost savings compared to conventional methods like manned aircraft and satellite.
UAVs have as much endless potential to solve industry challenges as they do options for moving freely around the sky. Sensor hardware for UAVs has become lighter and more durable without loss of accuracy. Processing large volumes of sensor data has become efficient and cost effective allowing quick turnaround for clients. Today low cost UAVs are able to collect weeks worth of data at industry standard accuracies in a single flight. UAVs can provide mapping, 3D modelling, volume calculations, and environmental analysis (plant health etc.).
With every new disruptive technology comes regulatory issues. When cars were first hitting the streets there were huge fears of the potential dangers of these new metal machines could cause. Once we started to mitigate the risks and implement a framework for vehicles to safely operate, they became common place and replaced horse drawn carriages allowing us to take advantage of their huge benefit in saving time on travel and carrying large loads of goods great distances.
UAVs are no different. Despite the huge potential of growth and revolution of many industries, UAVs are limited right now by the regulatory framework and misconstrued fears that UAVs will be used for evil instead of good. For every negative use for drones there are hundreds of revolutionary uses for UAVs. While Canada is a world leader in UAV legislation, we still have a long way to go before UAVs full potential can be harnessed. Currently the biggest hurdle in Canada is to obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) which enables commercial UAV businesses to operate legally if they adhere to strict rules. Almost every SFOC across the country is different but some of the common rules are maintaining visual line of site, operating 100ft away from roads, structures, and people, and operating under 300ft and a safe distance from aerodromes.
This is a great start compared to the regulations in other countries like the USA which requires a full pilots licence and lengthy application process to operate UAVs commercially. What will set Canada apart from the rest of the world and take UAV’s to the next level of efficiency for surveying, inspections, and data collection is the ability to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). Transport Canada has been working with the industry to develop a framework from BVLOS operations and are expected to announce new regulations in 2017. Until then we must work within the regulations to take advantage of this revolutionary data collection tool.
Solstice’s Innovative approach
Solstice is exploring these possibilities with UAVs utilizing our existing strengths in remote sensing and GIS to save our clients time and money. With over 40 years combine experience in GIS & remote sensing we understand how to manage large amounts of data and turn raw data into actionable results and products for our clients. Whether that be from an unmanned or manned aircraft or satellite, we know data is data no matter the source. From innovative wetland mapping to superior data collection and 3D site re-creation for phase I site assessments & spill response, Solstice is on the forefront of what is possible with UAVs! Analysing and interpreting multispectral, thermal, LIDAR, and visual data collected from UAVs, manned aircraft and satellites into actionable data available to our clients via our custom web mapping portal. Allowing people from all levels of technical backgrounds to view the layers from any phone, tablet, or laptop.
Do you want to know more about our cost saving and innovate wetland mapping products, webportal or 3D Site reconstruction? Contact us now to see how Solstice expertise and experience can save you time and money on your next project.
Check back soon to see more in depth case studies of Solstice’s use of UAVs and remote sensing in the environmental industry.
Drone Manager/Program Development
Solstice Canada Corp.