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Drone Delivery: The Ultimate Guide 2018

On December 7, 2013, Richard Barnes, a middle-aged farmer in Cambridgeshire, England, wandered outside to take delivery of a small parcel containing two items—a bag of popcorn and Amazon TV stick.

He had ordered the items online just 13 minutes earlier, and the world-first delivery was made by airborne drone.

The canny publicity stunt came one week after Amazon boss, Jeff Bezos, unveiled his vision on U.S. “60 Minutes” to have drones deliver packages to customer’s doorsteps within 30 minutes of them hitting the “buy” button on Amazon.com.

Amazon’s drone delivery service—dubbed Prime Air—has yet to enter the commercial mainstream. But project is still very much alive, and it inches closer to reality every day.

Indeed, a swarm of global engineering and logistics heavyweights—including Google, Boeing, Mercedes-Benz, DHL, Walmart, Zipline, and Windhorse Aerospace—are convinced that drone deliveries are the way of the future. And they are backing up their belief by investing heavily in drone technology.

So, how long do we have to wait until we see swarms of drones buzzing overhead delivering everything from pizza to medicines to mobile phones?

For most of us, drone deliveries are some way off. But in a few places, it has already arrived.

Here come the drones

In August 2017, Israeli startup Flytrex grabbed world headlines by rolling out the world’s first fully operational autonomous drone delivery service in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

“This is a working system, not a one-off wonder,” Flytrex CEO, Yariv Bash, told Forbes.com.

The autonomous drone system delivers up to three kilograms of food or consumer products from shops and restaurants on one side of Reykjavík to a designated point across a large river separating the city.

The drone can do in four minutes what it takes a car 25 minutes to do in heavy traffic.

After landing in an empty field near the designated neighbourhood, the drone is met by a courier who makes the final delivery to the customer’s doorstep.

The company plans to begin lowering packages via a cable directly to customer’s backyards, with customers tracking their delivery through an easy-to-use app.

Earlier the same year, global logistics giant UPS demonstrated a package delivery system using a multi-rotor drone launched from a delivery van.

 

 

The driver loads and launches the package from the top of delivery van, and the drone flies autonomously to the pre-programmed delivery location.

The drone’s guidance system draws from online databases covering airspace, topograhpic, weather and wind conditions, and data from on-board sensors like a GPS Compass, LIDAR, and infrared camera for landing.

After delivering the package, it returns to the delivery truck at a planner stop and autonomously redocks and recharges for its next delivery.

If the technology shapes up as hoped, one day a UPS driver could push a button on a touchscreen affixed to a truck’s dash to send a drone off to complete deliveries.

Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated a similar van-based drone delivery system in Zurich, Switzerland.

mercedes benz drone

Meanwhile, European aerospace giant Airbus has teamed up with the Singapore government and postal service to roll out new parcel-delivery drone service in that country later this year.

 

airbus skyways drones

The France postal service will also soon start a new drone delivery program to carry parcels on a set nine-mile route following approval from the French aviation regulatory authority.

This type of delivery technology is being driven by a powerful economic imperative.

Delivery drones could shave huge distances off delivery routes, especially in rural areas. UPS estimates that cutting off just one mile for the routes of each of the company’s 66,000 delivery drivers would amount to $50 million in savings.

Helping out in remote areas

Google, as might be expected, is one of the largest players to get into the drone delivery business with its “moonshot” Project Wing, which is largely being developed in Australia.

The first Project Wing test was performed in Australia in 2014, when the company lowered a first aid kit, candy bars, and dog treats by line some 50 metres to a remote cattle station in Queensland.

In 2017, Project Wing began making direct deliveries to homes in the rural Googong area outside of the city of Canberra. Alpaca farmers, math professors, equestrians and artists living 40 minutes from town ordered food and medicines using a smartphone app and had them delivered by drone.

 

Other countries with remote populations and challenging geography are also rushing to implement drone delivery systems in sparsely populated areas.

On March 28, 2018, for example, China’s biggest logistics firm, SF Express, announced it had received the first official permit in China to deliver packages via drone to rural and sparsely populated areas in China.

The delivery system comprises three stages: Planes transport large quantities of goods nationwide, big drones distribute them to local warehouses, and small drones make final deliveries to customers.

Last year, in Yunnan province, another SF Express subsidiary successfully tested the delivery of emergency supplies in a drone capable of carrying 1.2 metric tons (1.3 tons).

