Table of Contents
1.1 Introduction 2
1.2 Project Objective 2
1.3 Background 3
a. Drones Description/Definition 4
2. Drones Capabilities 5
3. South African Drone operation requirements 17
3.1.1 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Sub-part 1 – General 19
3.1.2 Regulations Part 101 Sub-part 2, RPAS Approval and Registration 20
3.1.3 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Subpart 3 –Personal Licensing 22
3.1.4 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Sub-part 4 – RPAS Operating Certificate (ROC) 24
3.1.5 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Sub-part 5 RPAS Operations 27
220.127.116.11 OPERATIONAL LIMITATIONS AND PROHIBITIONS 27
3.1.6 RPAS Regulations Part 101 Subpart 6 maintenance 30
3.2 Drone Law and Privacy 30
4. Types of applications in the various engineering industry sectors 31
4.1.1 Aerial Monitoring 34
4.1.2 Stockpile Monitoring 34
4.1.3 3D Mapping 35
4.1.4 Monitoring gas emissions 35
4.1.5 Traffic Monitoring 35
4.1.6 Pylons Maintenance 35
5. How drones work in the engineering industry 35
5.1.1 PROJECT MANAGEMENT 35
5.1.2 MARK UP AND MEASURE 36
5.1.3 VOLUMETRICS 36
5.1.4 SURVEYING 36
5.1.5 INSPECT STRUCTURES AND INFRASTRUCTURE 38
5.1.6 SAFETY AND RECORD KEEPING 38
5.1.7 Costing 41
7. Conclusion and Recommendations 43
8. References 44
The engineering and construction industries are based on the human relationships between many project stakeholders to achieve delivery excellence.
Enhanced processes and digital tools cannot replace people, either as individuals or teams, but they are required to increase quality, reduce costs, mitigate safety risks and improve decision-making.
Drones, more accurately described in a business context as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), present increasingly attractive opportunities for achieving these goals. They have significantly improved since the simple radio- controlled aircraft created for military use in 1938 and civil applications are no longer science fiction.
For example, a team of scientists has demonstrated that UAVs were able to build a rope bridge, assemble items to create a structure, or detect and catch an object in the air. Clearly, UAVs now offer a high level of automation enabling operators to reach previously inaccessible areas, while capturing a large amount of data very quickly. However, this is not their only use.
Accenture Consulting studied all possible applications of these unmanned aircraft in the engineering and construction industries, and the risks and opportunities they can bring. So what does it take to turn them into value delivered?
1.2 Project Objective
To determine the possible applications in the engineering industry using drones (photographic images).
To determine how these images are interpreted to achieve the desired product.
To determine how drones improved the engineering cost efficiency industry
No longer limited to commercial activities, UAVs now demonstrate numerous possibilities to add business value. Potential business applications are wide ranging and they offer disruptive opportunities for companies in the engineering and construction industries. They can dramatically extend human operations by enabling remote sensoring as well as actuation and predictive capabilities. Such capabilities offer key benefits such as cost reduction, risk mitigation and quality improvements, thereby bringing a competitive advantage to their adopters.
UAVs can be used to automate simple tasks and reduce labor costs significantly, while providing better accuracy through the use of multiple sensors on the same platform. They are already used in quarries for topographic surveys, and the measurement of reserves and storage volumes.
They allow quicker stock assessments with less workforce needed. UAVs can also replace workers on operations that normally require the shutdown of machinery, avoiding costly downtime and the use of expensive security equipment. For example, they are used for maintenance operations in the utilities industry to keep refineries and rigs operational during inspections.
UAVs enable organizations to inspect hard-to-reach or contaminated areas and to deliver supplies without exposing employees to the potential risks. For example, engineers used UAVs to inspect the 343 meter high Milllau Viaduct in France, controlling them from the ground and thereby reducing personal risk.
Real-time information is a key challenge for engineering and construction companies. UAVs can assist project managers by providing a picture of the entire project and keeping them informed about day-to-day progress.
They are then able to take informed decisions quickly and anticipate planning delays. For example, UAVs developed by the University of Illinois were used to capture video data showing construction progress at the Sacramento King’s new stadium in California.
a. Drones Description/Definition
What is a drone? It is an unmanned aircraft that can navigate autonomously without human control or beyond the line of sight by being remotely controlled. The term drones, more widely used by the public, was coined in the reference to the early remotely flown target aircraft used for practice firing of a battleship’s guns, and the term was first used with the 1920s Fairey Queen and 1930s de Havilland Queen Bee target aircraft. The term unmanned aircraft system (UAS) was adopted by the United State Department of Defense (DoD) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration in 2005 according to their Unmanned Aircraft System Roadmap 2005-2030.
Drone technology is continuously evolving as new innovation and big investment are bringing more advanced drones to the market every few months. Below is a brief discussion of UAV technology on the most popular drones on the market which have all the latest drone technology. Drones mostly have similar systems incorporated.
Unmanned aerial vehicle technology covers everything from the aerodynamics of the drone, materials in the manufacture of the physical UAV, to the circuit boards, chipset and software which are the brains of the drone.
DJI Phantom 3 is one of the most popular drones on the market. This drone was very popular with professional aerial cinematographers. While slightly old now, it uses plenty of advanced technology which is present in the very latest drones.
This UAV is ideal to explain drone technology because it has everything in one package. It includes the UAV, gimbal and camera and uses some of the top drone technology on the market today. DJI Mavic Air, Phantom 4 Pro, Inspire 2 and Walkera Voyager 5 have come to the market. The fast pace of drone technological innovation is tremendous. I’ve included these latest drone technology advancements in the below article. So this article is right up to date including all links.
Drones have been around for some time now (years) and they are used for different purposes and can be of help in numerous occasions. Drones have become popular in recent times and they rapidly increasing in most fields.
2. Drones Capabilities
Drones with different names such as unmanned aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles, come in various sizes and styles, and are widely available for purchase around the world. Most types of drones are designed primarily for recreational and commercial use come in a wide variety of sizes and capabilities, with different price ranges. Below is the overview of the various kinds of capabilities and technologies used by many of the most popular drone models.
Common features – below are most features that are found on many of the drones that consumers are likely to find on both entry level drones and more complex and expensive drones:
Quadcopter design: This design has four helicopter-type rotors or propellers to provide both lift and directional control.
Dedicated controller: These are radio signals devices used to send commands to the drone, and are typically powered by non-rechargeable batteries.
Rechargeable batteries: These batteries, which usually have to be charged before each flight, are removable, and are charged using an adapter that plugs into an electrical outlet like a USB port or wall socket. Drones would nearly always have rechargeable batteries, and controllers may have non-rechargeable batteries.
Extra propellers: Even the most inexpensive drones come often come with one or more complete sets of replacement propellers.
Flight control system: Even entry level drones have some level of automated flight control that helps the drone maintain controlled flight. The amount of control, and how much the user can program or vary that control, will depend on the drone.
Minimal protection from water: The electronics in most consumer drones, and their drone controllers, are not protected from water damage, so flying them in rainy conditions may lead to serious electrical problems.
Entry level drones
The smallest drones can weigh less than four ounces (112 gm) and can fit in the palm of your hand. These kinds of drones typically have a limited operating range, with the controllers usually able to control the drone over short distances, typically less than 100 meters (328 feet). The rechargeable batteries in these drones will likely allow around 10 minutes of flying time.
Entry level with extras
For a little more money, you can usually get one or more of the following extras with an operating range and endurance similar to an entry level drone:
Video recording: Built-in camera with the recording saved on a removable flash memory card such as a micro SD card.
Additional controller options: Typically, this option would be a smartphone based app.
First-person view (FPV) capability: The view from the drone’s camera is streamed to either the controller or a smartphone or tablet
Extended range and endurance: Higher capacity batteries and motors, along with an improved communications system, allows the drone to fly higher and for more flight time.
Advanced navigation and photography
Beyond the entry level drones that are primarily used for recreation are the drones with capabilities that would be useful to a wide range of professions and businesses. These drones combine the ability to record professional quality photographic and visual imagery as well as several of the following features:
Controllable camera: Camera operation, including where the camera is pointed, can be commanded from the ground.
Greater performance: Ability to fly twenty minutes or more at altitudes exceeding several hundred feet, as well as being able to operate over 1000 meters (0.62 miles).
Satellite navigation: Ability to GPS and other satellite-based navigation systems such as GLONASS.
Greater flight planning options: A combination of satellite navigation capability and a programmable flight planning system allows the drone to fly sophisticated flight profiles.
Autonomous operation: Capabilities may include the ability to return to takeoff point if controller loses contact with the drone, the ability to automatically follow a moving target, and the ability avoid collisions with obstacles.
How Drones Work
A typical unmanned aircraft is made of light composite materials to reduce weight and increase maneuverability. This composite material strength allows military drones to cruise at extremely high altitudes.
