We’ve written several articles on the many applications of drones, including mapping. An aerial survey using drones is now viable mostly due to the development of powerful software like Pix4D. As a result, aircraft like the DJI Matrice 300 RTK and the Parrot ANAFI can output valuable photogrammetry or LiDAR models.
But with software enabling a wide variety of models to conduct drone surveys, is there any value in a dedicated mapping platform like the WingtraOne? In this article, we look at the capabilities of this aircraft and the value it brings to mapping missions.
The flagship of the Zurich-based company, the WingtraOne Gen II is not just another surveying drone, it’s a major competitor that opens the door to a new realm of aerial surveying. Field-tested and proven, the WingtraOne offers its operators the edge in a number of areas.
Data Collection Speed
Surveying is a time-intensive task, often resulting in higher contracting costs. Over the past couple of years, drones have consistently demonstrated the speed at which they survey sites. However, their efficiency is ultimately limited by battery life. This means that drones can only cover the area that they have battery life for. For multi-copter drones, like quadcopters, this is fairly frequent, becoming more inefficient the greater the survey area.
The WingtraOne introduces a new level of efficiency, able to capture a whopping 246-acre area in one flight at a 0.5 in/px GSD.
Implications for this performance are huge. Wingtra claims that a 1-hour mission with the WingtraOne equals about 30 hours of conventional land surveys. Additionally, they claim that their aircraft is up to 14 times faster than quadcopters and two times faster than other fixed-wing platforms. Less time spent on site means fewer man-hours and lower costs.
There are plenty of case studies that highlight the real-world examples of surveyors with the WingtraOne saving enormous amounts of time onsite. Take this team, for example, that mapped one of Europe’s largest mine in 10 days.
This performance would also serve to document areas damaged by natural disasters. By nature, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes impact large regions, making relief and recovery difficult. Mapping these locations enables an accurate analysis of the damage and, by extension, better decision-making. More importantly, this data is produced quickly without placing individuals in danger.
Although a fixed-wing aircraft, the WingtraOne retains the ability to take off and land vertically thanks to its VTOL design. There are two primary advantages to this:
First, VTOL aircraft require less space for take-off and landing.
Survey crews can operate from undeveloped, austere environments reducing the logistical footprint required for the survey.
Second, there is a lower risk of damage to the payload.
Other fixed-wing aircraft land on their bellies, potentially damaging the payload. Scratches and dust on the camera lens could compromise the accuracy of future measurements.
WingtraOne achieves the level of detail and accuracy by using high-quality imaging systems like the Sony RX1R II. At 42mp, this camera enables pilots to fly high above the site and capture larger areas in each frame with the necessary detail.
While the RX1R is a powerful mapping camera, it is not the solution for all missions. Some agricultural surveys, for example, are designed to collect data on plant health and would do better with Wingtra’s MicaSense RedEdge-P. Capturing five bands, this camera enables operators to identify species and monitor plant health.
The RedEdge-P is one of five different imaging payloads, including multi-spectral and oblique cameras. These vary in application, performance, and price, providing operators with a range of options to suit their needs.
However, if you’re considering the Wingtra drone, you should keep in mind that, as a highly specialized aircraft, it’ll largely be limited to mapping. In other words, it is an investment that will only provide very specific outputs. This aircraft may not be the best option for those needing versatility.
Despite its incredible precision, the WingtraOne isn’t optimal for mapping structures, as it can’t map while hovering. This means that to map the side of a parking garage, for example, you would need a multi-rotor drone; WingtraOne’s flight pattern only allows it to fly parallel to the ground.
For any drone topographic survey, the WingtraOne Gen II is the obvious solution. Powered by the efficiency of fixed-wing flight and equipped with robust payloads, the WingtraOne enables survey teams to measure sites with incredible accuracy. And while the initial investment may seem high, the speed of output generates significant returns by decreasing man-hours and subsequent costs.
Metrohm, a Swiss manufacturer of instruments for chemical analysis, recently released a video featuring their Boston Dynamics Spot unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). In this simulated operation, a team investigates an alleged narcotics lab. Spot, the industry-leading unmanned ground vehicle, equipped with Metrohm’s Raman spectrometer, enters the laboratory and analyzes the powder. Then, the Spot camera-integrated ARM payload uses their sensor to declare the scene hazardous. The video below is an excellent illustration of Spot’s diverse capabilities and applications.
