Aerial Mapping start-up device

Hello to everybody!

I'm planning to buy a professional UAV to boost my work activities, and I'm looking for a quality "start-up" device for mapping and photogrammetry purpouses.
I've check some documents on the web: Sensefly eBee and Swinglet seems to be in the top ten list, and they seem to be the ones that  better suits my professional needs, but...
Unfortunately, eBee costs too much for my budget while Swinglet, that I could afford, is weak wind resistant: here in Sardinia wind always blows almost every day in the whole year, often 20-30km/h and more, and considering the high cost of such devices, they have to work often to refund me their cost (Swinglet is about €20000 comprised 22% of rate and good software to manage images, photogrammetry, etc.)!!!
Furthermore, Swinglet doesn't take inclined shots nor movies, very useful in some contexts and cannot land in harsh grounds eg. gravel...

For my needs, I'd need a device with:

-Fully automatic fly system: take-off by hand, auto fly a planned survey path, automatic shots, automatic land;

-3km range can be enough;

-Land even on harsh grounds;

-Wind resistance up to 40-50 km;

-45'-1h flight autonomy;

-inclined shots and eventualy movies;

-Good camera, with good resolution, SenseFly says that uses Canon cameras (that needs no other words!) and at 130m the resolution is 4cm per pixel: nearly this is the resolution that I plan to obtain;
-I already own a Trimble gps, so I can take coordinates of GCP.

Does anyone can suggest me a device with such specifications, or maybe superior, that cost less than €20000 (22% rate and mapping/photogrammetry software included)?
Many thanks in advance,


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  • Check out the eBee produced by SenseFly. It's the lightest and most integrated system I've been able to see in action.
    SenseFly Ebee page is here.

  • Check out this one:

    I haven't seen it in action but spoken to the guys who made it and sounds very impressive, especially the handling high winds and landing in harsh terrain bit (it's designed and built in Greece, which has both in abundance). A lot more R&D has happened since this video was posted as well.

    • If money is not a limiting factor then have a look at Gatewing. Trimble now owns them and they are full autonomous with sub in accuracy.  This is for commercial use and the cost is between 50k and 100k.

  • Hi Beppe,
    For comparing it´s useful to concider post processing for your applications too?
    How fast the software for postprocessing is proceeding with which sensor of which camera for your application? That can cost u a lot of time respectivly money.
    I mean the start up package should include: software, storage, and hardware for viewing high resolution maps.
    For the plane, actually u can go for the cheapest, just buy more. 
    For instance with a set up of the ordinary 1900 Skywalker, pixhawk or APM 2.6, long range Telemetry and some mirrorless cameras or Canon 230,canon s 100, u will have a great hundred times tested set up for your equipment.
    For €20 K u can buy this set up , up to 20 times.
    If u are going for the sensefly u are risking having to stop processing in your project by loosing your plane or crashing it. For me the best is to keep it cheap and Open Source.

    • For the moment I don't care so much about post processing time, I just need to start before as possible this professional service with the best resolution images and best accuracy of results.

      In fact, I'm evaluating the buying of an Italian software for photogrammetry that seems very interesting, even if its cost is high about €6000 (does automatic generation of orthoimages and 3d point cloud,stereoscopic view and anaglyph, but any cheaper software or open source suggestions are welcome!).

      In the other hand, for now I don't have time to learn to learn how to drive a remoted controlled device; but Gary suggestion are welcome and considering the price of the Bixler, buy it will be my next target to expand my work operativity.
      Sensefly are good ones, but their cost is so high lot and they seems so "fragile" respect the other ones that cost less and offers more: so obviously, considering that "money doesn't grows on trees" as we say in Italy, I have to find an effective and cheaper but of quality alternative to don't waste such amount of money!

      For what I've seen, thank to this blog suggestions, seems that Lynx are the right item for me, do you agree with me?

    • Moderator

      Ali is right the only reason you need all that autonomy is that you don't have time to learn to fly. Buy a ready to fly bixler learn to fly it, super simple. It will help you with your buying decision.  It will teach you how to charge batteries and select launch sites. Plenty of expensive systems have been launched into trees by operators. Also as Ali says the post production software is more important than the platform itself. You are a surveyor and know more about that than I ever can!

  • Please check out the Lynx. It a rugged airplane designed for mapping and R&D. Endurance is 90 minutes with a stabilized NEX-7 or similar camera. We're always flying in high winds in northern Arizona.

    We are currently working with an autopilot maker (not APM/Pixhawk) that looks to be much more capable at autoland and failsafe autoland that may suit your autonomy needs in the near future. I can't disclose yet but let me know if you're interested!
    • I've check the website, the device seems very good; of course I'm interested in the new autoland system! You can contact me on my email address.

      How much does it cost the Linx?

    • Hi Matthew

      I am interested in your plane and future concept please contact me George on my email address

      i am in South Africa and am currently involved in Photo Mapping

  • Yes.

    The AscTec Falcon 8 does great. A friend of mine flies it for aerial photography.



    BTW I'm a surveyor and just started doing 3d models from aerial photography.

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