Drones are equipped with different state of the art technology such as infra-red cameras (military UAV), GPS and laser (military UAV). Drones are controlled by a person with a remote control system also sometimes referred to as a ground cockpit.
An unmanned aerial vehicle system has two parts, the drone itself and the control system.
The nose of the unmanned aerial vehicle is where all the sensors and navigational systems are present. The rest of the body is full of drone technology systems since there is no need for space to accommodate humans. The engineering materials used to build the drone are highly complex composites which can absorb vibration which decreases the noise produced and also light weight.
What Is a Drone – UAV Technology
Below we examine the science and drone technology behind the DJI Phantom 3 UAV. However, we also have plenty of information on the latest drone technologies from the newest drones on the market. There are plenty of links where you can read deeper into various components of drone technology
Drone Types and Sizes
Drones come in a wide variety of sizes, with the largest being mostly used for military purposes such as the Predator drone. The next in size are unmanned aircraft which have fixed wings and require short runways. These are generally used to cover large areas, working in areas such as geographical surveying or to combat wildlife poaching.
Next in size of drones and are what is known as VTOL drones. Many of these are quadcopters but not all. VTOL drones can take off, fly, hover and land vertically. The exact meaning of VTOL is “Vertical Take-Off and Landing”.
Many of the latest small drones such as the DJI Mavic Air and DJI Spark can be launched from the palm of your hand.
Radar Positioning & Return Home
Many of the latest drones have dual Global Navigational Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS and GLONASS. Drones can fly in both GNSS and non-satellite modes. For example DJI drones can fly in P-Mode (GPS & GLONASS) or ATTI mode which doesn’t uses satellite navigation.
Highly accurate drone navigation is very important when flying and in drone applications such as to build 3D maps, surveying landscape and SAR (Search ; Rescue) missions.
When the quadcopter is first switched on, it searches and detects GNSS satellites. High end GNSS systems use Satellite Constellation technology. Basically, a satellite constellation is a group of satellites working together giving coordinated coverage and synchronized so that they overlap well in coverage. Pass or coverage is the period in which a satellite is visible above the local horizon.
The radar technology in the drone will signal the following on the remote controller display;
• signal that enough drone GNSS satellites have been detected and the drone is ready to fly
• display the current position and location of the drone in relation to the pilot
• record the home point for ‘Return To Home’ safety feature
Most of the latest drone have 3 types of Return to Home drone technology as follows;
• Pilot initiated return to home by pressing button on Remote Controller or in an app.
• Low battery level where the UAV will fly back automatically back to home point.
• Loss of transmission between the UAV and Remote Controller with the UAV flying back automatically to its home point.
The latest Mavic Air RTH feature can sense and actively attempts to avoid obstacles during automatic return to home. The Mavic Air RTH obstacle avoidance works as follows if the lighting is sufficient;
1. The Mavic Air slows down when an obstacle is sensed
2. It will stop and hover, then fly backward and ascends upwards until no obstacle is sensed.
3. Next the RTH process resumes and the Mavic Air will return to home point a the new altitude.
Obstacle Detection and Collision Avoidance Technology
Many drones are now equipped with collision avoidance systems. These drone vision systems use obstacle detection sensors to scan the surroundings, while software algorithms and SLAM technology produce the images into 3D maps allowing the flight controller to sense and avoid the object. These systems are fusing one of more of the following sensors to sense and avoid obstacles;
• Vision Sensor
• Time of Flight (ToF)
• Monocular Vision
The latest DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom have obstacle sensing on all 6 sides. The Mavic 2 uses both Vision and Infrared sensors fused into a vision system known as Omnidirectional Obstacle Sensing.
The DJI Mavic 2 obstacle sensing system goes to the next level where it can actually fly around obstacles in front or when flying backwards. If it is unable to work out a flight path around the object, it will then hover in front of the obstacle. This is known as APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) on the DJI Mavic 2 and Mavic Air drones.
Gyro Stabilization, IMU and Flight Controllers
Gyro stabilization technology is one of the components which gives the drone its smooth flight capabilities. The gyroscope needs to work almost instantly to the forces moving against the drone. The gyroscope provides essential navigational information to the central flight controller.
The inertial measurement unit (IMU) works by detecting the current rate of acceleration using one or more accelerometers. The IMU detects changes in rotational attributes like pitch, roll and yaw using one or more gyroscopes. Some IMU include a magnetometer to assist with calibration against orientation drift.
The Gyroscope is a component of the IMU and the IMU is an essential component of the drones flight controller. The flight controller is the central brain of the drone.
Here is a terrific article which covers gyro stabilization and IMU technology in drones.
Drone Motor Direction and Propeller Design
The motors and propellers are the drone technology which get the UAV into the air and to fly in any direction or hover. On a quadcopter, the motors and propellers work in pairs with 2 motors / propellers rotating clockwise (CW Propellers) and 2 motors rotating Counter Clockwise (CCW Propellers).
They receive data from the flight controller and the electronic speed controllers (ESC) on the drone motor direction to either hover or fly.
Onscreen Real-Time Flight Parameters
Keep track of current flight telemetry and see what your drone sees on your mobile device.
No Fly Zone Drone Technology
In order to increase flight safety and prevent accidental flights in restricted areas, the latest drones from DJI and other manufacturers include a “No Fly Zone” feature.
These no fly zones have been divided into two categories: A and B. Manufacturers can update and change this no fly zone drone technology using firmware updates.
GPS Ready To Fly Mode Drone Technology
When the compass s is calibrated, the drone then seeks the location of GPS satellites. When more than 6 are found, it allows the drone to fly in “Ready To Fly” Mode.
Internal Compass ; Failsafe Function
Allows the UAV and remote control system to know exactly its flight location. Calibration of the Compass is required to set a home point. The home point is the location where the drone will return to in case of loss of signal between the drone and the remote control system. This is also know as “fail-safe function”.
FPV Live Video Transmission Drone Technology
FPV means “First Person View” and it is where a video camera is mounted on the unmanned aerial vehicle and broadcasts the live video to the pilot on the ground. The pilot is flying the aircraft as if they were on-board the aircraft instead of looking at the aircraft from the pilot’s actual ground position.
FPV allows the unmanned aircraft to fly much higher and further than you can from looking at the aircraft from the ground. First Person View allows for more precise flying especially around obstacles.
It also allows for unmanned aerial vehicles to fly very easily indoors, through forests and around buildings where it would not be possible to fly from a fixed position on the ground looking up at the drone in the distance.
The exceptionally fast growth and development of the drone racing league would not be possible without FPV live video transmission technology.
This FPV technology uses radio signal to transmit and receive the live video.
The drone has a multi-band wireless FPV transmitter built in along with an antennae. Depending on the drone, the receiver of the live video signals can be either the remote control unit, a computer, tablet or smartphone device.
DJI Mavic 2 PRO Drone Quadcopter with Hasselblad Camera HDR Video UAV Adjustable Aperture Bundle Kit with Must Have Accessories
This live video feed is related to the strength of the signal between the ground control on the drone. The latest drones such as the DJI Mavic and Phantom 4 Pro, can transmit live video up to 4.3 miles (7 km). The Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2 use the latest DJI Lightbridge 2 transmission system.
Drones such as the DJI Mavic Pro use integrated controllers and intelligent algorithms to set a new standard for wireless high definition image transmission by lowering latency and increasing maximum range and reliability.
Live video and maximizing the range of the transmission is fascinating drone technology. Read this article entitled “Understanding FPV Live Video Transmission”.
FPV Over 4G / LTE Networks
In 2016, a new live video which transmits over the 4G / LTE network providing an unlimited range and low latency video. This drone technology is the Sky Drone FPV 2 and comprises of a camera module, a data module and a 4G / LTE modem.
Firmware and Flight Assistant Port
The flight control system communicates with a PC Assistant through a Micro-USB cable. This allows configuration of the UAV and upgrade of the drone firmware.
A very simple description of a drone is that it is a flying computer with a camera or sensor attached. Like computers, drones have firmware which is software which commands the physical components in the aircraft or remote controller.
Drone manufacturers release firmware upgrades to fix bugs and add new features to the aircraft, remote control unit or software if it is used to fly the drone.
LED Flight Indicators
These are found at the front and the rear of the drone. The front LEDs are for indicating where the nose of the drone is. The rear LEDs flight indicators light up to show the drones current flight status when the flight battery is turned on.
UAV Remote Control System
This is the wireless communication device using the 5.8 GHz frequency band. The drone and the remote control system should already be paired when it leaves the factory.
UAV Remote Control Receiver
The location of the 5.8 GHz receiver technology link button is under the UAV.
Range Extender UAV Technology
This is a wireless communication device which operates within the 2.4 GHz frequency. It is used to extend the range of communication between the smartphone or tablet and the drone in an open unobstructed area.
