Drone Mapping – Specifying Safe and Professional Operations

There are thousands of companies that claim to be in the drone mapping and surveying business, but only a few operate with the level of professionalism that you would expect from a commercial airline.

Note – This is the first in a series of  articles that make up a white paper by Juniper Unmanned entitled, UAS Market Differentiators.

Image of Drone Mapping

Drone Mapping

In an ideal world, each company would have systems in place to ensure their operations are safe, effective and compliant with the law. These systems should address the qualifications of the pilot, suitability of the aircraft and sensor, compliance with local airspace regulations, and assessment of flight hazards.

Unfortunately, federal regulations in the United States currently fall far short of ensuring unmanned aerial systems are operated in the same safe and efficient manner as their manned counterparts. Not only does this pose danger (and possibly liability) for you as the contracting organization, a lack of highly professional flight operation standards jeopardizes the quality of data collected for your geospatial project.

Ask the following questions when assessing the flight operations of prospective drone contractors:

  • What is your plan to collect the data that meets the specifications of my project?
  • May I review your pilot’s log book?
  • May I review the operations log and maintenance schedule of the drone that will be used?
  • Have you performed a compliance review of my project area?
  • What safety precautions does your team take onsite?
photo of Drone Mapping Crew

Drone Mapping Crew

At Juniper Unmanned, we understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to collecting quality geospatial data, especially with a drone. That’s why we have assembled teams of professionals with expertise in surveying and mapping, as well as infrastructure inspection, asset management and other applications. They work backwards from your application to determine your unique data quality requirements and create a comprehensive airborne acquisition, ground control and data processing plan customized to your needs.

We have four different LiDAR sensors, multispectral, thermal, and optical cameras, along with more than two dozen drones representing six preferred rotor and fixed-wing airframes. Don’t know what sensor, airframe or data accuracy your application requires? Don’t worry.  The Juniper staff will help determine the right platform and sensor integration to best meet your needs.

Additionally, our pilots exceed government mandated training. In addition to FAA ground school certification, Juniper pilots have been trained and tested in the flight operation of each drone in our inventory. A drone should be operated by the trained professional.

Each pilot logs their hours of flight and the hours of operation for each of our drone airframes and data acquisition sensor. Each log includes details of past activities as well as records of completed maintenance. This significantly reduces the chance a hardware malfunction will disrupt your acquisition timetable.

image of Highway Segmented Captured with Drone Mapping

Highway Segment Captured with Drone Mapping

Before every flight, our crews complete a 12-page Compliance Review of FAA-mandated airspace restrictions and limitations in your project area, contacting air traffic control (as needed) and pinpointing hospitals, schools and critical infrastructure that should be avoided. Juniper Unmanned’s professional pilots know what to expect when they arrive, but the field crew still completes a Hazard Review onsite to avoid powerlines, populated events or other safety concerns that may impact operations.

To add one final layer of safety, Juniper crews arrive wearing Personal Protective Equipment, replete with reflective vests, steel-toed boots, and hard hats. Our goal is to ensure your data is acquired safely and efficiently, as well as accurately and quickly.

For more information on Juniper Unmanned click here.

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