 

And while Amazon is still wrestling with the FAA about where and when it can safely fly its parcel-carrying quadcopters, JD.com (also called Jingdong)—China’s largest online retailer—will soon have super-sized autonomous, three-engine, vertical-takeoff drones that can carry a payload of over 1 ton up to 300 kilometres.

JD.com’s intended target is Shaanxi farmers, who can use the drones to distribute their perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat without worrying about Shaanxi’s rough, rural roads.

The Shaanxi provincial government has agreed to let JD.com operate hundreds of low-altitude routes within a 300 kilometre radius, an area of more than 30,000 square kilometres.

Meanwhile, in Nepal, the non-profit National Innovation Centre (NIC) has developed the country’s first “medical drone”, aiming to bring care to remote mountain communities.

The drone aims to deliver medical supplies to villagers and return body samples to laboratories for analysis.

A similar service developed by Zipline has operated in Rwanda since 2016. The company has developed what it claims is the world’s swiftest commercial fixed-wing delivery drone, with a top speed of 128 kilometres an hour.

Drone delivery innovations

Of all the entities that worked on civilian drone technology in 2017, Amazon stands out for the sheer number of headline-grabbing ideas it generates.

These include giant airborne fulfilment centres that can dispatch dozens of autonomous drones across wide areas, charging stations mounted atop lampposts and church spires, and retractable chutes that deliver packages from the airborne drone to the ground in a controlled manner.

By August 2017, Amazon had been awarded at least 64 patents for concepts and technologies for delivery drones, including patents for aircraft designs, safety and security systems, methods for transferring goods from the air to the ground, and hive-like fulfilment centres.

These patents offer detailed insights into how the company is determined to make drone delivery a reality.

Big and bigger drones

At present, most delivery drones are only capable of carrying small loads. But drone designs currently on the drawing boards will carry astonishingly large payloads.

Elroy Air, a California startup, has secured $4.6 million in seed funding to develop an autonomous drone capable of carrying about 70 kilograms up to 500 kilometres.

Meanwhile, Chinese developers are currently testing large long-range transport drones for rapid cargo deployment in the South China Sea. The AT200 drone is based on a low-cost fixed-wing aircraft that can carry 1.5 tonnes of cargo, is capable of taking off and landing on a short runway, and has a maximum range of 2,000 kilometres.

In a similar vein, Spain-based Singular Aircraft has successfully tested its Flyox Amphibious UAV in Iceland that can carry over 2 tonnes of cargo with a maximum distance of over 1,241 kilometres.

Looking further ahead, another California startup, Nautilus, is developing an autonomous, amphibious Boeing 777-sized drone with a 100-ton payload capable of flying from California to China.

Nautilus hopes to finish production of the full-scale, over 60-metre drone by 2020, then have it undergo testing and certification before beginning actual commercial flights.

Not to be outdone, Chinese newcomer Tengoen Technology (also spelled Tengdun) is already at work building an eight-engine drone the size of a medium-sized manned cargo plane. It has a wingspan of more than 42 metres and can carry a payload of 18 metric tons payload up to 7,500 kilometres.

Drones that carry people

It won’t quite be the Jetsons, but several companies are already competing to create the flying car/drone, also known as the AAV (Autonomous Aerial Vehicle).

The concept first emerged with prototypes from major players such as China’s Ehang Corp, whose eco-friendly AAVs aim to serve as autonomous personal transportation devices. The company has raised over $50 million in funding.

Another competitor is Volocopter, a German company that has developed a two-seater drone with 18 rotors that fully charges in two hours and can fly for 30 minutes at a cruising speed of 50 km/h. The company has received $30 million in funding from Daimler and was also chosen to lead Dubai’s revolutionary aerial shuttle service.

The head of Dubai’s Roads and Transportation Agency said that the Volocopter drones will be able to carry one passenger weighing up to 100 kilograms for around 30 minutes. Once entering the drone, the passenger will choose a destination from an onboard screen, the only controls in the craft.

Uber is also joining the race with its Uber Elevate—a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft “fast-forwarding to the future of on-demand, urban air transportation”—which the company hopes to use to launch as an aerial taxi service by 2023.

The electrically powered aircraft is a mashup of a plane and a helicopter that will fly at an elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 feet. The company envisions thousands of its flying taxis shuttling passengers between rooftop “skyports” that look straight out of Star Wars. The landing sites will be equipped to handle 200 take-offs and landings every hour. The aircraft will be piloted by humans at first, but eventually will fly autonomously.