Transmission distance can reach up to 700 meters. Each range extender has a unique MAC address and network name (SSID).
Some of the latest drones out of the box can fly using range to a distance of up to 4.3 miles (7km). Products such as FPV range extenders are very popular which can push the distance even further.
Smartphone App Featuring Ground Station Function
Many of the drones today can be flown by a remote controller or from a smartphone app which can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple Store. The app allows for full control of the drone.
Each manufacturer will have their own app such as the Go 4 app from DJI.
High Performance Camera
The latest drones from DJI, Walkera, Yuneec and many other manufacturers now include cameras which can shoot film in 4k video and can take 12 megapixel stills.
Many of the earlier drones used cameras which were not fully suitable for aerial filming. Many of these aerial videos had barrel distortion because of the wide angle lens.
However, the latest 4k video drones such as DJI Inspire 1, Phantom 3 Professional and Phantom 4 have a camera which is specifically designed for aerial filming and photography.
Drones with Zoom Cameras
In 2016 and 2017, a number of integrated gimbals with optical and digital zoom came to the market.
DJI released the Zenmuse Z3, which is an integrated aerial zoom camera and is optimized for still photography. The Zenmuse Z3 which had a 7x zoom made up of 3.5x optical and 2x digital lossless zoom creating a 22 to 77 mm equivalent focal length range, making it ideal for industrial applications.
Then in October 2016, DJI released the Zenmuse Z30 camera. This powerful Zenmuse Z30 is an integrated aerial zoom camera has a 30x optical and 6x digital zoom for a total magnification up to 180x. This allows for more industrial uses such as inspecting cell towers or wind turbines to get a very detailed look at structures, wires, modules and components to detect damage. The Zenmuse is compatible with DJI Matrice range of drones.
The Walkera Voyager 4 comes with an incredible 18x zoom camera. The 18x optical zoom camera on the Voyager 4 has unobstructed 360 degree filming. It can film in 4k at 30 frames per second. The high definition image transmission system uses a 3-axis brushless stabilization gimbal technology.
Walkera have also released their latest Voyager 5. This has an incredible 30x optical zoom camera. It includes many redundancy systems such as dual GPS, dual gyroscope and 3 battery system. It also has optional thermal infrared and low light night vision camera.
Gimbals & Tilt Control
Gimbal technology is vital to capture quality aerial photos, film or 3D imagery. The gimbal allows for any vibration from the drone to not reach the camera. The gimbal allows you to tilt the camera while in flight, creating unique angles. Many are 3 axis stabilized gimbals with 2 working modes. Non-FPV mode and FPV mode.
Practically all the latest drones have integrated gimbals and cameras. The leader in aerial gimbal technology is DJI with their Zenmuse range. You can read further on drone gimbal design here.
Cinematography Drones without Gimbals
At CES 2017 a company called Ambarella announced the H22 chip for cameras in drones. This H22 chip allows the camera to film in 4K HD video and includes electronic image stabilization, removing the need for camera gimbals.
Drones with Sensors to Create 3D Maps and Models
Multispectral, Lidar, Photogrammetry, low light night vision and Thermal vision sensors are now being used on drones to provide 3D models of buildings and landscape; Digital Elevation Maps (DEMS) of land, and provide precision data on the health of crops, flowers, fauna, shrubs and trees.
In 2016, drones using Time-of-Flight sensors came on the market. ToF sensors which can be used on their own or with the above sensors to provide various solutions across many sectors.
ToF depth ranging camera sensors can be used for object scanning, indoor navigation, obstacle avoidance, gesture, track objects, recognition, measure volumes, reactive altimeters, 3D photography, augmented reality games and much more.
With Lidar and photogrammetry mapping, the drone will be programmed to fly over an particular area using autonomous GPS waypoint navigation. The camera on the drone will take photographs at say 0.5 or 1 second intervals. These photos are then stitched together using specialized photogrammetry software to create the 3D images.
DroneDeploy is one of the leaders in the creation of 3D mapping software. Their latest software called Fieldscanner is for the agriculture sector, while their mobile app and Live Map is being used in many sectors for creating 3D maps and models. Their software will work with most of the latest drones.
Capturing high resolution images on a stabilized drone is very important. Using top photogrammetry software to process the images into real maps and models is just as important. Some of the top drone mapping software is as follows;
• Drone Deploy 3D Mapping Solutions
• Pix4D Mapper Photogrammetry Software
• Auto Desk ReCap Photogrammetry Software
• Maps Made Easy – Orthophoto and 3D Models
• 3DF Zephyr Photogrammetry Software
• Agisoft PhotoScan Photogrammetry Software
• PrecisionHawk Precision Mapper / Viewer
• Open Drone Map
• ESRI Drone2Map For ArcGIS
Helps to keep the stabilizer and camera connected to the unmanned aircraft.
Video Editing Software
Having an excellent quality video software is essential for post processing. Most of the latest drones can film in Adobe DNG raw which means that all the original image information is retained for later processing.
Operating Systems in Drone Technology
Most unmanned aircraft use Linux and a few MS Windows. The Linux Foundation have a project launched in 2014 called the Dronecode project.
The drone code Project is an open source, collaborative project which brings together existing and future open source unmanned aerial vehicle projects under a non-profit structure governed by The Linux Foundation. The result is a common, shared open source platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
Drone Security and Hacking
Drones in some ways are like flying computers. With an operating system, flight controllers and main boards with programmable code, they can also be hacked into. Drones have been developed to fly around seeking other drones and hacking into the drones wireless network, disconnects the owner and takes over that drone. However, there is some practical ways to protect your drone from hackers.
Latest Innovative Technological Drones
DJI have a huge command of the consumer and professional drone market. The latest advanced drones with patented technologies are the following;
• DJI Mavic Air – This is the latest small sized professional drone. It has a 4k camera and very stable flight. It has collision avoidance. It can also fly using hand gestures and has face recognition technology.
• DJI Spark – Small selfie drone which can take off from the palm of your hand.
• DJI Mavic Pro – Small fold up drone with front and downward collision avoidance sensors. Super stable flight and 4k filming capabilities.
• DJI Phantom 4 Pro – with “Vision” collision avoidance technology. Multipurpose drone including 4k aerial filming, photography and photogrammetry.
• DJI Inspire 2 – Patented design and motors. Multipurpose drone for professional 5k aerial filming, photography, photogrammetry, multispectral and thermal imaging.
• Yuneec Typhoon H Pro – uses the patented Intel “Realsense” collision avoidance technology. Great for professional aerial photography and filming.
• Walkera Voyager 5 – This latest drone from Walkera is tremendous. Camera options include 30x optical zoom, thermal infrared and also a low light night vision camera.
• Walkera Vitus Starlight – latest small sized consumer drone from Walkera featuring collision avoidance sensors and a low light night vision camera.
• DJI Matrice 200 Commercial Quadcopter – Redundancy with dual battery, IMU and Satellite navigation systems. You can mount 2 cameras under the quadcopter (e.g thermal and zoom camera). Also, mount a camera on top of Matrice 200, which makes surveying of bridges real easy. The Matrice 200 has 6 directions of collision avoidance using ToF laser, Ultrasonic and Vision sensors.
• DJI Matrice 600 – This commercial multirotor is an true aerial cinematography platform. Options to mount 7 different Zenmuse cameras.
Intelligent Flight Systems
The latest drones have intelligent flight controllers and modes such as Follow Me, Active Tracking, Waypoints, Return To Home and many others. The latest Phantom 4 Pro from DJI has the most autonomous intelligent flight modes of any drone. The Phantom 4 Pro has the following intelligent flight modes;
• Active Track (Profile, Spotlight, Circle)
• Draw Waypoints
• Terrain Follow Mode
• Tripod Mode
• Gesture Mode
• S-Mode (Sport)
• P-Mode (Position)
• A-Mode (Attitude)
• Beginner Mode
• Course Lock
• Home Lock
• Obstacle Avoidance
Drones have so many terrific uses. When you mount a camera or sensors such as LiDAR, Thermal, ToF, Multispectral and many others, then the range of uses for drones just keeps expanding. Here is an excellent list of drone uses.
Top Videos on Drone Technology
Below is a picture of 2 drones which shows a typical example on drone technology. And seeks to give an understanding of the software science behind UAV technology.
The two medium-sized military drones are currently in use in the MQ-1B Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper. In Afghanistan and Pakistan these were mostly used.
There have been a massive investment in drones in the past few years especially in the business and consumer drone sector. Drone technology and innovation has really leaped forwarded in the past few years.
3. South African Drone operation requirements
Drone laws in are very interesting and tricky in South Africa. It has been illegal to fly drones because South African airspace was unregulated. Initially, the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) responded by clamping down on drones already operating in the South African civil aviation airspace. But now, SACAA has collaborated with the drone industry and formulated regulations to deal with this rapidly expanding industry. The law addresses the main issues of safety and security when using drones and the correct way to classify them.
