Suggestion for drones for surveying very large areas

We need to survey about 23,000+ Hectares of agriculture land and wondering what drone options we got given

(a) We have to survey really large area and small amount of time.

(b) We need to scan whole area say 3-4 times in a 8 months, over the season of crop to record growth.

(c) RGB + NDVI camera is good enough for now.

(d) Drone which is easy to repair, as I am sure there will be many crashes during operations..

Would it make more sense for to assemble it our own given we would need bunch of them, and we would need quick turn around time in case of repair/crash...

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  • Developer

    Precision Hawk and E384 both use the Pixhawk as their autopilot and they are both capable aircraft. Since you are looking to cover a lot of ground then you might want to look at a larger system (and also a larger budget).

    Something like also uses Pixhawk but it is larger / faster / more robust / higher winds / longer flight times etc. 

    For about the same money you can buy several E384s, a couple of Precision Hawks, or a Tempest.

    • Thanks Craig, I like the idea of buying several smaller drones given if big one falls, there is delay in replacement/repair which would not be good for project.

      I also like the idea of using manned aircraft which maybe able to survey full 23000Ha in just 3 hours... which I understand will come with a huge price tag, and may not work out for overall plans for the project.

    • RG,

      I think that you are getting good advice here and regardless of where you go with it, fixed-wing RC or Full Scale

      airplane, just run the numbers of your costs ($$$$$) and then compare to your expected charge to the landowner and you will have answered many questions over and above which Air frame to choose.  Right???

      "Cost vs. income!"

    • Thats true Papa Jeff. It will boil to cost/benefit. Some great suggestions/options here in the forum.

  • RG: the most experienced long endurance UAVs builder here that I know is Aerodyca, and they uses Pixhawk as controller, and they have really good prices for they quality.

    • Thanks Cala.

  • I am currently looking at Event38's E384 (fixed wing aircraft), any reviews/feedback on using them? They seem to be able to do 1000 acres per flight in about 100 we have anything faster available?

    • With the E384 you could cover 400 ha / flight (aprox. one hour of flight).

      Then you land, change the SD card of the the cammera, airplane batteries, preflicght check, etc.... (not less than 45 min.) So you take one flight every 2 hours aprox. in 2 hours the sunlight changes enough to avoid two flight stitching... and probably the process have to be made flight by flight. If the weather conditions allow it you can do 3 or 4 flights / day.

      1 flight = 400 ha ----- max 4 flights / day = 1600 ha. -----  23.000 ha / 1.600 = 15 days of flight.

      15 days of separation between images is too much for me... The Event is a nice plane, but you need more area / flight.

      With a manned aircraft you flight 23.000 in one flight. 3 hours of sepparation between the first and the las image.
      For that ammount of land to cover I think is the only rentable solution.

    • Also what do you think of deploying say 6-7 small sUAS (like E384) and running them in parallel, which would drastically reduce time it needs to cover. I am assuming flying them are not very hard and I can find or train some pilots quickly.

    • Thanks Martin. Have you used manned aircraft for surveying, where can i learn more about it, including cost of operations, setup etc.

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