On the 5th of September, 2019, the Practical UAV conference was held in Kyiv. It was organized by Kailas A, Abris DG, Department of Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics of Lviv Polytechnic University and the State cadastre center. The purpose of the conference is the full and multilateral coverage of various practical aspects, technical characteristics and comparative analysis of the possibilities of specialized UAVs in the field of cartography, land management, cadastre, monitoring of engineering infrastructure, etc. Therefore, the conference gathered scientists, practitioners, surveyors, representatives of public organizations, business, and military under the same roof.
The event was dedicated to discussing all the use aspects of specialized UAVs for high-precision aerial photography. The conference also highlighted the practical implementation in various fields: agrarian, cadastral, engineering, infrastructure, environmental. Domestic development of unmanned aerial vehicles and software was shown.
The speakers of the conference were direct manufacturers of specialized UAVs, specialists with many years of experience in conducting aerial survey work. Representatives of the state’s advanced scientific institutions and executive authorities were also involved in the event. Speakers included experts from Turkey and Japan.
I will try to briefly describe my own impressions of participation in this event and to summarize the main points of the presented reports.
Representatives of National University “KPI of Sikorsky” highlighted a number of their own developments in the field of UAVs: airborne and ground equipment to perform a wide range of tasks for civilian and military users. Thus, a number of UAV models used for aerial photography, monitoring, patrolling, reconnaissance and more were presented. As far as software development is concerned, for the most part, the Institute works in the information-analytical vector: calculation of aircraft characteristics, calculation of their aerodynamic loads, stresses, strains, etc.
Representatives of Kharkiv EPC Ltd. (chief surveyor Valery Deyneko) presented their product, which is successfully used not only among Ukrainian users but also outside Ukraine (Canada, USA, China, Sweden) – PPK & RTK UAV device based on NovAtel OEM7600 GNSS (or OEM615) receiver. This device is compatible with both UAV aircraft and drone types. Regarding the accuracy of the position of the ground control points, it is 4.5 cm in plan and 5 cm in height when PPK processing the received data. Among the advantages of this device are the following: no design changes in the copter, easy and cheap mounting of the module (plastic clamps), mounting the antenna with the battery, the external module does not overheat and in no way affects the operation of the navigation receiver, own indication of the module, the module and antenna are easily removable and can be used separately, 130g extra weight + additional aerodynamic resistance + 0.8W onboard power = -5..10% battery power.
An interesting report was presented by the conference the headliners – representatives of ABRIS PT LLC (Technical Director Vadim Kolesnichenko). They presented an unmanned complex with a somewhat “playful” name, but very serious intentions and capabilities – “Abris FlIRT” (Flying Intelligent Robotics Tools). The conditions of practical tests of the airplane type aircraft were impressive: from Arctic frosts to subtropical hell, from the plains of Ukraine to the mountainous part of Turkey. The developers of this unmanned aerial vehicle focused on: fully Ukrainian aircraft configuration, high accuracy of the results of the obtained data, which is related to the use of the products of the aforementioned LLC “EPS”, the convenience of using its own software for planning flight missions. The high stability of the photogrammetric series, as compared to a drone, was also demonstrated. The comparative characteristics and advantages, proved by practical research, of the device with foreign analogs were noted in the report by the scientists of Lviv Polytechnic. The Director of Geoinformation Systems BMD Engineering Consulting CO, Sinan Görgülu (Turkey), in his report also noted the advantages of using FLIRT Cetus UAVs in comparison to the use of aerial photography from a manned aircraft in mountainous terrain.
The head of PJSC “System Solutions” Volodymyr Babchenko talked about the significant contributions to improving the accuracy of the obtained data with the use of UAVs and new features of the National Geodetic Network RTK, in his report. He presented the tendencies of development of the network of reference stations, advantages of its use and presented business cases for practical use of the system of reference stations in such basic directions as geodesy, precision agriculture, monitoring, construction. It should also be noted that a few days after the conference, GNSS/RTK of the System.NET network was given a special status – System.NET Special Purpose Geodetic Network.
Another interesting report from a practical point of view was by the engineer-photogrammeter, surveyor-engineer of Kaylas A LLC, Sergey Gurman about features of implementation and processing of aerial data. The speaker, of course, using the FLIRT Cetus UAV complex as an example, revealed all the subtleties and features of high-precision aerial photography work: from the preparatory to the final result – the creation of a digital orthophoto plan. The speaker emphasized the importance of calibrating the camera, taking into account the direction of the wind when planning routes, the need to “interfere” in the automated processes of processing the results of the survey (removing blurred images, cleaning up point clouds, etc.). In addition to practical life hacks, Sergei noted the complexity of legal support in the field of UAV use, and noted that obtaining permits for the use of UAV in the airspace is very difficult, and sometimes not possible, which immediately makes using drones less “efficient”.
A representative of Podilsky Land Center LLC (Khmelnytskyi) in her report “High-quality aerial survey as a necessary basis for managing the territory of the UGS” noted the directions of using the results of the survey obtained by UAV. She drew attention to the fact that presented fresh, relevant, high-quality aerial photos have a positive effect on the so-called “adequacy” of landowners and land users in establishing/restoring land boundaries and land inventory. The speaker demonstrated positive results on the creation of land use plans, restoration of land boundaries, the performance of works on inventory, certification of roads, etc. on the example of the execution of these types of works for JSC “Ukrzaliznytsia”, JSC Ministry of Defense, etc.
Yuhei Nagai, Director of East European and Central Asian Representation of Terra Drone (Japan), continued the topic of the use of UAVs for monitoring purposes. The achievements of the company in the field of monitoring of engineering infrastructure objects, such as gas and oil pipelines, power lines, bridges, etc., were demonstrated. The main areas of monitoring are the detection of gas/oil leakage, deformation, and damage to infrastructure, the level of sagging of wires, etc.
Andriy Galayda, CEO of Kailas A LLC, in his dynamic presentation, announced a new GIS service, called XGIS.com.ua. This resource is multifunctional and includes information base for many directions: land cadastral, land inspection, ecological, water resource, forest resource, etc. The speaker emphasized the necessity, special importance, and urgency of using the results of UAV surveys to fill the information database, to monitor, analyze and use it. It was interesting to hear that a more detailed survey of the territory of agricultural enterprises with the help of drones, often “rescues” agricultural machinery, which works in automatic mode. After all, when planning the routes of units, using satellite imagery, it is not always possible to identify any structures (transmission lines, towers, etc.).
In order not to infringe copyrights and to some extent to misrepresent the information presented by the speakers, the conference materials, illustrations, and figures can be found on the official conference website.
The overall impression of the conference – everything is perfect: the organization, reports, contacts, new acquaintances.
Hearing the word “accuracy”, one must be careful and it will not be superfluous to re-ask the speaker about the exact meaning: accuracy of coordinate acquisition to the GNSS receiver antenna phase center, or accuracy of the orthophoto plan obtained according to ground control points. All speakers emphasized the need for locating reference points and control points on the ground. In the matter of their placement, all are united in thought and action – to place in the form of the so-called “envelope”, supporting ground points on the edges of the work area and in its center. At the same time, the question of the number of these points in relation to the survey area, the complexity of the relief, the density of construction, etc., remains open and methodologically undefined.