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Land surveying with drones – Darling Geomatics Insights

Darling Geomatics is now using drones in their land surveying operations

Darling Geomatics provides a number of services including 3D scanning, land surveying, and  environmental permitting.  When they recently received their section 333 exemption we reached out to them to learn more.

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Q. Would you have any recommendations to others who are just beginning the exemption process?

My recommendation to anyone just beginning the exemption process is to study the FAA online list of exemptions granted to date. The FAA provides details about the information they received that was used to grant the exemption. Instead of guessing at what the FAA is looking for, examine the records and provide them with thorough information about your company, what the UAV will be used for, who will fly it, what their qualifications are, and state that you will follow all rules and regulations.

Q. Do you have any advice for the FAA around the process?

The FAA seems to being a good job so far with this new technology. They have a number of challenges. Too many drones in the air space in certain areas such as New York City, at a given moment in time, could cause collisions and debris falling out of the air. Too many drones near the White House, military installations, and other secure areas could cause the federal government time and money to assure all drones are friendly. For these reasons, the FAA is moving forward slowly with certain precautionary measures. Though employees at my company thrive on new technology, we support the intent to keep our nation safe.

Q. Your exemption paperwork notes that: “The exemption would allow the petitioner to operate an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to conduct mapping and surveying”. How does this impact your business, especially land surveying?

Darling Geomatics is a high tech survey company that has always been on the cutting edge of new technology. We started providing 3D laser scanning and 3D modeling services in 2002 and were pioneers in developing certain proprietary 3D methodologies.

The UAV technology will now allow us to provide our clients with another line of high tech mapping that is accurate and fills in gaps that our conventional surveying and terrestrial LiDAR equipment cannot fill. The integration of our registered land surveys into projects to set very precise survey control networks allows us to geo-reference all the aerial data we collect, making it accurate to within inches (+/- 5 cm) and repeatable for change detection purposes.

Q. How did you determine that the use of drones would make sense for your business?

Darling Geomatics looks for areas of surveying and mapping technology that are state-of-the-art to continue to provide our clients with more tools to accurately map their projects. Drones are an excellent tool that fits within our skill set and our clients’ needs.

Q. We noted in the exemption that you are going to use the SenseFly eBee, why is this the right one for you use?

Darling Geomatics chose the SenseFly eBee because it is designed for land surveying applications. Many UAVs are designed for imaging but do not have the onboard GPS and ability to pre-program flight patterns. The SenseFly eBee is specifically designed for the type of surveying and mapping functions that we offer.

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Q. How many drone pilots do you envision hiring in 2015?

Darling currently has one licensed pilot and will hire at least three more during 2015 under our current business plan.

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