For the first mission, Natural Power says it deployed the aircraft from a hillside overlooking the Isle of Arran, Scotland. The company says subzero temperatures and strong winds did not disrupt the mission, where the survey team flew up to 100 meters in altitude and at speeds in excess of 90 km/hr.
Over the course of a single day, Natural Power says it achieved full coverage of the project site (5 square kilometers) and acquired high-resolution aerial imagery and high-accuracy 3D topographic data. The consultancy provides services for onshore and offshore wind, solar power, hydro, renewable heat, and grid and infrastructure projects.
“Normally, pre-construction and planning phase projects require topographic survey data to assist with project design and optimization,” explains Gavin Germaine, Natural Power’s senior geotechnical engineer. “Deploying teams on foot to collect this data is time-consuming and can, therefore, impact upon budgets and program, whilst precision can be limited by the low density of data collection, and multiple re-deployments may be required to meet the requirements of an iterative design process.
“Our new drone equipment enables full-site coverage to be achieved in a very short time, thus reducing costs, impact and exposure of personnel to the hazards of the natural working environment,” Germain continues.
Natural Power will integrate UAS surveys with ground-based surveys. The company says the drone will also be able to monitor live construction progress, as well as environmental variables, and help to identify issues rapidly – particularly in the case of inaccessible project sites.