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Drone Chasers Mobile Ops

Drone Chasers – Mobile Ops

Mobile Operations - The Art of Chase Vehicles For Extended VLOS Missions

Whilst autonomous UAVs are incredibly useful for surveying, they are not totally "fire and forget" in operation - you need to have a flight team to manage the mission as the aircraft performs its flight plan. This is generally because of safety and other flight regulations - once launched the UAV itself is perfectly capable of flying its path and landing automatically.

Drone Chasers
Drone Chasers Mobile Ops

These flight regulations, the world over, tend to include sections that define how far a UAV can fly from the majority of qualified handlers and remain in compliance. Within the UK - that distance in most circumstances is a VLOS one - Visual Line Of Sight - and extends to 500m. Missions over a larger area than that effective 1km in diameter around the flight team require multiple flights or a mobile operations team.

 

Planning, Preparation and Mission Modelling

Drones Chasers Ops Order

UAV flight management already needs good training and certification and even in a fixed location requires very close attention when the mission is underway. When mobile, that requirement increases dramatically. Planning each stage of the flight is the best first step.

Make allowance for the chase teams to be slower than the UAV. Ensure you have a scout ahead of the main crew to watch for unexpected changes since the initial route checks.

Drones Chasers Route Recce

Once the mission plan is in place, there is no substitute for modelling the chase process with the flight team to ensure they have good procedures for any eventualities that could arise. Safety is aided by sensible preparations - watching and listening to procedures for communication amongst vehicles and team members will help standard flight operations to become more second nature and leave the team more capable to meet the challenges of a changing situation during the real flights.

For The Road

Careful vehicle selection and preparation is needed to mitigate the risk of mechanical issues during the missions. Larger cars to carry spares and ancillary crew members are handy, but open-topped vehicles afford the flight team much better all-round views.

Good driving skills and well defined communications procedures are essential.

Drone Chasers Vehicle Prep

Environmental Interference

Drone Chasers Mobile Ops

Roving tests with the chase crews and the flight team are important. Checking the route for GPS and telemetry interference gives the opportunity to observe the moment-to-moment conditions and plan ahead for any problem locations.

On The Road - Manage Mission Leg Distances

"Fly - loiter - fly" is the best mechanism when laying out a flight-plan - pick air locations for loitering the UAV that match ground points for temporary static pilot positions with good visibility for the next flight leg.

Drone Chasers AutoPilot Monitor
Drone Chasers AutoPilot Monitor
Drone Chasers Mobile Ops
Drone Chasers Mobile Ops

Keeping a contingency charge percentage in the UAV batteries during stage planning is important for normal missions - doubly so for mobile ops, where ground conditions for the chase/flight teams could necessitate an extended loiter.

Summary

Mobile Ops certainly has its hazards - but these can be mitigated and the advantages are longer range surveys with fewer mapping flights.

Important requirements are:

  • Fully planned, team-modelled and manageable flight legs - with dry-runs for all involved teams.
  • Capable vehicles and drivers - including wide visibility options for the actual pilot/commander crew.
  • Prior route runs to familiarise chase crews with ground conditions and to assess potential interference issues.
  • Good communication procedures - cover as wide a range of possibilities and test them thoroughly during dry-runs.
Drone Chasers Route Analysis

Successful completion of a 19km mobile ops leg.

Q200 Drone Chasers

Happy chase team - ready for next mission.

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Twin Sensor Gimbal

Know Your Gimbals


Know Your Gimbals


 

A gimbal is, simply put, a cradle that allows the object contained within it to rotate about a particular axis (backwards and forwards, or left and right, or side to side - known in technical terms as pitch, roll and yaw). Used for a sensor within an aircraft, a gimbal for any particular axis allows the sensor to continue to point directly at the ground, while the aircraft itself is manoeuvring around that same axis.

Gimbal
Twin Gimbal

Without the gimbal, the sensor remains pointing out from the aircraft in whichever direction it was installed. Images taken as the aircraft moves about an axis will then be oblique instead of having all parts mostly parallel to the ground. This lowers the apparent resolution in the areas further away from the sensor in each image, as each pixel is covering a larger ground space at an offset angle, giving less for the processing software to work with for any given image overlap.

