Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 75

29 June/July 2019  unmanned systems inside end optical knowledge and preci- sion data to the agriculture sector. "People walking around fields look- ing with their eyes is, no kidding, a 10,000-year-old technique. Aerial measurement systems are so much more accurate, and can deliver in- formation that humans cannot." Approaching its business chal- lenge in terms of an engineering solution, Ritter's mini-skunk works' initial goal was to produce a proto- type system that would demonstrate a useful capability. They hit the li- brary, parsing academic articles to learn what was known about re- mote sensing. How plants absorb sunlight seemed to align with the team's electro-optic wheelhouse. "If you can measure the photosynthetic activity within the plant, we could infer some things in the health con- dition," Ritter said. Development began on a sensor that, for lack of a better word back then, used a "chlo- rophyll meter." After developing a prototype, it was time to try it out. Michael Milton had extended family involved in grow- ing corn and soybeans, so the team visited Nebraska, looking for a field suitable for testing its sensors. As they installed the equipment on an off-the-shelf drone and took measure- ments, growers came by to eyeball an in-flight UAV. Ritter: "They were cu- rious. It took about a day or so to pro- duce the data. We got them together around a table; with pizza. We could detect low nitrogen, which indicated that the field needed fertilizer, and weed growth in a soybean field. " S u d d e n l y t h e i r d e m e a n o r changed. That group ended up pro- vided seed funding for our company." Today, SlantRange is "a ver y high-resolution system; one percent resolution," said Ritter. "It collects huge volumes of data that need to be processed quickly where you may not have a lot of equipment, without network connection or computing resources." In addition to the domes- tic market, this makes SlantRange useful and scalable in the developing world. "One customer, $4-5 billion a year, operates on five continents, in lots of tropical areas. A big reason they chose to go with us is our ability to process on location." FROM DEFENSE TO COMMERCIAL No technology was transferred di- rectly from the defense sphere, but expertise in aerial sensing certainly morphed into the civilian space. "In large part, what we were do- ing at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems carried over," Ritter said. "Putting a sensor on a robotic air- plane, learning so many rules of thumb about design, types of imaging chips, sourcing, how to put the data system autonomously. Aircraft oper- ating at a certain altitude in emerging conditions in the field—when given an intelligence challenge, our job was to create a sensor system to detect, 4P 4P+ Capability Spectral and spatial resolution with integrated sunlight calibration, RGB/ red/red-edge/IR, modular add-on capacity "Most advanced multispectral sensor in its class;" 2x the special resolution of the 4P Spectral Channels 6 6 Available Spectral Range 410-950 nm 410-950 nm GSD (ground sample distance) 4 c resolution at 100 m 2.2 c resolution at 100 m 160 Acre Survey @2.0 cm GSD, 12 m/s (rotary) 50 min 32 min 160 Acre Survey @120 cm AGL (above ground level), 20 m/s (fi xed) 16 min 18 min 160 Acre Survey @120 m AGL, 12 m/s (rotary) 22 min 24 min Precision Navigation Module Available; dual-antenna RTK GPS; LiDAR rangefi nder Available; dual antenna RTK GPS; LiDAR rangefi nder measure Removable SD Card Storage 64 GB (4 hrs) 64 GB (2 hrs) Weight 350 g 350 g Power 12 W @ 9.0 – 28.0 VDC 14 W @ 9.0 – 28.0 VDC Project Watch PROJECT WATCH Innovative Worldwide UAS Use HARDWARE HIGHLIGHT SlantRange Multispectral Measurement Systems DEFENSE COMMERCIAL NEXUS

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Inside Unmanned Systems - JUN-JUL 2019