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Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC): our latest Blue Chip client releases “Skies Without Limits”

PWC Report "Skies Without Limits"

Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) state in their latest report - Skies Without Limits; “that drones are becoming an increasingly familiar aspect of life and work in the UK today.”  It's a view that QuestUAV shares and it's no surprise that we have already carried out work alongside PwC using our small fixed wing drones. The gates are open to future business opportunities together. 

QuestUAV can rapidly provide absolute and verified accuracies of up to 3cm on large sites where traditional survey methods take much longer. 

The economic impact for the UK economy with such tools is significant and in "Skies Without Limits" it is conservatively estimated that £16bn in net cost savings can be made by the UK economy by 2030.

PwC refers to the Fourth Industrial Revolution  as the epoch we live in, with its accelerated innovations that help address some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. 

QuestUAV is working in partnership with Droneflight to bring a wider scope of drone capability including rotary (multirotor) to the PwC collaboration.  

The full report is at "Skies Without Limits"

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Grande Cote

Grande Cote Complete Manufacturers Training


Grande Cote Complete Manufacturers Training


Grande Cote
Grande Cote

Papa Mamadou came from Senegal on a mission to learn how to operate the QuestUAV Surveyor Pro on his Grand Cote mines. A great character, full of smiles and fun, he braved the roughest of English weather and Storm Doris to complete his training with us.  

Some quotes from him both in English and his native French tongue.  

“Wonderful good great I enjoyed my time"

"Javoue vraiment davoir passer d’excellent monments avec l’equipe QUESTUAV. Cetait une occasion pour moi de decouvrir northumberland et decouvrir aussi lhospitalite anglaise. Du professionalisme et de lexcellence chez Quest UAV et lhistoire ne fait que commencer sachant que nous avons un grand chemin a parcourrir ensemble.”-Papa

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Q200 Surveyor Drone Bungee launch by QuestUAV

KAZ Minerals commence UAS survey operations – a photo story


UAS Mining Survey Operations At Aktogay


 

KAZ Minerals operate a large operation at Aktogay in eastern Kazakhstan, with an open-pit mine and on-site concentrator - Aktogay Open-Pit Mine

 

KAZ Minerals Q200 Surveyor Pro

From this autumn KAZ Minerals surveyors have begun to use a Q-200 Surveyor Pro UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) in Kazakhstan. The UAS (also known as a "drone") greatly improves the efficiency of geodetic work, makes the results more accurate and increases the efficiency of developing the site.

KAZ Minerals Q200 Surveyor Pro

The essence of the UAS at first glance is simple: traversing the sky above the survey site along with a neatly planned flight-path, the UAS takes numerous sensor images along with accurate location data for each image. Previously, surveying of this sort would require a lot of effort and resources on the ground - today this is many times faster.What's Involved

Esengeldy Bijanov, Senior Surveyor for KAZ Minerals

Sengeldy Bijanov, Senior Surveyor for KAZ Minerals at the Aktogay mine site

"Surveying services have remained in their current form for decades. Technology developments are continuously being placed in the hands of ordinary surveyors, we are no exception. Originally working one way, we have moved on to electronic tachometers and then with another step into GPS technology. And today begins our work with drones. Very quickly the UAS can obtain very detailed images. Usually, if a company needs aerial imagery a plane is employed, but this is very expensive and cannot always be used for this reason."

 

"Surveying in Aktogay today is mainly a photographic career. The work of the surveyor forms the basis for all further work in developing the mineral resources. Spatial geometric measurements are taken of the earth's surface, which are then used to develop and display the plans, maps and profiles required for mining and exploration"


Kaz Minerals Q200 Launch Preparation

Interview


How often do you collect imagery?

“Daily. To create the planning framework in which each location is shown on the plan, with further work performed by our engineers, planners and geologists. We also perform daily inspection surveys of the ore collected from the mining operations. To this end we have a team of experts trained, 8 at this stage - all fully trained to be able to fly and manage the UAS.”

Who performed the initial training?

“Fully qualified trainers from the UK, direct from the manufacturer of the Q-200 system. The first teams have been trained and now, if necessary we can receive further technical support remotely from the UK.”

Q200 Surveyor Pro Training

Who spearheaded the initiative to buy a UAS for this service?

"The idea came from our chief surveyor, Gavin Cheshire. He is constantly looking for ways to introduce new technologies and new solutions, which can be used at different sites in a range of countries. A number of drone systems were evaluated and compared, before settling on the Q-200 Surveyor"

Drones are a fairly young technology, but they are already available widely - from military use to toy units for teenagers. The UAS you use was created specifically for industrial operations?

“Yes, this is a special Q-200 Surveyor UAS from QuestUAV. The company was founded in 2008 by the CEO, Nigel King - himself a former military pilot and Air Force instructor. They have developed different models, introducing models for civilian purposes - for example, agriculture and large area surveying.”

Q-200 Surveyor UAS from QuestUAV

Dear ?

Reasonably expensive as a package with all sensors and sets of spare batteries


Training and Operations


 

Q200 Surveyor Pro Launch Preparation Training

Operation is probably different to a standard copter?

“Yes, training is not simple, it is very detailed and takes days. The UAS is not just a gadget with a remote - there is a laptop-based station with special control programmes installed on it. Flight trajectory and all flight data is displayed and so on. Another important moment is launch - everything needs to be timed, observed and adjusted for - wind speed, direction, hand position, etc.”

How have your colleagues found the training?

“The theory is supported by the practice. Already there is noticeable progress.”

And you learned how to operate it? I would think that at first, all hands would shake at the thought that you could cause these expensive devices to fall?

“Yes (laughs), but in that case repairs and spare parts can be ordered again, for delivery directly from the manufacturer in England.”