The future of drone delivery

Companies around the world are fast becoming aware they have only scratched the surface of what airborne drones can do.

According to a recent Price Waterhouse Cooper report, delivery drones could become business as usual by 2030.

As we have seen, large retail and logistics companies are investing in delivery drones with the aim of achieving increased efficiency, lower costs, and increased customer satisfaction.

The scope of delivery drones could also be beyond dropping off parcels in the ‘last mile’ of client logistics.

Drones will also be ubiquitous in warehousing and able to autonomously conduct real time stock checks by scanning inventory. This will integrate seamlessly with other ground-based autonomous warehouse robotics in an end-to-end management and movement of inventory driven by AI with no human touch.

The Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2050, the industrial drone fleet in Europe and the US will comprise more than 1 million units and generate US$50 billion per year in product and service revenue.

Clearly, drones have the potential to transform logistic industries. Still, manufacturers and legislators have many hoops to jump through to turn that vision into reality.

At present, too many tests end in delivery drones malfunctioning or crashing. Legislation that might permit drone deliveries is also currently lagging far behind what drones can technically achieve.

Despite all the challenges, one thing is sure—the drones are coming.

4 of the Biggest Drone Trends for 2018

How are drones placed for 2018 and what are some of the biggest drone trends to watch out for? Like the internet and GPS before them, drones are evolving beyond their military origin to become powerful business tools. They’ve already made the leap to the consumer market, and now they’re being put to work in commercial and civil government applications from firefighting to farming.

2017 saw the interest in drones and drone technology increase across a wide range of industries. According to Google, the search term “drones” peaked in December 2016 and maintained a high level of interest during 2017.

Thanks to their low entry cost, shallow learning curve shallow and compact size, drones continue to gather momentum and buzz in technology circles.

Drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s), quadcopters, multirotors, or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), have been with us for well over 100 years.* But recent breakthroughs in hardware, software, and data processing have launched drones into the commercial mainstream.

In the US alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forecasts the commercial drone fleet will grow 10-fold from 42,000 to 420,000 between 2016-2021. European authorities expect similar growth.

All of this adds up to big business.

Investment banker Goldman Sachs forecasts the global drone market will be worth US$100 billion by 2020. Most of this growth will be fuelled from growing demand in the commercial and government sectors. The Goldman Sachs report adds the full economic potential of drone technology “is likely to be multiple times that number, as [drone] ripple effects reverberate through the economy.”

goldman sachs drone market 2020

 

With that in mind, what developments in drone technology and applications can we expect in 2018 and beyond?

Consider the just a few examples:

1. Drone hardware will continue to improve

Drones need plenty of power. Better batteries increase flight duration. Improved energy management improves and extends flight times. And more efficient propulsion permits larger payloads. Researchers are working to address these needs by exploring a range of innovative technologies.

Expect to see solar panels that recharge batteries during flight, hydrogen fuel cells that allow longer flight times and heavier payloads, line-of-sight lasers that transfer power wirelessly, nanotube and aerogel batteries that far exceed the performance of Lithium-ion Polymer batteries currently used.

New materials like carbon-reinforced polymers combined with advanced manufacturing techniques such Fused Deposition Modelling and Laser Sintering will make drones lighter, cheaper, and potentially easier to manufacture. Esoteric materials include bio-degradable bio-drones made from mycelium cells, a material similar to that used by wasps to paper their nests. Other researchers are using “Chemputers” to “grow” drones from chemicals.

Drone manufacturers are constantly striving to improve the dizzying array of drone sensors. These include visual cameras, infrared detectors, multispectral and hyperspectral sensors, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), inertial measurement units, gyro and accelerometers, as well as sensors that measure electric current, magnetic fields, and acoustic sound pressure. These sensors provide high-resolution data across all spectral bands, particularly in infrared, and often provide more precise information than aircraft or satellites.

This year will doubtless produce sensors that are smaller, lighter, faster, cheaper, more reliable, more accurate, and more sensitive.

2. Drones will embrace Big Data

Drone manufacturers are working to implement autonomous avoidance systems that process drone sensor data to avoid collisions or allow for automatic take-off and landing. This technology is currently used in a small number of devices and is constantly being improved.

Companies like Boston-based American Robotics have developed fully automated drone systems that can fly well-defined missions repeatedly, reliably, and without pilot intervention.

