Drone technology has been used by defense organizations and tech-savvy consumers for quite some time. However, the benefits of this technology extends well beyond just these sectors. With the rising accessibility of drones, many of the most dangerous and high-paying jobs within the commercial sector are ripe for displacement by drone technology. The use cases for safe, cost-effective solutions range from data collection to delivery. And as autonomy and collision-avoidance technologies improve, so too will drones’ ability to perform increasingly complex tasks. – CBI INSIGHTS
We live in a time of instant streaming our favorite content, VR gaming, social networking, and we are just beginning to enter the truly digital age. As we hurdle towards technological progress, we discover a multitude of new tools. The adoption and implementation of these new technologies are slow and impeded by preconceived notions of what and how things like Artificial Intelligence can do to help us today. Drones for example are not common in research and academia but have existed for years in military use. Growing meat in laboratories and cars with one million-mile battery exist. So how do we use these new tools and utilize the complex IoT and navigate the endless places for failure? As I write this blog, I am using an Asus laptop, wearing a Fitbit, my phone is a Google Pixel variety, I am wearing Sony wireless headphones, and everything is on my Wi-Fi. That’s just the beginning: I have two kids currently learning from home (two laptops, a desktop, and tablets); a wife with a home-based business building AI and web-based apps. We have tech everywhere and mostly it all works together…That is until you decide to do something new, something different, or something that seems rather simple but requires two different pieces of hardware to interact and each has its software. Even more difficult is when you begin to utilize these products for business, education, and research.
Professionally using a drone means navigating all that encompasses your technology in addition to your area of application. What hurdles might a land manager, farmer, real estate developer, or government contractor have to overcome to get started? The answer, many: Using drones specifically comes with a myriad of issues from the operation, data capture, data storage, and delivery. At each stage, you have the potential for frustration, wasted time, and lost data. On the bright side, once you have the right drone, the right software, the right cables, cords, batteries, chargers, and accessories, taking flight and producing high-quality data is as simple as a push of a button. Below, I describe our journey with drones from one of frustration to one of ease.
I began consulting on hemp farms in 2019 using drones to image and survey the fields and build powerful views not accessible to most farms. Not only did we utilize powerful technology to do it but we learned through trial and error the benefits of having a vetted process and understanding the technology behind it. By the end of the season, we had a fully automated process, with the touch of the power button and a preflight checklist and your drone is flying a predetermined flight path depending on your specifications and collecting all the images needed. Then it lands and prompts the user if they would like to upload to the cloud. Now you wait for a few hours while your data is processed and ready for your examination and interpretation. But it was not always so easy and only after lots of trial and error did, we have the easy out of the box feel we imagined at the start.
Using a drone to do a quick fly-by of a property is one thing, capturing high-resolution images and video at a consistent rate to image a project in its entirety at a high-resolution is another. This means trying to manually pilot a drone at a consistent elevation, speed, and direction. Along with getting the pictures taken at the right time. To do this for 5 acres were talking 1200 images at 50 feet of elevation. Using a Mavic 2 Pro, this is going to take 40 minutes and three batteries. That’s a tall order even if you’re a pro and if you taking that many images they better be right. So, to solve this I am now using third-party software to create auto-piloted flights and image capture. It’s an amazing find but expensive and hard to use because of the wide amount of options.
Drone purchased, software purchased, now I need a remote, cables, case, tablet, and who knows what else? Turns out a lot and find out everything else we needed usually meant an error that led to totally botched field days. How many times did I lose data or have to re-image the field because of data corruption? Countless, I could not tell you because it happened non-stop. Even after all the images were taken right and saved on the right memory card, and then I upload the data, it is corrupted because the cord, adapter, or software was wrong. It felt I was more a product tester for these tech companies than a hemp/cannabis consultant.
Well after a long season of trial and error we helped our client in countless ways despite the constant technological hurdles. We managed to save them thousands and helped them to increase yield by significant amounts. Using thousands of 4K images to build one massive high-resolution orthomasic map: these images stitched together in a snap to make the most detailed image of your operation you have ever seen. Able to see all of it at once and zoom in to see the tread on a footprint. In addition to that, we also provided elevational data, 3d renderings, moisture, plant count, heat maps, NDVI, and regular detailed agronomic reports with a scientific breakdown of the operation and areas for improvement.
I then spent the next several months with my team to assemble the best all in one drone kit. With all the trials and errors taken care of, we know exactly what you need to scientifically survey your operation time and again. Now you can create the most aesthetic and information-rich media possible for your enterprise without worrying about how to make it happen. Worrying about piloting your drone is hard enough; getting the data you need, utilizing it, and preserving is another.
To learn more about what we have to offer and how we can help you optimize your operation check out EDRR.AI.