Ridgeback: A Connected Solution
In the video, you can see the operators attach a box with antennas on the back of Spot. This antenna array belongs to a system developed by FLYMOTION called Ridgeback. Ridgeback utilizes an encrypted Mobile Ad-hoc NETworking (MANET) radio as the communication link between the controller and Spot. This robust capability enables Spot to act as a communication and connectivity relay node of a larger mesh network system. Moreover, data connectivity and power for Ridgeback fully integrate into UGVs.
Our Ridgeback payload is a game-changer for two reasons. First, it substantially increases Spot’s operational range. Second, it ensures a stable connection in complex RF environments. As a result, Spot operators have the flexibility to operate wherever the mission dictates.
You can read more about Ridgeback’s capabilities in this article as it integrates into Boston Dynamics Spot LiDAR applications or as a standalone Boston Dynamics Spot payload.
The Integration Process
We understand that mission success often requires specialized designs. As a leading system integrator, FLYMOTION excels in meeting those operational needs with custom solutions like Ridgeback. This ability is the result of strong industry partnerships and our technological expertise.
FLYMOTION relies on a mature and full-scale solutions engineering process to deliver custom solutions. We start with a thorough analysis of your organization’s needs. Next, we source specific and often customized components or have our dedicated team of engineers fabricate them in-house. After extensive testing, we deliver a capable product built to desired specifications. This process is formed around consistent communication between our tech team and the end-user.
If you’re interested in a custom technology solution, contact a FLYMOTION representative or visit our website. We look forward to supporting your operations with the most advanced unmanned systems and technology available.
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Last week saw the big release of DJI’s Avata, the latest drone in their FPV lineup that has sparked a lot of conversation online. It packs some of the company’s more mature technologies into a brand-new airframe along with a couple of new features. But is the Avata even relevant to the public safety community, or is it best left to enthusiasts? This article will cover some of its unique features and discuss their potential application in these operations.
FPVs in Public Safety
While FPV drones have been known for their stunts, they are no longer limited to diving over waterfalls or flying through courses. FPVs, specifically Cinewhoops, are now finding a place in public safety UAS programs. Their small size makes it easy for pilots to fly through open doors and tight spaces. Prop guards and a durable frame also allow it to survive repeated crashes. Finally, parts are easy to replace.
It’s for these reasons that FPVs have become the platform of choice for indoor operations — clearing rooms ahead of an entry by personnel. One police department in California recognized the tactical advantage provided and has successfully integrated FPVs into its operations.
However, unlike larger, more popular drones, FPVs are rudimentary in their design. Most require some technical knowledge to assemble or modify. And while this class of drones offers users configuration flexibility, they are not very accessible to beginners.
DJI’s Avata FPV drone addresses this very issue. Announced last week, the Avata represents DJI’s effort to bring its expertise into the world of FPVs, specifically with features designed to open the door for newcomers.
Designed in the style of Cinewhoop — a small FPV equipped with prop ducts — the Avata is ready to fly right out of the box, much like DJI’s other aircraft. The graphic below highlights some important specifications.
Some Specs to Highlight
- Flight Time: 18 minutes is significantly better than the mediocre 4-5 minute flight time of conventional Cinewhoop FPVs.
- Transmission Strength: DJI’s O3+ transmission system not only increases the range but also offers greater signal strength. No more random signal dropouts in buildings.
- Field-of-View: A 155° field-of-view allows a pilot to monitor their periphery despite being close to their subject.
- DJI Avata speed: 8 m/s (17.9 mph) in Normal Mode; 14 m/s (31.3 mph) in Sport Mode; 27 m/s (60.4 mph) in Manual Mode.
The DJI Goggles 2
In addition to the Avata, DJI also released a new pair of goggles known as the DJI Goggles 2. These are not to be confused with the DJI FPV Goggles V2. Lighter and smaller than the previous iteration, the Goggles 2 also feature several hardware upgrades, including an OLED screen and a higher screen brightness of 700 nits. At the time of writing, the Goggles 2 are only compatible with the Avata.
If you already own the FPV Goggles V2, you’re in luck — the Avata is compatible.
The Learning Curve
FPVs, including Cinewhoops, are notoriously difficult to fly. They require precise inputs and are largely unforgiving towards erratic movement. Furthermore, they don’t automatically hover or hold their position like many other drones, two features that ease new pilots into flying.