Smarter drone sensors combined with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are allowing companies to apply predictive analytics to a multitude of commercial problems.

Researchers at Purdue University in the United States, for example, have successfully combined drones and deep learning techniques to detect cracks in the steel components of nuclear power plants. The system automatically identifies cracks based on the changing texture surrounding them on the steel surface and informs technicians about the potential danger. Processing takes about a minute. This not only saves time for technicians and allocates their work more efficiently but also reduces the risk of undetected damage.

US drone manufacturer and services provider Kespry has targeted the inspection and insurance market by building a machine-learning system that can count hail strikes on a roof.

By combining drone technology with machine learning, building and infrastructure managers can now identify quality defects, malfunctions, or inventory shortages faster and at a lower cost than using traditional techniques. All of this can be done automatically using photos, real-time video, thermal imaging, or orthomosaic and radiometric data gathered by drones.

Autonomous drones are also being used to conduct inspections of power plants and transmission lines and to deliver real-time analytics regarding the condition of infrastructure. Farmers are using similar technology to count crops automatically, identify weeds, and determine when crops need water and fertilizer. Countless other applications exist.

3. More organisations will use drones

According to global management consulting firm The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), companies have only scratched the surface of what airborne drones can do. More and more businesses and government organizations are awakening to how drones can help them function more effectively and efficiently.

The BCG report Drones Go to Work predicts that “over the next two decades, businesses will put industrial drones to work monitoring facilities, tracking shipments, and, perhaps even delivering groceries to your doorstep.”

According to BCG, by 2050 the industrial drone fleet in Europe and the US will exceed 1 million units and generate US$50 billion in product and service revenues each year.

Goldman Sachs expects companies and governments around the world to spend US$13 billion on drones between 2016 and 2020.

 

 

Most companies start out by paying a drone-service provider to work for them on a job-by-job basis, says a recent report from newsmagazine The Economist.

In Australia, for example, leading drone services provider National Drones supplies tailored drone solutions to a wide range of industries including building and solar panel inspections, insurance assessments, agricultural land surveillance, television and media, mining, mapping and surveying, asset inspections, emergency services, real estate, and more.

Outsourcing work to a drone service provider allows companies and government departments to focus on their core business and immediately add capacity and value to their enterprise.

4. The legal and regulatory framework will evolve

Government regulators in many countries are currently working to develop a drone air-traffic management system to prevent collisions with other flying objects. Such systems will enable drones to see and avoid potential obstacles and other aerial vehicles and integrate with current air traffic management systems.

In the United States, NASA is leading a multibillion-dollar effort to develop an Unmanned Aerial Systems Traffic Management (UTM), an automated traffic-management system for drones capable of safely coordinating manned and unmanned flight.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently testing an automated system that will ultimately provide near real-time processing of airspace authorisation requests for drone operators nationwide. Beginning in April 2018, the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) will be deployed incrementally at nearly 300 air traffic facilities covering approximately 500 airports. The system is expected to dramatically decrease drone flight authorization wait times and allow operators to quickly plan their flights. Air traffic controllers also can see where planned drone operations will take place.

In October 2017, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) responded to drone safety concerns and the rapid growth in drone numbers by tightening safety rules for recreational users. Earlier in 2017, the free CASA smartphone app, “Can I Fly There?”, which allows drone operators to avoid prohibited areas, was downloaded 20,000 times the week it was released.

*Note: The earliest UAV’s included military balloons and pilotless aircraft. Commercial and recreational drones as we now know them began to be developed during the 1980s.

Drone Missions—Today and Tomorrow

TODAY: Drone flights are typically line-of-sight missions under licensed operator control. The flight path and ceiling are limited by government legislation and current insurance provisions. A typical flight lasts less than one hour, and one or two sensors gather a few gigabytes of data. The data is stored onboard and retrieved and processed after the flight.

THE NEAR FUTURE: Drones will fly extended autonomous missions using detection-and-avoidance technology. Drone traffic control centres will identify and track drones in critical airspaces. Flights will be more widespread due to legislative and insurance improvements. Multiple onboard sensors will transmit data in real-time via 4G/5G cellular networks. Operator control centres using Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will use the data to automatically modify the drone mission and drive a multitude of commercial applications.

Drones at Work

Mining. Drones will be used in conjunction with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to manage mine operations digitally. Drones can provide data about the flow of trucks, ore, and supplies in and out of a mining site to optimise daily operations. They can also provide data to help design pits.

