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Drone Mission Planning Alongside Highways

UgCS: Flight Planning & Control
June 26, 2023

Drones play a crucial role when it comes to the construction of fiber optic networks. The drones provide valuable data including updated terrain imagery, which is utilized by various professionals ranging from designers to construction supervisors.

ROHL Global Networks facilitates its drone operations with UgCS flight planning software - a powerful platform that allows users to control drone flight paths precisely. With its precise control over drone flight paths, UgCS has revolutionized drone operations across multiple industries, including construction and critical search and rescue missions.

ROHL Global Networks (ROHL), a leader in turnkey solutions for the North American Telecommunication Industry, offers Design, Build, and Maintenance solutions to meet today’s utility construction standards from urban to remote environments. ROHL Design includes the latest advancement in Drone Technology, including UgCS which has been instrumental in preparing and planning to construct fiber optic routes and networks alongside roads and highways, including an approximately 774 km Fiber Optic project, The Dempster Fiber Line.

By utilizing UgCS for data collection, ROHL Global Networks benefits from enhanced efficiency and accuracy in their operations. The advanced features of UgCS, such as the ability to resume missions, replace drone batteries, and customize camera settings, enable them to optimize their workflow and maximize data quality. This ultimately leads to time savings, improved productivity, and better-informed decision-making, positioning ROHL Global Networks for success in their data-gathering endeavors.

Challenges Faced by Pilots in Long-Distance Drone Data Collection Surveys:

  1. A solution that allows the mission to continue autonomously, ensuring uninterrupted progress even in case of a lost connection with the drone.
  2. Planning the flight duration to determine how long pilots can operate their drones and cover the required distance.
  3. Pilots need to factor in parameters such as battery life, flight speed, and payload to ensure safe and efficient operations during their missions.
  4. A considerable challenge is adjusting camera-specific parameters such as width, number of passes, ground sampling distance, forward and side overlaps, and above-ground level tolerance. These adjustments are crucial to ensure that the drone captures the desired data accurately and effectively.
  5. The importance of a system that follows terrain to maintain proximity to the ground for creating scalable maps with an accurate outcome.
  6. Long corridor missions require dividing the entire route into segments. Sequentially naming these segments helps to simplify navigation and create order along the route which is an added challenge on long corridors.
  7. Planning for sufficient overlap between route segments to help with alignment and create proper coverage so the final deliverable is accurately represented.
  8. Working in remote regions where internet connectivity may be limited or unavailable often becomes a challenge as well as a safety issue. Having the ability to adjust flight path and the ability to visualize and track the drone's position during a mission is essential.

Important factors during the flight execution

Field Condition Assessment: Preparedness and Adaptability

Firstly, the pilot needs to assess the actual field conditions, which may differ from what is shown on outdated imagery like Google Earth. This ensures they are prepared for any unexpected obstacles or changes.

GCPs: Achieving Accurate Data Collection

Secondly, the pilot should consider the use of Ground Control Points (GCPs) for accurate data collection. While GCPs may not be necessary for obtaining relative information, they are essential for achieving survey-grade accuracy in mapping and surveying projects.

Proper GCP distribution, along with on-site inspections, ensures the pilot obtains the necessary data for accurate and reliable deliverables.

Maintaining Visual Line of Sight: Roadway Operations Safety

When operating drones along roadways, it is important to maintain a visual line of sight at all times. Stay within a reasonable distance of 300-500 meters from the drone to ensure a clear visual view through the front window.

During the performance of such a type of mission, a dedicated crew with at least two people is required: one as the driver responsible for the vehicle and road safety and the other as the pilot acting as a visual observer. Simultaneous driving and flying allow for safe operations and necessitate the development of specific procedures to follow.

One approach to conducting drone flights is to safely lift off, follow the drone's motion with a vehicle until reaching the end of the route, and then return by following it back to the takeoff position, ensuring easy monitoring throughout the flight.

One RC is operating the flight with UgCS. And the other one is operating just the camera control, which is an option with the M300.

Maintaining a pace of 40 kilometers per day for exploration under such an approach is considered normal and can serve as a baseline for similar operations.

Each pilot chooses their own post-processing software based on the desired outcome they need to deliver.

After processing the data, the next step is to import it into relevant software, such as CAD or other sketch programs, and utilize it according to the specific project needs. In the case of ROHL Global Networks, the data is used to assist in drafting, designing, and drawing fiber optic networks as part of their specialized in-house program for building and installation.

The advantages of UgCS when you perform long corridor drone surveys:

  1. Mission Planning: UgCS provides 3D advanced mission planning capabilities, allowing users to create precise routes, define parameters, and customize flight plans according to their specific requirements.
  2. Corridor Mission Planning: enables efficient and precise drone operations within specific corridors, improving data collection and mission productivity.
  3. Terrain Following: The ability of UgCS to follow the terrain is crucial for creating accurate and scalable maps. It ensures that the drone maintains proximity to the earth's surface, resulting in consistent and reliable data collection.
  4. Offline Mapping: UgCS offers the capability to cache offline maps, allowing pilots to work in remote regions without an internet connection.
  5. Ability to resume drone missions in case of temporary connection loss, saving flight time.
  6. Capability to replace the drone's battery and continue the mission without interruption.
  7. 3D interface that ensures the drone's route provides the necessary data overlap.
  8. Separate configuration options for camera actions, even those not manufactured by DJI.

UgCS offers a powerful solution for efficient and precise drone operations along specific geographic corridors. With its advanced features and user-friendly interface, UgCS enables users to optimize data collection, enhance mission productivity, and achieve survey-grade accuracy in mapping and surveying projects. Whether it is constructing fiber optic networks, performing critical search and rescue missions, or undertaking other corridor-related operations, UgCS proves to be an invaluable tool. By leveraging UgCS Corridor Mission Planning, organizations like ROHL Global Networks can overcome challenges, streamline workflows, and harness the full potential of drones in their operations, leading to improved efficiency, accuracy, and success in their endeavors.

If you are planning to start using UgCS for long corridor missions, you can request a trial and contact for a free demo of the product. We will thoroughly analyze your mission requirements and guide you on how to use UgCS to obtain the desired data.

Get your UgCS Trial and test unique features!

|| Article is written in collaboration with Rohl Global Networks - building robust, world-class infrastructure in urban and remote environments.

|| Photo credits: Rohl Global Networks

|| Watch the webinar on Drone Mission Planning alongside highways here.