The Avata changes all of this. With the help of software, this drone offers three flight modes: Normal, Sport, and Manual. Normal and Sport modes allow the pilot to fly the Avata much like a Mavic. Manual mode unlocks the full performance capabilities of the drone, including aerobatics. This means pilots with different levels of experience can all fly the aircraft. For departments, this means they don’t need dedicated FPV pilots to use the drone — anyone on the UAS team could fly it. As pilots become more comfortable with the Avata, they can progress through the modes at their own pace.
DJI is offering a bundle that includes their Motion Controller, a joystick that translates hand movements into flight inputs for the drone. Simply tilt the controller in the direction you want to fly, squeezing the trigger to control speed.
The goggles supplement this by allowing pilots to turn the aircraft in the direction they are looking. Turn your head to the right, and the Avata yaws to the right. This innovative control interface makes it intuitive to explore your environment.
Something To Keep In Mind
The Avata is incredibly durable, with several videos online to prove it. However, the commercial nature of the Avata means that it’s more difficult to repair. It won’t be easy to replace a snapped strut or replace a camera. Cinewhoops are much better in this regard.
If you plan on purchasing the Avata, it would be advisable to add DJI Care to the aircraft. This guarantees coverage for damage incurred during an operation, but also means you need to send the drone in for repairs.
Cinewhoop-style drones are proving their worth in a variety of public safety applications. As mentioned earlier, these aircraft are optimal platforms for clearing rooms or inspecting confined areas like tunnels, vents, and crawlspaces.
Some departments have resorted to using smaller drones like the Mini 2 or Parrot ANAFI for the same purpose. While both are capable, the reality is that these aircraft are not optimized to fly indoors; operators may find themselves limited by the size of these aircraft. Therefore, we believe the DJI Avata is an excellent drone for this mission set.
Departments would do well to choose the DJI Avata FPV drone as it’s small, responsive, and easy to use. The features we mentioned are not gimmicks either; they enable pilots to focus on their surroundings and team for a successful outcome. If you’re interested in integrating the DJI Avata into your operations or starting an FPV program at your agency, contact a FLYMOTION representative or visit flymotionus.com.
FLYMOTION, a global leader providing unmanned systems, technology integration, training, and services across public safety, government, and defense, announces its expansion with an additional multi-story location in Southern Pines, NC, to better serve the Department of Defense. Located in the vicinity of Fort Bragg, home to the U.S. Army’s Airborne and Special Operations units, this office will dedicate itself to providing cutting-edge technology, integration, and training for our nation’s warfighters.
“This expansion is part of a larger concerted effort to embody our motto, ‘Supporting Those Who Serve.’ As a veteran-owned business, we understand the challenges faced by defense personnel and are proud to be considered part of the solution,” said Ryan English, CEO & Co-Founder of FLYMOTION.
The nature of evolving threats in recent years has prompted the need for innovative solutions. FLYMOTION is uniquely positioned to provide for these needs, with an extensive background in advanced technologies and services that support defense operations.
Since our inception in 2014, FLYMOTION, headquartered in Tampa, Florida, has become the largest provider of technology solutions and integrations to public safety, government, and defense. Our service portfolio spans unmanned systems, software, mobile command vehicles, full system integration, custom training, consultation, and support; we are a true end-to-end solution provider. Our efforts to deliver the highest degree of client satisfaction are founded on our mission of “Supporting Those Who Serve,” an idea rooted in us as a veteran-owned company.
FLYMOTION furthers our mission by hosting our annual Unmanned Tactical Application Conference (UTAC), the premier unmanned systems, robotics, and technology training event. UTAC offers fully immersive real-world scenarios where attendees can operate, evaluate, and familiarize themselves with the most advanced operational technologies. For more information, please visit flymotionus.com.
In a market heavily saturated with similar aircraft from industry giants, the Parrot ANAFI USA may not catch your attention. And yet, despite the fierce competition, it has seen widespread use with a long list of federal and defense entities. What makes the ANAFI USA well suited for the enterprise/defense mission set? More importantly, what advantages does it offer over its counterparts? We answer these questions in this article and discuss why the ANAFI USA may be one of the best public safety drones available.
Despite what may be circulating around on the internet, the Parrot ANAFI is not a drone with night vision capabilities, nor is it a drone with infrared camera. It does, however, bring thermal capabilities to the air. Below are some general specifications to get us started:
- (2x) 21MP cameras (wide, telephoto)
- 32x zoom
- 4K video
- FLIR Boson® 320×256 IR camera
- 5-axis hybrid stabilization
- Size: 228x101x76 mm
- Weight: 501 grams
- Flight Time: 32 minutes
- Weather Rating: IP53 dust and water resistant
- Speed: 14.7 m/s
- Service ceiling: 6,000 m
The ANAFI Line: Model Comparisons
It’s important to point out that the name ANAFI USA represents the Parrot’s aircraft series and one of the models within that series designed for public safety and defense operators.
