Black Swift summits extreme altitude mapping test with small UAV

March 14, 2017  - By
Image: GPS World

Crisp orthophotos map 300 acres with sUAS flying over 14,000 feet

Overcoming the challenges of mapping terrain in difficult conditions at altitudes exceeding 14,000 feet using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS), Black Swift Technologies demonstrated that a sUAS can successfully be deployed at extreme altitudes.

Black Swift Technologies (BST), a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, Colorado, was able to obtain geo-referenced digital aerial images with detailed actionable information, obtained cost-effectively without concern for a surveyor’s well being or equipment malfunctions.

Using BST’s SwiftTrainer, a turnkey sUAS flight system designed specifically for GIS mapping applications, BST captured millions of data points in a fully autonomous flight over Colorado’s Mount Evans. The geotagged images were easily integrated into processing software, resulting in an accurate 3D orthomosaic (a highly detailed map in true scale).

“Surveyors have been using sUAS in place of more expensive manned aerial missions for quite some time now,” said Jack Elston, Ph.D., CEO of Black Swift Technologies. “Being able to demonstrate that a sUAS can be an effective and accurate mapping platform in areas inaccessible to vehicles or at extreme altitudes solidifies the added value surveyors can offer their clients.”

Using BST’s own Mission Planning Software, surveyors can program the SwiftTrainer in minutes to calculate the area under review and then begin collecting data for immediate analysis and decision making. Leveraging an intuitive tab-driven interface, flight planning is simple and easy to accomplish. Mission monitoring and mapping is all done from a handheld Android Tablet loaded with BST’s SwiftTab software. Intuitive gesture-based controls enable users to confidently deploy their SwiftTrainer with minimal training while being able to collect data over geography that is topically diverse with confidence.

Unlike other sUAS offerings that cobble together hardware and software from a variety of sources to assemble their solutions, BST’s aerospace and software engineers designed the hardware, flight management system, and essential software from the ground up. This unified, fully integrated approach ensures that users have the right airframe and sensor suite to address their specific application requirements without compromise.

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