Briefly, tell us about the characteristics of the drone.

“Speed - about 1 km per minute. Maximum range - 55-60 km. One flight can last up to an hour. This is important for large areas and for areas that are difficult to organise flights around. For example, a panel of heap leaching (leach pit) - when they initially have their ore load laid you could get inside to start surveying, but today everything is acidic and direct ground access is severely limited.”

Q200 Surveyor Pro Successful Launch

What will be the next technological leap, I wonder? What do you see next?

“I don't know, it will most certainly be possible to do everything without leaving the office. Prepare and pre-program everything, the aircraft itself will still fly and collect the data, process the results and here you are.”

Esengeldy Bijanov was interviewed by Almas Sadykov

original article (Russian)


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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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Fixed Wing vs Rotary Image 1

Fixed Wing Versus Rotary Wing For UAV Mapping Applications

Fixed Wing Versus Rotary Wing For UAV Mapping Applications

Fixed Wing vs Rotary
UAVs (also known as drones) come in many shapes and sizes. Each of these have their own unique pros and cons. It is these characteristics which ultimately leads to the operator's decision in which platform will best fit the application. It is understanding these key attributes and acting on them will ensure that your mapping mission is a success.

Fixed Wing Or Rotary Wing UAV?
UAV aircraft currently boil down to two categories, fixed wing and rotary wing. As you may have guessed each of these categories can be further broken down, for example a fixed wing UAV can be high wing, mid wing, low wing and flying wing, again each having their own unique characteristic advantages and disadvantages. For the purposes of this article we will be focusing on the “top level” differences between the two.

Fixed Wing UAV
Fixed Wing vs RotaryFixed wing UAVs, such as the Q200 and DATAhawk, consists of a rigid wing that has a predetermined airfoil (again another variable) which make flight capable by generating lift caused by the UAV’s forward airspeed. This airspeed is generated by forward thrust usually by the means of a propeller being turned by an internal combustion engine or electric motor.

Control of the UAV comes from control surfaces built into the wing itself, these traditionally consist of ailerons an elevator and a rudder. They allow the UAV to freely rotate around three axes that are perpendicular to each other and intersect at the UAV’s center of gravity. The elevator controlling the Pitch (Lateral axis), ailerons controlling the Roll (Longitudinal axis) and the rudder controlling the Yaw (Vertical axis).

Fixed Wing vs RotaryThe main advantage of a fixed wing UAV is that it consists of a much simpler structure in comparison to a rotary wing. The simpler structure provides a less complicated maintenance and repair process thus allowing the user more operational time at a lower cost. More importantly the simple structure ensures more efficient aerodynamics that provide the advantage of longer flight durations at higher speeds thus enabling larger survey areas per given flight.

Another advantage of fixed wing UAVs is that the flght characteristics due to their natural gliding capabilities with no power.

Also worth considering is the fact that fixed-wing aircraft are also able to carry greater payloads for longer distances on less power allowing you to carry some of the bigger (more expensive) sensors as well as twin sensor configurations.

The only disadvantages to a fixed wing solution is the need for a runway or launcher for takeoff and landing however VTOL (vertical take off/landing) and STOL (short take off/landing) solutions are very popular to help eradicate this issue. Also fixed wing aircraft require air moving over their wings to generate lift, they must stay in a constant forward motion, which means they can’t stay stationary the same way a rotary wing UAV can. This means fixed wing solutions are not best suited for stationary applications like inspection work.

Rotary Wing UAV
Fixed Wing vs RotaryRotary wing UAVs consist of 2 or 3 rotor blades that revolve around a fixed mast, this is known as a rotor. Rotary wing UAVs also come in wide range of setups consisting of a minimum of one rotor (helicopter), 3 rotors (tricopter), 4 rotors (quadcopter), 6 rotor (hexacopter), 8 rotors (octocopter) as well as more unusual setups like 12 and 16 rotors! Like fixed wing solutions, these setups can be further broken down, for example a Y6 setup consists of a tricopter with twin rotors on each arm, one pointing upwards and one pointing downwards and an X8 consists of a quadcopter with twin motors on each arm. Again each setup has their own unique characteristic advantages and disadvantages.

Rotor blades work exactly the same way as a fixed wing, however constant aircraft forward movement is not needed to produce airflow over the blades, instead the blades themselves are in constant movement which produce the required airflow over their airfoil to generate lift.

Fixed Wing vs RotaryControl of rotary UAVs comes from the variation in thrust and torque from it’s rotors. For example a quadcopter’s downward pitch is generated from the rear rotors producing more thrust than the rotors in the front, this enables the rear of the quadcopter to raise higher than the front thus producing a nose down attitude. Yaw movement uses the rotor’s torque force where diagonal rotors either spool more or less than their counter diagonal rotors thus producing an imbalance in the Yaw axis causing the quadcopter to rotate on the vertical axis.

Tricopters are the only exception to this where their rear rotor requires a servo to physically move the rotor to vector it’s thrust rather than using the rotor’s torque to enable vertical axis control.

The biggest advantage of rotary UAVs is the ability for takeoff and land vertically. This allows the user to operate with in a smaller vicinity with no substantial landing/take off area required. Their capacity to hover and perform agile manoeuvring makes rotary wing UAVs well suited to applications like inspections where precision manoeuvring and the ability to maintain a visual on a single target for extended periods of time is required.

On the flip side rotary wing aircraft involve greater mechanical and electronic complexity which translates generally to more complicated maintenance and repair processes thus meaning the user’s operational time can be decreased, which can occur increases in operational costs.

Finally, due to their lower speeds and shorter flight ranges the operator will require many additional flights to survey any significant areas, another increase in time and operational costs.


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