Month: May 2022

Introducing Mapware Fly for DJI Drones: Automated Flight Planning, Flight Control & Capture for Accurate, Detailed 3D Mapping

New, free Android app lets anyone reliably capture landscapes and points of interest for high‑quality drone photogrammetry

WASHINGTON–(PRWEB)–Mapware, Inc. (mapware.com) has announced the immediate availability of Mapware Fly — a new, radically simple app for automated drone flight planning, flight control, and image capture for high-quality photogrammetry (3D mapping).

The Mapware Fly app debuts with support for Android tablets and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, DJI Mavic Air 2, and DJI Mini 2, and is available now on the Google Play app store. Anyone interested in support for additional drone models and iOS can opt-in to receive Mapware news at https://mapware.com/contact-us/.

“As the first free, automated photogrammetry flight app to support the DJI Mini 2, Mapware Fly will bring the magic of 3D mapping to more people than ever before,” said Mapware CEO Joe Sullivan. “Additionally, our support for DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro, Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, Mavic Air 2, and DJI Mini 2 is just the start of what will soon be deep integration for all popular UAVs used by professionals. Mapware Fly demonstrates how serious we are about our mission to offer the power of Mapware’s geospatial intelligence platform to everyone, from one-person teams to our largest customers.”

Features & Benefits:

  • Direct Upload to Mapware — As missions are completed, users can sync the captured images with their Mapware account to turn captured images into accurate, detailed 3D maps and orthomosaics.
  • Terrain Following — Mapware Fly users can set a target altitude for their automated flight. When terrain following is turned on, the drone’s height above ground level will automatically adjust as the underlying terrain changes.
  • Automated Flight Path Creation — Users simply draw an outline of their “area of interest” on an interactive map, and Mapware Fly will automatically create the optimal flight path based on their configured flight parameters.
  • Preflight Checklist — Mapware Fly helps users perform successful missions with a preflight checklist at the start of each flight. The app confirms that the drone is properly connected, has enough battery life to perform the mission, and that the flight path doesn’t encroach on restricted airspace.
  • Automated Flight Control and Capture — Once the flight path is defined and the preflight checklist is acknowledged, Mapware Fly automatically executes the capture – eliminating the potential for human error inherent in manual captures.
  • Live Video Preview — Users can see a picture-in-picture drone’s-eye-view to confirm that the drone is working correctly, and the mission is going as planned.
  • Live Telemetry — During flights, users can view real-time drone telemetry information including Above Ground Level (AGL) altitude, Mean Sea Level (MSL) altitude, horizontal and vertical speed, SD card space remaining, drone battery, and distance to home (takeoff location).
  • Offline Operation — Users can plan and execute drone missions at a remote site without needing a Wi-Fi or cellular signal.
  • View Restricted Airspace — While planning a flight, Mapware Fly automatically highlights “restricted” and “authorization” airspace zones on the mission map. With this feature, users can feel confident that their drone flights are compliant with local restrictions.
  • Project Organization — Missions can be organized into projects, which is helpful for managing multi-mission projects, organizing missions by customers, and more.
  • Create Missions Without a Connected Drone — Users can create and plan a mission without connecting their device to a drone. This feature allows users to plan missions before they go out into the field, so they don’t waste valuable field time.
  • Cloud-Based Projects — Project and mission data is synced to users’ Mapware accounts. This synchronization allows the user to create a complete or partial mission on one device, log out, and then log in on another device to continue mission planning and execution.

Device Support

Mapware Fly supports Android tablets running Android 11 and newer, and the DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, DJI Mavic Air 2, and DJI Mini 2. Support for additional devices is coming soon. Anyone interested in support for additional drone models and iOS can opt-in to receive Mapware news updates at https://mapware.com/contact-us/.

Customers can view additional details and download Mapware Fly for Android at https://mapware.com/fly/.

About Mapware, Inc.

Mapware is a U.S.-based SaaS platform designed to make advanced geospatial intelligence available to everyone. With Mapware, anyone can turn drone photographs into rich, immersive 3D and 2D virtual environments. Mapware makes it easy to explore, understand, and share these detailed “digital twins” of the physical world. It combines advanced algorithms with a simple, easy-to-use interface to provide an intuitive and powerful photogrammetry system.

