Vivek Dwivedi's Posts (19)

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We are excited to announce our latest FlytBase release, a significant step forward in enhancing drone operation control, expanding functionalities, and offering advanced solutions for aerial data capture and analysis. Key highlights include the integration of the Thrustmaster joystick, renowned for its precision and ergonomic design, which revolutionizes drone and payload control in remote setups.

Additionally, we introduce Payload 2.0, advancing your drone's thermal imaging and sensing capabilities, and our innovative Live Map Annotations, designed to improve mapping, navigation, and team collaboration.

Thrustmaster Joystick Support

Central to this update is our integration with the Thrustmaster joystick, specifically the Thrustmaster T.16000M Space Sim Duo Stick, known for its precision control and ergonomic design. This integration transforms the way operators control both the drone and its payload in a remote setup, providing:

  • Precision Control: The joystick's multiple axes, buttons, and programmable triggers enable operators to navigate drones with unprecedented accuracy, essential for executing complex tasks and navigating challenging terrains.
  • Improved Maneuverability: The ergonomic design and intuitive interface of the joystick facilitate smooth and precise flight patterns, making it ideal for detailed inspections and operations in demanding environments.
  • Revamped Key Bindings: To further personalize the flying experience, we have redesigned the Keyboard and Joystick Bindings Settings, allowing operators to tailor their control setup to their unique styles and preferences, ensuring smoother and more efficient manual flight operations.

Payload 2.0: Advanced Thermal Imaging and Sensing

Payload 2.0, brings a significant enhancement to your drone's thermal imaging and sensing capabilities. This update is particularly exciting due to the integration of the DJI M30 range finder, along with advanced thermal palettes and a split-screen display -offering a dual perspective, crucial for in-depth environmental assessment and decision-making.

  • Versatile Thermal Imaging: With the integration of the DJI M30s thermal palettes, operators can now select from a range of imaging options to best suit the specific requirements of their mission. This versatility is invaluable in operations such as search and rescue, infrastructure inspections, and environmental monitoring, where clarity and precision in data interpretation are paramount.

 

  • Dual Camera Mode: Our Side-by-Side (SBS) display feature is a breakthrough in environmental assessment. Operators can now view infrared and visual feeds simultaneously, enabling comprehensive real-time analysis and fostering quicker, more informed decision-making.

DJI M30 Laser Rangefinder support for Enhanced Spatial Awareness

The integration of the DJI M30s laser rangefinder is another highlight of this release, offering operators exact spatial awareness, a critical factor in conducting precise operations:

  • Instant Location Marking: Operators can now effortlessly mark, share, and revisit coordinates and distances of key locations or objects with a simple click, greatly enhancing operational response time and efficiency.
  • Precise Drone Navigation: Direct your drone to specific coordinates with laser accuracy, a feature that significantly boosts operational effectiveness, especially in complex environments.

Live Map Annotations

Discover our new Live Map Annotations feature, designed to offer versatile, customizable annotation tools for enhanced mapping, precise navigation, and improved team collaboration, ensuring efficient and safe mission execution in various operational scenarios. What’s new:

 

  • Versatile Annotation Tools: Users can create diverse annotations - lines, points, polygons - adaptable for various missions, from search and rescue to infrastructure inspections.
  • Customizable Mapping: Annotations can be customized in color, shape, and position, improving the clarity and relevance of operational maps for better planning and execution.
  • Launch Drone to Annotated Locations: Annotate specific areas on the map, set altitudes, and direct drones to these coordinates, enhancing efficiency and safety in complex environments.
  • Enhanced Precision with Range Finder: The integration of the M30s range finder with Live Map Annotations adds precision, crucial for operations requiring spatial awareness and accurate distance measurements.
  • “Face here” functionality: Mark points on the map for the drone to orient towards automatically, useful for focusing on critical areas. This feature, coupled with the M30s range finder, which displays the distance to these marked points, providing you with a comprehensive view of the drone's position and target location.
  • Streamlined Team Collaboration: Live annotations are visible in a dedicated window and on the map, ensuring swift information sharing and synchronization among team members including owners, admins, pilots, and ground teams.

Learn and Explore More

Learn how to effectively utilize these new features by referring to our in-depth guides on Enhanced Map Annotations and Thrustmaster Joystick Integration.

Dive deeper into FlytBase's extensive capabilities by checking out the FlytBase User Manual.

Have questions or feedback on optimizing your autonomous drone operations? Reach out to our team at support@flytbase.com. We're here to guide you every step of the way!

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In the rapidly advancing field of autonomous drone technology, the significance of mission planning and scheduling cannot be overstated. These elements are integral to the effective deployment and operation of drones across various sectors, including agriculture, emergency response, and asset management. Efficient mission planning and scheduling are essential for optimizing the capabilities of drones, thereby maximizing return on investment for enterprises.

FlytBase is a leading company in this sector, committed to addressing the unique challenges faced by enterprises in mission planning and scheduling. With its latest updates—Dynamic Mission Scheduling and Improved Mission Planning—FlytBase aims to offer unparalleled control, flexibility, and efficiency in drone operations. These innovations are designed to transform how enterprises plan and execute drone missions, whether for security surveillance, asset inspection, or other specialized applications.

Dynamic Mission Scheduling: A Game-Changer

The Old vs. The New

Previously, mission scheduling for autonomous drones operated on 15-minute intervals. This limitation often resulted in inefficiencies, such as increased idle time for drones and delayed responsiveness to dynamic situations.

With the latest update from FlytBase, this has been refined to flexible 5-minute scheduling slots. This significant reduction in time intervals allows for more agile mission planning, enabling drones to adapt swiftly to changing conditions or new tasks. The transition from 15-minute to 5-minute intervals represents a substantial advancement, enhancing the ability to conduct timely and consistent surveillance or asset inspections.

Benefits for Enterprises

The introduction of flexible 5-minute scheduling slots brings forth several advantages that are crucial for optimizing drone operations.

  1.  Faster Responsiveness to Dynamic Situation: One of the most significant benefits is the ability for quicker adaptation to changing conditions. Whether it's an unexpected security breach or a sudden need for asset inspection, the reduced time intervals allow for immediate action, minimizing delays and enhancing operational effectiveness.

  2. Enhanced Efficiency and Reduced Idle Time for Drones: Another advantage is the drastic reduction in drone idle time. By allowing for scheduling at 5-minute intervals, drones can be deployed more frequently, thereby maximizing their utility. This leads to improved overall mission efficiency and quicker task completion, which is vital for any operation requiring precision and timeliness.

Real-world Applications

The advancements in Dynamic Mission Scheduling are not just theoretical improvements; they have practical implications that can be readily observed in various operational contexts.

Security Patrols

The flexible 5-minute scheduling slots are particularly beneficial for security patrols. In environments where security is a constant concern, the ability to deploy drones at shorter intervals ensures more frequent surveillance. This leads to a more robust security posture, as drones can be quickly dispatched to investigate any unusual activity, thereby enhancing situational awareness and response times.

Regular Asset Inspections

For industries that require regular inspections of assets—be it infrastructure, machinery, or natural resources—the new scheduling flexibility is invaluable. The reduced time intervals allow for more thorough and regular inspections, ensuring that any changes or anomalies are detected promptly. This is crucial for preventive maintenance and timely interventions, which can mitigate risks and prevent costly downtimes.

Improved Mission Planning: Customization at its Best

FlytBase's latest updates go beyond scheduling; they extend into the realm of mission planning, offering a range of features designed to provide maximum customization and control.

User-Friendly Interface

The first thing users will notice is the revamped User Interface (UI). This transformation not only modernizes the look but also incorporates intuitive design elements, making navigation and interaction smoother than ever before.

Custom WPML Flow

For those who require mission adjustments, the new WPML flow allows for easy import and modification of WPML files. This feature provides an added layer of flexibility for mission customization.

Altitude Precision

When it comes to altitude settings, users now have the option to choose between "Above Sea Level (ASL)" and "Above Ground Level (AGL)" modes. This ensures greater accuracy and precision in mission planning.

Takeoff Altitudes

The update also offers flexibility in takeoff strategies. Users can choose between "Launch" or "Safe Take-off" modes, allowing for a more tailored start to each mission.

Advanced Waypoint Types

The new features include advanced waypoint types, enabling users to define drone navigation through modes like linear paths, transit before waypoints, curved paths, or controlled radii.

Yaw Control

For enhanced control over drone heading, options such as "Along Route," "Lock Yaw Axis," or "Manual" modes are now available.

Payload Configuration

The update allows for seamless payload configuration, offering options like Zoom, Wide, or IR mode, either at the route level or specific waypoint level.

New Mission Finish Actions

Previously limited to "Return to docking station," users can now choose from "Exit mission and hover" and "Go to the first waypoint and hover," providing added flexibility in concluding missions.

Grid Mission Optimization

For grid missions, the update allows for image capture intervals as brief as 1 second, effectively doubling efficiency compared to the previous 3-second minimum.

Excited and Want to Know More?

If the features and benefits of FlytBase's latest updates in Dynamic Mission Scheduling and Improved Mission Planning have piqued your interest, there are several ways to delve deeper into these advancements.

How to Access Comprehensive Guides and User Manuals

For those looking for a more in-depth understanding, comprehensive guides and user manuals are available. These resources provide detailed explanations, step-by-step instructions, and best practices to help you make the most out of these new features.

Information on Previous Updates and How to Stay Updated

If you're interested in the evolutionary journey of FlytBase's offerings, information on previous updates is readily accessible. To stay abreast of future updates and enhancements, consider subscribing to newsletters or following FlytBase on social media platforms.

Conclusion

FlytBase's latest updates in Dynamic Mission Scheduling and Improved Mission Planning are more than just incremental changes; they represent a transformative approach to how missions are planned and executed. With features designed for flexibility, efficiency, and customization, FlytBase is setting new standards in the field of autonomous drone operations. Whether it's adapting to dynamic situations, optimizing drone utility, or tailoring missions to specific needs, these updates are designed to empower users to achieve their operational objectives more effectively.

If you have any questions or require further clarification on any of these groundbreaking features, don't hesitate to reach out for support. Contact support@flytbase.com for all your queries, and take the first step towards optimizing your drone operations today.

Additional Resources

For those interested in diving deeper into the functionalities and features offered by FlytBase, the following resources are invaluable:

FlytBase User Manual

For a comprehensive understanding of all features, including the latest updates, refer to the FlytBase User Manual.

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The Growing Challenges in the Solar Industry

The solar industry is booming, with a 45% rise in global solar installations in 2022 alone. However, this rapid expansion brings its own set of challenges. Labor shortages, cost pressures, and the need for greater transparency are just a few of the hurdles that solar companies face today. Traditional methods of managing solar farms, such as manual inspections and data collection, are becoming increasingly inefficient and costly.

Consider the time and resources spent on manual inspections. A company like AfterFIT in Tokyo reduced their inspection time from 3 hours to under 10 minutes by using drones. The manual approach not only drains resources but also exposes workers to potential hazards. Moreover, human errors can lead to inaccurate data collection, which can have severe consequences, including reduced power generation and even safety hazards.

The Rise of Autonomous Drones and Data Analytics

The Role of Drones in Solar Industry

Drones are revolutionizing the solar industry by aiding in every stage of a solar plant's life cycle—from planning and construction to maintenance. They can perform tasks like topographic surveys, 3D mapping, and even thermal imaging to detect hotspots in solar panels. On average, drones have expedited data collection by 70% compared to manual methods, all while maintaining high accuracy.