With the smooth, fluid movement of a gimbal, any small motions of the aircraft (including types of vibration) are countered - stopping most blurring issues. Extra gel is placed in QuestUAV gimbals, interspaced with the sensor mount, to reduce other non-axis vibrations to a minimum.

Gimbal

QuestUAV are one of the only fixed-wing UAV manufacturers to include gimballed sensors across the full range of aircraft. The value of having gimbals for your sensors and what they bring to your image collection missions is hopefully a little clearer now. Understanding the difference makes it difficult to consider aircraft without them (even if that means asking specifically for them to be added as an optional extra).


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ppk_drone_0008-2

QuestUAV Provide Own PPK Solution For Q-200

QuestUAV Provides Own PPK Solution For Q-200 Surveyor UAV


 

QuestUAV Own PPK

PPK (Post-Processing Kinematic) provides much higher accuracy in GPS location when stored against images taken in a UAV. Standard GPS signals are accurate to 10's of metres - PPK increases that accuracy to cm-levels. On board the Q-200 UAV, PPK eliminates the need for physical Ground Control Points (GCP) that are often used to gain high accuracy in surveys. This saves hours of mission planning and setup time, physically measuring location points and walking the survey site for placement.


 

GCPs – The underestimated part of a UAV survey

Surveys involving GCP generally run like this:

  • Initial site is viewed to establish useful locations for Ground Control targets.
  • Each location is visited with a GCP and a Differential GPS receiver to accurately place the target.
  • Targets may need revisiting before survey takes place.
  • Locations are stored for post processing reference.

In most cases - up to half of the mission time is taken up with GCP placement. GCP targets may shift or collapse with changing weather conditions – requiring the original placement to be repeated (often wasting up to an hour of survey setup time); coastal surveys can suffer from tidal changes and cliffs make it difficult to place GCPs across the survey area; general survey ground conditions can make it difficult to secure GCPs - quarries are a good example of difficult, variable ground surfaces.


 

The advantage of PPK - Overcoming GCPs

The PPK solution offered by QuestUAV uses a higher performance, highly-accurate receiver placed within the aircraft - following more than 10 GPS satellites at any given time and storing location information against the triggered images taken. Combined with differential signal information collected by the fixed position Ground Station (which stores signal drift and signal error values), the image locations are recalculated to a much higher accuracy – down to centimetre level in x, y and z direction.

QuestUAV Own PPK

Compared to RTK (Real Time Kinematic), PPK also eliminates the need for a real-time data link with a fixed reference station during the flight, whilst guaranteeing RTK cm-level position accuracy of the images once post-processing has taken place, after the UAV lands. This simplifies the UAV set-up, reduces the requirements and power drain on-board and eliminates any loss of accuracy in data due to potentially unreliable radio links - which often plague RTK UAV operations.

The Q-200 Surveyor Pro is available with PPK at purchase or as an upgrade to an existing aircraft with the provision of just the PPK QPod.

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Flight Team in Truck

Long Range MicaSense Agronomy Surveys


Long Range MicaSense RedEdge Agronomy Surveys


Q-200 and Q-100 Aircraft Are Put Through Their Paces In Agricultural Survey

Long Range Flight Op

This long range agronomy survey was part of a mission in the English countryside. We regularly fly test and demonstration missions across the UK. A multiple airframe survey demonstration flown for Hummingbird Technologies was no exception.

The survey took place over 2 days, with both a Q-200 AGRI MicaSense UAV and a Q-100 DATAhawk MicaSense UAV. Each airframe is equipped with the MicaSense RedEdge multispectral sensor suite, capable of detailed multiband imaging across 5 discrete spectral bands.


DAY 1


Aerial Field

The survey site consisted of agricultural research samples and was imaged using both airframes using a 3-person flight team - 1 pilot, 1 commander and 1 spotter/driver for mobile operations.

On day 1 the Q-100 DATAhawk missions were repeated at different altitudes to demonstrate flight performance and MicaSense image quality. The DATAhawk covered 325Ha during a 42 minute flight at 400ft with a 70% overlap.

 


 

Day 2

Day 2 missions were designed to showcase the endurance of both the Q-100 DATAhawk and the similarly RedEdge-equipped Q-200 UAV. The Q-200 required only two flights to cover 730Ha at 400ft with 70% overlap. Parachute landings were performed in each case with a 46 minute flight time (per flight). Mobile ops were used to ensure Line of Sight requirements were adhered to.

