Vienna, 24 September 2013 – Schiebel, FLIR and Transpower are proud to announce the successful demonstration of the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) with the integrated FLIR Corona 350 Sensor being used to inspect high voltage power-lines and supporting structures. This event marked the first time that this new capability was demonstrated using a UAS.
Transpower with the support of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority hosted a series of demonstrations at the Drury substation in Auckland, New Zealand, where the outstanding combination of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 and the FLIR sensor confirmed the system’s ability to identify encroaching vegetation and activity associated with under building, corrosion and wear and tear damage on power-line conductors as well as ‘hot spots’ in conductors and connection points. The system also demonstrated the clear benefits of its rapid response time, and the ability to subsequently use the collected information to quickly prioritise and target maintenance, which are particularity important in the rapid rectification of fault events causing line outages.
With a network which comprises some 12,000 kms of transmission lines and 40,000 supporting structures throughout New Zealand and a requirement to regularly assess the condition of these lines and structures to ensure continued safety and integrity of the National Grid. By operating in close proximity to the power lines the S-100 was able to conduct the inspections without infringing existing airspace regulations and clearly demonstrated the value of this new, innovative and cost effective solution for accomplishing airborne power line inspection.
Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, commented, “This successful demonstration of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 has clearly shown how it provides a swift, accurate and cost effective capability for reducing the costs associated with conducting power-line inspections and maintenance”.
Schiebel and FLIR Systems Polytec AB are proud to announce the successful integration of the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) with the CORONA 350 Airborne Sensor. This successful integration marked the first time that this airborne sensor was flown on board a UAV.
The Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 has carried out a series of successful test flights in Grossmittel, Austria, to fully evaluate the combined capability of both systems. The Corona 350 is a four axis gyro-stabilized gimbal containing four different cameras including an ultraviolet camera for corona detection, a thermal imaging camera for detecting hot-spots in power lines, a visual light camera and a digital frame camera.
What makes the Corona 350 unique is its ability to overlay its ultraviolet and color TV video data to create a combined image that allows operators to detect and identify coronal discharges – areas of ionized air – that are known to damage power line insulators and other electrical components. The powerful combination of the Schiebel S-100 and the FLIR Corona 350 allows companies to carry out aerial inspections quickly and efficiently. Additionally it is the perfect method of reducing costs making it an ideal solution for utility companies to perform inspection and maintenance of transmission lines, distribution networks and substations. This application typically requires repetitive surveying of power lines and is usually carried out by manned helicopters or ground patrols at significant risk to the pilot and crew. The advantage of using the unmanned CAMCOPTER® S-100 UAS over manned helicopters are that the system is uniquely capable of operating with a much lower risk, can carry advanced sensors for increased stand-off distance, is significantly quieter than manned helicopters and can operate for up to 10 hours per mission and in line of site ranges out to 200 kms. The unmanned CAMCOPTER® S-100 UAS is also significantly lower cost per hour to run compared to manned aviation systems due to the much higher insurance and safety margins required for manned aircraft to operate in this very dangerous environment.
The Kelvin 350 and Corona 350 series are 35 cm (14”) gimbals housing the infrared core from the FLIR Systems 660 series of infrared cameras, a HD or SD daylight video camera, and a high resolution digital still frame camera. Gimbal weight varies between 24.5 to 27 kg (54 to 59.5 lbs) depending on payload selection.
4 axis active stabilization
The design is four axis active gyro-stabilized based upon very low drift fiber-optic gyroscopes and a digital servo motor control system and a patented two axis linear isolator. This unique design offers outstanding stability ensuring easy steering and accurate imaging independent of aircraft movements.
UV camera detects Corona in broad daylight
The corona camera is capable of detecting and producing video images of the energy generated by the corona phenomena. Corona and arcing occur by stress of the electric field which is not current dependent and therefore can only be revealed by UV inspection. The camera is highly sensitive, 3 x 10-18 watt/cm2, and fully solar-blind meaning that Corona can be visualized in full daytime. The camera contains the UV detector to image the corona and a color Day TV to image the surrounding scene. The signals from the two sensors are blended together and presented to the operator. The three field of view lens (16º / 8º / 4º) permits long range detection and close up analysis of Corona.