Key Components and Benefits of Autonomous Drone Operations

Autonomous drones take this a step further by eliminating the need for human intervention in data collection. These drones are equipped with advanced software platforms like FlytBase, which ensures safe flight operations, data security, and regulatory compliance. Hardware components like the DJI Dock allow these drones to operate autonomously, following predefined routes and returning to the docking station without human intervention.

Key Benefits Include:

  • 24/7 Availability: Operates round the clock, ensuring continuous data collection.
  • Cost Savings: Reduces travel costs and optimizes resource utilization.
  • Reduced Human Risk: Minimizes risks associated with manual piloting.

Integrating Data Analytics for Comprehensive Insights

Data analytics platforms like Above’s SolarGain can be seamlessly integrated with autonomous drone technology. These platforms utilize machine learning to provide real-time situational awareness and detailed plant status reports. This digitalization offers a single source of truth for solar plant health, supports digitalized workflows, and enables a data-informed approach for better decision-making.

The Way Ahead

The most effective way to adopt this technology is through a phased approach. Start by deploying drones at one or a few sites to establish standard operating procedures and build a strong safety record. This sets the stage for a seamless transition to end-to-end automation and efficient solar energy management.

Conclusion

The future of the solar industry lies in automation and digitalization. Autonomous drones and data analytics platforms are not just a technological advancement; they are a necessity for solar companies aiming to stay competitive in this fast-growing market. By adopting these technologies, companies can significantly improve efficiency, reduce costs, and most importantly, contribute more effectively to the global shift towards cleaner energy.

Are you ready to take your solar operations to the next level? Don't miss out on the comprehensive guide that dives deep into the transformative power of autonomous drones and data analytics in the solar industry.

Download the Whitepaper: Navigating the Future of Solar with Autonomous Drones and Data Analytics

For more information, visit FlytBase and Above Surveying.

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In the modern drone ecosystem, BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) operations represent the next frontier of possibilities. These operations allow drones to travel distances beyond the operator's direct vision, unlocking potential in industries like agriculture, logistics, surveillance, and more. However, automating BVLOS operations requires not just advanced drones but also sophisticated management platforms. This is where FlytBase and DJI's FlightHub 2 come into play, especially with their compatibility with the DJI dock.

The DJI dock integration is a game-changer, enabling automated drone charging, data transfer, and mission planning. With both FlytBase and FlightHub 2 offering compatibility with this dock, enterprises are presented with a pivotal decision: Which platform will best optimize their BVLOS operations?

This article aims to demystify this choice. We'll delve deep into both platforms, comparing their features, and drawing insights from genuine user feedback, all with a focus on maximizing the benefits of DJI dock integration.

FlytBase: Product Overview

FlytBase emerged as a leading enterprise drone autonomy software, tailored to automate and optimize drone operations. Its compatibility with the DJI dock underscores its commitment to facilitating seamless BVLOS operations.

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FlytBase: Key Features

  1. BVLOS-Ready Operations: With regulatory approvals in its arsenal, FlytBase ensures enterprises can confidently undertake extended drone operations.
  2. Open Integration: A flexible platform, FlytBase supports robust API and third-party app integrations, catering to diverse enterprise needs.
  3. Data Security: GDPR compliance and ISO 27001 certification ensure that data integrity and security are paramount.
  4. Operational Excellence: From live HD/thermal feeds to ERP and VMS integrations, FlytBase offers a comprehensive suite for varied enterprise needs.
  5. DJI Dock Compatibility: Seamless integration with DJI dock facilitates automated charging, data transfer, and mission planning, enhancing operational efficiency.

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FlytBase: User Review

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FlytBase: Pricing Plans

For detailed pricing information reach out here: https://www.flytbase.com/contact

FlightHub 2: Product Overview

DJI's FlightHub 2 is not just another drone management solution. It's a comprehensive cloud-based platform designed to provide real-time insights for drone missions. Its compatibility with the DJI dock makes it a formidable choice for enterprises aiming for streamlined BVLOS operations.

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FlightHub 2: Key Features

  1. Real-time Situational Awareness: Features like 2.5D Base Map and One-Tap Panorama Sync ensure enterprises always have a bird's-eye view of their operations.
  2. Cloud Power: With Cloud Mapping and Unified Management, FlightHub 2 leverages the cloud's prowess for enhanced operational insights.
  3. Data Security: Hosted on AWS and compliant with ISO/IEC 27001, FlightHub 2 ensures data remains protected and secure.
  4. Operational Suite: From Mission Live Streaming to Ground-to-Cloud Synergy, FlightHub 2 offers a range of features to optimize drone operations.
  5. DJI Dock Integration: FlightHub 2's seamless integration with DJI dock ensures automated drone operations, from charging to mission execution, are a breeze.

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Flighthub 2: Pricing Plans

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FlytBase vs FlightHub 2: Key Differentiators

Let's delve into the primary areas where FlytBase and FlightHub 2 diverge.

  1. BVLOS Operations and Integration:

    • FlytBase: Puts a strong emphasis on its BVLOS-ready capabilities, highlighting its regulatory approvals. Its open platform approach with APIs and third-party app integration capabilities makes it stand out for enterprises looking for flexibility.
    • FlightHub 2: While it also supports BVLOS operations, its strength lies in providing comprehensive real-time situational awareness. The platform doesn't emphasize third-party integrations as much but offers a rich set of built-in features.
  2. User Experience and Interface:

    • FlytBase: Offers a streamlined interface tailored for ease of use, making it intuitive for users to navigate and manage drone operations.
    • FlightHub 2: Provides a more detailed dashboard, focusing on in-depth insights and comprehensive drone mission management. This might come across as more complex for some users, especially those new to drone operations.
  3. Data Security and Compliance:

    • FlytBase: Prioritizes data security with multiple layers of protection, including GDPR compliance and ISO 27001 certification, ensuring data integrity and security.
    • FlightHub 2: While it also emphasizes data security, its hosting on Amazon Web Services with ISO/IEC 27001 security certifications is its unique selling point.
  4. Operational Features and DJI Dock Compatibility:

    • FlytBase: Apart from its core features like live HD/thermal drone feeds, its compatibility with DJI dock ensures seamless integration for automated BVLOS operations.
    • FlightHub 2: While it also integrates seamlessly with DJI dock, it offers additional features like 2.5D Base Map and Cloud Mapping, enhancing the operational experience.

By understanding these key differentiators, enterprises can make an informed decision based on their specific needs and operational priorities.

Conclusion - FlytBase vs FlightHub 2

Every decision in the realm of drone operations should be rooted in your enterprise's specific requirements and objectives. It's crucial to align your choice with your operational needs and future goals.

FlytBase distinctly shines with its BVLOS-ready capabilities and its open integration approach. Its emphasis on regulatory approvals and flexibility in third-party integrations makes it a top choice for enterprises that value adaptability and a hands-on approach to drone operations. Moreover, its robust data security measures ensure that enterprises can operate with peace of mind.

FlightHub 2, on the other hand, excels in providing real-time situational awareness and a comprehensive suite of built-in features. It's tailored for those who prioritize in-depth insights and a holistic view of their drone missions.

While both platforms offer commendable features and DJI dock compatibility, FlytBase might have a slight edge for those who prioritize flexibility and BVLOS operations. However, if you're looking to explore further, there might be other platforms in the market that cater to niche drone operational needs.

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In the rapidly evolving landscape of drone operations, one of the most significant challenges is navigating beyond the line of sight (BVLOS). Operating BVLOS opens up endless possibilities for industries, but it also brings a host of crucial considerations to the forefront. Flight safety and risk mitigation take utmost importance among these considerations, as the safety of people, property, and the uncrewed aircraft itself is paramount.

Currently, most BVLOS operations require the presence of a vigilant visual observer (VO) who diligently scans the skies for potential obstacles and hazards. If they come across one, they must immediately notify the remote pilot in command to abort the drone's current mission. Therefore, it goes without saying how dangerous any form of communication lapse can be.

The Role of Visual Observers in BVLOS Flights

Before delving into the specifics of the various types and Detect and Avoid (DAA) technologies available, we must first understand the role of visual observers and why they are required. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States specifies the operational requirements that must be met before flying unmanned aircraft systems. There is a requirement for a visual observer to perform the following roles for all drone operations that do not have a Part 107.33 waiver.

However, this human-centric approach can be both resource-intensive and limited in terms of continuous monitoring. There could be objects in the area of the drone operation, such as a small non-cooperative paraglider with no engine noise. It may be difficult for a human to accurately identify that and notify the remote pilot-in-command (PIC).

The Solution: AI-powered Detect & Avoid Technology

Detect and avoid (DAA) system enables operators to sense and avoid other aircraft and obstacles autonomously. These systems use sensors, such as radar, acoustic, and visual, to detect and avoid obstacles in the airspace. With DAA technology, drones can operate safely beyond visual line of sight, expanding their range of capabilities and applications.

Types of DAA Systems

There are several types of DAA systems, including radar, acoustic, and optical systems. Each of these systems has its own set of pros and cons, and the choice of system depends on the specific requirements of the drone operation.

Casia G: Iris Automation’s Ground-Based Detect and Alert System

Based on optical vision, Casia G is a ground-based surveillance system from Iris Automation to continuously monitor airspace and ensure UAS operations are safe from intruder aircraft. The sensors employ Iris' patented AI and computer vision technology to provide a full optical, 360° field of view for detecting and alerting to any cooperative or non-cooperative aircraft within a 2 km radius of the sensor's location.

Integration with FlytBase for Safe Remote Drone Operations

By integrating with the Casia G system, the FlytBasedashboard provides real-time data on intrusive aircraft, including type, live telemetry, and location on the map. Remote drone operators can monitor the status and radius of the Casia G sensor and receive immediate alerts if unauthorized aircraft are detected within their operating area.

BVLOS Approvals with Detect and Avoid Systems

The FAA has introduced a smart approach by incorporating "shielding" into their waivers, acknowledging that flying within 50 feet of the ground or a structure is likely safer for other aircraft. To achieve true BVLOS flights, the FAA requires some form of detect and avoid system, whether cooperative or non-cooperative, integrated into the operations.

The Way Ahead

While human visual observers remain important, technological solutions offer scalability and significant advantages. These solutions should be seen as tactical mitigation measures complementing other safety protocols. Cameras, sensors, and advanced safety technologies provide higher accuracy, continuous monitoring, and real-time responses, enhancing the safety of drone operations and opening doors to more advanced applications in the future.

Continued innovation and advancement in DAA technology are going to be essential for handling complex situations effectively and mitigating risks and safely integrating drones into the world’s third dimension.

Conclusion

The future of drone navigation is here, and it's called Detect and Avoid (DAA) systems. These systems, powered by AI and advanced sensor technology, are revolutionizing the way drones operate, especially in BVLOS operations. As we continue to innovate and advance in this field, we can expect to see safer, more efficient, and more scalable drone operations in the near future.

Read the Full Article Here: https://www.flytbase.com/blog/detect-and-avoid-technology

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The release of the DJI Dock, DJI's first drone-in-a-box solution, is indeed a significant breakthrough for the drone industry. It moves us not just one step closer to complete autonomy in drone operations, but also opens up new opportunities for various applications that were not feasible up until now.