The SACAA regulations have been adopted by the Minister of Transport. On the 1st of July 2015 drone law were forced to come into place and they are found in part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) regulations. And South Africa became one of the first countries to have comprehensive drone law. And by having these laws South Africa was placed as a world leader in drone regulation and other countries followed.
On 2 April 2014, SACAA issued a media statement “on civil aviation to crackdown on illegally flying drones” explaining that the current civil aviation laws did not provide for the certification, registration or operation of drones in the South African civil aviation airspace. This meant that South Africa did not have any drone law. SACAA further stated that those flying any type of drone are doing so illegally. In the statement, they mentioned that they were developing regulations to deal with the pressing issue. A key concern for them in the development process was safety, security and privacy.
The statement caused an uproar in the industry and on 4 June 2014, SACAA released a further statement clarifying that the flying of drones in South Africa has never been legal, as there are no laws governing their use in South Africa. Current civil aviation regulations prescribe specific requirements for operating an aircraft in the South African airspace, and to date no drone has been able to comply with these requirements. In the statement, SACAA made it clear that it had not given any concessions or approval to any organisation, individual, institution or government entity to operate drones within the civil aviation airspace. From the industry’s reaction over the statement, the need for good and comprehensive drone law was apparent.
South Africa is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). ICAO is working with the member states to create an international regulatory framework for drones using Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS).
Draft regulations were published by SACAA in December 2014 for drones, now referred to as Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). Stakeholders were able to comment on the draft up to the 5th of January 2015. The draft regulations maintain the distinction between RPAS used for commercial, corporate or non-profit purposes and those used for an individual’s personal and private purposes. The draft regulation required RPAS pilots licenses from SACAA-accredited school or institution for certain operators of an RPAS. These required if the drone would be for commercial, corporate or non-profit use. And the draft regulation have been updated with changes.
The objectives of the SACAA regulations:
• To highlight the importance of a regulatory framework for RPAS
• To share International Civil Aviation Organisation plans
• To educate and discuss the compliance process flow for Part 101 with the
• To gather inputs on areas of improvement and the future development of Part 101.
Thus far this is the eighth amendment of the Civil Aviation regulations, 2015 Part 101: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and Consists of Six Sub-parts:
• Subpart 1: General provisions
• Subpart 2: Approval and registration
• Subpart 3: Personnel licensing
• Subpart 4: RPAS operating certificate
• Subpart 5: RPAS operations
• Subpart 6: Maintenance
“Remotely piloted aircraft” (RPAS) means an unmanned aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station, excluding model aircraft and toy aircraft.
“Toy aircraft” means a product falling under the definition of aircraft which is designed or intended for use in play by children.
“Model aircraft” means a non-human-carrying aircraft capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere and used exclusively for air display, recreational use, sport or competitions.
Acceptable uses of RPAS
For private use –
(a) The RPAS may only be used for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain;
(b) The pilot must observe all statutory requirements relating to liability, privacy and any other laws enforceable by any other authorities.
For all other use –
(a) an RPA must be registered and may only be operated in terms of Part 101 of the South African Civil Aviation Regulations.
Dangers of negligent operation of an RPA:
Collision with other aircraft, with possible fatal results
(a) Collision with other aircraft, with possible fatal results
(b) Injury to the public
(c) Damage to people’s property
(d) Legal liability for breaking laws such as privacy by-laws and other laws enforceable by other authorities.
Do’s and Don’ts
DO NOT, through act or omission, endanger the safety of another aircraft or person therein or any person or property through negligent flying/operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft.
Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft 50 m or closer from:
1. Any person or group of persons (like sports field, road races, schools, social events, etc.)
2. Any property without permission from the property owner.
Unless approved by the SACAA, DO NOT fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft or toy aircraft:
1. Near manned aircraft
2. 10 km or closer to an aerodrome (airport, helipad, airfield)
3. Weighing more than 7 kg
4. In controlled airspace
5. In restricted airspace
6. In prohibited airspace.
Do not fly/operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft, or toy aircraft higher than 150 ft from the ground, unless approved by the Director of Civil Aviation of the SACAA.
3.1.1 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Sub-part 1 – General
101.01.1(1) This Part applies to –
(a) Class 1 and 2 of remotely piloted aircraft, unless otherwise approved by the Director; and
(b) Persons acting as owners, operators, observers, pilots and who are in the performance of maintenance of RPA.
(2) For the purposes of this Part, RPAS may be operated for –
(a) Commercial operations;
(b) Corporate operations;
(c) Non-profit operations; and
(d) Private operations.
(3) This Part does not apply to –
(a) Autonomous unmanned aircraft, unmanned free balloons and their operations or other types of aircraft which cannot be managed on a real-time basis during flight;
(b) An aircraft operated in terms of Part 94;
(c) A model aircraft; and
(d) Toy aircraft.
Means the use of an RPA for an individual’s personal and private purposes where there is no commercial outcome, interest or gain.
101.01.2 (1) Subject to sub-regulation (2), the provisions of Subparts 2, 3, 4 and 6 of this Part do not apply to the private operation of RPAS.
(2) Notwithstanding sub-regulation (1), the provisions of regulations 101.05.5(2); 101.05.8(1)(b), (c) and (d); 101.05.9(1)(a) and (b) do not apply to the private operation of RPAS.
(3) Private operations of RPAS shall be conducted only in R-VLOS with a Class 1A or 1B RPA.
Private operations are also exempted from Sub-regulations:101.05.21 – 25 See AIC 009-2015 General exemption granted by the Director of Civil Aviation from the requirements of Part 101 pertaining to private operations
101.01.4 The Director may, from time to time, issue directives which are
necessary for the safe and secure operation of RPAS.
RPA sales or re-sales labelling
101.01.5 No RPA shall be sold within the Republic unless the seller has, by way of a packaging label, or in the case of the resale thereof, by way of written notification, notified the buyer of the requirements as prescribed in Document SA-CATS 101.
Refer to Document SA-CATS 101 for a label sample
3.1.2 Regulations Part 101 Sub-part 2, RPAS Approval and Registration
Registration and marking
101.02.4 (1) No RPA shall be operated within the Republic, unless such RPA has been issued with a certificate of registration by the Director.
(2) The format and specification of the nationality mark designated for use on RPA shall be as prescribed in Document SA-CATS 101.
Application for a new registration
The original application (Form CA-47R1) must be submitted to the SA Civil
Aviation Authority. See page 5 of the Form CA 47-R1 for the required supporting documentation.
Registration of a new RPA
In the case of an RPA which is imported into the Republic for the first time or returns to the Republic and has to be re-registered on the South African Civil Aircraft Register (SACAR):
An original affidavit confirming the following:
• Non-registration or de-registration of the RPA from the State orterritory from which the aircraft is imported
• Ownership of the RPA
• Manufacturer, Serial number and model of the RPA
A copy of the Clearance Importation Document issued by SARS (FormSAD500), if applicable.
In the case of ex-military RPA:
• Confirmation issued by National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) that the aircraft is not fitted with any armaments.
Registration of a new RPAS
If the aircraft is to be registered in the name of a company:
• A copy of the latest register of directors approved in terms of the Companies Act, 2008 (Act No. 71 of 2008). (Form COR39)
• The authorising resolution on page 4 hereof
• Any of the following certified documents: SA identity document, SA passport, valid SA driver’s licence, as authorised on page 4 of the resolution.
• If the aircraft is to be registered in the name of a close corporation:
• A copy of the latest founding statement approved in terms of the Close Corporation Act, 1984 (Act No.69 of 1984). (Form CK1/ CK2)
• The authorising resolution on page 4 hereof
• Any of the following certified documents: SA identity documents, SA passport, valid SA driver’s licence, as authorised on page 4 of the resolution.
Registration of a new RPAS
If the aircraft is to be registered in the name of a trust:
• A certified copy of the appropriate letter of appointment as trustee, issued by the Master of the High court. (Form J246)
• The authorising resolution on page 4 hereof
• Any of the following certified documents: SA identity document, SA passport, valid SA driver’s licence, as authorised on page 4 of the resolution.
Other possible registration transactions
• Form CA-47R2 – for change of ownership
• Form CA-47R3 – for deletion due to accident or export
• Form CA-47R4 – amendment of C of R
• Form CA-47R5 – for duplicate C of R
RPAS letter of approval
101.02.1 (1) No RPAS shall be operated within the Republic, unless such RPAS has been issued with a letter of approval by the Director.
(2) An application for the issuing or renewal of an RLA shall be made to the
Director on the appropriate form and accompanied by the appropriate fee.
