Drone Technology for Surveying and Mapping

THE INDOMITABLE SIGNIFICANCE OF DRONE TECHNOLOGY

For centuries, maps have played a pivotal role in human existence. From the map murals in the Vatican to manual surveying to satellites and eventually drones, the significance of maps, locations, and positioning services since the beginning of civilizations have been incomparable. Drones have seen exponential growth in demand in India over the past five years. Various statistics published by the Ministry of Civil Aviation corroborate that India will witness an estimated investment of INR 5,000 crores for the manufacturing of drones, which in turn will see the drone industry clock an annual turnover of INR 900-crore by fiscal 2024.

So what are the various drivers behind the usage of drones in India?

Trends
Primarily being used by law enforcement agencies, drones have seen more usage by public sector utilities and government agencies for land surveying, mapping and monitoring. To cite an example, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has employed the use of drones for 3D digital mapping for their various Detailed Project Reports (DPRs). The data collected is being utilized for the calculation of compensation of citizens with property rights along the highway.
What’s more? The Indian Railways is using drones to monitor the construction of its railway lines by 3D mapping of a dedicated freight corridor network of 3,360-km project. The entire project will be mapped using drones. Meanwhile, the state-owned Power Grid Corporation of India has already started monitoring its 15,000-km long transmission network with the help of drones, which are equipped with high-definition cameras. The drones are connected to the central data monitoring centre at Manesar. That said, Coal India, India’s biggest government-owned miner has started aerial surveys of coal blocks for assessment of greenery restoration post excavation from mines.

Already, the SVAMITVA Initiative – a central sector scheme of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj that relies on the usage of drone technology for mapping of land parcels in rural inhabited areas, and creating accurate land records for rural planning – has given a boost to the entire ecosystem, making businesses and varied state governments more receptive to the idea of using drones. Through SVAMITVA, the Survey of India (SOI) is focusing on high-resolution, high-accuracy mapping, and using only drones to map about 6.6 lakh villages in India.

Despite the pandemic, ideaForge dedicated a big team of research and development engineers to develop class-leading mapping products to help SOI meet this audacious role. Currently, ideaForge’s RYNO is the micro category drone (due to its high accuracy in mapping applications) that has been approved by SOI towards the SVAMITVA Yojana. RYNO is ideaForge’s micro category survey-grade drone designed and specialized for mapping applications. It is equipped with an advanced mapping payload and ideaForge’s state-of-the-art- PPK module to deliver superior results.

Challenges and Solutions
The Planning phase plays a significant role in identifying risks associated with capital projects. Budget shortfalls, schedule overruns and additional costs have always been challenges for companies in the delivery of infrastructure projects for the power and utility industry. In the pre-construction phase, ideaForge’s NINJA UAV can speed up the design process and detect an investment’s red flags more efficiently. It’s a lightweight and economical micro UAV built for mapping and surveillance. It is India’s most reliable NPNT compliant micro drone. Using this product, aerial surveys and mapping of construction sites can ensure a faster and more accurate estimation of the scope of work.

Meanwhile, projections show that feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require raising overall food production by some 70% between 2005/07 and 2050. To keep up with increasing demand, optimizing farm yield in a way that is sustainable and prevents environmental damage becomes critical. Drones can not only help in designing and planning to optimize the farms, but they can also help in monitoring the activities for preparing the land for crop growth.

At present, the entire drone industry is battling on three fronts – policy, market and operational. However, what is more challenging in the current time is an operational challenge such as understanding regulations, requirement gathering, analyzing output, and project execution.

Firstly, it is important for organizations adopting drone technologies to understand the regulations which are currently being proposed. Regulations would impact the implementation of applications in different industries. This is the foundation of any large scale implementation of UAS technology.

Secondly, the implementation of large scale drones technology applications would require gathering the right set of requirements across the value chain of the industry. Organizations should look at the potential of drone technology in conjunction with other emerging technology areas like 3D modelling, AR, etc. The right combination of UAS specifications along with the emerging technologies provides the optimized benefit for each use case.

Thirdly, companies should evaluate and create an operational plan to integrate drones into their operations. There are four key dimensions that companies should evaluate – platforms for acquiring data, ways to monitor the data, frequency and accuracy of data collection and finally, the feasibility of these options.

The Drone market in India has a lot of potential. As seen in previous examples, there is enough scope for drone application and adoption in India for mapping and surveying. Today, there are very few players in the Indian market that can provide such services and cater to such a large market. ideaForge is one such name that provides superior endurance and high-functioning drones with an array of products.

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