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New in Site Scan: Desktop Flight Planning

The full Desktop Flight Planning workflow in 30 seconds

Planning effective drone flights in the field can be a challenge, especially if you’re in a remote location with poor service. That’s why, today, we’re introducing Desktop Flight Planning in Site Scan: now, you can plan a flight with confidence using the Site Scan web app, and make it instantly available to fly with on the Site Scan iPad app in the field. This helps you plan flights faster, more precisely, and improve collaboration across your drone program.

Here’s how it works:

Pick your flight mode

Plan an area survey, crosshatch survey, or an Inspect Mode flight and set all of the details: altitude, gimbal angle, hatch angle, overlap, sidelap, return altitude, and more. You can also turn on Video Mode to record videos on your flight path instead of taking pictures.

Use your past flights as a basemap

We built Desktop Flight Planning to make it easier to plan flights for your projects that are in remote areas: you may not have cellular data on-site, or the satellite data may not be up-to-date. Desktop Flight Planning makes it easy to avoid having these problems when you’re trying to fly: you can use an existing orthomosaic from a past flight on your project as the base map, which helps you plan your flight with confidence.

Overlay ground control points (GCPs) and design files for better planning

Want to make sure you cover all of your ground control points on your flight? View them on the web and plan your flight accordingly. Or, upload and overlay PDF or KML file and use as a boundary planner for your flight.

"Desktop Flight Planning is a gamechanger. All of the guesswork for our drone pilots is taken out of the equation."

Steve VennNewmont Mining

Improve collaboration with your team

With Desktop Flight Planning, it’s easier to work with your in-office team to design the right flight patterns, which you can then pass along to your drone pilot to fly. This helps keep everyone on the same page and ensures you capture the data that you need. According to Paul Kawuma, BIM Manager at Arcadis in Qatar, “Desktop Flight Planning enables us to make our flight information more accessible to the rest of our team, so everyone can give input. Now, we all can plan flights more efficiently while still in the office.”

Save your flight plans and fly them easily on-site

Just save your flight plans with a click, and they’ll automatically be available on the Site Scan iPad app for you to use in the field. Any changes you make to your flight plan on the web will instantly update on the iPad app, so you can keep all of your plans in sync.

"With Desktop Flight Planning, we can plan flights more efficiently before going on-site."

Paul KawumaBIM Manager, Arcadis

Want to try it for yourself?

Desktop Flight Planning is included with every Site Scan free trial and subscription. To try it out, sign up for a 14-day free trial or talk to our sales team to get a web demo.

The post New in Site Scan: Desktop Flight Planning appeared first on 3DR.

New in Site Scan: Use Your Own Base Surfaces For Better Cut/Fill Reporting

Now, you can bring your own base surfaces into Site Scan to better manage and plan earthwork.


The full custom base surface workflow and key use cases

For construction, mining, and engineering teams, drones have proven to be a fast, safe, and accurate way to measure quantities. But your volume measurements are more precise and useful to your team if you can compare them to other survey data and design files, such as the original survey of your site or its finished grade.

Today, we’re making this possible in Site Scan by adding support for custom base surfaces. Now, you can upload your own finished grade design file or pre-existing survey data as a LandXML file, and compare it against your current grade with our suite of earthwork analytics tools, including new configurable cut/fill maps. With custom base surfaces, you can create more precise, actionable takeoff reports and earthwork estimates to help manage costs and keep your team in sync.

Bring your LandXML files into Site Scan

Export a georeferenced surface as a landXML from your own CAD tools, such as AutoCAD Civil 3D, AGTEK, or Microstation, and upload it to Site Scan as an overlay onto your digital terrain model. You only need to upload it once: your LandXML file will be automatically saved in Site Scan and can be used for volume measurements and cut/fill reporting with any existing or future data that you collect.

Prepare detailed, actionable cut/fill reports

Compare current conditions to your design grade surface and create customizable cut/fill maps with a click. You can set your own tolerance and multiple ranges with corresponding colors to create a more detailed cut/fill report.