(3) The Director shall issue an RLA if the applicant complies with all prescribed requirements
(4) An RLA shall be valid for a period of 12 months from date of issue.
RPAS system safety
101.02.2 (1) An applicant for the issue of an RLA, shall provide the Director with –
(a) Documentation regarding the standard to which the RPAS was designed; or
(b) Equivalent documentation that demonstrates a level of safety acceptable to the Director; or
(c) Documentation demonstrating system safety as prescribed in Document
Submitted documentation should substantiate that the RPAS in question is capable of being operated safely for the work it will be deployed for. The evaluation process will consider the contents of Operational Specifications (OpsSpec) issued by the Director as part of RPAS Operators Certificate
The SACAA will consider documentation for previously approved RLA for similar RPAS. Should operational conditions change, SACAA may request more documentation or substantiation to cover the differences.
An RPA that is not equipped with an altimetry system or equivalent shall be operated under R-VLOS only.
3.1.3 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Subpart 3 –Personal Licensing
101.03.1 (1) No person shall act as a remote pilot, except when undergoing a skills test or receiving flight instruction, unless he or she is in possession of a valid remote pilot’s licence (RPL) in the relevant category.
Prior to making any application with SACAA, an applicant should obtain aviation training from an approved training organisation (ATO).
• An applicant should not be less than 18 years of age
• Applicant must hold current medical assessment
• Applicant must meet theoretical requirements as per SA-CATS 101
• Applicant must pass the RPL practical assessment
• Applicant must also pass at least restricted Radiotelephony Examination
• Applicant should achieve English Language Proficiency (ELP) level 4 or higher.
Remote Pilot’s Licence:
A remote pilot’s licence may be issued for the following categories:
The following ratings may be endorsed on the licence:
• Visual line-of-sight operations (VLOS)
• Extended visual line-of-sight operations (EVLOS)
• Beyond visual line-of-sight operations (BVLOS)
An applicant should successfully complete:
• Theoretical knowledge examination
• Flight training
• An RPL is valid until the last day of the 24th month from the date of issue.
• A revalidation check shall be conducted in the 90-day period before the expiry date of the validity period by an examiner accredited by the Director. The revalidation shall be valid from the expiry date for a period of 24 months.
• A holder of an RPL should apply to the SACAA for instructor rating
• Remote pilot instructors shall apply to the SACAA for designation as remote pilot examiners.
Pror learning will be recognised and applies to and including the following:
A person who holds or have held:
• A Pilot’s Licence
• A military qualification equivalent to a licence and rating; or
• An air traffic control licence, or a military qualification equivalent to an air traffic control licence
• Commercial air, unmanned aircraft operations experience.
Foreign RPL training:
Theoretical knowledge examination
_ Approval shall be obtained from the Director before any foreign theoretical training or theoretical knowledge examination is undertaken if such training or knowledge is to be accredited towards a South African RPL.
_ Approval shall be obtained from the Director before any foreign flight training is undertaken, if such training is to be accredited towards a
South African RPL.
• The holder of an RPL must maintain in a pilot’s logbook a record of all his or her flight time, instrument time, simulation time and instruction time
• The holder of an RPL must make the logbook available for inspection upon a reasonable request by an authorised officer, inspector or authorised person.
3.1.4 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Sub-part 4 – RPAS Operating Certificate (ROC)
101.04.1 (1) No person shall operate an RPAS in terms of this Part unless such person is the holder of –
(a) In the case of commercial, corporate and non-profit operations, a valid ROC including the operations specifications attached thereto; and
(b) In the case of commercial operations, an air services licence issued in terms of the Air Services Licensing Act, 1990 (Act No. 115 of 1990).
101.04.2 (1) An application for the issuing of an ROC or renewal or an amendment thereto, shall be –
(a) made to the Director on the appropriate form;
(b) Accompanied by –
(i) The appropriate fee as prescribed in Part 187;
(ii) A copy of the certificate of registration of each RPA to be operated;
(iii) A copy of the RLA for each device to be operated; and
(iv) For an initial issue, an original operations manual as required by this Part.
101.04.3 (1) An ROC shall be valid for 12 months from the date of issue unless –
(a) It is surrendered by the holder thereof; or
(b) It is suspended by an authorised officer, inspector or authorised personor cancelled by the Director.
(2) The holder of an ROC shall, at least 60 days immediately preceding the date on which such certificate expires, apply for the renewal of such certificate.
(3) The holder of an ROC which is cancelled shall, within seven days from the date on which the ROC is cancelled, surrender such document to the Director.
Duties of the holder of an ROC
101.04.4 (1) The holder of an ROC shall –
(a) Conduct the activities granted by such certificate and ensure compliance with the provisions authorised therein;
(b) Ensure compliance with any other requirements which the Director may impose;
(2) For operations approved for E-VLOS, the operator shall ensure that each observer has completed the training prescribed by the operator and as approved by the Director in their operations manual.
101.04.5 (1) An ROC holder shall develop for approval by the Director, an operations manual containing all the information required to demonstrate how such operator will ensure compliance with the regulations and how safety standards will be applied and achieved during such operations.
(2) An ROC holder shall set out the type and scope of operations, including the manner in which each type of RPAS and operation will be safely conducted.
(3) The operations manual, or system of manuals, should reflect all operational and legislative activities and obligations which the ROC holder is obliged to meet, such that the content is commensurate with the size and scope of the operation.
(4) The operator shall submit amendments to the Director for approval –
(a) Prior to a change in any proposed aspect, type or scope of the operator’s operation;
(b) Where the operations manual no longer meets the requirements of these regulations or associated technical standards;
(c) On determining that any part or component thereof is, or becomes, inadequate; or
(d) As required by the Director.
(5) Upon the approval of the operations manual amendments by the Director, the operator shall make such changes available to all persons engaged in the operation, deployment, handling, security, transportation and storage of any RPAS operated by such ROC holder and ensure that they are made aware, and where necessary trained in accordance with any relevant aspect relating to such amendment.
(6) The structure and contents of the operations manual shall be as prescribed in Document SA-CATS-101.
101.04.7 (1) The holder of an ROC shall establish a safety management system commensurate with the size of the organisation or entity and the complexity of its operations.
101.04.12 An ROC holder shall at all times be adequately insured for third party liability.
ROC application process
The process will follow the ICAO 5-phase process
Phase 1: Pre-application
• The applicant submits a “Letter of Intent” to the SACAA’s Flight Operations Department (FOD)
• The applicant will be guided on the entire Five-phase Process.
Depending on the application, this meeting may, at the discretion of the inspector, be conducted via telephone and/or email correspondence.
Phase 2: Formal application
• The applicant needs to submit a formal application (for commercial operations, attach licence issued by the ASLC)
• The applicant will be invited to attend a formal meeting. Depending on the application, the formal meeting may, at the discretion of the inspector, be conducted via telephone and/or email correspondence.
Phase 3: Document evaluation
• Once the formal application has been accepted, the applicant will need to submit all the required manuals to the CAA for approval.
• The CAA will complete a thorough review of the manuals.
• A fully completed Statement of Compliance must be included within the manuals submitted.
Phase 4: Demonstration and inspection
• The applicant will need to demonstrate its ability to comply with regulations, the company operations manual and safe operating practices
• The demonstration and inspection phase includes onsite evaluations of all policies, procedures, methods and instructions as described by the regulation and operations manual.
Phase 5: Certification
• After the document compliance and demonstration and inspection phase has been completed satisfactorily, the application will be issued with an RPAS Operating Certificate (ROC) as well as the Operational Specifications (Ops Spec).
• The Ops Spec will contain the authorisations, limitations and provisions applicable to the operation.
• The certificate holder is responsible for continued compliance with the regulations, authorisations, limitations and provisions of its certificate and operational specifications.
• The CAA will conduct periodic inspections on the operator’s operation to ensure continued compliance with the regulations and safe operating procedures.
• If an applicant is a holder of a valid Class III licence, Category A4 –
Type G16 or G-class as applicable to the operation, he/she may begin the process from Phase 2.
3.1.5 RPAS Regulations Part 101: Sub-part 5 RPAS Operations
The regulations regarding the actual operation of RPAS
• What you need
• What you are allowed to do
• What you are not allowed to do
• Where you can operate, etc
18.104.22.168 OPERATIONAL LIMITATIONS AND PROHIBITIONS
Limitations Notes Prohibitions Notes
Class 1 and 2 RPA
Except by the holder of an ROC and as approved by the Director of Civil Aviation For private operations Class 1A and 1B
Unless exempted as per Part 11
No person shall use a public road as a place of landing or take-off of an RPA No RPA shall:
• Tow another aircraft
• perform aerial or aerobatic displays
• be flown in formation or swarm
No RPAS may be operated in controlled airspace RPAS to be operated in radio line-of-sight
No object or substance shall be released, dispensed, dropped, delivered or deployed from an RPA
no RPA shall carry dangerous goods as cargo
no RPA shall be operated:
• above 400 ft above ground level
• within a radius of 10 km from an aerodrome
• within restricted or prohibited airspace
• adjacent to or above a nuclear power plant, prison, police station, crime scene, court of law, national key point or strategic installation.