Long Range Flight Op

Mobile Ops vehicle and crew


 

Final Analysis

Once processed, the imagery from both days' missions will form the basis of high quality NDVI and RedEdge Indices, which will be correlated and compared with agricultural information, such as LAI (Leaf Area Index), crop density and nitrogen uptake.

Clients on-site were very pleased with the endurance and performance of both the Q-200 and the Q-100 DATAhawk, especially when considering the high winds that were present during the surveys days.

Thermal Image

MicaSense RedEdge Image Stack

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QuestUAV Survey Drone South Korea

Still Flying After 3000km – The Incredible Story of Mango Six | QuestUAV News

AN INDESTRUCTIBLE QUESTUAV “SURVEYOR” THAT FLIES WEEKLY MISSIONS THROUGHOUT SOUTH KOREA AND ASIA

After 3,000 kilometers and 200 hours in the sky, Q-200 Surveyor “Mango Six” is still far away from retirement


 

MANGO SIX - AN AMAZING DRONE

Mango Six is a Flagship of the QuestUAV fleet and commercial drone world. It continues to perform faultlessly, under highly demanding survey conditions with its commercial owner in South Korea, in different countries, different weather conditions, managing rough environments and whatever life throws at it day after day. It goes on and on. So what makes the difference that creates another legend like Mango Six? Is it luck? Or Divine Intervention? Or are there other factors involved? Read on to discover some of its history and the reasons behind its success.


 

CHAPTER 1 – SOUTH KOREA WANTED A WORLD CLASS LEADER


 

A two year search by the major government-based South Korean land survey department to find a suitable fixed wing drone for their survey needs resulted in an invitation to UAV suppliers from all over the world. Their request was simple: Be the best and the most accurate at surveying a large test site in the heart of Korea, where engineers had prepared millimetre accuracy targets. The submitted result had to be a computer based map of similar accuracy but in a jaw dropping size - covering over 1 square kilometre. Inaccuracies of any note would not be costly to entrants.

Incredible Mango Six

Survey team and jury after a successful demonstration of our Q-200 Surveyor

The agency, LX, Korea Land and Geospacial InformatiX Corporation, (similar to Ordnance Survey in UK) wanted to find out how accurate each competitor was and how usable design was in order to roll out to each of its twenty six regions in South Korea. The QuestUAV partner in South Korea, HOJUNG Solutions Co. Ltd, were keen to display the capabilities of the QuestUAV 2m wingspan drone, with its gimballed camera.

Though QuestUAV were last to present from the global lineup of competitors, it soon became evident that QuestUAV held the winning design and what was then to become MANGO SIX was ordered. Training was conducted both in UK and in South Korea for a series of complex surveys.

Details of the performance demonstration for LX are here.

CHAPTER 2 – TRAINING, CREW AND MANGO SHAKES


 

After passing LX’s accuracy test, the QuestUAV trainer team spend two weeks in South Korea to prepare the new flight crew of Hojung Solutions for their upcoming surveys. The team, led by Munseok Lee (second from right) received special training on mobile operations and corridor surveys.

After long hard training days, QuestUAV trainer Nigel and the crew rewarded the daily progress in the famous coffee bar - Mango Six. Mango Six became the team's relaxing oasis, briefing room and training headquarters in one. Ten mango shakes later, the crew decided to title their Q-200 Surveyor “Mango Six”. Who would have thought at that time that Mango Six would become one of the most famous UAVs in Asia?

Nowadays, the highly motivated team of Hojung Solutions consists of 3 pilots and 2 commanders accepting the most challenging survey requests.

Incredible Mango Six

QuestUAV Flight Team "Mango Six" from Hojung Solutions Co.


 

CHAPTER 3 – 300 KM ROAD CORRIDOR


 

As a result of the great performance during at the flight demonstration, QuestUAV and Hojung Solutions were awarded a contract for a 300 km road and corridor survey for LX. The project had already been given to an Australian contractor, but when it became apparent that Hojung/QuestUAV partnership could do a much better job with a Q-200 Surveyor, the contract was reassigned.