This is the series lineup: the ANAFI USA, the ANAFI USA GOV, and the ANAFI USA MIL. All models offer the same flight performance, camera specifications, and encryption. However, they differ in the accessories and communication systems they provide. Furthermore, the GOV and MIL models are the only aircraft of the three that are Blue UAS-listed and NDAA-compliant.
ANAFI USA GOV: Everything offered by the ANAFI USA plus an 8-inch SkyController USA.
ANAFI USA MIL: Everything offered by the GOV plus an AES 256 encrypted Microhard radio communication system and TOGA (Tactical Open Government Architecture) compatibility.
The ANAFI Camera
The gimbal-stabilized payload consists of three cameras.
- A wide-angle EO (electro-optical) camera
- A telephoto EO camera
- A thermal camera
Both EO cameras have apertures that open up to f/2.4 and use a Sony sensor capable of shooting 4K video. The telephoto camera enables the 32x zoom, allowing pilots to highlight specific details at a distance.
Thermal cameras are quickly becoming standard on public safety aircraft. These systems enable pilots to operate at night, in low visibility, or detect hotspots on a fire ground. Equipped with a FLIR Boson sensor, the ANAFI captures thermal images at a 320p resolution.
Until this point, it would seem that the ANAFI USA is just like every other aircraft in its sUAS category. Certainly comparable to other drones, the ANAFI does offer agencies something many of its competitors don’t — data security.
One of the considerations of government and defense entities is how they will secure their information from data breaches or hacks. And given the context of the current political climate, cybersecurity concerns are being addressed across many initiatives, including UAS programs.
Responding to these needs, Parrot has incorporated several features in their aircraft to protect user data.
The connection between the controller and the aircraft is secured by WPA2 authentication and protection, including a 128-bit encryption key. Connection links are unique to every aircraft and controller pair. Additionally, every key is customizable by the user.
Encrypted SD Card
In addition to the network connection, the SD cards carrying your photo and video data come with the option to be encrypted, protecting your data in the event the aircraft is lost or stolen.
Data Management Protocols
Speculations about what companies do with that information have been a primary reason behind the cybersecurity concerns, driving various entities to consider where they source their aircraft. Parrot addresses these concerns by not collecting flight data by default. Instead, it only does so only when authorized by the user.
For agencies that employ additional software as part of their UAS programs, the Parrot ANAFI is supported by a long list of software, including DroneDeploy and Pix4Dreact. Both are popular solutions for rapid mapping, producing accurate 2D and 3D representations. Compatibility with these programs increases the versatility, and therefore the value, of the Parrot ANAFI.
Compact and dependable, the ANAFI USA enables operators to fly wherever missions take them, backed by the security of DoD-compliant system architecture. For agencies subject to Blue UAS directives, the Parrot ANAFI USA is an excellent option. If you are interested in this aircraft, contact a FLYMOTION representative or learn more about Parrot drones at flymotionus.com.
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Nearly three months old, DJI’s Mini 3 Pro has quickly become a popular aircraft with many pilots. Building on the success of the Mini 2, the newest iteration increases flight and camera performance — improvements that all weigh under 250 g. The continual improvement of the Mini line opens doors of opportunity for new pilots and expands its versatility for specialized operators.
In this article, we have highlighted three areas in which the DJI Mini 3 Pro has seen enormous improvements making it a capable drone.
The most significant improvement introduced with the new model was the larger sensor. Boasting a brand-new 1/1.3-inch sensor and an aperture of f/1.7, the unofficially-titled Mavic Mini 3 (Mini 3 Pro) closes the gap between entry-level aircraft and the mid-range Mavic Air series.
A larger sensor and aperture have clear advantages. First, they allow a camera to perform well in low-light conditions, common at dawn, dusk, or on overcast days. As a result, images and videos are sharper, without the graininess typical of smaller sensors. Second, it enables a greater depth of field, a cinematic element used to separate the subject from the background.
Moreover, the new sensor also supports HDR capture, using software to capture detail in the highlights and shadows. This feature creates photos and videos that are balanced and true-to-life in a variety of conditions.
Flying a drone requires considerable multitasking. A pilot has to focus on the subject and remain aware of any obstacles, hazards, or conditions that could damage the drone.