Over 2300 DJI Docks have been shipped in less than six months. Doesn't this kind of demand easily demonstrate the expanding opportunities in drone autonomy?

Before we get started, a quick heads up.

We’ve designed this blog to serve as a useful resource for enterprises and drone teams looking to start or enhance their current drone programs. We will delve into the features, applications, and best practices of using the DJI Dock.

Also, we look at factors you should consider before buying the DJI Dock so that you can maximize your operations.

Let’s start with the basics - Key features of the DJI Dock

Drone docking stations have this superpower - they can function unsupervised outdoors for extended periods of time while refueling the drone’s batteries autonomously with minimal downtime - just like how an oasis works! :D 

Let’s have a look at what a drone dock, particularly the DJI Dock can bring in:

  • Autonomous drone operations: DJI Dock enables drone operations autonomously, significantly reducing human intervention and allowing for more efficient use of resources. Flight missions and routes can be scheduled in advance ensuring that drones are deployed at the right time and place for maximum efficiency.

  • Smart charging and quick turnaround: DJI Dock features fast charging capabilities and battery cooling system, ensuring that drones are charged quickly and ready for their next mission. It can charge from 10% to 90% in approximately 25 minutes.
Smart charging with DJI Dock
Smart charging with DJI Dock

  • Automatic maintenance checks: The DJI Dock, which weighs a reasonable 90kg, is extremely simple to set up, requiring basic components such as a power source and an internet connection and a few minutes to configure. The system also performs automatic inspections to detect potential faults and ensure that drones are in optimal flight circumstances.

  • Wide coverage with real-time monitoring: The M30 Dock version drone has an operational radius of 7 kilometers and a flight time of 40 minutes per mission while allowing the docking station to monitor drone operations in real time.

Now let’s look at site requirements - What to consider before deploying the DJI Dock

To make the most of the DJI Dock, it is important to consider certain site requirements and follow best practices. We've highlighted some preparations that one should make prior to deployment to ensure the dock’s optimal performance:

DJI Dock Setup
DJI Dock Setup

  • Power Availability - One of the most important factors to keep in mind is the availability of uninterrupted power supply. A suitable location for consistent power supply with few outages. Power grounding, surge protection, and cable considerations are all beneficial if done ahead of time. The ideal power supply range is a single-phase AC with a power greater than 1.5kW and a voltage between 90 V and 264 V AC.

  • Geographical Features -The site's terrain and topography also play a crucial role in the deployment of the dock. It is done to ensure that the dock is protected against any harm including those like floods. A flat, wide region with a clear line of sight to the sky and an elevation of 4000 meters or less is ideal to minimize all types of impediments. Another consideration is that the location is not prone to water buildup or illumination. To increase safety, a clear backup landing spot 5 to 500 meters away at the same height as the DJI dock is recommended.

  • Zero Signal Interference - At all costs, any single source of signal occlusion or interference on the site must be avoided. There must be no visible signal shield within a 25-degree ground altitude angle. If any environmental measures or satellite data collecting is required, the M30 series can be utilized.

  • Security and Civil Work - Last but not least, some civil work will be required to correctly mount or position the DJI dock at the site. These may involve, for example, placing the dock on a steel base to prevent damage due to flooding. Grounding is necessary to secure the system as well as the user. Physical and digital security measures, such as firewalls, should be included in terms of security.

Let’s also explore industrial inspection applications & case studies

The repeat inspection capabilities provided by drone-in-a-box systems have undoubtedly brought significant improvements to the efficiency, safety, and scalability of operations and maintenance processes for assets.

Case Study: Occidental Petroleum

Occidental Petroleum, known as Oxy, one of the largest oil and gas producers in the United States, was quick to recognize the potential of autonomous drone operations and the use of AI for monitoring assets.

In an article by BIC magazine titled "Fully autonomous drones: The next step for oil and gas," published back in 2020, it highlights the substantial impact drones have made on the industry. Waller and his team at Oxy explain how the adoption of drones has significantly reduced task completion time.

What used to take them two to two-and-a-half hours can now be accomplished in just 30-45 minutes. This improvement not only enhanced efficiency but also contributed to environmental benefits by minimizing emissions released during the process.

Oxy intended to focus on integrating drone autonomy with processes that detect anomalies and automate tasks to further optimize return on investment (ROI). And they've been doing just that with DJI Dock.

The use of DJI Dock has not only increased inspection efficiency, but has also allowed Oxy to address potential issues ahead of time, preventing them from escalating into major issues. Furthermore, the dock allows for on-demand inspections in critical situations, allowing for quick access to critical information.

Case Study: BNSF Railways

BNSF, one of North America's largest freight railroad networks, has been utilizing drone technology since 2015 to address disruptions to rail traffic. Initially deployed during heavy rains near Valley View, Texas, drones proved invaluable in assessing track conditions. 

Over time, BNSF has continued to enhance their drone capabilities. Recently they have been leveraging the latest drone-in-a-box technology particularly, the DJI Dock to enable rapid response and repeated visual data collection missions.

By utilizing the dock, BNSF can swiftly respond to incidents such as train derailments or spills, allowing for quick assessment and appropriate action. For instance, in scenarios like a rock slide, the dock enables faster information gathering, helping BNSF clear tracks or allocate resources more efficiently, ultimately saving critical time.

Case Study - Jilin National Grid

Power grid inspections are critical for maintaining the reliable delivery of electricity to consumers. It is even more crucial in regions subjected to extreme temperatures, where the grid's functionality can be challenged by extreme harsh weather. Conventionally, these inspections involve technicians manually surveying the grid, a process that is fraught with risk and physical danger in such severe environments.

An illustrative case of this is observed during winter in northeastern China at the Jilin National Grid. This region experiences extraordinarily harsh winters, with temperatures plummeting to as low as -20 degrees Celsius.

The crew responsible for inspections under these extreme conditions was continually at risk. Frostbite and snow blindness were real and serious threats, significantly jeopardizing not only their safety but also their capacity to carry out inspections effectively.

Power grid inspections with DJI Dock
Power grid inspections with DJI Dock

Faced with these challenges, the company decided to leverage technology to conduct inspections in conditions that were too perilous for human involvement. They chose the DJI Dock, a solution well-suited for remote operations in challenging environments.

Post-deployment, the DJI Dock proved instrumental in performing operations and maintenance checks of substations and connecting lines, all controlled from a center situated 60 kilometers away from the inspection site. This meant that the personnel could conduct detailed and rigorous inspections from the safety and warmth of the control center, negating the need to brave the harsh conditions.

Unlocking the full potential of DJI Dock - powering these applications with FlytNow

FlytNow is an enterprise BVLOS ready, scalable software solution for remote drone operations and works with a range of hardware options, including the DJI M30 Series and the DJI Dock. The solution is designed to be modular supporting integrations that make it suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including inspection, surveillance, operations & maintenance.

FlytNow Compatibility with DJI Dock
FlytNow Compatibility with DJI Dock

Why FlytNow?

  1. Built for enterprise users: As a scalable enterprise-grade software solution, FlytNow enables users to manage a fleet of drones and docking stations. Its cloud platform is highly reliable with redundant nodes for each operation. The system monitors drones and dock through independent, parallel systems.

    FlytNow has been built with a number of safety and fail-safe features to ensure the highest levels of operational safety at all times.In the event of a low battery, RC link loss, LTE link loss, weather changes among others.

    FlytNow also offers flexible deployment options to suit the varying needs of enterprises be it private cloud or on-premise.

  1. Designed for BVLOS operations: FlytNow let users fly drones beyond-visual-line-of-sight with complete peace of mind. With an array of safety features, several software & hardware integrations, FlytNow is designed to operate with minimal human involvement.

    Regulatory bodies such as the FAA, BCAA, JCAB, CAAM, ANAC, and GCAA have granted our customers & partners waivers and approvals to conduct BVLOS drone operations with FlytNow.

    With advanced safety features such as No-Fly-Zones (NFZ) with dynamic path planner, geofence enforcements and corridor fly zones built-in the app, FlytNow ensures remote safe operations.

  1. Supercharged by Apps & Integrations: FlytNow provides easy API access and integrations for businesses to build custom applications on top of the platform. Users can extend functionality for dock deployment use-cases to provide customers with valuable data analytics and business insights.

    It also offers comprehensive software and hardware integrations to facilitate large scale BVLOS operations such as parachutes, detect and avoid systems, ADS-B, UTMs among others.
  1. Architected to be Hardware Agnostic:  FlytNow supports a wide range of hardware, including 16 docking stations from DJI, IDIPLOYER Nexus, Heisha and Hextronics, to name a few.

    To minimize downtime, users can select the appropriate docking station - be it battery charging or swapping, ranging from compact options for smaller drones to larger stations for long-range operations. Operators also have the flexibility to extend their drone's capabilities by attaching payloads such as thermal cameras, specialized mapping cameras, loudspeakers, beacons, or even parachutes for compliance.

What lies ahead?

Looking at the features of the DJI Dock and the numerous benefits that it provides, the applications for which it can be used are limitless.

Furthermore, DJI's integration with FlytNow truly makes it a robust solution, one in which security and efficiency are guaranteed. Along with that, the system is developed to meet the needs of the customer and create a full-stack solution that is appropriate for the enterprise's needs.

FAQs:

Q1: Are there any alternatives to the DJI Dock?

Yes, you can have look over to this guide below about the 10-best DJI-compatible drone docking stations.

Q2: Where can I buy the DJI Dock?

You can purchase the DJI Dock through authorized DJI dealers and resellers. Need help? Reach out here.

Q3: What are the differences between the various models of DJI Dock?

DJI has only released one DJI Dock model so far, which supports the DJI M30 and DJI M30T (Thermal camera) drone models. Please keep in mind that the M30 series comes in two flavors: regular and dock. The M30 dock version is compatible with the DJI Dock because it includes a charging interface and charging management module at the landing gear.

Q4: What Drones are compatible with DJI Dock?

The M30 dock version drone is compatible with the DJI Dock.

Q5: Can DJI Dock charge multiple batteries at once?

The M30 drone has dual batteries which the dock charges upon landing. No additional batteries can be charged in the DJI Dock.

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Drone technology has undeniably transformed the traditional approach to industrial inspections, making them an essential part of their maintenance procedures. Traditional inspection methods, such as scaling cell towers, wind turbines, or scaffolding to examine industrial boilers, are being phased out in favor of drone inspections. Service providers can easily capture all necessary visual data without compromising inspector safety.

Autonomous drone technology has made this process even more simpler & cost-effective. With the help of drone-in–a-box systems, companies can now perform inspections in hard-to-reach areas without the need for specialized personnel to be on site. By a simple push of a button, energy companies can gather accurate information from remote locations, such as gas facilities, solar farms, and remote oil fields.

In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of using autonomous drone technology in industrial inspections, using case studies and insights shared at a NestGen'23 session by industry experts Kevin Toderel from RMUS Canada and Grant Hosticka from DJI, North America.

Phased Approach for Autonomous Drone Operations

To ensure regulatory compliance and operational safety, Kevin recommends a phased approach to drone implementation for industrial inspections. The approach involves a step-by-step progression in terms of removing human intervention and increasing automation in drone operations. The framework can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each project and it has proven to be effective, particularly in Canada. The four phases of this approach are as follows:

  1. Licensed Pilot with a RC and Visual Observer (VO): In the first phase, the drone operation starts with a licensed pilot operating the drone via RC while also acting as a visual observer. This requires no specific licensing and counts as a regular flight. The only difference between this and a regular flight is that the pilot will be operating through the dock, but will essentially be ready to take control with the RC in the event of an emergency.