Radiometric infrared camera
The thermal imaging camera can easily identify objects from their thermal signature or power line problems where the fault is apparent as a change in temperature. The camera contains a high definition 640×480 pixel detector that allows temperature readings either in real time or from a stored image. It delivers exceptional sensitivity, resolution, and image quality for a wide variety of airborne imaging applications. Its 0.03°C sensitivity and ±1°C accuracy means precise temperature readings.
MegaPixel Digital Photo camera
The MegaPixel camera captures high resolution still images that provide visual records of faults detected by the infrared camera.
GPS data is stored as part of each captured image file name thus permitting geo-referencing of fault locations, areas where animals are roaming….
Advanced infrared software
The interface can transfer 16-bit radiometric data directly into the onboard PC for post-flight analysis of captured infrared images. FLIR’s Reporter Professional software permits retrieval and analysis of IR images and temperature data. It includes temperature display and analysis functions such as isotherms, line profiles, area histograms, and much more.
So far for 2013, the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) has had a busy year: flying at IDEX in Abu Dhabi and again at the LIMA Exhibition in Malaysia. The CAMCOPTER S100 System continues to gain maritime experience and flight hours about the French OPV La’Adroit, and has competed successful integration of the DeckFinder Local Positioning System for automatic GPS-Independent Operation at sea and land. Other recent development include the integration of the RIEGL VQ-820-GU Hydrographic Airborne LIDAR, Flight operation from an Italian Navy vessel, operations in the Arctic Circle with the Russian Coast Guard and the ongoing flight performance testing and use with the latest Heavy fuel engine specifically design for demanding Naval operations. More developments and announcements highlighting the versatility and flexibility of the CAMCOPTER S100 will be announced shortly.
Founded in 1951, the Vienna-based Schiebel Group of companies focuses on the development, testing and production of state-of-the-art mine detection equipment and the revolutionary CAMCOPTER® S-100Unmanned Air System (UAS). Schiebel has built an international reputation for producing quality defense and humanitarian products, which are backed by exceptional after-sales service and support. Since 2010 Schiebel offers the new division composite and is able to supply high-tech customers with this high-quality carbon fiber technology. All products are quality-controlled to meet ISO 9001 standards. With headquarters in Vienna (Austria), Schiebel now maintains production facilities in Wiener Neustadt (Austria), and Abu Dhabi (UAE), as well as offices in Washington DC (USA), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
About the CAMCOPTER® S-100:
Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is a proven capability for military andcivilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS needs no prepared area or supporting launch or recovery equipment. It operates in day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a beyond line-of-sight capability out to 200 km, both on land and at sea. The S-100 navigates via preprogrammed GPS waypoints or is operated with a pilot control unit. Missions are planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. High definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real time. Using “fly-by-wire” technology controlled by a triple-redundant flight computer, the UAV can complete its mission automatically. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 18,000 ft. In its standard configuration, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 carries a 75 lbs/34 kg payload up to 10 hours and is powered with AVGas or heavy fuel.
A few days ago the people in Deer Trail, Colorado made national news with a proposed ballot initiative to allow hunting licenses to shoot down flying drones.
Deer Trail would charge $25 for drone hunting licenses, and the town would offer a $100 bounty reward for shooters who bring in debris from an unmanned aircraft from the U.S. government.
This perfectly illustrates the growing paranoia associated with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) often referred to as drones.
But the good people living in the farming community of Deer Trail have obviously not been paying attention to the positive uses for drones, more specifically, the use of drones in agriculture.
Even though the vast majority of drone use today is government and military, one of the big emerging markets will be agriculture. Several new companies have begun moving into the ag-drone space, but there are a few short-term problems.
Current FAA rules limit their operation to under 400 feet and to steer clear of airports and crowds on the ground. But that will change in a couple years. The U.S. Congress has mandated the FAA incorporate drones into national airspace by Sept. 30, 2015.
Many in this new industry are chomping at the bit to get started. According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicles International, once drones get okayed for the national air space, the first 3 years will produce $13.6 billion in economic activity and 34,000 new manufacturing jobs will get created.
The FAA estimated up to 10,000 drones could be airborne in the U.S. by 2018. Here’s why that number is far too low.
Today’s Ag Industry Drones
There are many possible uses for flying drones, and as we add capabilities, potential uses will grow dramatically.
