GIC’s research towards creating a long-range mapping drone was published in the June 2019 issue of Coordinates magazine (Volume 15, Issue 6).
The article, titled Building a low cost long range mapping drone, focuses on a fixed wing drone that was developed at GIC in 2018. The drone features a 2m wingspan and a maximum endurance of 50 minutes on a single 5200mAh lithium polymer battery. Visible spectrum imagery is captured with a consumer grade Sony RX 100 M3 camera with a 20.1 MP CMOS sensor.
During flight, progress is monitored on a ground control station as well as with live video. A nose-mounted video camera provides a first-person perspective from the drone during flight for navigation and safety purposes. The video is viewed through a pair of monitor goggles that link to the live video feed.
One of the caveats to operating a fixed wing drone is designating an appropriate landing area. Fixed wing drones typically require a substantial area free of obstructions to perform a belly landing. Depending on the positioning error associated with a particular drone’s landing characteristics, the area could be as large as a 9 meter radius around the chosen landing point. This project was able to reduce the area needed for landing by incorporating a parachute system deployable by a flight controller switch. The parachute also benefits the system by reducing wear to the drone body.
In all, the drone featured in the article was assembled and configured at GIC for less than $2000 USD with parts sourced from the internet. This represents a significant cost savings over other fixed wing survey capable drones on offer from major manufacturers like Sensefly which may cost five times as much for similar output.
The magazine article can be accessed here through the Coordinates website.
Coordinates is an Indian magazine delivering monthly content on the latest geospatial technology and applications. More information on Coordinates can be found by accessing their website at https://mycoordinates.org/