An RPA shall not be operated beyond visual-line-of-sight
An RPA may not be operated at night
No person shall operate an RPA directly overhead any person or group of people or within a lateral distance of 50 m
No RPA shall be operated within a lateral distance of 50 m from any structure or building
No person shall operate an RPA over a public road, along the length of a public road or at a lateral distance of less than 50 m from a public road
NOTE: Other than the approval of the Director of Civil Aviation, approval from other governmental departments/authorities may be required (e.g. municipality)
Found on Page 8 of the TGM: RPAS Part 101
Covers 10 of the 25 regulations under Part 5
• Reference guide
• Refer to the regulations under Part 5 for further information on each limitation and prohibition
• Limitations in the first column (yellow) – need to be a ROC holder and need approval from the Director of Civil Aviation
• Prohibitions in the third column (red) – you may apply for exemption as per Part 11 of the Civil Aviation Regulations
Regulations not covered in Table 2: What do you need?
• 101.05.1 Weather conditions allowing for unobstructed visual contact to be maintained with the RPA unless in B-VLOS or Night operations as approved by the Director
• 101.05.8 Comply with C2 operational requirements as prescribed in SACATS 101
• 101.05.9 Precautions and Safety Considerations
RPA – fit-to-fly condition
Pilot – hold a valid license issued in terms of Part 101
RPS – compatible and interoperable with the aircraft to which it is connected
RPA – controlled by only one RPS at any given moment in time
RPAS operation – shall not endanger the safety of any person, property or other aircraft
• 101.05.16 Radio communications – air band radio, radio calls, maintain radio contact with the relevant ATSU
• 101.05.22 Flight folio or similar document:
Accessible at the remote pilot station at all times during flight
Kept up to date and legible
Maintenance shall be recorded
Fuel, charging and oil records
• 101.05.23 Power reserves:
VLOS and B-VLOS: enough fuel/charge to complete the flight
PLUS a reserve of at least 10%
• 101.05.24 First aid kit – contents as per SA-CATS 91
Within the RPS
Within 300m of the take off and landing points
• 101.05.25 Hand-held Fire Extinguisher
Within 300m of the take off and landing points
Regulations not covered in Table 2: Remote Pilot
• 101.05.17 Complete Pre-flight preparations as per SA-CATS 101
• 101.05.18 Accountable for the safe operation of the RPAS
Operate the aircraft according to the manual Separation and avoidance.
• 101.05.19 Ensure the take-off and landing area is safe and suitable for the type of operation and aircraft.
• 101.05.20 An RPA shall give way to manned aircraft Further provisions regarding “right of way”
• 101.05.21 Report and record time in UTC, expressed in hours and minutes
24-hour day beginning at midnight.
Regulations not covered in Table 2: You shall NOT
• 101.05.7 Consume alcohol and drugs:
? Applicable to the remote pilot, observer and RMT
? No consumption of alcohol less than 8 hours prior to reporting for duty
? Concentration of alcohol in any specimen of blood taken may not exceed 0.02g/100ml
? No consumption of alcohol or psychoactive substance during duty
? Duty shall not be commenced if under the influence of alcohol or any psychoactive substance having a narcotic effect
Regulations not covered in Table 2:
Accidents and Incidents
• 101.05.6 All accidents and incidents involving an RPA shall be reported as per the procedure stipulated in Part 12 of the Civil Aviation Regulations where there is:
(a) Any injury or death to a person;
(b) Damage to property; or
(c) Destruction of the RPA beyond economical repair
All incidents involving an RPA where loss of control occurred shall be reported to the holder of the ROC.
101.04.8 (1) The holder of an ROC issued under this Part shall –
(a) Conduct background checks on all personnel recruited for deployment, handling and storage of any RPAS;
(b) Conduct criminal record checks every 24 months on all personnel employed in the deployment, handling, and storage of RPAS;
(c) Ensure that RPAS not in use are stored in a secure manner to prevent and detect unauthorised interference or use;
(d) Ensure that the RPAS is protected from acts of unlawful interference;
(e) Ensure that the RPA is stored and prepared for flight in a manner that will prevent and detect tampering and ensure the integrity of vital systems;
(f) Designate a security coordinator responsible for the implementation, application and supervision of the security controls; and
(g) Ensure that all personnel employed in the deployment, handling, and storage of RPAS have received security awareness training as prescribed in Part 109. 19
(2) The holder of an ROC shall include in the operations manual referred to in regulation 101.04.5 the security aspects of the RPA operations as prescribed in this regulation and Document SA-CATS 101.
Surveillance, safety and security audits and inspections
101.04.9 (1) An applicant for the issuing of an ROC shall permit an authorised officer, inspector or authorised person to carry out such safety and security inspections, audits and oversight.
Partners or subcontractors, as may be necessary to determine continued compliance with the provisions of regulations and the privileges granted by the certificate.
3.1.6 RPAS Regulations Part 101 Subpart 6 maintenance
Due to the fact that there are currently no certification standards for RPAS, the applicant should maintain the RPA in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, whether it is through actions or inspections. The maintenance programme has to be submitted to the SACAA for the Director’s approval.
101.06.2 (1) The maintenance on an RPA or any component thereof shall be carried out by the following persons:
(a) In respect of an RPA classified as a Class 3 and higher, the holder of a valid RMT authorisation; or
(b) In respect of an RPA classified as Class 2 and lower, the ROC holder: provided that the holder can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Director, its ability to perform the required maintenance on the RPA.
A person making application should:
• Be no less than 18 years of age
• Be a South African citizen or in possession of a valid permanent residence permit or valid temporary work permit with a letter of employment
• Have successfully completed appropriate training, provided by (i) an organisation approved by the competent authority in the country where the training organisation is located; (ii) an approved original equipment manufacturer, or (iii) a training facility approved by the Director, or
• Demonstrate the ability to perform maintenance functions where no training for the particular RPA is offered or available.
3.2 Drone Law and Privacy
SACAA should take privacy into account when they developing drone law because drones are often equipped with video cameras on them. They could record or stream video unknowingly and potentially also collect data around it as it moves around. The SACAA Senior Manager for Certification suggests that drones would need a registration record for both the pilot and aircraft. This will be the case should the regulations be approved.
Many of the comments submitted to the draft regulation came from human rights and activist organisations. They expressed their concerns about infringing the right to privacy with drones specifically that the State has an increasingly greater capability to collect information on its citizens. They also mentioned the various uses for drones in the military and the concerns that individuals also infringe on privacy. The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act) protects an individual from the unlawful processing of their personal information. Collection is included in the definition of “processing” so before these regulations are signed into law, they must take the provisions of POPI into account especially in light of new advanced technologies like drones. POPIAct itself may also have to be reviewed in light of drone technology because any drone, regardless of its commercial or non-commercial purpose, can have the ability to collect and process personal information.
Rules of Flight for private/hobby use: Restricted Visual Line-of-sight (R-VLOS) which means an operation within 500m of the remote pilot and below the height of the highest obstacle within 300m of the RPA, in which the remote pilot maintains direct unaided visual contact with the RPA to manage its flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities.
Operating commercially ; the Regulations.
Note: Getting your Remote Pilots License (RPL) does not entitle you to operate commercially just yet. It’s the first step forward in developing a licensed drone pilot with the right knowledge, flight skills and most importantly understanding the safety elements involved when flying within manned airspace.
The South African African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) views any drone flying in the sky as a aircraft and must abide by the same law as manned aircraft. As a commercial pilot, a commercial drone pilot must also go through their own certification and exams. The first step would be getting your Remote Pilots License (RPL), second would be your Air Service License (ASL) from the department of transport and then your Remote Operators Certificate (ROC) from the SACAA. Only once you have these certificates can you operate commercially.
For anyone even considering commercial drone work or needing inflight drone insurance your RPL is a must have! If you a commercial business we also suggest you sign up for a demo of our DJI FlightHub program.
This allows you to monitor each pilot and drone from a central base. FlightHub will allow for safer flight operations which will ultimately be viewed positively by the SACAA. Software such as flightHub can facilitate a quicker ROC approval from the CAA.
4. Types of applications in the various engineering industry sectors
Aviation Administration (FAA) in Kimley-Horn was one of the first engineering firms to obtain a Section 333 Exemption from the Federal 2015.
• Kimley-Horn partnered with 3D Robotics and Autodesk.
• Forge allows hardware and technology partners to build on top of Autodesk tools
• 3DR is one of the first companies to release a product from this arrangement, and its Site Scan software leverages the photo processing of ReCap 360 Pro as well as cloud processing from the A360 cloud.