Agriculture. Today’s drones can be used for land surveys and other data-gathering activities. In the future, they may be used to support precision farming, which relies on data about conditions in different parts of the field to more precisely manage irrigation and pesticide use, for example. The goal is to increase crop yields, while reducing the use of costly inputs.

Energy and Utilities. Drones can be used to automate inspection of offshore rigs and refineries, reducing risk and enabling preventive maintenance and avoiding costly interruptions due to equipment breakdowns. For utility companies, drones can not only provide better and more timely monitoring of transmission lines and solar fields, they can also be used to reduce theft.

Insurance. Drones can be dispatched to record digital videos of the damage to homes and buildings after storms and of automobiles at crash sites. Such capabilities can cut claims-processing costs, accelerate customer service, and generate additional underwriting data. By combining drones with machine learning, insurance companies will be able to improve predictions of damage. By assessing risks better than ever before, insurance companies will be able to set premiums more accurately.

Law Enforcement. Drones can be used to monitor traffic accidents, capture crime scene photographs, search for missing items and people, track suspicious persons or vehicles, monitor crowds during protests and sporting events, replace or complement security guards, support border security, perform maritime surveillance, and a host of other missions.

Meteorology. Drones can deliver high accuracy meteorological data on a local scale with a very short period of time. The combination of drone and satellite data can help to produce more accurate weather predictions.

Communications. In the future, drones will be used for broadcasting telecommunication signals, such as radio, television and internet, both permanently and in temporary roles. For example, drones can form a portable mobile cellular site that provides temporary network and wireless coverage to locations where cellular coverage is minimal or compromised, such as at major public events or during natural disasters.

Defence. Defence will remain the largest market (forecast US$70 billion) for the foreseeable future as global competition heats up and technology continues to improve. At present more than 30 nation states possess, or are developing, armed drones for military use

 

Conclusion

Drones are still an emerging technology. Nevertheless, there is little doubt they can and will completely disrupt existing business models.

Most companies are only beginning to understand how to use this powerful combination of talents to function more efficiently and effectively.

The superb data gathering capabilities drones make possible will affect our lives in ways we cannot yet imagine. They will shape our lives as much as cell phones, tablet computers, and other similar game-changing technologies.

One thing is certain: Companies do well to learn as much as they can to determine how they can benefit from this emerging phenomenon.

National Drones Welcomes New Shareholders

At National Drones, we would like to thank all of our loyal partners and clients for their support in 2017. It has been an extremely busy, and hugely successful year for our young company, and with that, what better time than now to inform you of some exciting announcements for 2018!

Recently, one of the original founders of National Drones, Kevin Scrimshaw, sold his share in the National Drones companies to new shareholders. Our new shareholders are Tozer & Co. (David Tozer and Craig Tozer) and Martin Checketts. Tozer & Co. is the family investment office of David and Craig Tozer. Tozer & Co. manages a significant portfolio of private companies with a focus to: Invest, Transform, Board & Executive. Selected current investments include Expert360, The Grifter Brewing Co., Hydroshield, Alasthelabel and now National Drones.

When asked about the reasoning behind the investment David Tozer had this to say: “After looking at the business and conducting our due diligence, we realized this is the right team, the right model, as well as the right timing and market dynamics for us to become a leader in providing drone services across Australia. We accept and embrace the fact that it will be fast moving, technology-led and disruptive. We look forward to the challenges ahead”

Current Shareholders Ben Harris and Brad Aylett stated that “Having David, Martin and Craig on board allows us to take this business to another level. Their combined business experience, as well as deeply connected networks and general mentorship, will allow us to grow National Drones to become the premier Drone services provider in Australia. We feel very fortunate and privileged that they have decided to invest in this business, and are confident it will lead to great outcomes for all involved”

Here are some backgrounds on David, Martin, and Craig.

David Tozer

David is the Managing Director of Tozer & Co. and responsible for all investment activities. Prior to this, he was an accomplished investment banker with over 14 years’ experience in Australia and the United Kingdom. He has been involved in a large number of successful domestic and international transactions covering Mergers & Acquisitions, restructurings and special situations. David was one of the founding partners of Houlihan Lokey in Australia and responsible for leading the restructuring and special situations effort. His team won two “deal of the year” awards during this time. He is a committee member of the Turnaround Management Association and a regular speaker at various restructuring, special situations, and distressed debt events. David has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce double degree (B.LLB and B.Com) from the University of New South Wales graduating as the AXISS Scholar and with Merit. He has completed Chartered Financial Analyst Program (CFA) levels I & II. He has completed the Certified Turnaround Practitioner (CTP) exams with a pending designation.