The survey was conducted in the Jeollabuk-do province, in the southwest of South Korea, in October 2015. The 300 km road corridor, including routes in mountains and through tunnels, was flown with Mango Six, equipped with a Sony A6000 camera, over a period of one month. While Mango Six was taking high-resolution imagery from 400ft, the flight crew followed the route on the roads being surveyed in their vehicles. In order to also cover the road-sides, Mango Six flew a few extra lags for a combined mission length of 1,280 km. One intended purpose of the collected data is to allow government departments to determine illegal land use along road-sides.


 

CHAPTER 4 – UAV STANDARD VERIFICATION

Incredible Mango Six

QuestUAV's successful entry into South Korea in the news

South Korean authorities are very strict in their UAV verification standards - much higher than the European CE standards. On average, it takes six months for equipment to pass the equivalent verification in South Korea. Once verified, products can be released for general use.

LX clearly required verification, and to the credit of Munseok Lee and QuestUAV collaboration, Hojung managed to pass South Korean verification in a record breaking one week. Prior certification to operate QuestUAV models in UK, Europe, America, Canada, and Australia helped speed up the process.

Since verification, the South Korean authorities were so impressed by our technology and safety standards that QuestUAV is now the reference standard for fixed wing drones in the country.


 

CHAPTER 5 – OUR RÉSUMÉ AFTER ONE YEAR


 

From maiden flight up until today, Mango Six has spent more than 200 hours in the sky and covered a distance of 2,929
kilometers.

The Q-200 Surveyor has been used for a vast variety of applications, ranging from cadastral surveys, to inspection missions, to archaeological site mapping through to flying over festivals (Muan-gun Lotus festival) and stadiums (Yeongam-gun F1 Formula Stadium).

The teams at Hojung Solutions are now busier than ever, currently conducting a large survey mission with a Q-100 DATAhawk in Tanzania. Mango Six, in the meantime, is joined by three other Q-200 Surveyor drones and two Q-100 DATAhawks, all producing great results for the clients of Hojung So.

Incredible Mango Six

Mango Six's survey history after one year operation

CONCLUSIONS

So what do we think has elevated MANGO SIX into its Flagship category? There are a number of reasons, but the most important are:

Incredible Mango Siz

The QuestUAV fleet at Hojung Solutions

DESIGN.

Mango Six is a standard QuestUAV Q-200 Surveyor that has been proven to be efficient, rugged and reliable on all continents of the world. Its design has been improved through thousands of tuning elements to become an incredibly efficient and capable survey tool.

TRAINING.

The team had proper training, with two distinct phases spread over three months. They learned to use the aircraft properly and with correct procedures in the first weeks, then moved on to advanced training with a QuestUAV instructor only after those basic skills had been proven.

 

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Mapping Image

Technical Services For Imagery Analysis Available


Technical Services For Imagery Analysis


GIS, Image Processing and other services

The best and most sophisticated UAV equipment is of no use when, at the end of the flight, nobody can competently read the information behind an image. Image analysis can become quite a complex task, especially when multi-temporal and multi-spectral information is involved.

QuestUAV has many years’ experience with the interpretation of aerial images for various applications. We continuously expand this knowledge through close cooperation with our customers from different industries and via in-house research projects.


 

GIS

Technical Services

QuestUAV offers a wide variety of training courses, from beginners through to professionals, to learn GIS software and to improve GIS skills and understanding in aerial image interpretation. We train our clients in the open-source software - QGIS. Advanced courses are also given in GRASS GIS, SAGA GIS and GDAL.

GIS Service


 

Image Processing

Mapping Image

Our processing experts provide training in industry-standard photogrammetry software - Pix4Dmapper and Agisoft PhotoScan. Learn how to use the software packages to create beautiful orthomosaics and 3D models. Get to know the workflows for generating virtual flythroughs and translating multispectral UAV data into valuable index maps, such as NDVI or SAVI.

Image Process 

 

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Q200 Drone GGP

Congratulations Team GGP for Successfully Completing the QuestUAV Training


After Seven Days Intensive Flight Training The GGP Team Is Ready For Their First Survey Adventure


30,000 Hectares of Tropical Fruits Need To Be Mapped!

