Is there such a thing as survey grade?

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Every now and then I find myself in customer discussions being asked, – “How would you go about selecting a drone for surveying?”, “Is there such a thing as survey grade?”Good questions! I guess the answer to this is partly dependent on the task at hand, but there are at least a few generic points that should apply no matter what, like e.g.

  • Resilience, build strength: Asking of a drone to be indestructible might be a bit steep, but seeing as any drone is bound to be subject to adverse impacts, one would expect the manufacturer to have spent effort on how to minimize negative results.
  • Safety: The danger lies in impact energy and the shape of the surfaces that might impact with something. Again, one would expect the manufacturer to have spent some thought as to how to minimize negative results. Best is if you can achieve less than a 1% chance of Abbreviated Injury Scale1 (AIS) level 3 or greater on impact.
  • Productivity: An endurance of 50 minutes or longer is a must. You could reason that it is about area coverage, but area coverage is dependent on the required resolution and positioning accuracy. Better to see to that there is sufficient flight time available
  • Stability: You do not want your drone to perform badly in adverse weather conditions. It limits your ability to perform your assignments by making you more weather dependent than necessary.
  • Versatility: It needs to be user friendly, perform different sets of tasks and provide accurate measurements with a diverse set of sensors. View the UAV as a data collection platform.
  • Cost of ownership: A drone that cannot perform is not economically viable. Be it weather conditions, need for repair, user experience or sensor capability, operational availability is everything.

If you wish to find more information on this topic, please download our buyer’s guide to fixed-wing drones for professional use!

The Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) provides a method of quantifying the severity of an injury on a scale of 1 to 6, where level 1 is considered a “minor” injury that does not require professional treatment and level 6 is a “maximum” injury which is considered untreatable and fatal.

Roger Ohlund, CMO SmartPlanes

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