 

Craig Tozer

Craig is a member of the investment committee Tozer & Co. and assists in advising investee companies. He is currently the CEO of Oporto, which is an investee of Archer Capital: one Australia’s most successful private equity firms. Craveable Brands owns Oporto, Red Rooster and Chicken Treats representing one of the largest franchise systems in Australia with 600 stores. Craig has been in the business for 5 years and instrumental in the current success of the group and now Oporto. Prior to working with Archer Capital, Craig spent over 10 years in investment banking with J.P. Morgan and Rothschild in Australia and the United Kingdom. Craig worked on some of the largest transactions in Europe. Craig has a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com Accounting), is a Certified Accountant (CA), Master of Applied Finance (M.App Fin) and graduate of the Directors Institute (GAICD)


Martin Checketts

Martin is a senior partner with Mills Oakley, Australia’s fastest growing law firm. He was one of the early partners and instrumental in its significant growth and strategic success in a fast-changing legal market. Aside from management matters, he specializes in advising the owners of private and family businesses and high net wealth individuals. He sits on Mills Oakley’s management board. He has significant experience in acting for franchisors and franchisees in various industries.

We look forward to bringing you more news and updates in 2018!

ISO Certification for National Drones

At National Drones, we care about our clients, the environment, and our team of great people. As part of our ongoing commitment to providing a quality service to our clients, and a safe and effective working environment for our team, we are proud to announce that National Drones is now certified to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and OSHAS 18001:2007 standards.

This marks an important milestone in the evolution of our young organization. It signifies that our process driven approach to data acquisition, processing, and analysis meets an internationally recognized standard. Internally, our team understands the need to utilize these processes, to ensure the data which is being captured is of the highest possible standard, to allow effective decisions to be made.

We are always looking to improve upon our current processes. We have increased our level of automation internally, the same way we attempt to assist our clients with automating their own workflows. Achieving certification to ISO 9001:2015 standard requires the development and ongoing maintenance of an integrated management system, with the overall purpose of the IMS being to improve customer satisfaction, eliminate incidents and protect the environment.

As Remotely Piloted Aircraft operators, we often utilize drones in situations that might otherwise be described as dangerous. This typically allows a safer method of inspecting vertical assets and goes a long way to eliminate many of the risks involved with rope access and having workers at heights.

Despite this increased level of safety over traditional methods, we still have a responsibility to our team, our clients, members of the public, and the aviation community to ensure that our operations are conducted in the safest possible manner, and to mitigate as many of the risks associated with RPA use as possible. Our policy is to mitigate WHS risks, eliminate minor incidents completely, and continually be looking to improve our safety and performance.

To find out more about National Drones, and the Services we offer, download our capability statement below.

 

Capability Statement Download

 

 

Evolving Aerial Photography

Believe it or not aerial photography dates back to 1858, when French photographer and balloonist Gasper Tourachon experimented and patented the idea. Unfortunately Tourachon’s photos no longer exist, however his idea of taking photos from the sky has since been successfully developed utalising a multitude of flight methods.

Gradually, as improvements in photographic technology were made, it was easier to take cameras into the skies. Besides hot air balloons, early pioneers also used kites, pigeons and rockets to carry their cameras.

In 1860 James Black became known for this famous aerial photography of Boston from a hot air balloon.

In 1882 Archibald used a kite with a camera attached. In 1903 Julius Nebranner thought it would be a good idea to strap a tiny camera to the breast of carrier pigeons, but quickly discovered that the flight path was not always reliable, however.

The first successful aerial photograph from a rocket mounted camera was taken by the Swedish inventor, Alfred Nobel in 1897. He is best known nowadays for the Nobel prize.

During the first world war, aerial photography replaced sketches and cameras were specially designed for planes in order to produce battle maps. Interestingly, by the end of the war, the entire front was being recorded twice a day.

After the war, the business of aerial photography quickly developed. In 1921 Sherman Fairchild took a series of overlapping aerial photographs and made an aerial map of Manhattan Island. This aerial map was a huge commercial success and was used by several New York City businesses. The popularity of aerial surveys quickly followed as it was faster and much less expensive than a ground survey. Aerial photography was shown to have multiple civilian uses and was proven to be a successful commercial venture.

