Inside Unmanned Systems

APR-MAY 2017

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.

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44 unmanned systems inside   April/May 2017 It's also difficult to make money when you can't fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), which the FAA prohibits without a waiver, Poss said. Then of course there's the spotty coverage that could lead to data link issues and the chal- lenges that come with using small UAS weigh- ing 55 pounds or less. They can only f ly for so long (and so far), so they need to make multiple passes to collect the necessary data, which re- sults in extra time and added costs. There are other opportunities in the ag in- dustry, Poss said, including the crop insurance market. Through The Farm Bill, farmers are switching from subsidies to crop insurance. That means they'll have to provide more doc- umentation to show storm damage or prove drought conditions, for example, so farmers will need multiple images every year, images that UAS can easily collect. Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) When UAS fly over a field, they take a snapshot of the crop below with an imaging system that can detect any damage, Gebre-Egziabher said. Once the images are taken, position coordi- nates must be applied so the end user can make a decision on how to handle any issues spotted. This requires accurate geo-referencing for each WEBINAR RECAP » PRECISION AGRICULTURE BY THE NUMBERS » PARTICIPANTS' VIEWS Other: 14 % 55 lbs is too small for an ag UAS: 32 % Cost margins are too tight: 43 % Technology isn't there yet to provide timely ag data: 20 % Can't fly BLOS yet, no money in VLOS: 47 % What are the big obstacles with agricultural UAS? (Multiple answers allowed) image. There are a lot of ways to do that, but the most efficient one that provides an economical advantage is direct geo-referencing. Direct geo-referencing has the ability to as- sign coordinates to an image collected from a UAS just by knowing positon and orientation of the UAS itself, and maybe some informa- tion about a terrain database or something to estimate the distance from the UAS to the ground below. The challenge with direct geo-referencing? Any sensor errors lead to the misalignment of images, Gebre-Egziabher said. This can be fixed during post processing, but that, of course, takes more time. And with most small UAS, the navigation, guidance and control systems use an IMU and Signal Frequency GNSS Code Phase, which isn't accurate enough for geo-referencing. "If you can't turn around these images quickly after doing a survey, then that cuts into the economic advantage of using UAS in preci- sion agriculture," Gebre-Egziabher said. "The ability to increase accuracy on low cost naviga- tion solutions used in small UAS is going to be a key challenge for precision ag." Another challenge is the integrity of PNT, which is an area NovAtel focuses on. The tech and policies might not be there yet, but I want in: 23 % Right thing to do, precision ag is good for the environment: 33 % The market is about to explode, technology is ready: 43 % Why would you invest in agricultural UAS? Are you kidding me? There's no market there: 1 % There's no market; cost margins are too tight: 27% Technology just isn't there yet: 28 % The FAA rules are too restrictive: 36 % What's stopping you from investing in agricultural UAS? (Multiple answers allowed) Are you kidding me? I'm investing now! 13 % Other: 19 %

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