To ease this burden for beginning pilots, DJI integrated its mature obstacle avoidance system into the Mini 3 Pro. Borrowed from their flagship Mavic 3, this system covers the front, rear, and bottom of the aircraft. It also allows the drone to dodge an obstacle and resume its course with the help of APAS 4.0. While obstacle avoidance doesn’t replace pilot vigilance, it’s an added measure of safety when flying in busy environments.
DJI has spent time with recent models developing the software side of the flight experience. This includes the introduction of automatic flight modes that make it easy to capture dynamic content. However, these modes were typically reserved for their more advanced aircraft — until now.
A major selling point of the Mini 3 Pro has been the introduction of FocusTrack and MasterShots to the Mini lineup.
FocusTrack is what DJI calls the feature suite that includes ActiveTrack 4.0, Spotlight 2.0, and Point of Interest 3.0. All three lock onto a subject and keep it in frame while the pilot flies.
MasterShots is a collection of automated movements around a selected subject. Circling, helix, and ‘dronie’ are among the movements, with additional pans and zooms that make for dramatic videos. Once initiated, the MasterShots function automatically runs through all of the movements, observing the height, distance, and speed parameters set by the pilot.
The precision of FocusTrack and MasterShots turns the most inexperienced of pilots into cinematographers.
While the standard Mini 3 DJI Pro battery is only a marginal improvement over Mini 2, the optional Intelligent Flight Battery Plus extends flight time from 34 minutes to a whopping 47 minutes. This provides pilots with ample time to capture content before landing.
The Mini 3 Pro brings promising features to the front lines and where duty calls. To explore the DJI Mini 3 specs and to obtain a quote for your organization, please contact a FLYMOTION representative or visit our website. We look forward to ‘Supporting Those Who Serve’ with the latest unmanned systems and technology available!
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Based out of Salt Lake City, UT, Teal manufactures UAVs for public safety and defense applications, making it a true military UAV drone. Their flagship sUAS is the Golden Eagle. It recently joined several other aircraft on the Blue UAS Cleared list, having met stringent DOD standards.
In this article, we look at some of the UAV’s features, including a powerful AI software that could change way the military uses drones.
A Quick Look at the Golden Eagle
- Made in the USA
- NDAA Compliant/Blue UAS listed
- Encrypted communication link
- Supported GPS-denied flight
- 30-minute flight time
- FLIR Hadron EO/IR sensor
The Golden Eagle
Teal created the Golden Eagle drone as a short-range ISR aircraft, effectively extending a squad’s situational awareness beyond their line of sight.
More importantly, it enables squads to be self-sufficient. They can collect and analyze intelligence themselves, relying less on other resources for information. As a result, small ground elements move and strike with a greater degree of autonomy.
Teal included several hardware features to facilitate this mission. Because small infantry elements have limited logistical resources, portability is essential. Therefore, they designed folding arms making it easier to carry the drone in a backpack. Furthermore, the gimbal doesn’t require calibration for takeoff. This allows the Golden Eagle to deploy quickly.
Finally, the combination of the optical and thermal cameras is a significant advantage. Comparing color video with heat signatures provides a detailed picture of the environment, revealing the exact location of hidden subjects.
Powering the Golden Eagle’s hardware is a multi-vehicle software package called 4-Ship. Developed in partnership with Autonodyne, 4-Ship enables one operator to control four Golden Eagle aircraft simultaneously. They can fly in different formations, using AI to follow commands.
This feature is an excellent example of software as a force multiplier. As an example, consider the following scenario.
A squad (4-10 soldiers) takes up a position before moving onto their objective. While close to enemy forces, they are vulnerable to attacks. Fortunately, this squad is equipped with Golden Eagle drones. While they wait, one soldier sends up four aircraft. On command, they form a circle around their position, each one facing a different direction. Now the squad has a perimeter of optical and thermal cameras.
After some time, the batteries start to run low. To change them, the aircraft rotate out. This way, the squad is covered through the cycle. With fresh batteries, the aircraft return to their previous formation. Shortly after, the squad leader receives the command to engage the hostiles. The pilot commands all the aircraft to return and land. They are stowed in the backpack and the team moves in.
In short, 4-Ship aggregates four different data feeds with one Teal Air Control (TAC) to one pilot — a ratio unheard of with other systems.
