UAV Update

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 10:23:52

Thought I’d provide a brief update on some UAVs I was observing during some collaborative work with Wagengingen. Below is a short video of the Altura Pro AT8 octocopter (see the Altura website). What amazed me about this kit is that it is at the more serious drone end of the spectrum. The payloads can be higher (1.5-3.0kg), but it was the speed and maneuverability that was remarkable, whilst flying time was good (~40mins).

If you want coverage as per a fairly traditional aerial photography mission, then a fixed wing drone is the one to go for. Wageningen have a Mavinci Sirius which, whilst at the lower end of the technology spectrum, is particularly adept at capturing high quality imagery over large areas.

Future developments are clearly going in the direction of better quality cameras, hyperspectral imaging, longer flight times, heavier payloads, and better stability. We are pretty close to “version 3” products now - I can’t remember where I read it, but the adage goes that you should wait for a version 3 product to get something that is beyond “early adopter” and fit for market. Tesla electric cars, Leica ScanStation, Microsoft Windows to name but a few. We seem to be at the stage with UAVs with improved reliability, lower cost and a slow rationalisation of the market from small vendors to fewer larger companies.

Definitely a “watch this space” moment.

QGIS Under the Raedar

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 09:55:38

Really nice article from Alasdair - I can only echo his comments. QGIS has reached a nice level of maturity and usability and is now well worth the investment of time. I would add a couple of my own points to this:

1. Portability: just copy the QGIS folder on to your USB stick. It runs from there happily
2. Speed: for such a large application it is relatively fast.

I have been working on a project with colleagues at Wageningen (Saskia Keesstra and Niels Anders) involving some spatial processing using Python - this utilises shapefiles for data storage and QGIS is wonderfully rapid for loading, symbolising and querying data.

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