  2. Dock and Software with VO having Return-to-Home Functionality: The pilot is removed from the drone operation in the second phase, and the drone is piloted remotely using cloud-based software. However, this operation remains within the visual line of sight since a visual observer (VO) is present on the site with a return-to-home functionality to take control of the drone in case of an emergency.

  3. Dock and Software with Complete Autonomy within VLOS: In the third phase, the drone operations are completely autonomous and the dock and the drone are remotely controlled from the command center without a licensed pilot or a VO on site. These operations however are conducted within the visual range and will test the ability of the drone to navigate on its own.

  4. Dock and Software for Fully BVLOS Ops: Drone operations extend beyond the range specified in phase 3 in the final phase, necessitating a waiver from the regulatory authority of the operating geography. These operations require the use of technology such as Detect and Avoid, UTMs, and others.

Applications of Drones in the Energy Industry

Let's take a closer look at some of the applications in the power generation industry where autonomous drone operations can generate value or make the most sense: 

Drones in Solar Farm Inspection

The solar industry is constantly looking for ways to streamline solar panel maintenance and reduce the time required for upkeep. A potential answer to this problem is the use of drones. Autonomous operations can make the process more efficient, allowing for faster and more accurate inspection.

"Maintenance personnel still spend far too much time looking for problems rather than maintaining equipment," Kevin points out, "and this is where autonomy and AI applications will provide the most bang for the buck."

The drones can be programmed to autonomously take off from their docks at a scheduled time, follow specific flight paths, capturing images of the solar panels from different angles. The images are then analyzed using AI algorithms to identify any faults or issues, such as damaged panels or vegetation growth. This information is relayed in real time to maintenance teams, who can then prioritize their efforts accordingly. 

Additionally, the same system can be used to track the progress of the solar farm's construction process and conduct security patrols. Designers can identify and correct any issues that may arise during the construction phase. Furthermore, the construction process can be made more transparent by providing regular updates to stakeholders.

Drones in Wind Turbines

The wind energy industry has long recognized the value of UAVs for blade inspections.

Even if you do not consider fully autonomous blade inspections, there are countless applications for drone technology in wind farms, especially if the drone is ready to be deployed at all times. 

One of the most significant advantages of using autonomous drone systems for wind turbine inspections is the ability to perform predictive maintenance and servicing. By regularly inspecting wind turbines, energy companies can detect damages and defects before they become severe, reducing the risk of downtime and increasing the lifespan of the turbine.

Kevin highlights, “Operators often have to suspend maintenance if they suspect there’s ice on the blades. One of the biggest use-case for drone-in-a-box automated operations would be to send drones to check if there is ice on the blades and whether it is safe for the team to go up for inspections.”

Drones for Inspecting Dam Spillways

The use of autonomous drone systems in detecting and responding to dam spillways has been gaining traction in recent years. Energy companies can reduce the risk of personnel injury by monitoring and inspecting the dam spillway from a safe distance.

Kevin shares an account about how they received a BVLOS waiver to conduct drone operations after a fatality occurred during a flood caused by dam water release. Before releasing the water, autonomous drones can perform a quick inspection of the spillway.

He emphasizes that each use-case has its own set of technical requirements. Considerations like whether the drone is below grade or whether an LTE or RF connection is necessary had to be made in the case of the dam spillways.

Drones for Inspecting Site Security

One of the most common use-case of autonomous drone systems is for site security and the power generation industry is no exception. Kevin mentions a case wherein the asset owner had to unfortunately experience an act of vandalism that caused extensive damage to the infrastructure. The damage caused by the vandalism totaled around four million dollars. If there were to be a drone docking station to monitor this frequently and mitigate this, the ROI from installing it would be immediately achieved.

Kevin was able to easily schedule repetitive perimeter patrol missions with high frequency using DJI Dock, even at temperatures ranging from 0 to 6 degrees. Furthermore, with software solutions such as FlytNow, motion detection sensors or existing security systems to trigger drone deployment based on alarms can be easily integrated.  Drone-in-a-box system for site security helps in reducing liability, avoiding repairs, downtime and property loss, making it a critical use case for a wide range of assets.

What Lies Ahead

Implementing autonomous drone operations in industries like power generation could present several challenges such as navigating the complex regulatory frameworks, technical development, and partnerships with third-party providers. Kevin emphasizes that, in order to address regulatory challenges, industry players collaborate with regulatory bodies and use phased approaches to build trust over time.

Technical challenges are addressed through R&D investments and collaborations with third-party providers to integrate complementary technologies. Partnership challenges are addressed by developing integrated solutions through open APIs and software development kits. Through these solutions, the benefits of autonomous drone operations can be realized while ensuring safety and regulatory compliance.

He concludes the session by stating the importance to remember that there is “no one-size-fits-all” solution in the drone industry. Different use cases will require different sensors and aircraft, and there will be a variety of hardware and software options available to meet these needs.

When considering partners for proof of concept projects, it's important to find a partner who can take a holistic approach to the project, considering all aspects of the drone solution from regulatory engagement to data hosting and security. With the right partners and solutions in place, drone-in-a-box systems have the potential to greatly improve efficiency, safety, and security across a wide range of industries.

Read more…

Top Features of DJI Dock (Drone-in-a-box)

Drones have rapidly transitioned from being just recreational toys to becoming essential tools across various industries. Their versatility and range of applications have made them crucial in everything from search and rescue missions to agriculture. In recent years, advancements in drone technology have made drone operations safer and more efficient for pilots.

During the NestGen'23 keynote, Freda Peng, DJI Global Solutions Engineering Director, emphasized the importance of drone autonomy and its potential to revolutionize industries such as delivery and search and rescue. In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the exciting advancements made by DJI and how they are transforming the way we live and work.

DJI Keynote at NestGen'23

The DJI Dock

As the first drone-in-a-box solution offered by DJI, the introduction of DJI Dock has been a game changer for the industry and a significant step towards achieving true autonomy in drone operations. Companies looking to establish or expand their drone programs can reduce the learning curve by using the DJI Dock, which allows them to perform fully automated drone operations remotely.

DJI Dock

One of the keyfeatures of the DJI Dockis its ability to operate unattended outdoors for extended periods. To accomplish this, DJI engineers implemented a variety of waterproof and dustproof designs that were rigorously tested to achieve the IP55 protection rating. Furthermore, the DJI Dock was subjected to reliability tests to ensure its ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions.

DJI Dock Durability Test

To ensure the DJI Dock operates smoothly in varying environments, terrains, and industries, it underwent beta tests in more than 50 sites. The dock was officially shipped to selected end-users in China once the success rate of these tests was confirmed. It is worth nothing that over 600 DJI Docks have been shipped in less than 3 months, indicating the high demand for this product.

DJI Dock at DJI headquarters China

DJI plans to start dock shipment to international markets in Q2 2023. This move is expected to further boost the popularity of the DJI Dock and improve the overall efficiency of drone operations worldwide.

Top Features of DJI Dock

Automated Drone Deployment

DJI Dock enables automated drone deployment, significantly reducing human intervention and allowing for more efficient use of resources.

  • Scheduled Ops: Users can pre-program flight schedules and routes, ensuring that drones are deployed at the right time and place for maximum efficiency.
  • Incident Response: DJI Dock's automated deployment allows drones to respond rapidly to emergency situations, minimizing response time and maximizing the effectiveness of rescue and recovery efforts.

Drone Charging and Maintenance

DJI Dock offers an integrated charging and maintenance solution to keep drones operational and minimize downtime.

  • Fast Charging: DJI Dock features fast charging capabilities, ensuring that drones are charged quickly and ready for their next mission.

  • Automatic Maintenance Checks: The system performs automatic maintenance checks, detecting potential issues and ensuring that drones are in optimal condition for flight.

Data Collection and Analysis

DJI Dock is equipped with advanced data collection and analysis features that enable organizations to make informed decisions based on real-time information and AI-based insights.

  • Real-Time Monitoring: DJI Dock allows for real-time monitoring of drone operations, providing users with live data and video feeds to ensure missions are executed efficiently and effectively.

  • AI-Based Insights: The system leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data collected during drone flights, offering valuable insights that can help organizations make data-driven decisions and optimize their operations.

Scalability and Integration

DJI Dock is designed to be adaptable and flexible, allowing organizations to scale their drone operations and integrate the system with existing infrastructure and workflows.

  • Adaptable for Various Applications: The DJI Dock can be customized to accommodate a wide range of applications, such as emergency response, infrastructure inspection, agriculture, and environmental monitoring.

  • Integration with Existing Systems: The solution can be seamlessly integrated with existing systems and workflows, enabling organizations to maximize the benefits of drone technology without disrupting their current operations.

Case Study 1: Determining ROI of the DJI Dock for Solar Inspections

Drones are increasingly being used in the solar sector to aid in every stage of a plant's life cycle, from planning to maintenance. They can assist in topographic surveys during planning, monitor construction progress, conduct commissioning inspections, and perform routine asset inspections for operations & maintenance.

Thermal sensors on drones can detect issues such as hotspots in cells, panels, or strings, while AI can improve the layout of solar fields by considering factors such as transmission lines, shadows from vegetation, and landscape slope. Here is one more case study on BVLOS Inspections of Solar Farms Using Modular Drone Docks in Japan

DJI Dock case study for solar inspection

Introducing autonomy into the equation instantly elevates the entire operation. With the DJI Dock, operators can now double their efficiency and speed in no-time. DJI uses the following scenarios to demonstrate the cost savings of using DJI Dock in the solar industry:

Scenario 1: No Inspections at all

Doing no inspections at all could result in reduced power generation, which could end up costing up to 140K USD per year. This is because undetected faults or damages could cause equipment failure or even safety hazards.

Scenario 2: Manual Inspections

Getting a service team to walk around the site and do manual inspections could cost around 120K USD per year. Moreover, manual inspections can be time-consuming, labor-intensive, and prone to human error.

Scenario 3: Automated Drone-in-a-Box based Inspections

DJI Dock hardware and deployment, plus a 3rd-party operations & analysis software, would cost around 45K USD. While this may seem like a significant investment, it can provide long-term benefits in terms of increased efficiency, accuracy, and safety.

The solar inspection system developed by third party software developers such as SNEGrid enables processing drone imagery with AI analysis to create accurate reports. This not only saves time and effort but also enables predictive maintenance and optimized performance.

DJI Dock can inspect the solar power plants for a minimum of 12 times per year, and even more if needed. This means that the system can provide regular and timely feedback on the status of the solar PV system, allowing for proactive measures to be taken. Drone autonomy can be a part of the IOT network and create a synergy with other smart devices.

For example, the data collected by drones can be integrated with weather forecasts, energy demand forecasts, and other relevant information to optimize the overall energy management system.

This would enable real-time monitoring and control of the solar PV system, as well as seamless communication among different components.

Determining ROI of the DJI Dock for Solar Inspections

Case Study 2: Power Grid Inspections with DJI Dock

In Jilin, a city in northeastern China, powerline inspection crews from Jilin National Grid are responsible for restoring power after snowstorms. However, with a winter that lasts six months and temperatures plummeting to -20 degrees Celsius, the crews are susceptible to frostbite and snow blindness, which poses significant risks to their safety and effectiveness.

