Drones Buyers Guide
Here at Scan Pro Video we recognise the positive impact Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones can make across the entire business spectrum at every level and process, from hobbyists and content creators to industrial professionals, maintenance engineers to data scientists. This buyers guide is designed to bridge the knowledge gap and look at some of the great things UAS / Drones are widely used for, their current capabilities and advise on how to utilise them safely and legally.
What is a UAS or Drone?
It is possible to categorise very broadly UAS/Drones into three levels, Consumer UAS/Drones covering the range from toys though to the Mavic Mini 2, Prosumer UAS/Drones from the Mavic Mini 2 up to the Mavic 2 Pro or equivalent and including fixed wing drones such the Ebee. Enterprise Level UAS/Drones from the Mavic 2 Pro up to the M300 or heavier custom built UAS/Drones for specific use cases.
UAS/Drones are usually either Quadcopter (4 motors and propellors in each corner) or Fixed Wing, Where the UAS/Drone flies like an Aeroplane and uses a loiter function to remain overhead. Some specialist UAS/Drones may utilise additional motors to improve payload capability and redundancy. FPV (First Person View) is another type of UAS/Drone flight, where the Pilot uses goggles for an immersive experience seeing what the drone can see. Often this type of UAS/Drone is home built, at SCAN Pro Video we stock DJI’s latest FPV Drone which bridges the gap between the Mavic Series UAS/Drones and these hardcore FPV Racing Drones.
One of the main benefits of UAS/Drones is their ability to remove a human being from a potentially harmful environment, i.e. working at height. Safety related tasks especially in a post pandemic world allowing operators to remain at a distance, is something we have all become aware of.
UAS/Drones may be used for many exciting projects from Wedding Photography and Aerial Photos to Photogrammetry, the art of combining many photos into a 3D Image. Digital Twins (An electronic representation of a real-world asset) and inspection of Assets for maintenance and progress monitoring are all viable use cases. In terms of Public Safety, Emergency Services are increasingly using UAS/Drones to aid mountain rescue in remote areas, by the Police to help monitor crime and by the Fire Service to assess and support an Aerial Overview of a fire event.
Architecture Engineering Construction
UAS/Drone data capture enables:
• Live planning and highly detailed imagery with GSD’s down to <1cm
• Digital 3D Twin creation with survey level accuracy <2cm with RTK/PPK solutions.
• Asset Monitoring and construction time-lapse can enhance production reporting.
• UAS Drone monitoring can help develop BIM Maturity
Farmers know their fields so any data a UAS/Drone collects must be accurate and actionable.
• Accurate 2D maps of fields for crop area monitoring.
• Detailed NDVI Index images allowing variable rate spraying and plant counting
• Help maximise yields by monitoring crop stress and soil type in an ever-changing climate.
UAS/Drones are part of the new normal, in an education setting UAS/Drones can:
• Capture the imagination of students facilitating positive education
• Developing courses of training to teach UAS/Drone building
• Helping Schools/Universities develop their UAS/Drone program
• Help generate new talent within this fledgling industry
• Promote public acceptance at an education level
The energy sector has the widest ranging challenges for UAS Operations, both off and on shore.
• Digital Twins help engineers maintain assets and highlight area’s of concern quickly.
• Increased safety from reduction of working at height requirements
• Collection of imagery at a speed and quality that cannot be matched by any other solution.
• Both fixed wing and Multi-rotor UAS/Drones have benefits depending on the requirements.
Public Safety and Security are two areas UAS/Drones can play a huge role in:
• In a Maritime Environment, UAS/Drones can cover a vast area at low enough level to spot small objects in the water.
• Police can utilise UAS/Drones for surveillance, monitoring and Public Safety at large events.
• The Fire Service can use UAS/Drones to maintain Situational Awareness in a Fire Scenario.
• Local Government, can utilise UAS/Drone Technology for Asset Monitoring and Maintenance.
The Telecommunications industry is generally at the forefront of cost management. UAS/Drones can:
• Significantly reduce maintenance costs with the creation of digital twins and future/current site surveys.