Measure volumes based on your own surface

Use the surface as a base plane so you can measure your volumes compared to your custom base surface. This adds yet another option to the 5 types of base planes that have already been at your disposal in Site Scan.

"Now that we can upload our own base surfaces, we can make measurements accurately directly in Site Scan. This will be our only tool for measuring stockpiles and sharing volumetric data with our team."

Richard NawaraSurvey Manager, Newcrest Mining

Want to try it for yourself?

Custom base surfaces is included with every Site Scan free trial and subscription. To try it out, sign up for a 14-day free trial or talk to our sales team to get a web demo.

The post New in Site Scan: Use Your Own Base Surfaces For Better Cut/Fill Reporting appeared first on 3DR.

An Inside Look At Gerdau’s Drone Program

Gerdau is one of the largest steelmakers in the world, and they’re using drones to take their work to the next level.

Headquartered in Sao Paulo, Gerdau employs over 30,000 people across 11 countries, and focuses on transforming iron ore and steel scrap into full-fledged steel products.

Gustavo Franca, IT Manager, and Rafael Alves, Mine Engineer, helped established an in-house drone program at Gerdau in Brazil as a proof of concept in early 2018, with an interest in how drone mapping can help them better capture and use topography data on their iron mines.

The project: Varzea do Lopes iron mine in Brazil

To start, the Gerdau team wanted to use drones to map Varzea do Lopes, an iron ore mine near the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil. Varzea do Lopes produces over 6 million tonnes of iron ore every year, and supply it to a number of their steel plants across the country.

The need: safe, accurate drone surveying for mine planning

“Safety is our top priority,” Gustavo said. “We’re always looking for new tools and methods for improving safety on our projects.” Gerdau had a crew of six people at Varzea do Lopes that performed RTK surveys by foot: a time consuming workflow—especially given the size of the mine, the pit alone covering more than 250 acres—that took between 24-48 hours to collect and process data into final deliverables. They were looking to keep their team out of harm’s way and improve their survey productivity.

The Gerdau team was also looking for a tool to create accurate, precise point clouds that they could bring into MineSight, their mine planning software from Hexagon Mining. This would help with blast planning, measuring stockpiles, documenting the mine at key stages, and with longer term projects such as design and expansions. “It was important that we have the capability to export drone data into other tools, such as MineSight, to calculate and compare volumes and measurements,” Gustavo said.

As Gerdau started to build their in-house drone program, they had a few key decision criteria for their drone software of choice, including:

1. Easy to fly and share data

2. Best-in-class vertical and horizontal accuracy, within 1.5% accuracy of laser scanning

3. File formats that can be used in MineSight and by the rest of the Gerdau team

The solution: 3DR Site Scan with the DJI Phantom 4 Pro

“We recognized several opportunities to use drones on our mines,” Gustavo said, “and we decided to work with 3DR and use Site Scan.”

Rafael Alves, Mine Engineer at Gerdau, flying the DJI Phantom 4 Pro with Site Scan

They set over 40 ground control points across different parts of the mine and have been regularly surveying using Site Scan and a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone. They’re performing volume measurements directly in Site Scan, comparing orthomosaics to track progress over time, and sharing rich maps and 3D models with the rest of the company.

They’re making the data accessible to other parts of Gerdau, such as the geology team. “Our geologists are using georeferenced maps and point clouds to understand the different types of rocks on-site,” Rafael said. “It makes their life easier: now they don’t have to go to the mine every time they need data. They can just view the latest flight data online to get the answers they need.”

Comparing mine changes over time

Bringing the data into MineSight

Once they have an up-to-date point cloud of their site, the Gerdau team will export an LAS file from Site Scan and bring it into MineSight for measurements and planning. “We use our point clouds in MineSight to draw mine plans, which helps us decide how much we actually need to mine,” Rafael continues. “The workflow is easy: we just import the point cloud, generate the surface, and use the point cloud mesher feature in MineSight to do our work. We then make the plan and share it with our operations crew each month so they can execute it. We need accurate topography data to do this well, and that’s where Site Scan comes in.”

3D mesh of the Varzea do Lopes mine

"The workflow is easy: we just import the point cloud, generate the surface, and use the point cloud mesher feature in MineSight to do our work."