Mapware’s GPU-accelerated cloud processing platform makes it an ideal solution for time-critical, resource-intensive projects. Mapware’s extensible geospatial intelligence capabilities enable users to better understand the world around them and act decisively within it.

Mapware’s latest product, Mapware Fly, is an Android app for automated flight planning, control, and image capture. When used with the Mapware web app, Mapware Fly makes it easy to create accurate, detailed 3D and 2D maps.

Contact

Mapware
Warren Tessier
press@mapware.com
215.550.1823

A drone pilot holds an Android tablet showing a complex Mapware Fly flight plan ready to execute.

Introducing Mapware Fly

With Mapware’s new drone mapping software, you can automate image capture flights with one of four compatible DJI drones and sync them with our photogrammetry engine.

Introduction

In case you haven’t noticed from our recent blog post and our activity on social media these past few months, we’ve been thinking a lot about drone mapping software. We realize it’s hard to capture high-quality photos under manual flight control. And we also realize that the best photogrammetry software is incomplete without addressing the photo flight.

That’s why we’re proud to announce Mapware Fly — a free new Android app for drone flight planning, flight control, and image capture that seamlessly integrates with our cloud-based photogrammetry software.

This will probably come as no surprise if you’re active on UAV mapping forums on Reddit or Facebook. You may even have been one of our public beta testers. If so, thank you. The information you helped us gather has resulted in an app that is comprehensive enough to elevate the quality of your digital twins, but streamlined and accessible enough for use by novice pilots.

Technical specifications

Where to find it:

  • Where to find it: on the Google Play Store
  • Supported devices: Android tablets running Android 11 and newer *
  • Compatible drones: DJI Mavic 2 Pro, DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, DJI Mavic Air 2 and DJI Mini 2 drones *

* Support for additional devices and drones is coming soon.

Overview of features

Here are a list of the main features and benefits of our app.

Direct Upload to Mapware

As missions are completed, users can sync the captured images with their Mapware account to turn captured images into accurate, detailed 3D maps and orthomosaics. 

Terrain Following

Mapware Fly users can set a target altitude for their autonomous flight. When terrain following is turned on, the drone’s height above ground level will automatically adjust as the underlying terrain changes. 

Automatic Flight Paths

Users simply draw an outline of their “area of interest” on an interactive map, and Mapware Fly will automatically create the optimal flight path based on their configured flight parameters. 

Live Video Preview

Users can see a picture-in-picture drone’s-eye-view to confirm that the drone is working correctly, and the mission is going as planned. 

Live Telemetry

During flights, users can view realtime drone telemetry information including Above Ground Level (AGL) altitude, Mean Sea Level (MSL) altitude, horizontal and vertical speed, SD card space remaining, drone battery, and distance to home (takeoff location). 

Preflight Checklist

Mapware Fly helps users perform successful missions with a preflight checklist at the start of each flight. The app confirms that the drone is properly connected, has enough battery life to perform the mission, and that the flight path doesn’t encroach on restricted airspace. 

Offline Operation

Users can plan and execute drone missions at a remote site without needing a Wi-Fi or cellular signal. 

View Restricted Airspace

While planning a flight, Mapware Fly automatically highlights “restricted” and “authorization” airspace zones on the mission map. With this feature, users can feel confident that their drone flights are compliant with local restrictions. 

Project Organization

Missions can be organized into projects, which is helpful for managing multi-mission projects, organizing missions by customers, and more. 

Create Missions Without a Connected Drone

Users can create and plan a mission without connecting their device to a drone. This feature allows users to plan missions before they go out into the field, so they don’t waste valuable field time. 

Cloud-Based Projects

Project and mission data is synced to users’ Mapware accounts. This synchronization allows the user to create a complete or partial mission on one device, log out, and then log in on another device to continue mission planning and execution.  

Video Demo

Here’s a quick video tour of a Mapware Fly mission from start to finish.

Mapware makes flight planning and capture easy. Download Mapware Fly and see for yourself.

