The Secret Recipe for Mapping 20 sqkm in 90 mins with 2.5 cm GSD

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The Secret Recipe for Mapping 20 sqkm in 90 mins with 2.5 cm GSD

Drone surveying has had a tremendous impact on GIS experts. Surveyors can now collect incredibly accurate data in a fraction of the time it used to take. This significantly lowered the expense of surveying while also making it less physically demanding. Essentially, Drones make surveying safer, accurate, cost-effective, and time-efficient. But, what if you could further reduce the cost and time-demand with surveys? Well, you can achieve that by simply using more than one drone simultaneously.

Flying multiple drones at the same time may seem complicated and unsafe initially, but this is true only if the platform does not support simultaneous flights.

eBeeX - The Apex of Fixed-Wing Drones

The eBee X is a proven drone platform- the culmination of over ten years of research and development from senseFly. It was developed specifically for surveyors and GIS experts who need an accurate, precise, and repeatable mapping platform. The eBeeX can cover up to five square kilometers per flight or fly for 90 mins per charge thanks to its innovative Endurance battery. In addition, the RTK/PPK module ensures your accuracy, enabling you to achieve absolute accuracy down to 3 cm without any GCPs. These features make it a powerful surveying drone- but what about the eBeeX that lets you fly more than one at the same time?

There is plenty to get excited about with senseFly's eBeeX. First of all, it's modular, snap-together design. The best part is that you can dismantle it and put every component inside the senseFly Backpack for easy transport. While this may seem like an added-on benefit, you quickly realize that this is a godsend when trying to lug around four drones in the field- especially across rough terrain. This also means that if a crash damages the drone, you don't have to replace the drone altogether or suffer a lot of downtime while waiting for repairs. All you have to do is replace the damaged part, and you're good to go. The eBeeX's modular nature will save you time and money in the long run.

A critical component of the eBee's success is the powerful eMotion software that supports the platform. The eMotion also answers our next question- If you want to plot multiple flight paths, wouldn't that take time and complicate things? Flights in eMotion are constructed using mission blocks. Simply select your block (aerial mapping, corridor, etc), highlight the mapping zone, set key settings, and the eMotion software automatically drafts a flight plan. Plotting flight paths has become a simple act of selecting the area you wish to map; the software takes care of the rest.

Earlier, we spoke about purposefully designed for simultaneous flights- senseFly developed eMotion to support up to four concurrent drones per laptop. As a result, the drone operation can oversee and control all four drones from the same ground station. That's 20 sqkm mapped every 90 mins* achieving a GSD of 2.5 cm when flown at 122 m altitude. In terms of safety, eMotion enables drones with collision avoidance. Should two drones ever find themselves on course to intersect, one drone would descend while the other ascends, ensuring they don't crash into each other. Being able to control all the drones from the same workstation ensures that your concentration isn't split across multiple program stations. One singular dashboard displays the current flight conditions and the location of all the drones.

That's 20 sqkm mapped every 90 mins achieving a GSD of 2.5 cm when flown at 122 m altitude.
*Provided that weather conditions, terrains and other variables are favorable

eBeeX and eMotion let you fly multiple drones safely with minimal effort. However, if you are flying more than two drones at a time, we recommend that you follow a two-person team where one person monitors the drones on the station while the other acts as a spotter, thus ensuring VLOS at all times.

Why Map with Multiple Drones?

One of the significant benefits of using drones for mapping is the massive time savings. However, we feel that one can never say 'enough' when it comes to increasing efficiency. Having multiple drones in your fleet proportionally increases your capabilities- using multiple drones on the field exponentially increases your effectiveness.

1. Decrease Field Time

There is only a finite amount of time during which surveying and mapping are optimal. This usually takes up about six hours of the day. However, depending on your region, the weather might reduce this time even further- like rain, high wind, or even harsh light from the sun. This results in large sites taking days to do aerial survey. By using multiple Drones, you cut down on the time required on the field. Freeing up valuable time lets you allocate resources to be spent more effectively.

2. Fewer Disruptions

Drones on their own cut down on the disruptions to operations, but the quicker you can get in and finish the mapping, the faster the operations on the ground can resume at full capacity. For every minute they spend on site, the operators themselves expose themselves and the drones to a multitude of hazards. By cutting down the time spent on the field, you eliminate any potential time wasted in unplanned downtime and increase safety.

3. Faster Data

It's well known that collecting drone data is not the most time-intensive part of the project. Processing data takes up a majority of the time. When you cut down the time on site, you are free to allocate more time for processing. This enables you to get a head start on processing and producing deliverables well ahead of time. Giving you and your clients faster access to actionable data.

4. Cost-savings

Mapping large areas can be highly time-consuming. Costs rise in tandem with the time factor. Using the eBee, you can fly multiple flights from the same ground station, allowing you to reduce the time required to map areas exponentially. When you fly with more than one drone, you complete the project faster. This also means that you cut down on your costs of government or local aviation authority drone permits. For example, in the UAE, you stand to save a minimum of 6000 AED for every field day eliminated.

5. Increasing Your Mapping Capabilities

Expanding your drone fleet allows you to take on bigger projects with confidence. Using multiple drones on the field will enable you to carry out larger projects with ease. Additionally, it also allows you to fly more often and complete more projects by just being plain faster. Essentially you can complete two projects where you previously could do only one.

6. Customer Satisfaction

In mission-critical moments, the speed of data is a necessity. The ability to fly numerous drones at the same time with minimum labor is critical. The same operator can now fly many concurrent and complementary missions at the same time. Presenting clients with critical data on-demand is seen as a great asset; flying multiple drones lets you do just that. Additionally, in our experience, even for non-time-sensitive projects, providing results well ahead of the deadline has always managed to bring a smile to the client's face.

7. Eliminate Downtime

Accidents and unforeseen circumstances are unavoidable out on the field. However, what you can control is your ability to mitigate unplanned downtime. By using more than one drone, even if one of the drones suffers a failure, your operations don't stop while you sort out the problem. As a standard practice for us, we take three drones onto the field at a minimum- two are used actively for the mission while the third is benched as a backup should anything go wrong. This allows us to return from a mission successfully regardless of pitfalls and machine failures.

Assured Success

Flying multiple eBeeXs to survey or map has a profound impact on your capabilities. If you'd like to read some of our success stories. which wouldn't have been possible without flying multiple drones:

  1. How we surveyed one of the world's largest quarries (13.7 sqkm) in just a few hours
  2. Or how we mapped 65 sqkm in just two days as part of an emergency flood response
  3. and more!

Had we lacked the surveying capabilities in these situations, it would have been impossible to produce results rapidly. Expanding our fleet and using them on the field enables us to map and survey large areas confidently. If you'd like to see for yourself how simple it can be to fly multiple eBeeXs from the same ground station, get in touch with us to arrange a cost-free demo- and you too can assure your surveying success.


About the author

Niiveth Mani


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