An upgraded option exists to 4-Ship called 4-Ship+. The addition comes in the form of an extra 2 Golden Eagle aircraft, totaling 6 unmanned aerial units, and a secondary Teal Air Control (TAC). The secondary controller brings a new component to the operator’s fingertips, the ability to hand off control of the swarm to the other pilot utilizing the primary controller.
Software’s ability to increase hardware capabilities demonstrates two things. Firstly, it shows how far technology has come. Secondly, it indicates the direction unmanned systems are heading. Future UAS evolution will no doubt emphasize software integrations to meet the mission requirements.
“No longer are drone applications limited to a one-pilot/one-drone situation, drastically altering the potential missions for drones due to the ability of a single pilot to be able to control a team of drones. The 4-Ship already provides significant flexibility in applications, from security to agriculture to law enforcement, as well as the expected military applications, for which there is expressed interest,” said Jeff Thompson, Red Cat’s CEO. Red Cat Holdings is the parent company of Teal Drones, Inc.
Teal’s Golden Eagle represents an important step in the development of American drones. Portable, secure, and advanced, the Teal Golden Eagle drone equips defense operators to meet the challenges of today’s battle space.
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Think of the word “drone.” What probably comes to mind is a quadcopter — a small aircraft with four rotors. Since most UAVs are designed this way, it’s a logical association. Their popularity, however, often overshadows another category of capable drones.
Fixed-wing UAVs provide significant advantages in flight performance over quadcopters, increasing the number of applications. Autel’s Dragonfish drone is a perfect example of this advantage. In this article, (1) we compare fixed-wing and rotary-wing drones, and (2) highlight the specific features of the Dragonfish that make it an excellent ISR aircraft.
The Fixed-Wing Advantage
As we mentioned, drones are classified as either fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft. Rotary-wing systems include helicopters, quadcopters, and hexacopters. Fixed-wing UAVs are built like traditional airplanes, with wings and horizontal propulsion.
Apart from the clear advantages of VTOL and hovering, rotary-wing UAVs also have:
- Exceptional maneuverability
- Superior performance during low-speed flight
However, as the chart indicates, rotary-wing aircraft are power-intensive and inefficient. This results in limited flight time, and in some cases, a limited payload capacity.
Fixed-wing aircraft, on the other hand, excel where quadcopters are deficient.
- Longer endurance due to greater power efficiency
- Optimal design for higher speeds
- Greater payload capacity
These attributes, of course, come at a cost. Fixed-wings cannot hover. They also need space (and sometimes a mechanism) for launch and recovery. Furthermore, physics doesn’t allow them to be as agile.
The Autel Dragonfish Drone
The ideal UAV would combine the VTOL capability of quadcopters with the endurance of fixed-wing aircraft. The Autel Dragonfish is designed to do just that.
The Dragonfish is what is referred to as a “tilt rotor” aircraft. Like the military’s renowned V-22 Osprey, the Dragonfish takes off and lands vertically, then tilts its wingtip rotors 45 degrees for horizontal flight. It has two additional vertical rotors that only operate during the takeoff, landing, and hovering phases of flight.
Dragonfish Size and Features
As a result, the Autel Dragonfish drone is a highly-capable aircraft, carrying high-resolution payloads for flight times unmatched by quadcopters. This aircraft comes in three different models: Lite, Standard, and Pro. These vary in wingspan, flight time, and payload capability. Nonetheless, all three provide the following features:
- Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL)
- Over an hour of flight time
- Automatic subject tracking
- Waypoint navigation
- High-resolution imaging payloads
- Composite construction
- System redundancy
Combining fixed-wing endurance, speed, and range with VTOL capabilities opens the door to new applications for drones.
Search-and-rescue missions are endurance operations, requiring personnel and equipment to work for hours, if not days continuously. The scope of a wildfire response also demands a similar level of endurance. The Dragonfish Standard model boasts a max flight time of 120 minutes and a range of 10 km — optimal specifications to handle either mission.
Automated functions facilitate its use as a DFR platform, an operation model adopted by several law enforcement agencies. Drone as a First Responder (DFR) programs launch aircraft from a central location and arrive on-scene before personnel. Because of the high volume of flights, automating functions like navigation, subject tracking, and landing ensures continuity of operation.
Inspection missions require detailed data without damaging the aircraft or infrastructure. Stabilized payloads like the DG-T3 contain a 20x optical zoom camera to capture 4K video from a safe distance.
Finally, VTOL capability provides operators the flexibility to deploy the aircraft anywhere. A Dragonfish launched on-scene can spend most of its flight time over the incident instead of flying to and from a landing zone.