Today aerial photography cameras are mostly digital and mounted on remotely piloted aircraft. Stablising gimbles have been developed to counteract the movement of aircraft and images are now of exceptional quality. High-resolution aerial views can now be delivered right to a client’s desktop on the day of shooting. Aerial Photography is now days in wide-spread use for a diverse set of commercial, industrial and agricultural sectors.

National Drones continues the development of aerial photography with high definition imaging, 3D modelling and digital thermography as just some of the applications made affordably accessible through remotely piloted aircraft operations.

The Power of Aerial Photography

Australia is one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world according to the Bureau of Statistics.’  Population data clock the number of people in Australia at 24 million and apparently most of the recent population growth has occurred in the major cities such as Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. This urban shift in the last decade made Australia’s major cities home to almost 80 per cent of the Australian population.

More often are infrastructure development projects impacting peoples’ business and everyday life. People want to influence the decisions on whether proposed projects get the green light or not. However, infrastructure projects can be very complex and hard to grasp and it can be difficult for some people to visualise dimentions and finished products just by looking at engineering drawings and maps.

Aerial photography can improve situational awareness and reduces speculative ideas and false perceptions. It can be an effective strategy for establishing and maintaining necessary common ground. Powerful aerial imagery can be a key component of effective community consultation through high-resolution aerial photography that can help government body representatives and/or property developers to communicate the benefits of urban infrastructure projects in various ways. For example, a bird’s eye view of a location can help all stakeholders subscribe to a new point of view.

Before and after comparisons utalising aerial views, combined with location data also provides powerful insights that are not possible to obtain from the ground level. Previous and current imagery comparison of a project location is also an effective way to emphasise the positive aspects of a project.

National Drones are specialists of aerial photography and have developed an Australia wide team of fully insured, CASA certified, professional UAV controllers, operating across the country.

Build Australia Magazine – Nov Issue

It seems lately everyone’s talking about drones. “Drones delivering pizza.” “Drones made out of dead cats”! (Don’t believe me? Google it!)  Next thing you know drones will be parting water and raising the dead for goodness sakes!

 

Seriously, it’s time to get real! Drones are not the Messiah, and in fact in the wrong hands, can be a “very naughty boy”!  (Ode to Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”.)

 

On building and construction sites, drones can indeed be useful tools.  From the design chapter of a new building project to the end-of-life phase of a structure slated for demolition, drones can play an important part in providing industry professionals with visualisation over a project, from inception to repose.

 

National Drones has one of Australia’s largest, most geographically dispersed teams of drone operators capable of capturing a bird’s eye view of projects in just about every stage of development (or demolition).  Right from the architect’s desk, drones can be used to help create digital representations of proposed buildings to enable planners to analyse (for example) the likely acceptability of a building in terms of ‘neighbourhood integration’.

 

Real Estate Marketers can use drone imagery to “sell the views”. During construction, project monitoring is enabled providing daily, weekly and even monthly progress reports, updating stakeholders with a minimum of inconvenience.

 

Demolitions (as we all know) involve a multitude of potential hazards.  Using drones to capture and identify the ostensible risks enable superior risk mitigation. It’s kind of what they call, a “no-brainer”.

 

Be careful however as not all Drone operators are created equal. Look for an operator that is ISO9001: 2015 accredited, that is CASA Certified and fully insured to deliver a legally compliant, quality assured service.

 

Like to discuss how drones might benefit your next construction project?  Call National Drones on 1300 SKY VIEW (1300 759 843), email skyview@nationaldrones.com.au or visit nationaldrones.com.au for more information.

View a copy of the latest November 2016 issue of Build Australia Magazine.

National Drones / Fly UAS Merger

National Drones, Australia’s first and only franchised, ISO9001:2015 compliant, fully insured, CASA certified (CASA.UOC.0458) drone services provider with flight controllers located throughout Australia, is pleased to announce the completion of its merger and acquisition of one of Australia’s leading RPAS flight training schools, FlyUAS. As part of this merger and acquisition, Ben Harris, Director of FlyUAS will become a Director of National Drones, and likewise, Kevin Scrimshaw and Brad Aylett, Directors of National Drones will become Directors of FlyUAS.

Whilst both companies will continue to promote their service separately; with National Drones being responsible for conducting RPAS flight operations, and FlyUAS being responsible for RPAS training, National Drones franchisees will benefit from the arrangement in so far as having access to heavily discounted rates for initial RPAS training and any future additional endorsements.