We are limited in our thinking to what we see today, but flying drones can be built large enough to move people and houses, and small enough to be invisible to the human eye.
They provide an incredibly flexible platform, and simply adding elements like cameras, lights, audio, sensors, video projectors, or even a robotic arm can increase the utility of a drone exponentially. I’ve written about some of these possibilities in previous articles.
The automation of farming has led to fewer people tending massive estates, with many growing to tens of thousands of acres. This means there are fewer eyes inspecting crops, with less chance of catching problems like disease, infestations, soil issues, or other deficiencies.
Drones, however, have the ability to amp up awareness, giving farmers powerful tools for managing both the plant and its growing environment throughout its lifecycle.
Here are a few current examples of the type of inspections and research that can be automated through the use of drones:
Terrain, rock, tree, and obstacle mapping
Hybrid lifecycle charting
Chlorophyll damage detection
Ground cover profiling
Wind profile and wind shear assessment
Temperature and barometric pressure profiling
Spore, dust, pollen counts
Water quality assessments and survey
Methane, ammonia, and CO2 sensing
Trait assessment for breeding
Wireless data collection from ground sensors
Plant status tracking
Crop status (growing stage, yield estimates, etc.)
Precision Agriculture prescription data
Tiling/drainage evaluation and survey
Time-saving pre-assessment for field tasks
Oblique shots for de-tassel timing
Drainage estimates and topography
Planting evaluation and replanting requirements
Pathogen introduction and tracking + Weed levels
Much of the work in this industry will evolve around the following three phases of development.
Phase 1 – Data Drones
Most of the drones today are focused on developing better information about the plants, soil, and growing conditions. This information will allow farmers to be more aware of crop conditions and make better decisions.
Phase 2 – Protection Drones
Some companies are already working on Phase 2 drones capable of proactively protecting the crops from bugs, birds, disease, and other unwanted problems. Some of these capabilities will include:
Prevent birds from destroying high value crops
Identify insects, worms, and other unwanted plant devastation
Precision pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide application
Detect and track plant disease
Identify and thwart other wildlife that may consume or damage crops
Over time, protection drones may even be able to compensate for extreme weather conditions by applying warm foam during freezing conditions and even using wave frequencies to disrupt hail and other extreme weather conditions.
Eventually there will be flying drones with lasers mounted on them. Because of the possible dangers, their use will be highly restricted, at least for the most powerful ones. However, it’s entirely possible to visualize a type of drone capable of breaking rocks, killing pests, and even shooting mosquitoes.
Much of today’s work in this area is experimental and sounds more like science fiction than real science, but in a few years they may already be in use.
Phase 3 – Seeding, Harvesting Drones
Robotics researchers at the National Agricultural Research Center in Tsukuba, Japan have already experimented with rice-planting robots. And American farmers already ride semi-automatic tractors that use GPS positioning to plant perfect rows of wheat.
Another form of robotic seeding machine is being created by David Dorhout, founder of Dorhout R&D. His autonomous five-legged “Prospero” robot can move around in swarms with the ability to detect ideal planting spots, digging holes, planting the seeds and then applying fertilizer or herbicides.
As prices improve for specialty crops, farmers will invest heavily in automation to meet whatever unique foods consumers are demanding.
Over time, flying swarmbots will replace the ground-based drones, with thousands of tiny machines working in concert to replace the need for today’s massive pieces of equipment. Keep in mind that this will only happen if they provide farmers with a significant advantage over today’s equipment. They will need to be better, faster, cheaper, more efficient, or all of the above.
A recent study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that in a matter of years, the drone, or UAV, industry in the U.S. could produce up to 100,000 new jobs and add $82 billion in economic activity between 2015 and 2025.
Aerial drones are about to become an everyday part of our lives. This is an industry in its infancy and agriculture will be the launch point and proving ground for many others.
Farmers will become thousands of times more precise in how they apply chemicals and fertilizers, saving themselves millions in the process.
Saving farmers 1% on inputs like herbicide and pesticide, and increasing their yields by 1%, that alone is a multi-billion dollar industry.
In the end, the world will grow far more food, to far more exacting quality standards, under virtually any weather conditions. And drones will be an essential part of making this happen.