Q200 GGP in Flight

More Than 25 Takeoffs And Landings

After seven days of intensive training, the flight crew at GGP (Great Giant Pinapple) is ready to complete their own flight missions without supervision of the QuestUAV trainers. During the past week the team has practiced the whole mission workflow over and over again, including not only flight practice but also safety assessment, flight planning, site setup, UAV maintenance, camera preparation and data extraction.

The two Q-200 Agri-Pros have been launched and landed more than 25 times. The GGP crew has learned how to fly in different modes (auto and assisted) and how to land their QuestUAV drones with both methods, parachute and belly landing, on different surface types (matured pineapple, young pineapple, knocked down fields, roads).


 

Q200 Drone GGP

A Big Mission Ahead

The QuestUAV training was just the start of a larger survey mission and certainly a busy time for the new flight crews. 30,000 hectares of pineapple, banana and other tropical fruits are waiting to be mapped by the crew and analysed by GGP's agricultural and GIS experts.

UAV images, especially NDVI maps, will be used for the assessment of plant vigor and crop status, disease detection and identification of canopy gaps. Further, UAV-based elevation models will become the basis for developing a better drainage system for the entire plantation.


 

Thanks To All Helping Hands

The QuestUAV team, especially our trainers Nigel and Stuart, would like to thank GGP for their outstanding hospitality and the dedication of the whole crew to make this training week a success. Special thanks goes to Nanda Pratama (himself a QuestUAV pilot in Indonesia) for his translation work and training support.

Nigel and Stuart, now on the way back home, will bring many impressions and perspectives back to the QuestUAV workshop and we are looking forward to hear more stories from Indonesia.

Nigel King & GGP
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Pafos World Heritage Site mapped by QuestUAV team with Q-100 DATAhawk |  2

QuestUAV Images Make UNESCO World Heritage Sites Perceptible For Visually Impaired People | QuestUAV News


QuestUAV Images Make UNESCO World Heritage Sites Perceptible For Visually Impaired People

An Image-Based Model of an Amphitheater Amazes Visitors at Ancient Kourion, Cyprus


The ancient city-kingdom of Kourion is an impressive archaeological park on the southwestern coast of Cyprus and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Paphos. The park has a pretty visitor center, where interested people can experience history in a lively way.

In 2014, the British drone manufacturer QuestUAV, in cooperation with the Cyprus University of Technology, flew the archaeological park with one of their Q-200 Surveyor drones. Pix4Dmapper Pro was used to translate the acquired high resolution aerial images into a virtual 3D model. Sections of this virtual model were printed in 3D and can now be discovered by visually impaired people at the visitor centre.

Amphitheatre Cyprus

Original QuestUAV image (left) and 3d model of the Amphitheatre at the visitor centre (right).


About the Survey


The QuestUAV team flew the archaeological park with one of their Q-200 Surveyor drones, equipped with a Sony A6000 camera and a 16mm wide angle lens. A total area of 100 ha was flown at 400 ft. A team of two was used for the survey – a pilot and a laptop commander.

330 aerial photographs were taken during a 20 minutes fully autonomous flight. The automatic camera trigger and the gimballed camera system allowed us to take pin sharp pictures even at high wind speeds of up to 40 km/h.

Q-200 Surveyor Pro Pre-Flight Checks

Pre-takeoff checks of the Q-200 Agri-Pro.

Q-200 Surveyor Pro Launch

Getting ready for takeoff.

The images have a ground sampling distance (GSD) of 2.5cm with an overlap of 80% in-flight direction and 65% sidelap. At the same time, the Q-200 Surveyor recorded the GPS coordinates of each camera position in a log file, allowing for geo-locating the images on the earth. The entire survey from flight planning, through autonomous flight and culminating in parachute landing took no longer than an afternoon.


Image Processing and 3D Print


UAV images and log file were the basis for creating a high resolution geo-referenced orthomosaic and a virtual 3D model of the entire archaeological park. The image products were generated in Pix4Dmapper Pro, a professional photogrammetry software for processing aerial imagery.

The survey results have been primarily used to create archaeological site maps of the ancient city of Kourion with a never seen level of detail. The team around the Cyprus University of Technology and the Cyprus Department of Antiquities was impressed by the quality of the 3D model and the performance our Q-200 Surveyor drone.

Pix4D Software

3D view of the archaeological park (with the amphitheatre in front) in Pix4Dmapper Pro. 