The Autel fixed wing drone makes the applications of UAS in public safety and defense operations more plausible. The “best of both worlds,” it is a versatile aircraft capable of fulfilling a number of demanding missions. If you’re interested in learning more about fixed-wing VTOLs like the Dragonfish, visit our website, or contact a FLYMOTION representative.
We are four months away from FLYMOTION’s 3rd annual Unmanned Tactical Application Conference (UTAC)! Each year we strive to make UTAC the best unmanned systems, robotics, and technology training event this industry offers. Motivated by the success of last year’s conference, we are excited to announce the addition of several components to the UTAC 2022 schedule.
UTAC 2021 Recap
UTAC 2021 presented eight scenarios modeled after operations executed by agencies around the world. These showcased the capabilities of unmanned platforms across different operational environments. Role players, smoke, fire, mock injuries, and simulated gunfire added to the realism of the scenarios, providing a dynamic portrayal of each mission. Each scenario was of great interest to our attendees, but letting every attendee fly during the simulations was not possible.
Updates for UTAC 2022
After hearing your feedback, we set out to revamp our conference schedule. To create the best training experience possible, we are excited to present the following changes at UTAC 2022.
– Updated schedule offering five hours of individual flight time
– Scenarios offered multiple times to smaller groups
– Classes, panels, and presentations optimized for audience engagement
– A unique venue for unlimited indoor/outdoor free flight
– Introducing Flight Missions: Opportunities for individuals to accomplish specific objectives with the guidance of instructors
We are excited to bring these changes to UTAC 2022 and create an even more valuable unmanned systems training experience for our attendees. The updated daily schedule will look similar to the below:
0900-1000: COFFEE AND NETWORKING
Our attendees can casually arrive and network with other attendees, industry experts, and technology providers over coffee as the UTAC campus prepares for the day’s training sessions.
1000-1100: GROUP INSTRUCTION
Attendees start each day together, receiving instruction from subject-matter experts on topics relevant to anyone operating unmanned technology for public safety, government, or defense purposes.
1100-1200: GROUP DISCUSSION
After a quick break to stretch, our attendees will regroup to participate in an open forum. We form panels of leading experts, operators, technology providers, and policy writers to answer questions and facilitate discussions on the most relevant topics in the unmanned sector.
1200-1800: UTAC CAMPUS OPENS
Each afternoon will provide 6 hours of an open schedule with opportunities to learn in the classroom or in the field. UTAC attendees can choose from the following activities each day to create a schedule that best fits their unique learning goals.
- Real-World Scenarios: Led by instructors from drone programs from around the world, attendees have the opportunity to observe — and then fly — simulations of actual UAS responses. We use local first responders, role players, and live munitions, immersing our attendees in an emergency response environment. This year, we are featuring eight new scenarios, with two of them running each day. There will be three opportunities to experience each scenario for a total of 24 opportunities to be immersed in a training environment unique to UTAC.
- Tech Trials: Looking for a unique challenge? We are excited to introduce a brand-new training exercise to UTAC 2022 — Tech Trials. Throughout the week, attendees can participate in eight unique trials to test their problem-solving skills and operate unique, non-traditional technologies. Participants who complete all eight Tech Trials by the end of the conference will be eligible for a free prize giveaway.
- NIST Lanes: No UAS training would be complete without NIST Lanes. Led by instructors from NIST, test your skills and receive an evaluation of your flying proficiency.
- Integrated NIST: UTAC 2021 had the most environment-integrated NIST courses of any event to date. UTAC 2022 will offer even more courses. Each one will have a dedicated instructor to ensure valuable flight time and provide guidelines on how pilots can apply the tactics in their operations.
- Interior Open Flight Area: New to UTAC 2022 is the Interior and Exterior Open Flight Areas. Our Interior Open Flight Area will be located in a 4-story building complete with open windows, stairways, staged rooms/furniture, and more. Hone your interior flight skills in an environment where you can try new tactics and learn from other attendees.
- Exterior Open Flight Area: UTAC 2022 will also feature an exterior open flight area. Practice basic flight skills in areas free of obstructions or challenge yourself by flying through several environments with realistic flight hazards and obstacles.
- Technology Demos: Wanting to see the latest unmanned technology in action? UTAC 2022 will feature up to 4 manufacturer-led technology demos each day, giving you the experience to witness firsthand the latest and greatest technology available to your agency.
