Black Swift Technologies (BST) is a specialized engineering firm based in Boulder that develops turnkey drone surveying systems. They recently conducted a successful survey of deploying a drone at extreme altitudes to capture and deliver geo-referenced digital aerial images. It was an autonomous flight that enabled detailed actionable information to be obtained cost-effectively and without concern for a surveyor’s wellbeing or equipment malfunctions.
The test utilized the Blackswift’s SwiftTrainer, a turnkey sUAS flight system designed specifically for GIS mapping applications. It captured millions of data points in a fully autonomous flight over one of Colorado’s Mount Evans. The geo-tagged images were integrated into processing software resulting in an accurate 3D orthomosaic (a highly detailed map in true scale). “Surveyors have been using sUAS in place of more expensive manned aerial missions for quite some time now,” states Jack Elston, Ph.D., CEO of Black Swift Technologies. “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.”
Using BST’s developed Mission Planning Software, surveyors can program the SwiftTrainer to calculate the area under review and then begin collecting data for immediate analysis and decision making. Mission monitoring and mapping is done from a handheld Android Tablet loaded with BST’s SwiftTab software. Intuitive gesture-based controls enable users to confidently deploy their SwiftTraine with little training while being able to collect data over geography that is topically diverse with confidence.
Unlike other sUAS offerings that cobble together hardware and software from a variety of sources to assemble their solutions, BST’s aerospace and software engineers designed the hardware, flight management system, and essential software from the ground up. This unified, fully integrated approach ensures that users have the right airframe and sensor suite to address their specific application requirements without compromise.
The purpose was to prove that the system could Overcome the challenges of mapping terrain in difficult conditions at altitudes exceeding 14,000 feet using a small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS),
Here is a video overview of the Mount Evans Extreme Altitude Mapping Test: