IoT World Today | IoT and Drones Automate Field Operations

Integrated Systems
June 23, 2021

Article by Mary Shacklett

As the Internet of Things sweeps through a variety of industries, it has started to make its mark by reducing costs and optimizing efficiency. In August, 2019,  for example, McKinsey reported that Technology advances had reduced  field operation costs by 10%-40% and improved overall field operations productivity by 30%-40%.. Key technology drivers were intelligent and prescriptive action boards, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

While many of these field operation advances are in on-the- ground applications such as smart city monitoring, predictive manufacturing, field-based asset management and logistics optimization, IoT and drones are also “taking flight.”

IoT’s Role  in Drones

What makes drones effective in company operations is the IoT-generated data that powers them.

The outer chassis of the drone is constructed from lightweight materials that facilitate flying and minimize vibration and sound.  The IoT sensors and navigational system are placed in the nose of the drone, and the rest of the drone body is outfitted with other IoT technology that is necessary to  perform the drone’s mission. This IoT technology can range from GPS systems, central control systems, infrared laser and cameras; to LiDAR  (light detection and ranging) instrumentation, photogrammetry equipment and inertlal measurement units (IMU) that measure rotational elements like pitch, roll and yaw. All of these systems are controlled from a ground field system, and they work together to produce an operational result.

Bathymetry is the study of underwater depth of ocean floors, lake floors and riverbeds. To measure water depth, crews use echo sounders, which transmit sonar sound waves into water and then determine depth measurements based upon the data that is bounced back from these waves.

“It can be better to use a drone with an echo sounder for mapping, measuring, and inspecting tasks and environmental monitoring if you are conducting bathymetric surveys of tailings dams and ponds,” said Alexey Dobrovolskiy, CTO at SPH Engineering, which provides software and integration services for unmanned systems. “Also, drones can be used for river and lake bottom profiling for scientific investigations and environmental monitoring, underwater inspections for engineering works such as bridge or pipeline crossings, and for sludge volume measurements at waste stabilization ponds.”

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