Power Grid Inspections with DJI Dock

To address these challenges, the DJI Dock has been deployed to conduct inspections that are too hazardous for human workers. With just a few clicks, an operator at the operations and maintenance center, located 60 kilometers away from the Dock, can remotely select a Dock device and conduct immediate inspections of substations and connecting lines.

The DJI Dock (powered by FlytNow) offers fully automated drone operations, allowing companies to schedule and plan activities without requiring physical presence at the worksite. This has made inspections more efficient, accurate, and safe, while also reducing labor costs. Furthermore, the data collected by the drones can be integrated with weather and energy demand forecasts to optimize energy management systems.

The successful implementation of the DJI Dock in Jilin demonstrates the potential for drone autonomy to revolutionize power grid inspection and maintenance. Companies can leverage the DJI Dock to prevent equipment malfunction, increase efficiency, and save on labor costs while keeping their workers out of harm's way.

Power Grid Inspections with DJI Dock

DJI’s Collaboration with FlytNow Software Solution

DJI has been working closely with other third-party software solutions, including FlytNow to enable drone operators to easily automate their drone operations. FlytNow is a cloud-based software that allows users to remotely control their DJI drones and automate their drone operations. The solution is designed to be customizable and scalable, making it suitable for use in a wide range of industries, including inspection, surveillance, operations & maintenance.

The key benefits of using a software such as FlytNow includes:

Designed for BVLOS ops

FlytNow’s uniqueness lies in the fact that the software has been designed with long-range Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) operations in mind.

BVLOS-approved

Numerous customers and partners have received waivers to conduct beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operations with FlytNow. This approval has been granted by various regulatory bodies, such as the FAA, EASA, JCAB, CAAM, and GCAA. For instance, afterFIT in Japan received approval for automated drone operations, including night-time flights. Read more: https://dronedj.com/2022/05/27/bvlos-drones-night/

Integrations for BVLOS enablement

FlytNow offers comprehensive software and hardware integrations to facilitate large scale BVLOS operations. These integrations include:

  • Detect and Avoid (DAA) technology like Casia-G, which can detect cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft in your operational environment,
  • ADS-B technology like PingUSB, which provides real-time aircraft status updates,
  • UTM systems such as Altitude Angel and Involi to enhance airspace awareness,
  • Connectivity (5G/LTE) technology like Elsight Halo for uninterrupted communication for remote operations,
  • Parachute Recovery systems like AVSS-PRS and DRS for safe landings during emergencies, among others.
DJI’s Collaboration with FlytNow Software Solution

Built for Enterprise users

FlytNow is backed by advanced collaboration workflows and enterprise-grade security and scalability. Here’s how:

Scalable

FlytNow is a scalable software solution for remote drone operations. It can manage one or multiple drones, as well as one or many docking stations. Its hosting infrastructure and enterprise-grade capabilities ensure uninterrupted drone operations at any scale.

Existing Workflow Integrations

With FlytNow, enterprises can easily integrate their existing security solutions, such as VMS or alarm systems, for a seamless experience. For example, to ensure the clearance of pipeline ROW, third-party alarms that detect mechanical digging or heavy machinery over the pipeline can be integrated with FlytNow. When an intrusion alert is triggered, FlytNow autonomously dispatches a drone to the geolocation of the alert. The drone relays a live HD video feed back to the command center, allowing operators to quickly inspect the asset and respond to the incident.

Alarm integration for DJI Dock

Ensures Operational Safety & Reliability

Operational safety and reliability are crucial for successful autonomous solutions. FlytNow offers numerous checks to detect issues in real-time and activate necessary fail-safes. Its workflows can be configured to make safer decisions by using data and events from multiple layers. For instance, users can set weather failsafes to trigger a "return to home" action, with a dynamically computed route based on UTM data that avoids no-fly zones. In case the drone can't land at the docking station, it would be automatically rerouted to a safe alternate location. 

Failsafe features in FlytNow

FlytNow's architecture addresses several challenges with remote and automated operations, including splitting operational context between edge and cloud systems to enable safe and reliable operations despite sporadic network connectivity.

Secure to its Core

In FlytNow, security is not an afterthought. The software platform is secured by token-based authentication and end-to-end encryption to ensure safe access and use. Designed to comply with industry standards, the platform ensures high availability with 24/7 monitoring and automated incident response systems.

With a reliable hosting infrastructure and functionalities such as access control, SSO sign-in and DDoS protection, FlytNow enables you to conduct your drone operations with a peace of mind.

Architected to be Hardware-Agnostic

FlytNow is designed to support a wide range of hardware, such as 

  • drones including DJI and other custom-built drones on PX4/Ardupilot,
  • over 16 docking stations such as the DJI dock, Heisha Nest Series, Hextronics, IDIPLOYER Nexus, Omnidock, DBOX, Aerieport among others,
  • Payloads such as thermal cameras, loudspeakers, spotlights, parachute systems among others,
DJI Dock powered by FlytNow

Based on the customer requirements, in terms of application or geography, the system-integrators can mix and match appropriate modules and create a full-stack solution that is optimal for the needs of that enterprise.

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Pampa Energía, Argentina's largest independent energy company, specializes in the electricity, oil, and gas value chains. Headquartered in Buenos Aires, it engages in intense oil and gas exploration and production activities. It has a presence in 13 production areas and 5 exploration areas in the most significant basins of the nation. 

Through its power plants, the company has attained the capacity to generate about 5,000 barrels of oil and 9 million cubic meters of gas per day. In addition, it produces 4,970 MW of electricity through wind, hydroelectric, and thermal power plants. Listed on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange (BCBA) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), it thrives on the vision of becoming an emblematic company known for its commitment, growth, and operational excellence.

How Pampa Energía Conducted Thermal Power Station Inspection with Drones

In 2017, Pampa Energía integrated drones into their asset inspection operations and have since expanded to a fleet of nine different drones to assist in their large-scale operations. During inspections, they primarily use the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced and Matrice 200 series drones for photo imaging and analysis.

These drones enable them to quickly cover large areas and capture tens of thousands of photographs, which are then stitched together into an orthomozaic to create an accurate representation of the plant. Pampa Energía conducts three types of inspections:

1. Periodic

Pampa requires periodic inspections of their pipelines, docks, tanks, chimneys, high-voltage towers, boilers, and electric grids, for example, every week. These inspections are crucial to ensure that assets are functioning correctly, as issues like corrosion or lateral structures near the pipeline often go unnoticed during a manual inspection.

2. Planned

Conducted once a year, these inspections primarily consist of land surveys of electric grids, roads, and terrain and are necessary for new construction and infrastructure development.

3. Triggered

Triggered inspections are only carried out when there is a specific problem that needs to be assessed, such as the surveillance of oilfields and pipelines.

Challenges Faced by Pampa Energía with Manual Drone Inspections

As the demand for energy in Argentina grew, continuous monitoring and preventive maintenance of the Genelba Thermal Power Plant (CTGEBA) became critical to ensure uninterrupted operations. With a total capacity of 1,253 MW, representing 2.9% of the nation's installed capacity, the plant required frequent inspections to maintain safety and efficiency. However, as the plant expanded, manual inspections became increasingly challenging and time-consuming, leading to two major difficulties:

1. Increase in drone inspection rounds

As the Genelba Thermal Power Plant grew in size, it required a large number of manual visual inspection rounds to be carried out to cover the new equipment. This gradually increased the time required to cover the entire power plant for thermal inspection. The available inspectors were no longer able to cover the entire power plant in a single shift, resulting in a significant gap in the inspection timeline.

2. Difficulty in conducting perimeter security tours

The site, which is located in the province of Buenos Aires, is more than 970,000 square feet in size, making it one of the country's largest thermal power plants.

Because the team had to constantly set up their base station, replace drone batteries, and transfer data manually after a certain distance, conducting security tours throughout the plant became much more difficult and time-consuming.

Optimizing Inspection of Thermal Power Plants with Drone-in-a-Box Solution

As part of its Digital Transformation strategy, Pampa Energía sought to optimize the inspection routes at the Genelba power plant. Rather than hiring additional employees and drone pilots, they decided to explore the use of autonomous drones to simultaneously carry out maintenance planning, inspections and security operations.

Phased Implementation Process

The deployment has been carried out in several stages, as follows:

  • First, a proof of concept test was conducted to evaluate various docking stations, battery recharge technologies, and control software.
  • The selected technologies were then purchased, and a highly thorough series of tests were run to ensure that the equipment's functionality and how it interacted with one another were both verified.
  • A determined and tested set of paths were determined for the drone.

Additionally, the present and upcoming team members also received training on how to use this technology to carry out drone missions.

The biggest benefit that drone-in-a-box systems provided was the dual functionality. The team at Pampa intended to deploy these systems across their power plants for inspection as well as security. The inspection team could use the docking station to do monitoring and maintenance of the plants during the daytime and in the nighttime they use the same devices for security.

Why Pampa Energía Chose FlytNow as their DiaB Operations Software

As Marcelo Lopez, Pampa Energía's Project Manager, pointed out “We wanted to optimize inspection routes at the Genelba power plant since the area was too large for inspectors to cover in a single shift. We decided to employ the FlytNow-powered autonomous drone-in-a-box solution due to its superior unattended flight technology and affordable price. The FlytNow customer success team has been dedicated to resolving customer issues. They are aware of industry developments, are attentive to their customer's needs, and capable of handling challenges.”

Here’s how they benefited from autonomous drone-in-a-box systems powered by FlytNow:

1. Improvement in inspection rounds:

FlytNow enabled Pampa Energía's operations team and inspectors to schedule and execute repeatable drone missions along pre-established routes, stopping at specific points of interest to view assets remotely.

The remote control of the drone's camera payload allowed for efficient zooming to detect faults or abnormalities in the power plants. Compared to manual inspections, FlytNow resulted in faster and more efficient rounds, significantly reducing the time and effort required to inspect large areas like the Genelba plant. 

Here’s how an inspection routine looked like:

Furthermore, the team utilized drone docking stations to perform security patrols at regular intervals, effectively monitoring the premises for any potential intrusions. By deploying drones to the site prior to security personnel, the team was able to proactively prepare for incidents, while simultaneously saving time and resources in terms of fuel and personnel typically required for routine patrols. The image below depicts a typical security patrol mission:

2. Reduction in accidents:

Given that, in a thermal power station the potential for devastating mishaps due to high pressures and temperatures is very high, it is crucial to ensure the safety of workers while maintaining the smooth operation of the plant. With the ability to send drones autonomously at a click of a button, the team can now access hard-to-reach or dangerous areas with ease, without having to send the local team in harm’s way.

By remotely monitoring the plant's critical infrastructure and systems, the team can quickly identify and address any issues before they escalate into major accidents, thereby reducing the risks associated with human error.

Additionally, FlytNow with a host of security features enabled the safety of the drone & the dock as well. With features such as:

  • Failsafes: FlytNow is equipped with various failsafe mechanisms that provide assistance in case of emergencies. For instance, in the event of a lost RC link or internet connectivity, the drone can either pause until the connection is restored or perform a controlled emergency landing at a predetermined safe location in case of low battery alerts. These failsafe mechanisms and timeout settings can be easily customized and configured by the team to ensure optimal safety during drone operations.

  • Geofence: The operators also have the ability to create virtual fences around the area of their operation and prevent the drone from entering restricted zones by taking specific actions if the fence is breached.