In summer 2015, the park administration came up with the fantastic idea to use sections of the virtual 3D model, like the amphitheatre, as template for physical exhibition models in the visitors’ centre. The exhibition models are printed in 3D on the basis of the virtual dataset. Nowadays the models are surrounded with Braille annotations and explanations allowing those who are visually impaired to interactively experience the history of Kourion.

 UAV-based orthomosaic and digital elevation model

UAV-based orthomosaic (left) and digital elevation model (right) of the archaeological park. The amphitheatre (yellow circle) is only a small part of the whole virtual model.


Technology Advantages

Over the last few years, UAV surveys became an important method to analyse archaeological sites and to help keeping cultural heritage. UAV-based 3D models allow archaeological experts and other interested people to virtually visit and analyse ancient places. 3D print-outs are a wonderful way present mapping results and to educate the public at exhibitions or visitor centres. Combined with Braille explanations, printed 3D models make historical places perceptible for visually impaired people.

Amphitheatre.

View from the upper tiers of the Amphitheatre.


About the Ancient City of Kourion

Kourion was an ancient city-kingdom on the southwestern coast of Cyprus and an urban center of considerable importance. The most ancient remains in the area are connected with settlements and tombs of the Ceramic Neolithic period (circa 5500-4000 BCE). The majority of the archaeological remains within the Kourion Archaeological Area date to the Roman and Early Byzantine periods. They include several buildings with well conserved floor mosaics. All archaeological remains within the area are managed and administered by the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.

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Q200 Launch

QuestUAV Taking Off in Indonesia – GGP Team Successfully Completed First Training Flights


The Crew at GGP Performed Well at Their First Q-200 Agri-Pro Flights


After Theory Comes Practice

After two days intensive classroom training and lots of new information to take in, the GGP (Great Giant Pineapple) crew was ready to go out and gain the first practical flight experiences. Under supervision of the QuestUAV trainers, Nigel and Stuart, the team conducted their first three successful flights; practiced auto take-off, flying in different modes (auto and assisted) and parachute landing.

 

Q200 GGP Indonesia

Crew Roles Are Assigned and Tasks Clearly Defined

Our QuestUAV trainers are teaching two flight teams, who will operate two Q-200 Agri-Pros independently at the GGP plantation. Each core flight team now consists of a fixed pilot and a laptop commander. Their task and responsibilities are clearly defined by the QuestUAV rule set in order to guarantee a safe and smooth flight operation at GGP. Other people at GGP are helping with transportation, site setup and catering. At some stage today the flight team was supported by more than 15 assisting persons!

Q200 GGP Indonesia

We Have The First Results

The first camera flights brought us stunning pictures from the pineapple fields. Images are taken with both a visible camera and an infrared camera and are going to be processed into orthomosaics and NDVI maps for the assessment of plant health and crop status.

We are looking forward to seeing the first processing results and further flights of a great new QuestUAV flight team!

Crop Post Processing
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Q200 Agri Pro

Q-200 AGRI Pro International Training Continues Apace in Indonesia


QuestUAV Training Team Starts Large-Team International Training with the Q-200 with GGP


One of QuestUAV Ltd's flight training teams arrived in Indonesia this past weekend, to provide in-country training for GGP (Great Giant Pineapple). Sunday saw the completion of a successful series of test flights with Q-200 AGRI Twin NDVI aircraft.

Q200 Indonesia

Training began in earnest yesterday and today saw the first flights with the flight teams in-country. Some 18 people from these teams (and other GGP staff with a need to understand the technology) are taking part in QuestUAV international training within Indonesia this week.

Q200 Indonesia

Project Background


GGP grow a majority of premium Pineapple crop, although they are also responsible for Banana, Palm Oil and Casava plantation areas and a growing segment of other tropical fruits. The plantations are over 30,000 Ha in area. UAV images and the UAV project are phase one of GGPs initiative to integrate precision agriculture firmly within their growing processes. Phase 1 of this initiative are the UAV flight, monitoring and image collection missions that this current training is enabling. Phase 2 will see GGP purchase large GPS-driven farm machinery to make use of the GIS output provided by the teams in Phase 1.


 

Q200 Indonesia Pineapple

QuestUAV trainers will continue to assess and instruct the flight teams throughout this week and into next. We will keep you posted.


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