Rafael AlvesMine Engineer

The results

1. Improved safety and survey productivity

By flying regularly and mapping the mine with Site Scan, Gerdau is making their topographic survey workflow far safer and significantly more efficient compared to conventional methods and laser scanning:

“We’re protecting our team with this workflow,” Gustavo explains. “It brings a safety benefit that’s very important to us.”

Their drone program also makes it possible to perform surveys and inspections more frequently: “In the past, I could inspect my operation once a week,” Gustavo said. “Now, I can inspect it every day if necessary, because it’s so easy to do so. By building this drone program in Gerdau, we’re transforming our current process and creating new ones.”

"In the past, I could inspect my operation once per week. Now, I can inspect it every day."

Gustavo FrancaIT Manager

Comparing changes mine changes over time with 3D model comparison

2. Accurate data

With volume measurements being such an important part of their day-to-day work, Gerdau wanted to ensure that their drone data was just as accurate as RTK GPS and laser scanning. To compare accuracy, they performed a test survey of a stockpile with three different methods: conventional RTK GPS, laser scanning, and drone capture with Site Scan. Using laser scan data as the baseline, they found that the volume measurements from Site Scan had only a 1.16% difference from the laser scan data, and they were more accurate than the topography data captured with RTK GPS.

"Volume measurements from Site Scan had only a 1.16% difference from laser scan data, and they were more accurate than topography data captured with RTK GPS."

When comparing cross-sections of a mine wall between Site Scan data and conventional RTK data, they found that the profile lines were nearly the exact same:

3. $100,000+ annual savings

By reducing the need to capture topography data with RTK GPS, Gerdau’s drone program has saved over $26,000 USD (R$110,000 Brazilian Real) in 2018 alone (including the cost of the drone and Site Scan software). As they continue to standardize on Site Scan across projects and use it throughout the full year, they’re on track to earn a return on investment of approximately $107,000 USD (R$430,000 Brazilian Real) in 2019.


What’s next

Now that Gerdau has found initial success with their drone program on the Varzea do Lopes iron mine, they’re looking to scale drone operations to more projects throughout the company. As Rafael said: “Any part of our business that relies on topography data should be using a drone and Site Scan.”

For example, in addition to their mining operations, Gerdau is now starting to use drones at their steel processing plants in Brazil, using high-resolution orthomosaics to better track and manage their inventory.

“We want to continue expanding our use of Site Scan because of its ease of use, user experience, and central management of data. In the future, we’ll be managing a fleet of drones in this platform, and get valuable insights about our operations every day.”

The post An Inside Look At Gerdau’s Drone Program appeared first on 3DR.

3DR and Yuneec Announce Joint Venture Based on Dronecode Platform

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve established a US-based joint venture with Yuneec—a world leading manufacturer of commercial and consumer UAVs—to bring new products based on the Dronecode platform to market.

The joint venture, 3DR Government Services, is focused on serving the security and open platform needs of US government customers and their vendors in construction, engineering, and public safety. 

3DR Government Services will combine Yuneec’s UAV system expertise and manufacturing scale with the capabilities enabled by 3DR’s software. Our first product is the Yuneec 3DR H520-G, available in October, which includes the complete Site Scan platform integrated with a custom version of the Dronecode-based Yuneec H520 sUAS. It also includes a simplified and smaller controller designed for Apple’s iOS devices, and works with both Autodesk and Esri platforms, the leading software ecosystems in the construction and geospatial industries respectively.

The H520-G, which includes a full integration with Site Scan and a new, simpler controller.

We made this move to support the increased demand for vendor choice by government agencies and contractors at the federal, state and local level, along with increased need for open platforms that can be security certified and more easily approved for operations beyond the constraints of today’s FAA’s Part 107 waivers. Also, use of the Dronecode PX4 software is already becoming a public sector standard: the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx)—their effort to create a new, standardized platform for small, low-cost UAVs—has specified the use of Dronecode PX4 in part because its open source core and commercial-friendly BSD license, which allows for easy integration and validation by different vendors.

