How does it work? How does the drone ‘measure’?

With a drone you fly a pattern over the terrain and take pictures at a regular distance so that they overlap. The AiroCollect software uses a technology called photogrammetry to create a 2D and 3D model out of these images. The software will look in all the images for common features. Because these features are seen from different angles (because of the overlap of the images), the software can calculate the location of these points in 3 dimensions. This requires some computing power, which Airobot solved by performing these computations in the cloud.

Which accuracy can I achieve?

When we speak about ‘accuracy’, we need to make a distinction between ‘absolute accuracy’ and ‘relative accuracy’.

Absolute accuracy is the error on the coordinates of a point in the orthophoto with respect to the same point on a map or as measured by a landsurveyor.

Relative accuracy is the error on the measured distance between two points in the orthophoto. This impacts surfaces, distances and angles that you measure in the orthophoto.

Are you mainly interested in surfaces ? (for example for a new patio or lawn) and distances with respect to a house, you can use a DJI MINI 2. The relative accuracy of the result will be around a centimeter. The absolute accuracy can be a few meters because the MINI2 doesn’t have an accurate GPS on board. For example, you’ll measure the size of a 60×60 tile exactly, but the coordinates will deviate from what a landsurveyor will measure.

Also for measuring roofs or to get an idea of the volume of a pile of soil, the relative accuracy obtained with a MINI2 is sufficient.

Do you need a better absolute accuracy ? Than we recommend to use a Phantom 4 RTK, with or without ground control points. With the images taken with a Phantom4 RTK, the expected absolute accuracy will be below 5cm. Combined with 2-3 ground controle points, it is possible to get 1-3cm.

Which advantages does it have to use an RTK drone (e.g. a Phantom4 RTK)?

RTK is a technology to calculate a centimeter accurate position using GNSS signals and corrections fron a basestation. Because the position off the drone-photos is more accurate, also the absolute accuracy of the result will be much better. (Typically <5cm without ground control points)

With a Phantom4 RTK you can also create better 3D models of facades, because you can fly at multiple altitudes to take images.

The data recorded with a Phantom4 RTK also processes much faster in the AiroCollect software, which is much more interesting for large areas or if you fly a lot.

Via a mobile data connection your drone can receive RTK corrections from providers like FLEPOS (Flanders), Walcors (Wallonia), 06-GPS (NL)…

How do I create an account?

On airocollect.com you can purchase a subscription. For now, we’ll create your account manually after your purchase. Afterwards, we’ll contact you, answer any questions you have and make sure you get access to the software where you can upload your images.

Can I process the results in another software tool?

Yes, you can easily import the orthophoto (.jpeg, .tiff) in Autocad, Vectorworks, Helixcad, QGIS, Orbit en anderen. In some tools you might need to scale the image because they don’t use all the information from the AiroCollect software.

The 3D-Collada files (.dae) can be imported directly into Sketchup.

What should I do to be legally compliant?

Since January 1st, 2021 a new European drone legislation is applicable which makes it easier to fly small drones. 

For Belgium you can find all the information on this site of the government:

https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/luchtvaart/drones/nieuwe_regelgeving

 

For the UK, you can find all the information on this government site:

https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code

What do you need to be legally compliant as an operator?

In Belgium, you’ll need to register online (free) and make sure your civil liability insurance covers your activities.

https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/luchtvaart/drones/nieuwe_regelgeving/categorie_open/exploitant

 

For the UK, you’ll need to get an ‘operator ID’ online.

https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code/getting-what-you-need-to-fly

Can I fly a DJI MINI 2? Do I need a specific training?

A DJI Mini2 falls under the category of ‘open’ and subcategory A1

 

For Belgium:

There is not specific training required for drones lighter than 250gr, but it is recommended to take the free online course offered by the Belgian CAA for A1/A3 flights (link)

You can find more info on:  https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/luchtvaart/drones/nieuwe_regelgeving/categorie_open

 

For the UK:

For drones with a camera, lighter than 250gr you are only required to get a operator ID. A flyer  ID and corresponding training is not required.

More info on: https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code/getting-what-you-need-to-fly

Can I fly a DJI Phantom 4 RTK? Do I need a specific training?

If you want to fly your Phantom4 RTK over unpopulated areas, it will fall under the open subcategory A3.  https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/luchtvaart/drones/nieuwe_regelgeving/categorie_open

If you also want to operate in residential areas, it will fall under open subcategory A2.

 

For Belgium:

For A3 you’ll need to follow a free online course and take an exam online. For A2 you’ll need to declare to have followed a practical training. Additionally,  you’ll have to take an extra written exam at the CAA in Brussels.

 

More information can be found on the site of the CAA: https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/luchtvaart/drones/nieuwe_regelgeving/categorie_open/piloot

 

For the UK:

You’ll need a flyer ID to operate the Phantom 4 RTK. You can obtain this by taking an online exam at the CAA:

 

https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code/getting-flyer-id

Where can I fly?

Before each flight it is recommended to check if there are specifc rules to fly at that specific location.

 

For Belgium:

More information about these “geozones” can be found here:

https://mobilit.belgium.be/nl/luchtvaart/drones/nieuwe_regelgeving/geografische_zones

 

For the UK:

More information about these ‘geozones’ can be found here:

https://dronesafe.uk/restrictions/

What about privacy?

If you take images with your drone over private property, you’ll need to respect the privacy of the people you fly over.  So you’ll better ask permission of the owner of the terrain before you fly. Also the rules regarding privacy data protection (GDPR) are applicable.