February, 2012

SUAVE SiteSeer    February, 2012

Welcome to the February 2012 edition of our e-bulletin, SiteSeer.

In this brief newsletter, you’ll find details about recent aerial photography projects using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and new technologies that are driving both quality improvements and cost savings.

In this issue, we’ll look mainly at construction and archaeological projects, which once again lead the field when it comes to making use of UAVs for photography and photogrammetry. However, as we’ve reported in previous issues, heritage, marketing and event management professionals are also increasingly taking advantage of the opportunities that the technology affords.

What is clear from these and other projects is that customers are now much better educated about the benefits of using UAVs as a platform for aerial photography than they were just twelve months ago. Offering the facility to capture more detailed images, more sustainably, with fewer restrictions and at a fraction of the cost of using conventional aircraft, UAV technology seems very much to have entered the industry mainstream. If you’d like to see what we can do for you, please contact us on 07842 766679.


Contents

Banbury Buckingham Thumb Banbury Morrisons Kelsborrow Morden

Two Flood Alleviation Projects, Banbury
Buckingham Group and Morrison Construction

Iron Age Hill Fort, Cheshire
Cheshire West and Chester Council

Wharf Repair Project, Thames
Morrison Construction

New UAV Technologies

 


 

Two Flood Alleviation Projects, Banbury
Buckingham Group and Morrison Construction

We have recently been engaged in recording the progress of not one but two separate flood alleviation projects in Banbury, Oxfordshire, both of which were undertaken by clients working with the Environment Agency. One, located close to a canal, was carried out on behalf of the Buckingham Group and entailed ground remediation and the construction of embankments on a site 450m long. The other was commissioned by Morrison Construction and involved multiple civil engineering works on four separate sites close to the M40 and the River Cherwell. One of these sites measured approximately 3km in length and required extensive works, including diverting the course of a stream, changing the levels of the land and constructing a series of concrete flow control structures in and around the water catchment areas.
SUAVE was asked to record activity on the various sites at the start of the projects and then again, when work was well advanced. Operating at heights varying between 40 and 400 feet, we produced clear and detailed images that were subsequently used to inform site management discussions and which featured in the clients’ own publicity materials. One image, for example, appeared alongside a substantial article about the Morrison Construction scheme in a recent edition of New Civil Engineer magazine.

 


 

Iron Age Hill Fort, Cheshire
Cheshire West and Chester Council

Since May 2010, we have been working with professional archaeologists from Cheshire West and Chester Council, helping to record a series of digs on three of the county’s most prominent Iron Age hill forts. We had previously worked on Helby and Eddisbury but our most recent project was at Kelsborrow Castle near Northwich, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The site had previously been investigated on two occasions, once via a dig in 1973 and later, in 1996, in the form of a limited geophysical survey. Although the surviving banks are nearly 2m high in places, recent assessments had found that the monument was sustaining erosion damage due to ploughing, livestock tracks and wheel rutting from farm vehicles, so another dig was proposed.

This took place towards the end of 2011 and its objectives were twofold. Firstly, it would seek to establish the extent of any erosion on the 2.9ha site, and secondly, archaeologists would try to identify and recover samples of charred wood from the ground associated with the site of the original ramparts. This would be carbon dated and used to provide a more accurate indication of when the site was in use.

The aerial photographs were taken with a remotely operated digital SLR camera and when the low winter sun emerged through the clouds, the ramparts cast impressive shadows that made the extent of the site very obvious. The resulting images give an excellent overview of the site as a whole and convey a very clear sense of where the three trenches were in relation to one another.

 


 

Wharf Repair Project, Thames
Morrison Construction

In 2010, the Environment Agency gave the green light to a £4.2 million refurbishment project designed to restore four separate river frontages that form part of the Thames Tidal Defences in East London. The existing frontages on the four sites were beginning to fail and Morrison Construction was appointed as part of a multi-agency project team that was given the task of reinstating them. Known as the Greenwich Laporte Rainham (GLR) Tidal Walls project, the scheme was implemented in 2010 and 2011 and went on to receive an award for efficiency in the Agency’s 2011 Project Excellence Awards.

SUAVE’s role in the project was to record progress on the sites, capturing images of the work as it was being done and then, later, when it was complete. Using a UAV yielded several advantages, not least of which was the ability to shoot photographs from the river-side of the works and from a sufficient height to show the frontages in the context of the surrounding buildings. The high resolution photographs provide excellent documentary evidence that the work was completed according to the specification and they stand as a lasting record of this significant and award-winning scheme.

 


 

New UAV Technologies

New HeliThis edition, we’re taking a look at the technology right at the heart of UAV photography – the vehicle itself. In 2011, we took the decision to invest in a new, more sophisticated UAV – an electrically powered, German-made helicopter that offered a number of important advantages over our previous model. We began testing it towards the end of the year and it has quickly become the mainstay of our work.

The key advantages of the new UAV are improved control and build quality. The helicopter has not one but six computerised systems on board and this gives it greatly improved autopilot facilities. It can hold its position in three dimensions very effectively, so the operator spends less time thinking about ‘flying’ the machine and more time concentrating on the most important job – taking high quality photographs. This means that we can work more efficiently and, for our clients, it means that every flight yields a greater number of useful images.

The other big advantage is that the superior engineering and the high quality servos produce significantly less vibration when the UAV is in the air, so whatever camera is used can capture images of a higher quality, even in overcast and relatively dark conditions. Not only that, but the vehicle can lift heavier cameras and stay longer in the air, so more pictures can be taken on every visit.

These are exciting developments that open up new possibilities for ourselves and for our clients, not least of which is the longer term prospect of aerial video services and working on advanced photogrammetry projects.

 


 

Further Information:

For details of all our latest heritage, construction and archaeological projects, please visit our online gallery. If you have any questions or if you’d like to discuss a project of your own, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please call us on 07842 766 679 or email me at Greg@SUAVEAirPhotos.co.uk.

P.S. Please feel free to forward a link to this page to your friends and colleagues!

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