  • Collision avoidance: FlytNow enables collision avoidance by constantly scanning the drone's surroundings for potential obstacles. A real-time radar map with red, yellow, and green indicators is displayed on the operator's screen, allowing them to safely maneuver the drone around obstacles. This feature provides an additional layer of safety and helps prevent accidents, making it easier to navigate through challenging or unknown environments.

3. Better precise documentation:

The advanced video and image capture capabilities of FlytNow provide operators with a clear and accurate view of the plant in real-time. Moreover, the cloud media sync feature enabled operators to conveniently upload media from their drone's SD card directly to a pre-configured private cloud storage (AWS S3), without any disruption in their workflow. The archived data can be stored, organized, and shared across various stakeholders directly from the FlytNow dashboard to increase operational efficiency and situational awareness.

4. Real-time guest share:

By using FlytNow, remote inspections can be conducted from a centralized command center and shared in real-time with stakeholders both inside and outside the plant. With role-based access, security officers can access the video feed on their preferred device and take action as needed. The "Video Streaming Optimization" feature allows for optimization of the video stream for better FPS or picture quality even in areas with limited or poor bandwidth connections. The video below demonstrates a typical operation conducted at the Genelba Power Plant. 

The Way Ahead for Pampa Energía with Autonomous DiaB Solution

As the second-highest per capita energy consumer in South America, Argentina faces increasing demand for electricity, driven by the need for space heating. With thermal power plants being the most reliable source of energy generation, their continuous operation is crucial to meet the country's energy needs.

Once the Pampa Energía's deployment of autonomous drones at the Genelba power plant proves to be successful in enhancing operational efficiency and reducing the risk of accidents, the company plans to expand its drone-in-a-box program to several other power plants, ensuring a safer and more efficient operation while maximizing the return on investment.

Achal Negi, Director of Business Development at FlytBase, highlights the potential drone-in-a-box systems hold for the future of thermal plant inspection and monitoring. He concludes by stating that: “Currently, manual inspection of thermal power plants is a time-consuming and potentially hazardous task for workers. By using autonomous drones for these inspections, energy companies can increase efficiency and safety for workers and reduce any potential down-time of the plant. Furthermore, the use of automated drones for thermal power station inspection with drones and docks offer more frequent and thorough inspections and also improve night-time security operations for power stations. We will see more autonomous drone-in-a-box deployments in power plants in the coming years.”

At NestGen ‘22, Marcelo Lopez, discussed their operations in detail. Watch the entire video to learn more:

Read more…

How Drone Autonomy and AI are Revolutionizing the Mining Industry: Advancements and Impact

Discover how autonomous drones and AI are transforming the mining industry with improved efficiency, safety, and accuracy. Learn about the latest technological advancements that are driving this revolution.

 
Last updated on
March 13, 2023
 
 
The mining industry may not be the most glamorous, but it is undeniably important to the global economy, providing us with the raw materials necessary for everything from building infrastructure to powering our electronics.

In recent years, the industry however, has faced criticism for its environmental impact and the safety of its workers. As a result, the use of more drones for mining, autonomy, and artificial intelligence (AI) in mining has emerged as a potential solution to these challenges.

During one of the NestGen'23 sessions, we spoke with Christopher Clark, CEO of Delta Drone International (ASX:DLT), a multi-national drones-as-a-service business dedicated to solving real-world challenges in the enterprise mining and agricultural industries by providing fully outsourced aerial drone data and solutions. 

In the session we discussed how a combination of drones, autonomy, and AI can help mining companies address many of the challenges they face and pave the way for a more efficient mining industry.

Here’s what he had to say 👇

How a Combination of Drone Technology, Autonomy & AI are Redefining Mining Operations

Drone technology is increasingly being used in the mining sector to enhance safety and efficiency. They provide access to difficult or unsafe areas like mine pits, tailing dams, and stockpiles. Drone surveys and mapping of mining sites quickly and accurately, allow companies to generate digital surface models and digital elevation models to not only provide an accurate representation of the site but to also optimize processes such as ore extraction and waste removal.

Additionally, drones monitor mining equipment and infrastructure, like conveyor belts and processing plants, for wear and tear, enabling timely maintenance and reducing downtime.

By adding autonomy & AI to this mix, mining companies can gather data of large mine sites and monitor operations around the clock, without human operators, improving productivity and efficiency. AI can further analyze data to identify patterns and trends difficult for humans to detect. Companies can therefore have systematic data to make better decisions and reduce costs by identifying inefficiencies and areas for improvement.

As Christopher puts it, "By combining drone autonomy and AI, a unique recipe begins to take shape. We can detect people and vehicles by applying AI models to thermal imagery captured by drones. When combined with autonomous drone-in-a-box solutions in mines and dangerous areas, it enables frequent drone flights that only activate when a vehicle or person is detected, presenting an exciting opportunity for drone autonomy and AI to collaborate."

Some of the most promising applications of autonomous technologies and AI in the mining industry:

1. Safety and reducing accidents

Safety and reducing accidents in mining sites

By using autonomous systems and drones equipped with AI, mining companies can improve safety by reducing the need for workers to enter hazardous areas, such as steep slopes or unstable ground. These technologies can detect and predict safety hazards, allowing for proactive measures to prevent accidents.

Just to set some context, Christopher shares a typical scenario in a mine-site - “If you wanted to calculate the volume of a stockpile and essentially how much a mine is digging out the ground, you would have to send men who would manually walk these 30, 40 meter high stockpiles. Sometimes these could be coal stockpiles really, which sort of have the propensity to spontaneously combust. So your shoes would be melting, even as you're walking over these stockpiles. And drones being able to immediately remove these types of surveyors from these stockpiles to provide them with immediate safety value. And we were very excited to see how drones have quickly become a part of the mining industry's daily routine and are only growing."

2. Productivity and efficiency

Increase productivity and efficiency at working sites

Autonomous drone systems enable mining companies to access hard-to-reach areas and monitor equipment and infrastructure on mine sites such as conveyor belts and processing plants for wear and tear, reducing downtime and preventing breakdowns. AI can further optimize mining processes like ore extraction and waste removal, leading to increased productivity and reduced costs.

3. Decreasing environmental impact and increasing sustainability

Drones and sensors monitor mining's effects on ecosystems, then AI analyzes the data to find improvements. These technologies enable targeted tracking of mining exploration' impact and efficient resource use, which minimizes damage and promotes responsible practices.

Reducing environmental impact through drones and AI

Successful Case Studies of Automation in the Mining Industry

A. Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future Program

Christopher highlights how Rio Tinto's Mine of the Future program is a successful example of utilizing technology to improve safety, productivity, and cost-effectiveness. Launched in 2008, the program uses autonomous technologies and AI to enhance mining processes. By incorporating autonomous trucks, drills, and trains, the company has decreased the number of workers on-site, while simultaneously improving safety and efficiency.

Rio Tinto's Mine case study

The Gudai-Darri Mine in Western Australia is an impressive instance of this program, as it is fully autonomous and remotely controlled from a central operations center, where workers monitor the mine's operations and make real-time decisions based on data gathered from sensors and cameras.

This mine has been very successful, with Rio Tinto reporting significant value and improvements in safety, productivity, and cost reduction. With the use of autonomous technologies and AI, Rio Tinto has been able to minimize waste and increase accuracy in mineral extraction, resulting in better efficiency and productivity.

B. Barrick Gold’s Digital Transformation

Barrick Gold’s Digital Transformation Case study

Barrick, one of the world's leading gold mining companies, has implemented a range of innovative technologies to improve safety, efficiency, and sustainability in their operations. These include:

  • Autonomous Haulage System (AHS): Powered by advanced sensors and GPS technology AHS allows the trucks to navigate the mine site and transport materials safely and efficiently without any human interference.
  • Predictive Maintenance: Using data analytics, Barrick anticipates equipment failures before they occur. This allows for proactive maintenance, reducing downtime and improving productivity.
  • Real-time Data Analytics: The company has invested in a real-time data analytics platform that enables them to collect, store, and analyze data from every stage of their mining operations. This allows for more informed decision-making, optimization of processes, and better resource allocation.
  • Digital Mine Planning: By using advanced digital mine planning tools, Barrick created accurate and detailed models of the mine site, optimizing the layout of equipment and infrastructure, and minimizing waste and environmental impact.
  • Safety Improvements: Barrick has implemented a number of safety initiatives, including the use of wearable technology to monitor workers' vital signs, real-time monitoring of hazardous areas, and the incorporation of safety protocols into their autonomous technologies.

Read Full Case Study

FlytNow for Autonomous Drone Data Collection

Automation software such as FlytNow, enables businesses to deploy drone fleets on routine missions to capture visual data in real-time. Mine operators can schedule missions at a regular interval to track the progress of work in mining sites from the comfort of their offices.

Live drone inspection of a mining site
Live drone inspection of a mining site

Multi cam footage from different mining sites
Multi cam footage from different mining sites

Alarm monitoring system
Alarm monitoring system

Apart from rapid data collection, FlytNow enables companies to integrate alarm monitoring systems, which enable drones to autonomously take off from docking stations, fly to precise locations, capture video feeds, relay them back to the command center, and return to the docking station without human interference.

This feature provides mine operators with quick access to accurate incident reports, allowing them to respond promptly and effectively to any issues that arise.

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What's Next?

As with all disruptive technologies, the mining industry needs to overcome several challenges in implementing autonomous technologies and AI. While the benefits of these technologies, such as faster data insights, improved decision-making, and increased safety for workers, are vast, mining companies must also overcome regulatory hurdles, invest in necessary infrastructure and expertise, and ensure compatibility with existing systems. The adoption of these technologies promises to revolutionize mining processes, making them more efficient, productive, and safer.

It is worth noting that autonomy in mining applications will require a higher degree of analytical and electrical skill sets, but it does not necessarily mean a reduction in the workforce. Furthermore, the interoperability with downstream technologies such as wearables will empower situational awareness and safety. With proven platforms, drone swarms or fleets will unlock logistics and on-site deliveries for mine employees, leading to more streamlined operations. Overall, the mining industry's adoption of these technologies will enable them to remain competitive and better equipped to face the challenges of the future.

Read more…

 

10948478097?profile=RESIZE_710xThe industry’s only virtual summit entirely dedicated to drone autonomy is back and bigger than ever!

To help the industry accelerate its transition to BVLOS ops, NestGen 2023 will bring together experts in BVLOS technology, autonomous drone operations, regulatory consultants and adopters of drone-in-a-box systems.

What to expect at NestGen 2023

The single-day, 11-hour virtual only event will include keynotes, sessions from some of the most prominent proponents and leaders of the commercial drone industry, deep dives into cutting-edge, modular drone docking stations, product updates and announcements, application-specific breakouts, and a plethora of virtual networking and engagement opportunities.

NestGen 2023 dates and times

9:30am – 8:30pm February 23rd 2023

Registrations to the event are free till 31st January 2023.

Go ahead and register now! https://flyt.link/nestgen-feb-2023

Read more…

As the world's primary fuel sources, oil and natural gas are major industries in the energy industry and have a significant impact on the global economy. Demand for petroleum and petroleum products has only increased in the recent past due to global economic and population growth, as well as continual urbanization and industrialization.