Both 3DR and Yuneec have a long history of supplying UAS solutions to US government agencies and contractors: we work closely with the US Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, many public safety organizations, and a number of state DOTs across the country. The Department of the Interior, for example, has a UAS fleet to map public land and better respond to wildfires. State DOTs use UAS solutions to safely inspect and rehabilitate bridges, while public safety organizations use them to get an aerial view to better respond to emergencies. Construction and engineering firms contracted on public sector projects also have a wide array of use cases for drones: capturing up-to-date existing conditions when designing new infrastructure, for example, and be able to easily map and share progress over time. By establishing 3DR Government Services and introducing the H520-G, 3DR and Yuneec are now able to go to market together as a fully US-based company and provide public agencies and contractors a reliable, cost-effective, American-made solution.

As our CEO, Chris Anderson, said: “This joint venture cements a strong relationship that goes back to the start of Dronecode and the shared belief that an open software platform would help the drone industry grow and mature faster, just as it has in so many other industries. For US government customers who are increasingly looking for US-based trusted solutions, this combination of global leaders in hardware and software provides the best of both worlds.”

“For US government customers who are increasingly looking for US-based trusted solutions, this combination of global leaders in hardware and software provides the best of both worlds.”

— Chris Anderson, CEO, 3DR

Michael Jiang, CEO of Yuneec International, adds: “Since our launch of the H520 last year, Yuneec has committed to provide public agencies and commercial enterprises with a sUAS that improves their workflow effectiveness. This strategic partnership with 3DR is yet another powerful example of that ongoing commitment. We’ve built a commercial enterprise platform based on the Dronecode open source and the H520 system. Together with 3DR, we have leveraged that implementation to provide a robust and secure solution for US government agencies.”

To learn more about 3DR’s suite of offerings for government projects, including our Esri integration, visit 3dr.com/government. If you’re a public agency or vendor looking for a UAS solution, reach out to our team—we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

The post 3DR and Yuneec Announce Joint Venture Based on Dronecode Platform appeared first on 3DR.

3DR Announces Site Scan Esri® Edition for Esri Users

We’ve partnered with Esri® to develop Site Scan Esri® Edition, a custom version of our iOS app for drone data capture that works seamlessly with ArcGIS Online and streamlines processing in Esri’s Drone2Map software.

With this joint solution, we will complement Esri’s drone data offerings by creating an end-to-end package that includes full mission planning to easily capture and display drone data, and a simple workflow for using the data in the Esri ArcGIS ecosystem. With this solution, you’ll able to connect to ArcGIS Online with an Esri sign-in, and the app will allow you to directly use Esri data layers from ArcGIS Online—including custom data layers from the user’s ArcGIS Online organization account—as base and reference data for your mission planning.

“Esri started at the dawn of the space age with satellite data. Now drones can continue that mission at even higher resolution and frequency,” said our CEO, Chris Anderson. “I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to work with Esri to help its users easily capture and analyse drone data, giving them another powerful tool to measure and manage the world.”

Esri customers can use any drone currently supported by Site Scan, including the Yuneec 3DR H520-G, which is a custom version of the Yuneec H520 commercial drone. Based on the Dronecode PX4 software, the H520-G is designed to be an open and secure drone option for use on US government projects, making it a perfect complement to Esri’s FedRAMP certification, creating a complete, government-friendly drone mapping solution.

As Cody Benkelman, Imagery Product Manager at Esri, said: “3DR has been a leader in the drone industry, and we are excited to support this development effort. A drone flight planning app that connects directly to ArcGIS Online will provide great value to Esris worldwide customer base, and simplify the process of ensuring successful projects using Drone2Map.”

Site Scan Esri Edition will be available on the Esri Marketplace in late September for free to all ArcGIS customers. To learn more about 3DR’s suite of offerings for government projects, including the US government-friendly UAS, the H520-G, visit 3dr.com/government. If you’re a US public agency or vendor looking for a UAS solution, reach out to our team—we’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

The post 3DR Announces Site Scan Esri® Edition for Esri Users appeared first on 3DR.

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