JBR LIFE Photography

Drone Deploy Live Mapping - Trial

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Aloha all,

I volunteer / serve Maui Search & Rescue as a ground-pounder and the drone team leader.  We're looking at pre-search mapping options, so I gave the trial version of Drone Deploy a run yesterday afternoon during a training mission, specifically utilizing the live mapping function.  Here's my input:

As usual, the Drone Deploy platform was simple and easy to work.  Drag your finger around the screen to create a flight area, set the altitude, hit go.  Pretty straight forward.

The real-time mapping function was awesome at first.  Seeing it populate a map of the search area was exciting, as we could zoom and analyze data WHILE the drone was mapping the area.  However, there was a stiff wind (around 18-20kts sustained, gusting to 25+kts), and the map was completely inaccurate.  The drone could not go any slower than the wind speed on the down-wind runs, and fought hard to get more than about 6mph heading into the wind, which I suspect was the cause of the misaligned portions.  For instance, the live map stretched and skewed the area, and showed broken driveways, roads, trails...sometimes to the point of about a 100ft variance.  As you can imagine, this is not good for SAR missions, where properly reading the terrain is vital.  Yes, we were able to find our missing subject (trash bag full of grass & leaves, wearing a shirt) in crazy short time using the aerial data, but I can see how inaccuracy could lead to trouble and unnecessary spending of resources in the field.

I realize now, looking back, that perhaps I should've adjusted course heading to stretch perpendicular to the wind, so as to be able to achieve a fairly consistent flight speed throughout the mission (save for the turns at the ends of a run).  I'll try again on a high wind day, but I can tell you now that this is a big fat flop, in terms of accuracy.  

Anyone have any other solutions for real-time mapping?  I'm entertaining desktop solutions, which could be processed at basecamp, but in reality, I need something that I can see in real-time during a mission, as sometimes we're deploying drones in the middle of nowhere, far from base camp.

Warmest Mahalo!

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