Project URSULA (UAS Remote Sensing for Use in Land Applications) was launched by Welsh Assembly Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones. The 2 year research and development programme will explore the potential for advanced remote sensing, using small unmanned aircraft, for use in land applications, primarily high input arable farming. The project is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Gubua Group Flying Wing
URSULA will develop market-focussed data products based on imagery captured by a range of sensors mounted in small unmanned aircraft with a launch anywhere, anytime capability. Combining the innovative remote sensing platform with novel processing techniques, URSULA provides a disruptive technology which will open up new avenues for flexible, cost-effective, high resolution data provision. It is anticipated that this will accelerate the adoption of precision farming principles at a critical time for the industry.
There is a growing need for timely, accurate, detailed information on our land as we place greater pressure upon it. A rising population coupled with changes in demand and increasing scarcity of critical resources such as water and energy will place ever-increasing pressure on the land to perform multiple functions. Our food system needs to be sustainable – and economically viable – whilst adapting to climate change and contributing to climate change mitigation.
Project URSULA aims to satisfy some of these needs and provides an opportunity to develop and demonstrate a number of leading edge capabilities such as:
Increased flexibility in routine UAS operations
Advanced algorithm development and data interpretation
A key advantage of UAS remote sensing is the ability to obtain timely higher resolution data than can be currently be achieved, and to use this to drive improved performance, including:
Precision agriculture practices:
Managing fertilisers, nutrients
Variable seed rates
Soil moisture indicators
Disease and stress detection:
invasive weed mapping
Sustainable land management
Our engagement with stakeholders and end users ensures agriculturally led data interpretation and individual farm-level knowledge makes the most of the remote sensing data.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — When David Dvorak launched Field of View in 2010, he foresaw a bright future for aerial crop imagery. Today, after working with farmers, agronomists and even a South American plantation manager, he’s more optimistic than ever.
“A few years ago, there was some behind-the-scenes interest in this,” says Dvorak, CEO of Grand Forks, N.D.-based Field of View.
Now, “I’m quietly confident there’s this perfect storm brewing where the precision agriculture market really takes off and the civil UAS (unmanned aircraft system) market takes off. They’re both on a trajectory to make that happen about the same time,” he says.
Field of View’s mission is to “bridge the gap between unmanned aircraft and precision agriculture,” according to the company’s website.
Its flagship product, GeoSnap, is an add-on device for multispectral cameras mounted on either manned or unmanned aircraft. Such cameras capture images in the red, green and near-infared bands, allowing users to visualize plant stress better than they can with most other camera systems, Dvorak says.
GeoSnap takes images captured by the multispectral camera and maps them with real-world coordinates, a process known as georeferencing. That allows users to know the aerial images’ exact location on the ground.
“It’s a very complex process. We developed a product that hopefully makes the process easier,” Dvorak says.
GeoSnap costs about $5,000 per unit, with the multispectral cameras costing about $4,000 each.
Field of View only recently began selling the add-on devices. So far, the company has sold a half-dozen, including one to NASA.
Dvorak thinks NASA will use the GeoSnap to learn more about vegetative cover on Earth, though he isn’t sure of specifics.
GeoSnap generally has drawn more interest overseas because other countries have fewer restrictions on air space, he says.
Schiebel has successfully concluded a series of flight trials with EADS Astrium’s Pseudolite-based Local Positioning System “DeckFinder”, expanding its automated launch and recovery capability for operatiosn where access to GPS has been denied.
Schiebel integrated the DeckFinder Receiver Segment into a CAMCOPTER® S-100 and deployed the DeckFinder Ground Segment at the Schiebel Testing Grounds close to Vienna, Austria, earlier this year, enabling a joint team to conduct a week-long flight campaign with the goal of testing and evaluating the capabilities that DeckFinder adds in terms of highly accurate automated operations.
“By feeding the position data generated by the Astrium DeckFinder System directly into the avionics of our CAMCOPTER® S-100, we are now able to operate fully automatically, independent from Global Positioning Systems (GPS) during hovering, approach and landing, enabling us to launch and recover in environments that no-one has been able to perform before”, Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, explains.
DeckFinder is a Local Positioning System consisting of a ground segment of six Radio-Frequency-based Transmitters (Pseudolites) and a corresponding airborne receiver. Based on GPS-independent range measurements it provides the CAMCOPTER® avionics with highly accurate and relative 3D position information that allows the S-100 to
navigate with an accuracy better than 20 cm over the landing zone, placing Schiebel’s customers in a unique position to operate the CAMCOPTER® with high degrees of autonomy during periods of GPS denial from small vessel decks under demanding environmental conditions, a scenario that we see increasing in the future.