The United States itself has more than 190,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines and over 2.4 million miles of natural gas pipelines. Pipeline transportation is safer, more efficient, and emits fewer GHGs than shipping by ship, truck, or rail.

The Current Challenges with Pipeline Inspections:

Pipelines are vital infrastructure for the transmission of oil and natural gas, connecting producing areas to refineries, chemical plants, home customers, and commercial demands. However, oil and natural gas are combustible and explosive substances that are typically delivered via high-temperature, high-pressure pipeline networks. Hereby, it is critical to monitor these pipelines to ensure that they are operating effectively.


However, traditional pipeline inspection methods have some issues, such as:

Use of crewed aircraft

Currently, the majority of energy companies use helicopters to monitor encroachment in potential pipeline Right-Of-Ways (ROW). Each expedition costs an average of $150,000, making more regular inspections than every six months almost impractical.

Foot Patrols

Once the aircraft confirms an encroachment, foot patrols, typically consisting of two personnel, are dispatched to these remote locations. Such manual site inspections take approximately 8 hours and cost approximately $500 merely to have a closer look and validate the threat.

conducting pipeline monitoring for oil and gas companies with manual methods
conducting pipeline monitoring for oil and gas companies with manual methods

Inability to send crew at all times

Pipelines can be hundreds of kilometers long and can be spread over vast remote locations. Sending operators to such locations can put human life at risk. Hereby, it becomes quite difficult to send inspection teams to cover such areas at all times. 

Time-consuming method

Traveling from one asset to another is frequently difficult. Operators may need to drive lengthy miles along gravel or dirt roads to visit several inspection sites. The distance and hard terrain may need a significant amount of time.

Drone program can help in conducting inspection for oil and gas companies without human intervention

How can Drones with BVLOS Capabilities Help Oil and Gas Companies Secure Pipelines 

Ease of travel between assets

Drone program can help in conducting inspection for oil and gas companies without human intervention
Drone program can help in conducting inspection for oil and gas companies without human intervention

Traveling between assets during inspection operations might become challenging because these pipes can span thousands of meters. The team may be required to travel long distances and to distant regions where there is no adequate road infrastructure.

Operators must travel to the sites, assess the asset, review their data, and then drive to another asset. Furthermore, they must repeat the entire process until all assets have been inspected. This can take a significant amount of time which can be costly for an industry like oil and gas.

However, drones can travel vast distances and reach difficult-to-access locations. Additionally, using drone-in-a-box systems, eliminate the need for continual re-launching, packing, and landing of drones which is majorly faced in manual-led VLOS operations.

Increase worker safety

Oftentimes, assets are located on high terrains or difficult-to-reach locations. Operators may need to set up substantial scaffolding or dangle from ropes to inspect this equipment. Any mistake here can result in severe consequences. Despite the industry's strict regulations and safety standards, health and safety concerns persist. A BVLOS operation eliminates the operator's danger by allowing them to undertake the flight mission from any remote location.

Simplify early detection of pipeline leaks

Example of leak in the gas pipeline is affecting the surrounding environment
Example of leak in the gas pipeline is affecting the surrounding environment

Drones are increasingly being used in the oil and gas industry for early detection of pipeline leaks. By using advanced drone technology including thermal cameras and visual or infrared cameras, these drones help the operators to identify gas leaks in storage tanks and pipelines with greater accuracy and efficiency than traditional methods.

These drones can easily access hard-to-reach areas and capture high-quality photos and videos of the pipelines and storage tanks. These data can be helpful to conduct image analytics for accurate and early detection of potential leaks or damage.

This allows operators to respond quickly and effectively to potential pipeline failure, minimizing the impact on the environment and reducing the risk of accidents. The use of drones also reduces the potential for human error, as operators can monitor the pipelines remotely, without the need for physical inspections.

Reduce heavy costs

Hiring a pilot and a helicopter, for example, can cost thousands of dollars. Regular inspections may become prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. Autonomous drone missions can minimize such costs while also minimizing human dependency.

Utilize readymade data and analytics via automated procedures

A human-led operation requires the operator to drive to the location and visually inspect the asset. Via autonomous operations, drone operators can run pre-planned drone flights and augment the inspection process. The drone will follow its routine, capture and store data which can be further assessed for detailed inspection as per need.

This enables the operator to quantify their assessment with turnkey data and analytics delivered via automated workflows. This simplifies the entire process and backs it up with data, which greatly aids decision-making. 

Ability to scale operations

While examining pipelines spanning thousands of kilometers, it becomes nearly impossible to conduct manual operations consistently. However, autonomous drones can be scaled up and deployed readily to fit the business's needs as they can be programmed to conduct the desired tasks. 

How FlytNow is Enabling BVLOS Operations

BVLOS operations in pipeline inspection
BVLOS operations in pipeline inspection

FlytNow is a cloud-based solution that enables the deployment and management of drones in just a few clicks, allowing you to manage your drone operations via a single web-based dashboard for a seamless experience. It helps you lower travel costs, reduce operation rounds, and increase productivity by saving travel time. It is integrated with ready-to-use intelligent modules, like collision avoidance, and precision landing, and integration with drone-in-a-box systems, which further helps you shorten your time to market.

The FlytNow software solution enables project managers to schedule pre-planned or on-demand flights from a command center located miles away from the base station. The drone takes off from the drone nest autonomously, flies its mission, captures real-time videos and images, and uploads them to the cloud.

Store images and videos on cloud and Identify leaks on pipelines with FlytNow's solution
Store images and videos on cloud and Identify leaks on pipelines with FlytNow's solution

Following the flight, the drone returns to the docking station for battery swapping and storage. These stations can charge up to four batteries simultaneously and swap out the existing battery in less than 90 seconds, ensuring minimal downtime. Furthermore, because it is lightweight, it can easily fit on the back of a pickup truck and be moved from one location to another if necessary.

3rd party integrations in FlytNow, such as Casia G system by Iris Automation for detection and avoidance of cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft, Altitude Angel for airspace awareness, and others, assist to increase capabilities for greater insights and seamless BVLOS operations.


Leveraging Nested Drone Systems (NDS)

How nested drone system helping in pipeline inspection
How nested drone system helping in pipeline inspection

The Nested Drone Systems (NDS) can significantly improve the data collection process and transform how pipelines are inspected. It lets the drone operator conduct long-duration flights without the need to return the drone to the command center to recharge or swap the battery. With the nested drone system, energy companies would be able to quickly scale up, undergo a digital transformation, run safely, and boost productivity.

Nitin Gupta, Founder & CEO of FlytBase, Inc. concludes by stating that “Nested Drone Solutions are rapidly revolutionizing the way repeatable, high-frequency missions are conducted across use-cases. Maintenance of pipelines, spread over thousands of miles, is a great application of this technology with a significant ROI for the end-user.

FAQs

1) How can drones improve the safety of inspections on oil and gas pipelines?

Drones can play a vital role in improving the safety of inspections in the oil and gas industry. With their ability to fly closer to the ground, drones can provide high-resolution aerial data through the use of visual or infrared cameras. This allows for more precise and thorough inspections of pipelines, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. 

By using drones, workers can avoid the potential dangers of inspecting pipelines on foot, such as exposure to crude oil leaks. Additionally, the use of drones allows for earlier detection of leaks, which can prevent potential disasters and safeguard the environment.

2) What are the benefits of using drones for pipeline inspections?

Drones provide several benefits for pipeline inspections, including accuracy and improved technologies. Using drones to detect leaks and identify potential issues can save costs and equipment compared to traditional inspection methods. Drones can also access dangerous terrain and provide quick emergency response. 

In addition, using drones for regular inspection can improve worker safety by avoiding the need for workers to enter hazardous areas. Visual or infrared cameras on drones can monitor pipelines and identify potential issues, whether it be for gas or oil pipelines. With better data and improved maintenance, major accidents can be avoided through the use of drones for pipeline inspections.

3) How can FlytNow help in pipeline inspection using drone-in-a-box systems?

Using FlytNow-powered drones for pipeline inspection, operators can now easily detect any leaks in the pipeline with greater accuracy and efficiency than traditional methods. It allows the team to access difficult-to-reach areas and avoid putting any human in potential danger.

Furthermore, operators can get a real-time video stream of the assets, and also capture high-quality photos and videos of the pipelines and storage tanks. This significantly helps in conducting accurate inspections and detecting potential leaks or damage.

4) What can we expect in upcoming technologies in oil and gas pipeline inspection?

New technologies will include autonomous drones that are packed with a cost-effective platform that will help in inspecting pipelines, provide insight for maintenance activities, and identify human errors. Moreover, they will be equipped with a visual or infrared camera that can detect leaks or damage on its own and inform the team immediately.

5) What are some of the best drones for pipeline inspections in the oil and gas industry?

There are several drones that are well-suited for use in pipeline inspections in the oil and gas industry. Some options include:

  1. DJI Phantom 4 RTK: This drone has a high-resolution camera and RTK GPS for precise mapping and surveying capabilities.
  2. DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual: This drone has a compact design and can fly in challenging weather conditions. It also has a dual thermal and visible light camera for identifying issues in pipelines.
  3. senseFly eBee X: This drone has a long flight time and can fly in autonomous missions to cover large areas quickly. It also has a high-resolution camera for detailed inspection.
  4. Parrot Anafi USA: This drone has a 4K HDR camera and is capable of flying in challenging environments. It is also lightweight and easy to transport.
Read more…

logo-green-blue-citymesh-300x30.pnghttps://flytnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/logo-green-blue-citymesh-768x76.png 768w, https://flytnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/logo-green-blue-citymesh-150x15.png 150w, https://flytnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/logo-green-blue-citymesh.png 796w" alt="citymesh logo" width="300" height="30" />

Headquartered in Oostkamp, Belgium, Citymesh is a pioneer of wireless connectivity with fifteen years of experience in high-end network design, installation, and maintenance. Through the combination of various technologies including 5G, Wi-Fi, smart sensors, and data visualization, they provide B2B smart infrastructure and innovative solutions in a variety of markets that are tailored to the needs of their clients.

They specialize in private 5G services and play a key role in setting up wireless networks in (smart) cities, at events, (air)ports, industrial facilities, and warehouses.

 

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Why Genk is Using Smart Tech to Improve Emergency Response

Rapid response in the face of crises and life-threatening situations, such as fires and incidents, is critical for city officials all over the world. Fire departments across nations are implementing new technologies to improve operations and save lives.

Drones are one such valuable tool that has assisted firefighters in improving situational awareness. The imaging technology, software and accessories on board the drone enables the emergency services to gather information more quickly and efficiently in the event of an incident. Some of the major challenges that drones are able to solve include:

  • Incorrect Initial Report of Incident: The emergency services often receive distress calls, either from a bystander at the scene of the incident that does not fully or sometimes even incorrectly describes the incident or from an automated fire alarm.  The emergency services dispatcher allocates resources based on the report, only to discover that they are insufficient in scale and/or type for the actual incident. Response time is critical. Any delay in responding to the incident effectively could result in fatalities or additional infrastructure damage. A local drone team needs time to drive to the scene, get the drone ready and start flying.
  • Lack of Real-time Awareness: Determining the extent of the fire, how to tackle it and the threat it poses can frequently be challenging due to the smoke and obstacles en-route to and onsite. The capacity of fire teams to respond to the situation quickly, adequately & efficiently is limited by these difficult-to-reach locations.

However, drones piloted by humans have certain limitations especially in fast-paced, dynamic environments.