A graphic of a drone, tablet, and checklist clipboard

Drone Mappers: Add These Items to Your Preflight Checklist

Bolster your own safety best practices before each flight with this drone-mapper-specific preflight checklist.

Introduction

Drone mappers… you take a preflight checklist with you on every mission, right?

Right?

It’s understandable if you don’t. While the FAA does require that Remote Pilots-in-Command (RPICs) perform a preflight checklist, 14 CFR Part 107.49 is (purposely?) very high-level and intuitive. Once you’ve conducted a few flights, you can run through the FAA’s steps from memory — no sheet of paper required.

The FAA’s AC-107-2, Chapter 7.3.4 recommends a more comprehensive list of checklist steps. But even this list has a shortcoming. It doesn’t cover every mission application drones perform. Drone mappers like you have different concerns than aerial videographers or crop dusters or pipeline inspectors. Your checklist should be different, too.

Below, we’ve created a list of five items that should probably be on any drone mapper’s checklist. (Okay, it’s really five categories of items.) While this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list or legal advice, we hope it’s a starting point for you to develop a preflight document that saves you major headaches down the road.

Checklist at a Glance

Here’s just the checklist steps the way they might appear on paper. We’ll explain each one later on:

Local Surveying Laws
My operation is legal in this jurisdiction ❑
Point of Contact: __________________; phone #: _________________

Site Inspection
Height of highest obstacle:           ___ AGL
Highest site elevation:                   ___ AGL
Lowest site elevation:                    ___ AGL
Active work crew operational hours / locations identified ❑
Weather and terrain suitable for mission ❑

Supplemental Equipment
Camera ready / cover off ❑
SD card has adequate storage space ❑
Mission control device ready ❑
Flight app configured ❑
GCPs laid / coordinates recorded ❑

Mission Parameters
Flight plan created ❑
Initial mission altitude:   ___ AGL ___ MSL
Drone airspeed:               ___ mph
Camera angle:                 ___ degrees
Overlap:                        ___% front, ___% side
Terrain following? (Y/N)

Test Flight
Verified flight app performance ❑
Confirmed camera settings with test photographs ❑

Checklist Items Explained

Here’s why we think each of the above items is important to the mission.

Local Surveying Laws

If this is your first drone mapping mission or you are crossing state lines for a job, make sure you have the legal qualifications to practice drone mapping and that you have someone to call to verify. Some states like California restrict who can legally practice or offer to practice “land surveying” missions, and your drone mapping operation could fall into that category.

Land surveyor working with total station on a construction site (excavator is beyond depth of field)
Be careful where and when you advertise “land surveying” services or anything else that might require state or local certifications.

Site Inspection

You probably already include some form of site inspection in your preflight checklist, but here are a few things to note when you are doing that site walk.

Highest Obstacle

Even if you are using an automated flight planning app and flying at a fixed altitude, you should still identify the highest obstacle at your site and jot it down for reference. If you need to regain manual flight control in an emergency, you will know how low you can safely fly regardless of your drone’s position. This is a lot like the maximum elevation figure (MEF) used in U.S. Sectional Aeronautical Charts, but on a smaller scale.

Terrain Elevation

Unless you are using a flight app with terrain following, your drone will maintain a consistent altitude throughout your mission regardless of changes in elevation. So it’s important to know the difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points at your worksite. You want to set your flight plan altitude high enough to clear obstacles, but not so high that your drone exceeds the FAA’s 400 ft AGL limit as soon as the terrain dips.

Active Work Crews

If you are mapping a construction site, a pipeline, or other active work site, there are likely to be crews at work during your mission. You should find out where they and their equipment will be on the day of your mission and when they’ll be active.

Weather and Terrain

The day of your mission, you should note environmental factors such as the position of the Sun, the cloud cover, and the air quality. Similarly, note the quality of the terrain you will be mapping — and especially any highly reflective or uniform surfaces. Even if conditions safe to fly, these factors can degrade the quality of your images and may prompt you to reschedule. For tips on ideal weather and terrain for drone mapping, check out our guide.

An aerial top down view of a road construction site with machinery in operation
There’s a lot for you (and your flight app) to keep track of at a busy construction site. Make sure you’ve done a proper site walk to identify issues close up.

