TLG Dan Inloes

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  1. I agree that it would make a slight difference. Very slight. Keep in mind that most photogrammetry software packages calculates an error percentage when calculating volumes. I've never seen an error accuracy greater than ±3% from pix4d and I've done about a dozen stock piles. Its very common to see a surveyor note ±10% on volume calculations on stock piles, especially big, illformed piles when they're collecting data with a GPS system, which is most common. Unless your using a laser scanner, photogrammetric methods derive a more accurate data set then the means a typical surveyor would employ. Typically a GPS system. So, you might see a difference of 0.1inches in your ground sample distance (GSD) with a 10' altitude difference from one side of the site to another, but with an overall error of ±3%, if you take into account a 0.1" GSD variance, you might be looking at a different of 1 cubic yard or less between using GCPs and not using GCPs. Usually the client wants to know a volume to the nearest dump truck load or so, not a tablespoon. Again, is it necessary to drop 6k on GCPs to dial it in that much? In my opinion, no. Furthermore, Why give a surveyor an excuse to call you out? He's already pissed that he's didnt get the job, but now he has a foot to stand on in terms of accusing you of providing survey grade data without being licensed. Also, from what I've read, the barometer on DJI drones are backed up by the internal GPS and corrected in real time as you fly to account for pressure variances.
  2. Hey Mike, My thoughts on this is that if you're needing ground control to get more accurate data, you'd be working with a surveyor which will be setting GCP's for you with his survey equipment. The internal accuracy's of the data is already very accurate in relation to itself. If you introduce GCP's to the project, you then introduce real world coordinates. If you're working in real world coordinates, the likelihood that your data will then be used to "measure" stuff goes way up. The fact that your data has been corrected to reflect georeferenced ground coordinates is enough to be considered survey grade. Unless you''re working directly for a surveyor, you run the risk of stepping on the toes of surveyors which could in turn get you sued. If you need your data more accurate than what the raw images can create without GCP's, your working for a surveyor. Why drop $6k on Drone Base Propeller Points when you're going to be working with a surveyor that has a $60k GPS that can set better GCP's? Thats my point. If you need GCP's, you're going to be working with a guy that can set your GCP's for you. If you don't need GCP's, you're not working with a surveyor so why spend $6k on equipment that would constitute survey grade data when you're not a licensed survey? See where I'm going here? Its unnecessary. Maybe give me an example of when you think you'd need GCP's when the client is not a surveyor?
  3. Clients: @Av8Chuck brings me to my next point. As I've said above, this will vary from state to state, but my general rule for drone businesses is that you have two client audiences: Those that are surveyors and every body else. In some states, it could be surveyors, engineers and everyone else, but you get the picture. If your data falls under the category of land surveying or engineering, meaning that the work is blanked under work that requires civil standards, your working for a surveyor or an engineer. Period. Not a developer, not a construction company, a surveyor. If your calculating the area of a golf course to figure out a quantity for fertilizer, or the area of a sand trap, or you want to map out the course for pamphlets to give the golfers, or create an ortho of a property for a real estate agent, or calculate the volume at a gravel pit or a land fill, this type of work does not have standard associated with it. Is the 3d surface or ortho you create of the land fill going to be used to design a school or a bridge? Is the golf course owner going to take the ortho and use it to design a subdivision? Is the real estate agent going to use an ortho to design a detached garage or an underground pool? No. These are all tasks that fall under engineering and surveying and they know that. What your basically providing is an updated, super high-res google image, from that day, not 6 months ago when google flew over last. They can use an ortho as they would use a google image ripped off of google earth. Or, like in my land fill example, your providing them a volume calculation, a number, not a map. To put it even more clearly into focus, if the coordinates mater, if the project is being tied to an actual coordinate system, your using ground control and you need a surveyor to do that. You can't create survey grade data with out the help of a surveyor. This means that if the client doesn't care about the coordinates, its not survey grade data and the need to set ground control points is void, thus not being held to any standards and in the eyes of a surveyor or engineer, you've create a "pretty picture", not a map. If the client wants survey grade data, hire a surveyor to set ground control and convince him that you know what your doing and that your data falls within his tolerance levels and comfort levels. It will cost more, but you get what you pay for. The PLS is putting their career on the line and he only signs and stamps data that's true and correct. My recommendation is that if you want to be creating survey grade data exclusively, you need to partner with a surveyor, or, like a talked about in my previous post, become a temporary employee on a project by project basis so that your covered under the PLS's "responsible charge", or in other words, his professional liability coverage. But I digress. Most of your clients don't care if the data has correct geospatial coordinates or coordinates in the middle of the Atlantic. They don't care. It doesn't need to be that accurate for what they're doing. Thus, you do not have to uphold a standard of accuracy and should be on the right side of the law if your data is ever questioned. To cover your bases on this, I wouldn't put a north arrow on it or a scale bar. Do not impersonate a map or a survey. Do not imply that the data has any coordinates at all. You can provide a volume with units, but you will also be providing the accuracy of said volume, like +/- ten cubic yards or feet or, pick your units. Now, not being "survey grade accurate" doesn't mean that your data isn't good, it just means that its not good enough to be considered "survey grade" or "engineering grade" data. The internal accuracy of your data will most likely be very tight in relation to itself regardless of weather its tied to real world ground coordinates or not. Like a said before, your creating pretty pictures with lines on them. If your client needs data that they will be making measurements on that need to have a tighter tolerance than you can provide with out GCP's, they need coordinates and they need a surveyor. I hope this sheds some light on the questions regarding who your clients area and what kind of data you're going to providing them. This is still a fuzzy topic and I don't claim to be stating law. You need to do your due dilligence with your own states laws before you get too far into your business endeavors. This is just my opinion from doing local research, talking to surveyors, talking to the state board, and talking with clients in the state of Idaho and Oregon. Please let me know your thoughts on this because the more minds working together, the more educated we all get. Again, that's my 2 cents. Cheers for now!