• LOS Line of sight surveys can be done quickly and at vastly reduced price point
• Safety and cost benefits reducing working at height complexities requiring one Remote Pilot
• Future UAS/Drone in a box solutions will enable proactive and predictive maintenance and BIM Maturity.
Machine Learning and AI are big industry buzzwords. The Skydio 2 can aid content creators with its awesome ability to track and avoid obstacles autonomously using advanced algorithms. AI Systems such as those built by SCAN are analysing 1000’s of photographs to learn what a farmers field looks like, what rust on a telecommunications tower or a pot-hole on a road looks like. Software is a huge growth market in taking the data captured by UAS/Drones and turning it into useful, responsive, actionable information.
Data Capture and Collection
Comprehensive Data Capture Software with a monthly subscription and online hub. Produces high quality photo datasets and has lots of different inspection types.
Pix4D’s capture software, links into Pix4D’s ecosystem of photogrammetry applications, free to capture simple datasets.
Interior and exterior visual data – any altitude, any angle, all in one platform.
Produces some of the best point clouds from Photos – Viable across a number of industries and operation types, from volumetric measurement, Digital Twin creation and 2D/3D Models.
Maps Made Easy
Upto 20 time better than Google Maps, innovative points-based pricing structure, where images up to 1 Gigapixel are processed for free.
Reality Capture has been bought by Epic Games, it is a market leading photogrammetry suite that also caters for laser (LIDAR) scans. Creation of realistic assets and 3D models from unordered photos is one of its many abilities.
GIS – Geo Spatial information Systems
Free and open-source GIS Software enabling database construction of map images.
Powerful software suite for compiling geographic data and analysing mapped information, powerful database structure applicable for a range of applications.
Specialises in Geospatial Asset Management, Digital Twins and reducing data modelling and productivity costs.
Batteries & Charging
As with any electrical item batteries and charging is a challenge to manage take your latest smart phone as an example. UAS/Drones are no different, they use LIPO (Lithium Polymer Batteries) which have a high output but aren’t as robust, so it is important with any UAS/Drone solution adequate attention is paid to the amount and duration of the batteries. There’s no point in buying the latest and greatest UAS/Drone and only be able to fly it for 30minutes or less and it then take 1 hour to charge up to fly once again.
Most UAS/Drones on the market currently use an RGB Camera or traditional camera of varying quality to capture images. There are many other types of sensor payloads UAS/Drones can carry such as a Thermal Imaging Sensor. FLIR is a manufacturer most people recognise here. LIDAR which allows for laser scanning of a 3D object (You may have seen one on the latest IPhone 12) and even magnetometers and Multispectral camera’s for Data and Crop Analysis. Some drones can even seed and spray although this practice is currently banned or strictly controlled in the EU and UK.
On 31st December 2020 the new European Regulations came in to harmonise UAS/Drone use across Europe, the UK CAA has incorporated these regulations into a Document called CAP 722. UAS/Drones, that carry a camera regardless of weight must be registered and an Operator ID and Flyer ID purchased. The Drone Code https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code can provide further information on the requirements for registration and a really useful source of information to help you to fly safely and responsibly within the UK.
Where can I fly
If you intend to fly for fun there are many beautiful area’s of the UK you can fly. The main requirement is that you have permission to take off and land from the landowner. Airspace is sovereign in the UK so no one owns the air above the ground. However, it is important that UAS/Drone Pilots do not trespass. The safest thing is to check if its ok to fly your drone and maybe even offer to send one of your pictures if you take some good ones. There are a number of places where it is not permitted to fly. Over large assemblies of people i.e. a football stadium, over prisons for obvious reasons and over government buildings. Flight above 15m in congested area’s also requires further training. Contact SCAN Pro Video if you have any further questions on UAS/Drones or Click “View our UAS/Drones” for more details of our up to date range of UAS/Drone Equipment.WHERE TO FLY
The best drones
There you have it, everything you need to know when choosing a drone. We hope you've found this buyers guide helpful. Don't hesitate to contact one of our friendly advisors for more advice if you still have questions on how to select the perfect drone. If you’re all set to go we recommend checking out the drones from these top brands.DRONES RANGE DRONE ACCESSORIES RANGE