Erle just let me join, so I'm introducing myself.

I run a small services company in Recife, Brazil where I use drones as a means to collect data from the air and I just got started this year, after three years in a research lab in Holland where I used and built the technology on a frequent basis.

My interest is in any civil/public use for this technology in the right environment. For me that means non-military applications in a non-urban environment. Agricultural, cartographic, ecological and inventory applications are the ones that best fit this description. I've been asked to come up with a proposal for the department of environmental monitoring in Brazil and Ecosynth had done some really relevant work on some of the requirements, namely long endurance multi-rotors. As they're working in ecological units which are usually forests, takeoff and landing are really restricted.

My approach to this area is from the technological/software side. I don't shy away from data post-processing in cartography, but when it comes to ecology, the interpretation or recognition of value is harder to grasp for someone with a more technical background.

In demos I've done people get really enthusiastic about the technology and it has a very high wow-factor, but I struggle with the fact that not many people understand the relevance of the application of the technology for their work, or perhaps even worse, start to think that everything is better done using this technology. If the correct opportunities are not recognized, such exploration projects do not last long. In the end, something internal in these departments needs to change to create a stream of incoming data that goes towards achieving a higher goal in ecological monitoring. A portfolio describing the changes that this technology could mean and its limitations would go a far way to clarify its uses. Beyond that, it also paves the way for responsible budget allocations and it sharpens the requirements that these vehicles need to comply with.

Beyond that, it's possible that the interpretation or use of this data is something new altogether. In that case I hope to work together with the EcoSynth community to develop an explanation how this data is used in ways to create new possibilities for environmental monitoring that these departments perhaps haven't had before. In that case specifically it's even more important to clarify this value to the departments upfront.

I'm excited to be here.

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Comment by Erle Ellis on July 25, 2013 at 5:34pm

Hi Gerard,

Great to have you in our community!

Did you see the work that Jonathan did in Panama?  He was able to get a scan across a closed canopy tropical rainforest by flying up through a tree gap...


Comment by Gerard Toonstra on July 27, 2013 at 8:09pm

I saw that and I think that's awesome. I'm going to request some details on the takeoff and landing procedure there.

Countries where the infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired make fixed wing launches difficult. One issue that really complicates things is that an initial testing ground may not be available within a 50km radius. In my case I have very specific requirements for a first autonomous test flight. Most fields I located are inappropriate due to access (mud/sand), personal security, swamp, trees, electrical towers, hills, high crop (sugarcane), too small, urban areas, too many houses, it's been used for a govt construction project or I discover they're old garbage belts. Trust me, for someone originally from Holland where you only have flat grassy fields this is quite a disappointment to discover :).

Anyway, that's why I think these copters are much more effective in these areas. First of all the testing can be done in 50x50m fields,  they take off in very constrained places, don't go anywhere for some time to be able to interact through the ground station and as you guys have shown can be built to have adequate flying time for aerial mapping purposes. I reckon they're producing better pictures due to lower speed and better attitude/altitude control too. Soon as the platform is tested it becomes easier to trust the setup and start taking it places.


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