- PIX4D Workshop: If you’re looking to learn about UAS mapping missions, our PIX4D Workshops have you covered. Not only will you learn about how the software works, but you will have the chance to fly your drone and create maps using PIX4D’s Mapper and React applications. These 3-4 hour workshops are intense crash courses to learn a new skill to take back to your team.
- Classroom Instruction: Interested in learning directly from industry experts? Each day will consist of 4 additional hours of classroom instruction from technology vendors, policy writers, UAS operators, and more. Come and learn from the people driving the industry forward every day.
- Exhibit Hall: Need a break from the action? Stop by the exhibit hall for some one-on-one time with our UTAC vendors and sponsors. Drinks and snacks will be available.
1800-2000: EVENING SOCIALS
Help us celebrate the close of each day with a social event on the UTAC campus. Unwind with colleagues and enjoy great food and drinks on us!
Click below to watch our video showcasing UTAC 2021 and what you can expect to see at this year’s conference!
As you can see, UTAC is tailored to meet the needs of each attendee with a wide range of training experiences. You will improve your abilities and prepare yourself for the demands of your area of operations. We look forward to having each and everyone who will attend UTAC this year, but spots are limited! Register and learn more about UTAC 2022 at utacglobal.com.
Drones have been a trending topic for some time now. From the recent release of DJI’s Mini 3 Pro to the promises of drone deliveries from Walmart, this year has seen significant activity from the drone industry. More importantly, drones are becoming specialized. Not all of them fulfill the same role. This specialization is a meaningful indicator of the progression and future of drone technology. In this article, we break down the two general categories of UAVs.
Commercial vs. Recreational
Generally speaking, there are two categories of drones: commercial and recreational. Recreational drones are the aircraft whose footage you might see on YouTube. Popular with hobbyists and online content creators, recreational drones offer features attractive to the general public, including larger camera sensors, portability, and vertical shooting modes.
One drone popular with recreational pilots is DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro. Equipped with a Hasselblad sensor and automated capture modes, it offered high-quality image capture. As a result, the Mavic 2 Pro quickly become a staple for aerial cinematographers.
However, some of these features are not as relevant outside of recreational circles. Commercial drones, for example, rely on different capabilities to accomplish their missions. Let’s take a closer look at what we mean.
Commercial Drone Examples
Commercial drones are designed for technical applications like surveillance or inspections. Therefore, commercial aircraft developers prioritize transmission quality, zoom range, and thermal imaging integrations. These pilots are not looking for cinematic quality. Instead, they require features that ensure safety, reliability, and clarity in the field.
DJI’s lesser-known Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced (M2EA), on the other hand, was made for a different purpose. Using the Mavic 2 Pro airframe, the M2EA traded the cinema camera for a zoom optical camera and a thermal sensor. This allows pilots to detect hot spots at fires, locate missing people, or identify temperature differences. Furthermore, the M2EA included a mount for external payloads like a spotlight, speaker, or RTK (Real-Time Kinematic) module. All of these features tailor the M2EA for several special applications.
The previous example is a great comparison between commercial and recreational drones because it highlights the priorities of commercial pilots. Since the launch of the M2EA, DJI, Autel, and several other companies are building drones specifically for commercial use including:
- DJI Matrice 300 RTK
- DJI Matrice 30 T
- Autel EVO II Enterprise
- Autel Dragonfish
- Teal Golden Eagle
- FLIR R80D SkyRaider
Commercial drones take on several specialized roles.
With the help of drones, firefighters are able to see through smoke and debris, directing resources to the source of the fire. Firefighters have also used them for prescribed burns and wild land management.
Several law enforcement agencies deploy drones for event security, vehicle pursuits, and SWAT team support conducting overwatch. An aerial overview is an advantage for officers, alerting them of dangers and making their operations more efficient.
Defense operators use drones, like FLIR’s Black Hornet, for missions known as “ISR,” or Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. Their discrete size and powerful sensor allow soldiers to scout enemy positions and movements with an extremely low auditory signature.
Frequent inspections of oil and electrical infrastructures pose a challenge to many companies. Areas of interest are remote and inaccessible to personnel. Harsh weather conditions further complicate the task. Fortunately, many commercial drones are weather-rated and stream inspection data from their cameras. Additionally, software enables several models to automatically conduct inspections at set intervals.
The nature of commercial drone missions requires a specialized set of features for an aircraft to accomplish the objectives we mentioned. Technology has reached a point where it can easily and autonomously achieve tasks, furthering the development of commercial UAVs.
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