Drone Data Considerations
• Ground Sampling Distance
• Camera Sensor
• Distance to Object
• Improve Accuracy with Survey (GCPs)
• LiDAR and Drone Data
• Drone AND Survey, not Drone In-Lieu of Survey
• CAD/Drone workflow to Integrate Data with Design/Construction
Possible Uses of UAS for Transportation:
• Aerial Photography and Project Documentation Land Surveying
• 3-D Terrain Modeling
• GIS, CAD and BIM Data Integration
• Structural Inspections
• Equipment Inspections
• Traffic Studies
• Slope Stability Analysis
• Construction Monitoring and Documentation
• Emergency Response
Benefits of UAS CMPM Support:
• Mature use case
• Real-time logistical planning
• Claims resolution/contract dispute resolution
• Prevent problems before they become problems
• Site inspection
• Structure inspection
• As-built creation
• Project documentation
• Schedule Tracking
• Grading surveys
• Stockpile volumetric and pay quantities
• Benefits can be a webinar on it’s own
Concerns and Issues with UAS CMPM Support:
• Weather constraints
• FAA regulation for some locations
Benefits of UAS based Inspections:
? Faster than traditional methods
? High resolution photographic record
? Various sensors available including multi-spectral and Lidar
Concerns and Issues with UAS based Inspections:
• Control of systems in tight spaces
• Weather constraints
• Adequate views and angles
• Are photos adequate?
• Acceptance by FHWA
• FAA regulation
• Comparison to hands-on inspection.
• Inertia and uncertainty
Traffic Studies, Monitoring and Documentation:
TRAFFIC VOLUME PICTURE
Benefits of UAS based traffic studies:
? Less tedious and expensive
? High resolution photographic record for review and analysis
? Specialized systems (such as tethered UAS)
Concerns and Issues with UAS based traffic studies:
? Weather and time of day constraints
? Time in the air
? FAA regulation
4.1.1 Aerial Monitoring
Power line network surveillance to check for vegetation growth and to detect damaged areas and rust formation
4.1.2 Stockpile Monitoring
Use of volumetric calculation to measure extraction areas and stockpile volumes, height, diameter and density to monitor inventory, prevent theft and to plan deliveries and collections
4.1.3 3D Mapping
Development of detailed 3D maps to support planning and designing of new worksites and evaluate distances between installations
4.1.4 Monitoring gas emissions
Use of thermal imaging to identify and pinpoint gas leaks on platforms or towers, avoiding potentially dangerous high level operation and exposure to emissions for workers, and the costly shutdown of the activity.
4.1.5 Traffic Monitoring
Filming of road traffic enabling communication and efficient decision-making in real time.
4.1.6 Pylons Maintenance
24 hour inspection of electrical equipment using thermal and UV cameras to detect failures such as overheated connectors or corona discharge, and maintenance.
5. How drones work in the engineering industry
5.1.1 PROJECT MANAGEMENT
It’s no longer necessary for your project managers to drive from jobsite to jobsite every day to monitor progress. Instead, a site manager or on-site worker with minimal flight training can easily launch a drone along a pre-programmed survey route and images can be sent almost immediately to a manager at the home office for updates every step of the process.
Special software photo stitches high-definition orthomosaic maps and organizes them for you, so you can see changes to every part of your job site over time. Some systems even sync with existing construction management software, enabling you to seamlessly compile photo albums with tools already familiar to you that can then be used in planning meetings and to make more informed business decisions to help finish projects ahead of schedule and under budget.
5.1.2 MARK UP AND MEASURE
No need to post flags or roll out your measuring wheel. Drone software lets you annotate and actually take measurements of site maps from your computer. You can mark loading and unloading zones, safety concerns, or other points of interest; and even measure two-dimensional distances and areas; then share that information with staff and stakeholders to help them better understand the project.
No need to post flags or roll out your measuring wheel. Drone software lets you annotate and actually take measurements of site maps from your computer. You can mark loading and unloading zones, safety concerns, or other points of interest; and even measure two-dimensional distances and areas; then share that information with staff and stakeholders to help them better understand the project.
The most important part of any building is the land on which it rests, and drones provide valuable information while saving you a lot of time during the survey phase of projects. Drones can cover an entire plot in minutes and generate Digital Surface Models (DSMs) or coloured maps showing “hot spots” and low areas that could affect drainage. Drone software can also generate other 3D models that can provide information to the excavating crew on the ground, ensuring a solid foundation for your project.
Drones mean a quantum leap for surveying. They provide eyes that can reach and hover above specific sites. Their height and cameras can be adjusted remotely. And, equipped with sensors, they can measure, transmit and store data.
Global positioning has created greater interest in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). According to Drone Analyst, “GIS professionals provide a wide variety of land-related services like identifying property boundaries, subdividing land, and surveying construction sites for placement of buildings. They also produce topographic and hydrographic maps, volumetric calculations for stockpiles, and flood insurance maps, among other services.”
Fuelling this growth, the leader in geographic information systems (GIS), Esri, released an application called Drone2Map (D2M) for ArcGIS that’s shaking up the civil engineering industry long dependent on manpower. D2M streamlines the creation of professional imagery products from drone-captured still imagery for visualization and analysis in ArcGIS. Data processed by Drone2Map can also be rendered in Esri’s ArcGIS online web service and integrated into ArcGIS for further processing.
These maps are detailed, defining and textured. The drone will send the data to cloud-based storage accessible to authorized professionals. Stakeholders – architects, engineers, contractors, civil authorities, customers and more – can hold individual or group discussions on results, planning and pricing.
Other benefits to surveying with drones include:
• Disruption. The drone operator can work from a considerable distance and not worry about natural or artificial barriers to the sight lines.
• Imagery. Images are high resolution and serve a variety of users. They can be transmitted, shared and printed. Software can turn them into topographical maps, heatmaps and more.
• Risk. Drones present no safety risk for the operator and eliminates risks to ground and air personnel.
• Environment. Battery-operated, drones produce no toxic fumes.
5.1.5 INSPECT STRUCTURES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
Buckle a harness, scale scaffolding, and walk the roofline. If you can get over the inherent dangers of current building inspection methods, they’re still obviously time consuming. With drones, your boots stay firmly on the ground while you quickly retrieve high-definition photo and video data to evaluate your structure. Multi-rotor drones are highly maneuverable to inspect vertical surfaces and tight spaces, while fixed-wing drones can cover larger areas quickly to inspect highways, pipelines, and other infrastructure. In addition, drones can carry other sensors like thermal and multispectral cameras to help discover trouble spots the naked eye might miss. Data can also be easily shared with investors to help them make smarter, faster decisions. Drones can generate Digital Surface Models (DSMs) to show where drainage problems may exist on your worksite.
5.1.6 SAFETY AND RECORD KEEPING
Drones can hover over and inspect areas that are too dangerous for workers, but they also deliver valuable insight into the way your operation is running, whether you’re missing potential hazards, and steps you can take to keep your employees safer at work like fencing or better equipment locations. Also, it’s a great way to keep visual records of your site operations, which can help immensely with future liability hearings. Perform up-close inspections of buildings and infrastructure like this cellular tower, where it might otherwise be difficult or dangerous for people to reach.
• The construction site jobs have adopted the use of drones increasingly, introducing builders to an unprecedented level of data mobility, visualization, access and efficiency on projects. There are a few drone projects that all construction industry stakeholders need to know about. These incredible drones show the progression of a technology solution that will significantly reshape your future job sites.
• 1) BP’s use of drones for pipeline inspection.
• The first video was from 2012 and outlined BP’s potential use of a quadcopter for close-in pipeline inspection. With the drone, they are able to fly ground level at any time without the need of a pilot making the inspection process quicker, more frequent, and safer in the arctic climate. By using infrared and visual cameras, the drone finds hot spots in addition to other infrastructure faults. The drone takes pictures of these problem areas to automatically send to engineers to make adjustments to the job site framework. If the quadcopter drone inspection method works, it has the ability to enhance pipelines operations.
• 2) First unmanned aerial vehicle for commercial use at BP Alaska
• The second video is from 2014 and describes BP’s production drone plane equipped with LIDAR to scan the pipelines. This awesome technology allows the plane to fly over a 40 by 60 mile area of the field to detect a variety of issues. The unmanned aerial system is the first FAA approved flight, which allows BP to improve operations, reduce safety risks, and reduce cost in their pipeline operations. Flying at 200 feet at 12.9 lbs with a 2 hour battery life, the plane has the ability to capture high resolution 3D maps of the field in order to give engineers a better understanding of their field operations for further improvement. BP has partnered with FAA and AeroVironment to adapt the plane for the commercial industry.
