Extreme Mapping: SwiftTrainer sUAS Goes up 14,000-Foot Mountain

Black Swift Technologies (BST), a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder, Colo., recently demonstrated that a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS) can successfully be deployed at extreme altitudes and deliver geo-referenced aerial images.

Using its SwiftTrainer, a turnkey sUAS flight system designed specifically for GIS mapping, BST captured millions of data points in a fully autonomous flight over Colorado’s Mount Evans, which stands 14,265 feet high.

The geo-tagged images, covering 300 acres, were easily integrated into processing software – resulting in an accurate, 3D orthomosaic (a highly detailed map in true scale), the company explains.

Using BST’s mission planning software, surveyors can program the SwiftTrainer in minutes to calculate the area under review and then begin collecting data for immediate analysis and decision-making. Mission-monitoring and mapping are done from a handheld Android tablet loaded with BST’s SwiftTab software.

BST says its aerospace and software engineers designed the hardware, flight management system and essential software from the ground up. This approach ensures that users have the right airframe and sensor suite to address their specific application requirements without compromise, according to the company.

“Surveyors have been using sUAS in place of more expensive manned aerial missions for quite some time now,” states Jack Elston, CEO of BST. “Being able to demonstrate that a sUAS can be an effective and accurate mapping platform in areas inaccessible to vehicles or at extreme altitudes solidifies the added value surveyors can offer their clients.”

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