About the CAMCOPTER® S-100:
Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is a proven capability for military and
civilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS needs no prepared area or supporting
launch or recovery equipment. It operates in day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a
beyond line-of-sight capability out to 200 km, both on land and at sea. The S-100 navigates via preprogrammed
GPS waypoints or is operated with a pilot control unit. Missions are planned and controlled via
a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. High definition payload imagery is transmitted to the
control station in real time. Using “fly-by-wire” technology controlled by a triple-redundant flight computer,
the UAV can complete its mission automatically. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for
a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 18,000 ft. In its standard
configuration, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 carries a 75 lbs/34 kg payload up to 10 hours and is powered with
AVGas or heavy fuel.
Unmanned Systems Australia, is the authorised distributor and on-seller of the Schiebel S-100 CAMCOPTER UAS in Australia. Unmanned Systems Australia provides Consulting and Training Services in the area of unmanned aerial systems as well as unattended and remotely monitored ground sensors, target acquisition systems and surveillance devices. Based in Brisbane, Australia, Unmanned Systems Australia capitalizes on over 24 years experience in the employment of Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) systems.
Vienna, 17 June 2013 – Since the OPV (Offshore Patrol Vessel) L´Adroit was officially made available to the French Navy in October 2011, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) was able to prove its highly efficient maritime capability repeatedly.
The Gowind Class L’Adroit, build by DCNS, has been designed to operate, amongst other capabilities, a UAS, and by installing the appropriate cabling and supporting equipment during build, has been fitted out to operate the maritime proven CAMCOPTER® S-100 from day one. The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) purchased a S-100 and qualified its integration aboard L’Adroit in the frame of an experimentation ordered by the French Navy. At the moment the French Navy is the only European Navy capable of operating a UAS VTOL from a surface ship.
Embarked on board the OPV L’Adroit, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 has been operating in the Indian Ocean and Asia. Thanks to S-100, the French Navy has been able to evaluate the contribution of UAS during missions assigned to L’Adroit (preventing illegal practices at sea like terrorism, drug trafficking, illegal fishing and illegal immigration, ensuring maritime safety). Over 120 flight hours and 190 take-offs were conducted since the beginning of 2012, with much more to come in the next two years. The tight integration achieved by DCNS between the ship and the S-100 provides high quality information, alerts and decision aids at any time. This project is unique in Europe and helps the French Navy to understand the movements and actions by potential threats at sea, expanding the area of influence and providing high-definition observation and surveillance in real-time.
Schiebel has taken the experience and knowledge gained from this exciting opportunity of operating the CAMCOPTER® S-100 from OPV L’Adroit, and is now working with world class sensor manufacturers to integrate maritime radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and EO/IR sensors into the S-100 system. This will for the first time, provide maritime commanders with an organic, persistent, ISR capability unparalleled for a UAS
in this class.
Founded in 1951, the Vienna-based Schiebel Group of companies focuses on the development, testing and production of state-of-the-art mine detection equipment and the revolutionary CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS). Schiebel has built an international reputation for producing quality defense and humanitarian products, which are backed by exceptional after-sales service and support. Since 2010 Schiebel offers the new division composite and is able to supply high-tech customers with this high-quality carbon fiber technology. All products are quality-controlled to meet ISO 9001 standards. With headquarters in Vienna (Austria), Schiebel now maintains production facilities in Wiener Neustadt (Austria), and Abu Dhabi (UAE), as well as offices in Washington DC (USA), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
About the CAMCOPTER® S-100:
Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is a proven capability for military and civilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS needs no prepared area or supporting launch or recovery equipment. It operates in day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a beyond line-of-sight capability out to 200 km, both on land and at sea. The S-100 navigates via preprogrammed GPS waypoints or is operated with a pilot control unit. Missions are planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. High definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real time. Using “fly-by-wire” technology controlled by a triple-redundant flight computer, the UAV can complete its mission automatically. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 18,000 ft. In its standard configuration, the CAMCOPTER® S-100 carries a 75 lbs/34 kg payload up to 10 hours and is powered with AVGas or heavy fuel.