• 2) SkyCatch for Construction Jobsites
• SkyCatch has come up with a fantastic autonomous drone solution for construction job sites. The drone is released from a black box placed on the job site. The user defines the scan area through their web browser, and the drone flies out of the box, automatically determines waypoints for flights, flies around scanning the job site, and produces an as-built 3D model with absolute ground truth each day. This scan allows the user to measure 2D and 3D objects on the site. The drone is equipped with precision auto-landing capabilities and immediate redeployment technology giving the user total control of the process without actually coming into contact with the drone or job site. One of the most innovative features of this drone is the rapid battery swapper that swaps the battery and recharges the drone in very little time.
• Skycatch in Construction from Skycatch on Vimeo.
• 3) PIX4D Mapping of Chillon Castle
• This video showcases a very comprehensive method for producing a single comprehensive 3D as built model of 1,000 year old castle, the Chateau de Chillon of Switzerland. By using quadcopters, drone planes, and ground level photography, PIX4D was able to capture over 6,200 indoor and outdoor images by air, boat, and foot over a 4 hour span. They then converted the images into a highly precise and accurate 3D model. The video shows an interaction with the 3D cloud model, where the camera takes you on a very lifelike tour of the historic castle. Drones were critical for this imagery as was the software to stitch together all of the disparate models.
• 4) eBee Drone for Mining Exploration in Yukon, Canada
• SenseFly: A Parrot Company developed eBee to improve mining exploration. A representative from Ground Truth Exploration describes how they used eBee to scan an area to create a high resolution elevation model. With the drone imagery, they are able to see exactly where the hot spots are, indicating where the areas of rich minerals are located. Also the drone gives users the opportunity to keep an unmined area as undisturbed as possible. Ground Truth uses the first image to show clients how little they disrupted the environment after exploration. Drones offer a foundation to mining exploration in the future that reduces time and cost.
• 5) eBee Drone for Survey-Grade Mapping
• eBee by SenseFly can be used as a survey grade mapping drone to produce absolute ground truth scans. The autonomous lightweight mapping drone can be used in industries such as surveying, GIS, and agriculture. eBee offers accurate and reliable results in a quicker and safer way compared to recording locations manually by walking the job site. eBee is advanced with a fully integrated workflow that makes the flow of data from field to office to the client smooth and seamless. This drone makes surveying projects last a matter of hours instead of days, so projects can be completed faster and more efficiently.
• The videos above demonstrate how drone technology will continue to expand the potential for operational efficiency in construction and countless other industries. Drones can give companies access to aerial data they have never captured before, resulting in more accurate project plans, models and operations. As the technology continues to improve and the cost to employ them continues to drop, drones will become a common job site technology solution. Construction projects will see a gains in time and costs savings as a result.
• Have you had the chance to operate a drone? If you haven’t, I recommend starting with the DJI Phantom 3. The sooner you can familiarize yourself and your company with the benefits of drones, the better position you’ll be in when they become a common installation on every job site.
Sometimes, when technology is relatively new, it’s hard to see how it could be useful. Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) or drones might seem like interesting and fun technology for hobbyists, but can they really be useful tools for your engineering or construction operation?
Drones can give you a whole new perspective on your building projects from planning to close-out. We’ve compiled this list of 7 key uses for drones in construction to help you improve your bottom line; but once you start using drones for you business, we’re willing to bet you’ll find more, Drones aren’t just for the military anymore. Drones are being used in all types of commercial industries these days, from insurance to the media to construction. Although military drones are the most familiar type of drone, they’re not very common in civilian airspace. When one does see a drone, they’re usually the kind of drone known as a hobby drone. These drones can be purchased by anyone and can be found on retail web sites like Amazon.
Drones, technically known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have become very affordable and easier to obtain than ever. In fact, these drones are becoming so popular that according to the FAA, in 2015 alone there were over 650 drone sightings by aircraft pilots – more than double the 238 sightings in 2014. In fact, drones are now being used in the engineering and constructions fields.
Many firms are using drones to evaluate the exterior conditions of their client’s facilities, such as the roof and other hard to get to locations. That can mean more accurate inspections with less worry over a worker falling from a ladder during the inspection. Drones are even being used during the construction and installation portion of projects.
A recent example of drone use by engineering firms is from Burns & McDonnell, the first engineering firm in Kansas to get United States and Canadian approval for commercial drone use. The firm’s manager of geospatial services, Steven Santovasi, said the firm used drones “when installing more than 200 miles of transmission lines in Canada through extremely rugged terrain and brutally cold temperatures.”
“In the past, engineers would have to physically walk the route to gather those precise measurements and data … using UAVs allowed us to do our job safer, more efficiently and significantly faster, saving our client time and money.” Drones provide better resolution when it comes to photos and video, while reducing the cost to a firm. That’s a big advantage and savings over previous technologies such as satellite and other aerial resources.
Drones have been used in the Oil & Gas industry as well. Take BP for example, which has been using drones for pipeline inspections. BP’s engineers use a quadcopter to perform close-up inspections of sections of pipeline. Using the drone, they can fly without a pilot, which makes the inspection quicker and safer. The BP drone is equipped with special sensors and video cameras and can do infrared photography to fine problem areas and leaks over broad stretches of pipeline. These photos can then be sent to the engineering team for evaluation and operational modifications.
Civil engineers are using drones to perform 2D and 3D mapping projects. This is achieved using laser scanning devices and can help engineers construct virtual representations of real-world projects – assisting engineers in the planning and development stages of their most difficult projects. At Helfrich-Associates, they’ve begun using drones on some of their riskier projects.
The drone will soon dominate a lot of construction engineering projects because of its ingenuity, practicality, and affordability. Once their versatility shows on the business’ bottom line, drones will be active throughout the industry.
Drones will accelerate processes, facilitate quality inspections, and assess problems and picture alternatives. And, they’ll do this while reducing the labor burden and enabling a more efficient allocation of personnel.
Alan Perlman of UAV Coach claims, “The possibility to shorten the surveying process through the support of UAV solutions contains the potential to enormously reduce the time and monetary investment – for every project, for every surveying company, and in every country. Surveyors can not only increase their productivity by being able to carry out more projects in the same amount of time, but they can also work with a more qualitative dataset, which makes it possible to conduct better, more thorough planning.”
. Flightline Geographics, provider of premium image content for GIS from both manned and unmanned platforms, and early adopter of UAS was called in to evaluate the conditions. The company conducted a drainage study with a mere 45 minute drone flight covering 640 acres. Within two days they’d taken the data, mapped the terrain, and provided 3D visualization.
Not all drone surveys are equal in accuracy, however. “Sometimes all it takes is the right tool, in the right hands, to make a project run more smoothly,” Christian Stallings, R;D Manager at McKim ; Creed. The leading engineering and surveying firm estimates a 60% cost savings using Esri’s Drone2Map over conventional survey techniques.
One of McKim & Creed’s clients asked required them to provide volume calculations at a185-acre balancing reservoir site that two drone surveys had already been conducted to verify the quantities, but the numbers weren’t adding up. The inconsistent data was delaying progress and becoming costly.
Able to do drone surveillance on Sundays while the construction teams were not working, McKim & Creed was able to survey 180 acres half a day with drones. Using UAS improved accountability, saved taxpayer money, did not disrupt construction, and produced a high-accuracy, cost-effective record of the entire construction process. “It was the right tool in the right hands,” Stallings explained.
Surveyors aren’t soon to become obsolete, however. While the turnaround time for collecting and processing data with manned platforms doesn’t necessarily work for time-sensitive projects, it can still be essential for larger projects. Speaking for Georgia Power, Paul Schneider, economic development engineer, “If you’re doing a large project, manned can be lower costs than unmanned.”
In the end, those Christmas present drones that are more trouble than they’re worth are only a small version of the potential freedom offered by commercial drones. Innovative and rapidly evolving, the better drones will benefit civil engineers and surveyors. Their contribution to quality performance and lower costs will benefit their customers, too.
7. Conclusion and Recommendations
The aim of this report was to determine the possible applications of drones in the engineering industry, however this report outlined numerous applications but limited to these mentioned in this report, Drones performs various applications in the engineering industry which improves the quality, minimises time to do tasks and improved monitoring process of projects, most of these applications outlined the report also showed that the use of drones is not limited to taking high quality pictures or video’s but are able to perform other tasks like 3D mapping and provide data that can be interpret for various uses with some software built in their system and the data from these can be integrated with other software’s like ArcGIS, AutoCAD which help to interpret the information and to provide a technical support to a project.
Companies have to reinvent business processes to fully leverage UAVs. To take full advantage of UAVs, companies should reinvent business processes rather than attempting to integrate them into existing operations, because UAVs change the role of current employees as well as data. They should be seen as complementary to the company ecosystem and their use should address specific operations supported by a tangible business case.
1. Posted August 29, 2018 by Fintan Corrigan