In the fullness of time, Ben Harris who in addition to being a certified and experienced UAV controller, is a qualified commercial pilot of fixed wing aircraft, will take over Kevin’s role as Chief Controller for National Drones, allowing Kevin to concentrate on his area of strength in business, franchise and market development for National Drones.

For more information on the services offered by National Drones, visit www.nationaldrones.com.au or call 1300 SKY VIEW (1300 759 843). For more information on FlyUAS, please visit www.flyuas.com.au or call 1300 FLY UAS (1300 359 827)

Drones. Quicker Smarter Cheaper Safer

As the public’s fascination with drone’s skyrocket, the use of aerial vehicles for many businesses is rapidly offering a quicker, smarter, more cost effective and a much safer way to operate. And with such a vast array of aerial drone services available, industries of all proportions are welcoming the use of drones in order to deliver them a multitude of efficiencies.

Drones save time. Now days the speed of which we expect information is non compromising. We demand information faster than ever before and as new statistical data is made readily available, we seem
Terrain model imageto be less patient and more demanding. Data from the use of drones, such as photographic imagery, maping, location surveying, distance and volumetric calculations amongst other services, enable instant decision making, increasing business productivity and profits.

 

Drones offer intelligence. Smart apps are being utilised for the use of drones. Uses such as monitoring changes on the ground, whether it be soil material, buildings, structures or fauna. Information such as 2D and 3D imagery of terrain and buildings, mapping of large areas that includes accurate location X5 camera imagesurveying, distance monitoring and volumetric calculations are all readily available.  Whether it’s surveillance, drone photography, a search and rescue or a promotional video, cameras are smaller, yet more advanced than ever before and are shooting in 6K HD with still images of 16 megapixels.

DrRooftop imageones reduce costs.  Many existing workplace procedures such as the inspection of inaccessible assets, buildings, roofs, towers, light poles and power lines can all be expensive to access.  The setup of mobile, mechanical work platforms or rope access methods that have previously been utilised, are no longer required. Drones also reduce the need for individual professionals to be on site, whereby data or images can be sent remotely, avoiding travel costs.

Drones reduce risk. Working at height is dangerous and contributes overwhelmingly to workplace injury and deaths each year. Inspection of high assets such as power lines and roofs are considered amongst the most dangerous occupations in the world, however no longer does a building inspector need to access a roof top or a power line worker need to get into a bucket. In most cases a drone is operated from the ground, mitigating any risk to equipment and persons.

National Drones is one of Australia’s largest drone service providers. With operators covering the country they offer aerial drone services that include drone photography, drone building inspection and drone videography. Services extend also to real estate markets, including virtual tours, internal photography and promotional videos. National Drones can be contacted by calling 1300 SKYVIEW or by visiting the website here.

360° camera revolutionises inspections

National Drones, Australia’s first aerial photography, aerial videography, aerial spotting and aerial surveillance franchised business system has introduced the Ricoh Theta 360 camera to its fleet of drone services operating throughout the country. The 360 degree Ricoh camera uses two fisheye lenses on each side of the camera stick and automatically stitches images into an interactive panorama suitable for viewing on a standard computer, iPad or iPhone screen, or through new VR (virtual device) technologies such as the Samsung Galaxy VR or Google Cardboard.

Kevin Scrimshaw, CEO of National Drones, said that the Ricoh Theta 360 camera is a “new world technology” that revolutionizes conventional photo and video capture, and will add significant value to the company’s building and asset inspection services. He said that the camera’s ability to shoot 360 degrees would reduce the need for a drone’s flight path to be repeated in order not to miss any part of the inspection footprint. Currently, where a conventional camera is required to be directed on a specific part of a building or asset, it can now fly past the inspected area only once, capturing everything on all elevations. This footage can be assessed by the client at leisure, with the added benefit of being able to zoom in to a specific area or defect for further assessment.

“We expect the current interest in drone services to continue to develop, as more businesses begin to realise the potential that drone services offer in cutting costs, delivering efficiencies and saving time. The Ricoh Theta 360 camera will continue to develop to become an important tool in asset and infrastructure inspections throughout the world,” Scrimshaw explained.

National Drones’ franchisees conduct drone inspection services in most states of Australia including Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane Adelaide and Darwin. To discuss a specific drone asset or building inspection, contact can be made by calling 1300 SKYVIEW. (1300 759 843)

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