Supplemental Equipment

Below are some additional equipment checks to add to the FAA’s list in AC-107-2, Chapter 7.3.4 so your drone mapping gear is ready.

Camera

This is an obvious one, but you want to make sure your camera is uncovered and working properly before you take off.

SD Card

Some larger drone mapping missions call for hundreds or even thousands of images. Make sure that your SD card has enough free space to hold them.

Mission Control Device

If you are using a flight app, you will probably be running it on a tablet or laptop and connecting it to your drone controller. Ensure the battery is charged, the software is up-to-date, and that you have a USB or other cord necessary to connect it to your drone controller.

Flight App

Make sure your flight app is up-to-date, and — if possible — that you have pre-stored a flight plan for your mission.

GCPs

If you haven’t already, make sure you’ve placed ground control points (GCPs) throughout the worksite and recorded their GPS locations.

A man in a rural landscape kneeling over drone
Drone mappers have a lot more gear to worry about than just a quadcopter and RC controller.

Mission Parameters

Here is where a drone mapper’s preflight checklist differs greatly from other drone operators — the mission parameters of your photogrammetry flight app. If your app allowed you to set these parameters ahead of time, you should still double-check these settings before takeoff. For guidance on selecting the best airspeed, altitude, overlap, and camera angle, check out our guide.

Flight Plan

When you get to the mission site, double-check your pre-stored flight plan or create a new one. Make sure to check local airspace for any newly established flight restrictions that may overlap your planned flight area.

Altitude

If you aren’t using terrain following, the drone will remain at its initial takeoff altitude throughout the mission. Double-check your mission altitude in the following ways:

  • Ensure your mission altitude places your drone well above the height of the tallest obstacle at the highest elevation point.
  • Ensure that the mission altitude is low enough to keep your drone within the FAA’s 400 ft AGL limit when you fly horizontally over the lowest elevation point.

Airspeed

Ensure that the airspeed you select is ideal for the drone’s camera and altitude, the current weather conditions, and the type of site you are mapping. For instance, if you are flying at a low altitude or with poor lighting, you may want to set your airspeed lower to reduce blur in your photos.

Camera Angle

If you are mapping relatively flat areas, taking photos at the 90-degree nadir angle is appropriate. But for vertical structures, you may want to tilt the camera angle up.

Overlap

In general, Mapware recommends 70% front and side overlap between photos. But there may be times when you want to deviate from this.

Terrain Following

Lastly, determine whether you should use terrain following. As we’ve said earlier, this feature can prevent your drone from breaking FAA regulations or flying into obstacles. But it can also improve the quality of your images.

A screenshot of Mapware Fly showing the Flight Parameters sidebar: altitude, drone speed, camera angle, front overlap, and side overlap
Mapware Fly makes it easy for you to configure altitude, airspeed, camera angle, frontlap, and sidelap before a flight. Sign up for the beta test and see for yourself.

Test Flight

It’s wise to do one or more test flights at your site before the official mission begins. Here are some things to consider.

Verify Flight App Performance

A test flight will let you know if your flight app is operating correctly:

  • Make sure safety-critical settings like the return-to-home and pause buttons are responsive.
  • Verify that you can override the flight plan with manual control inputs.
  • Verify that the app is picking up any local flight restrictions.
  • Ensure that telemetry readouts and camera feeds are reporting accurate data.

Take Test Images

Finally, take a few images from your planned altitude and airspeed. Then land and make sure that these images are adequate. You don’t want to finish a long mission only to have to discard your 200+ image set.

A screenshot of Mapware Fly displaying a two-step preflight checklist just before takeoff
Ready to start your mission? Not so fast. Save yourself from frustration later on by doing a quick test flight.

Final Thoughts

Traditional aviators live and die by their preflight checklists. Even though drone mappers like you don’t have the same skin in the game, you have complex missions worthy of a consistent preflight procedure. We hope our modest list inspires you to create your own.

Ready to try out your checklist with our new drone mapping app? Click here to join our beta test of Mapware Fly: https://bit.ly/3EdtN0R