  • Closing the Information Gap: Only the emergency services’ own drone team at the scene and, in best case, the local fire services officer are fully aware of the situation. Streaming the drone’s camera video feed to a local emergency services command center and/or dispatch or other stakeholders is not always possible, reliable or cheap. As a result, dispatchers and fire service officers coordinating from the department’s headquarters, especially in case of large scale incidents, frequently lack complete information, making it difficult to make the right decisions.
  • Inefficient Operations: It is challenging to respond with the appropriate level of resources, equipment & urgency if the team lacks clear knowledge. Sending too little resources can have detrimental consequences, but sending too much resources is problematic too as it draws the limited resources away from other incidents. In addition, heavy fire trucks racing through dense city centers poses its own risks for safety.

To overcome all these obstacles, the Belgian city of Genk decided to implement a combination of autonomous drone-in-a-box technology, AI, and a private 5G network to provide unique insights to emergency services without the need for additional staff.

Mayor Wim Dries emphasizes “Because of the dynamic nature of a city like Genk, we want to keep innovating. As a smart city, we use technology to improve the help we can offer to our residents and to ensure that our police and emergency services work as efficiently as possible. In this way, we can all work together to make Genk a safer place.”

How Citymesh’s Safety Drones is Overcoming these Challenges

The City of Genk recently launched a pilot one-of-a-kind initiative with Citymesh’s Safety Drone solution to assist emergency services in collecting information more quickly and efficiently during accidents with the help of drone technology.

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The Citymesh Safety Drone solution is a fully automated Drone-in-a-Box system that allows first responders to immediately deploy a drone Beyond-Visual-line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) to an incident in order to quickly and reliably get a real-time overview of the situation/incident on the ground. The Safety Drone provides first eyes on-scene, even before local response teams arrive, to all relevant stakeholders. It is a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) asset which can be deployed within 2 minutes. 

Citymesh established a private 5G mobile network bubble over the city of Genk to enable both Smart City use-cases on the ground and autonomous Beyond-Visual-line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) drone operations in the air. As it is a private network, it is tailored and built-to-spec specifically for that city and its use-cases which ensures reliable, secure, low-latency, mission-critical communications across the entire 3D volume around the city. In addition, the use of a private 5G network guarantees reliable communications, even during large scale disasters when public 4G/5G networks are saturated or offline.

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High-resolution drone videos and images of the incident scene are  sent in real time to the remote drone operator, the emergency services dispatch and officers, the first response team(s) en-route to the incident or on-site, the mayor and/or other emergency services using the private 5G network. As a result, all relevant stakeholders are fully aware of the scope and severity of the situation, allowing them to make more informed coordinated decisions based on realistic, real-time,  accurate data. 

Read More: Multi-Cam Drone Video Footage for Security, Inspections & Public Safety

As Dominic Knapen, Zone Commander of the East Limburg Fire Brigade highlights,

“Using a drone in emergencies allows us to assess the situation before we arrive on the scene. This saves us crucial minutes that could potentially save lives, and gives us more insight into how best to approach the incident and conduct our intervention.”

How Safety Drone Program Works

When a distress call is placed to the emergency number 112, the Safety Drone is dispatched from the docking station located on the roof of Genk’s  police station located in the center of the city. The drone flies autonomously to the incident site while being remotely monitored by an operator at the Citymesh’s Remote Operations Center (ROC) in Oostkamp, Belgium. 

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Remote operators from the ROC can remotely manage, monitor and control the drone and docking station using the FlytNow-powered software. The ROC systems are integrated with the emergency services dispatch systems so the remote operator instantly has all relevant information on their screen when a Safety Drone is called upon. The live HD-video feed and high-resolution images captured by the drone are transmitted in real-time to the ROC, the police forces, fire-brigade & emergency services to accurately anticipate risks and select the best equipment needed for a successful rescue mission. 

The remote operators are in contact with dispatch and local first response teams so they can fulfill their requests of focusing the drone’s cameras on a specific zone or the overall incident scene. They are also in contact with air traffic services to ensure flight safety with respect to other (manned) aircraft.

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Because the information is highly sensitive, it is routed through the Citymesh private 5G network and its datacenter.  The data is accessible only to authorized personnel and stakeholders through a secure, internally developed, video streaming platform (DroneHub) in accordance with  the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). The data is destroyed after a certain period of time.

How Citymesh is Ensuring Safety in Operations

Furthermore, because the drone flights will take place in urban areas, ensuring operational safety has been a critical factor in the project’s implementation. Several safety features have been included while keeping regulatory requirements in mind. Some essential features include:

  • Parachute Integration: In the unlikely event that the entire system fails, Citymesh’s Safety Drone incorporates integration with an autonomous parachute system so that the parachute will open automatically and the drone would land safely.
  • Failsafes: A number of failsafe events and associated behaviors can be configured by operators using the ROC’s software – FlytNow. For instance, a failsafe action is triggered and the drone automatically returns to the docking station if the connection is lost, the battery runs low, or it loses internet connections. 
  • Smart Return-to-Home: Once the NFZ is set and the drone needs to return to the docking station, instead of using a straight path back home, FlytNow creates a smart path in which the drone returns while avoiding the NFZs.
  • Weather Station Integration: The docking station includes a weather station that records vital information such as temperature, rainfall, and humidity, among other things. If it begins to rain while the drone is in flight and the set threshold is exceeded, the drone will return to the docking station autonomously.

Also Read: How Drones are used for Public Safety & Emergency Response

Citymesh’s Plans for Expansion

The Safety Drone is being used during the day in the first phase of the project, but will later be used for 24/7 operations. The drone is currently flying at a height of 90 meters and covering a radius of 3 to 4 kilometers. As progress is made and the network is expanded,  the drone will be able to cover a 5-kilometer radius. 

Currently, the East Limburg Fire Brigade Zone is using this autonomous technology. The local police force, CARMA, may take part in the second phase.

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“We are very enthusiastic about implementing this project together with the city of Genk and the regional emergency services. This project is a unique combination of technologies that will shape the future of our society,” says Mitch De Geest, CEO of Citymesh.

Citymesh provides the full Safety Drone Solution as a service. This means emergency services, fire brigade and police do not have to invest in drones, drone and communication infrastructure nor in the education and training of licensed drone pilots. 

It is important to note that the Safety Drone Solution and local drone teams are not competing with each other but are complementary to each other. Much can be learned from each other. In fact, Citymesh drone operators have been trained in first response tactics by the local first response drone teams. Emergency services sometimes already (or will soon) have their own local drone team that is equipped with small drones. These drive to the incident location and perform flight operations at the scene and swap batteries between flights. Their advantage is that it allows them to be practically continuously in the air and provide a  continuous overview of the situation, especially of long duration incidents, while the Safety Drone has to return to charge/swap its batteries. Their main disadvantage is that they have a longer response time as they need to drive to the scene, get the drone ready and start flying. 

The Safety Drone pilot is currently financed & supported by S-Lim, an organization which unites the Limburg municipalities to enable the region to grow into a smart region via collaboration. The experience and knowledge gained will later be shared with other cities and municipalities in the province.

Nitin Gupta, Founder & CEO of FlytBase, Inc. concludes by stating, “Citymesh’s Safety Drone project has been a revolutionary step toward using drone autonomy for saving lives and improving operational efficiency.  The project will serve as a powerful guide for emergency service providers worldwide.”

Related: Citymesh and the city of Genk launch a test project with a Safety Drone

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The Aerodyne Group, with its headquarters in Cyberjaya Malaysia, offers drone-based enterprise solutions that are DT3 (Drone Technology, Data Technology, and Digital Transformation).
By using AI and drone data, it addresses challenging industrial problems so that organizations can rapidly scale, undergo digital transformation, operate optimally, and boost productivity.


By 2021, Drone Industry Insights (DII) ranked Aerodyne Group as the world's top drone solution provider, and Frost & Sullivan named Aerodyne Group the Asia Pacific UAV Services Company of the year.

Related: Pipeline Inspections using Nested Drone Systems

It has become necessary to monitor the existing and potential pipeline right-of-ways, which span over 1630 miles, in order to identify encroachments. The two main issues with the current inspection method are as follows:

  1. Use of crewed aircrafts: Currently, the majority of Malaysian energy companies use helicopters to monitor encroachment in potential pipeline Right-Of-Ways (ROW). Each mission costs an average of $150,000 USD, making inspections more frequent than every six months practically impossible.
  2. Foot Patrols: Once the aircraft confirms an encroachment, foot patrols, typically consisting of two personnel, are dispatched to these remote locations. Such manual site inspections take approximately 8 hours and cost approximately $500 USD just to get a closer look and validate the threat.

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To address these challenges, Aerodyne has recently launched the first-of-its-kind localized beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone project in Malaysia, called Aerodyne FULCRUM. The project employs a modular Nested Drone System (NDS) to transform the way these pipelines are inspected digitally. By implementing this system, Aerodyne intends to improve the safety, efficiency, and quality of data collection and analysis in the energy sector.

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FULCRUM intends to use a combination of a Hextronics Atlas 300 docking station compatible with the DJI M300 RTK drone and FlytNow’s software solution to carry out these operations on such a large scale.

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How it Works

The FlytNow software solution enables project managers to schedule pre-planned or on-demand flights from a command centre located miles away from the base station. The drone takes off from the Hextronics drone nest autonomously, flies its mission, captures real-time videos and images, and uploads them to the cloud.

Following the flight, the drone returns to the docking station for battery swapping and storage. The Hextronics Atlas station can charge up to four batteries simultaneously and swap out the existing battery in less than 90 seconds, ensuring minimal downtime. Furthermore, because it is lightweight, it can easily fit on the back of a pickup truck and be moved from one location to another if necessary.

 

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How Aerodyne Plans to Deploy Drone Docks along the Pipeline

Owing to the complexity & the scale of the project, Aerodyne, leading the operations effort, has planned the deployment in phases. In the initial phase, Aerodyne will strategically locate thirteen units of FULCRUM systems at multiple sites in the control stations compound along the ROW. Each drone will collect data and monitor the encroachment for up to a five-mile radius around the nest, on a 24/7 basis.

Once phase 1 is successful and the value proposition is established, the following project stages will be put into action. Aerodyne anticipates beginning BVLOS operations up to 60 miles by September 2022. Long-range operations such as these will necessitate additional complexities, such as integration with onboard detect-and-avoid technology and a UAS traffic management system.

How did Aerodyne receive the BVLOS approval?

Special BVLOS authorisation was granted by the Civil Aviation Authorities of Malaysia (CAAM) in order to carry out these operations. The Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) is used in Malaysia. The JARUS SORA requires both ground and air risk assessment and related Specific Assurance and Integrity Levels (SAIL). Operational Safety Objectives (OSO) are then driven by these SAILs and must be met.

To reduce the risks on the ground, Aerodyne decided to fly over unpopulated areas and set up geo-fences around the pipeline ROWs. Additionally, each drone is equipped with a parachute to reduce ground risk. Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs) are released during drone operations to lessen air risk. A centre for operations also communicates with air traffic control (ATC) through the radio and provides real-time flight telemetry data to ATC.

The BVLOS approval in this instance took months. It involved a formal application meeting after a pre-application meeting to submit a draft SORA plan to the CAAM. Prior to capability demonstrations, the last phase before approval, there were document reviews and evaluations of the SORA, the concept of operations, and risk mitigations.

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