  4. RTK/PPK GPS Equipped Drones Another questions that I'm asked almost every time I'm contacted by guys looking for guidance is about strapping a PPK GPS system or a RTK GPS system on to their drone. This topic usually arises after we discuss how to create survey grade data and what it really takes to pass the QC of a surveyor. Basic principle: Unless you have a survey grade GPS system ($$,$$$.$$), can set your own ground control points (GCP's), and understand how to process GPS data and assign a coordinate system to your points (horizontally and vertically), you will need the assistance of a surveyor in order to create survey grade ground data from drone photography. Bottom line. GCP are required to create survey grade ground data. Survey Grade: The combination of the internal relative accuracy of your data (the distance between two points) and the geospatial accuracy (are the coordinates of those two points accurate and tied to a known coordinate system). GPS 101 - All GPS is created equal. All GPS systems collect and log positions in Lat/Long and ellipsiod height, also know as grid heights. Sometimes its referred to as HAE, Height Above the Ellipse. And just FYI, the ellipse is a mathematical representation of the earths gravity as a given location. Most commonly the coordinate system GPS units collect data in is WGS84, World Geographic Coordinate System as defined in 1984. RTK/PPK vs. Non-RTK/PPK: RTK (real-time kinematic) and PPK (post-processed kinematic) enabled drones use the same GPS as the GPS that comes stock in your drone except the GPS on the drone is receiving correction data from a base station that you set up on site. The base station is collecting GPS readings as you're flying, getting more and more accurate as the reading are collected and averaged, and sends correction data to the drone, adjusting in real time the GPS readings of the drone. These reading are then used to tag the location of the drone on to each image. These corrected positions are stored in the form of EXIF data on the images. One reading/location per image. Depending on the software your using, the EXIF data on each photo can then be converted to state plane coordinates during post-processing by means of the correction data from the base station. The EXIF data is used during the first process of your data processing. The photogrammetry software uses the EXIF locations to orient the images in the pattern you flew so that it knows which photos to compare against to create tie points between all the photos to tie them all together. It also uses the elevation of the photo to calculate the vertical component of ground coordinates. This then leaves you with images that have fairly accurate WGS84 coordinates or a fairly accurate state plane coordinates, but the positions represent the location of the drone, not the ground. True ground coordinates are calculated and generated during the processing of the images by means of triangulation between a collection of photos and by using the EXIF data of the image as a reference point. Utilizing PPK or RTK on your drone can produce better results than if you were to not use GCP's at all, but it can also incorporate errors into your project because your relying on the correction data from one point on the site, as apposed to using several GCP's that are strategically place around your site. The error will grow the further away from the base station you get, guaranteed. If your software does not allow you to convert the image locations to state plane, your stuck with WGS84 coordinates. By virtue of the fact that raw GPS locations are WGS84 coordinates with grid heights and that the surveyor will most likely want the data in some other coordinate system, likely State Plane Coordinates with ground heights, there is a significant distortion factor between the two coordinate systems that needs to be accounted for. The distortion that I speak of can be imagined as a move, scale, rotate, with a vertical offset and a touch of stretching. In order to adjust for all these factors, you have two options. You will either need GCP's in the desired horizontal and vertical coordinate system or a combined scale factor with a geoid separation (which are generated when post processing survey grade GPS data). This distortion is accounted for by using one of these two methods when processing your data, not by use of a more precise location of the drone. So, in short, solely utilizing a drone that's equipped with PPK or RTK will get your raw data closer to actual WGS84 coordinates or state plane coordinates, but will not be accurate enough to be accepted by a surveyor. You might ask, well cant the surveyor adjust the data after the fact to get the data onto state plane? No. This correction must be accounted for during the processing of the imagery by using GCS's. Using GPS's is the more effective and hands down the best way to generate accurate and reproducible drone data. The one advantage of utilizing RTK or PPK enabled drones is that it greatly stabilizes the drone during fight, horizontally and vertically. More importantly, vertically. If there's significant vertical relief on your site and you have the ability to maintain a constant height above the ground as you're flying, this can help maintain the Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of the photos. GSD is the size each pixel represents on the ground in each photo. Maintaining a constant GSD is important when striving to create the most accurate ground data from images. So... PPK or RTK on a drone. Does this make your data Survey Grade accurate? No. Does it make your data more accurate? Yes. A quick recap of WGS84 and State Plane. WGS84 covers the entire world. Its goal in life is to flatten out a round earth and allow us to represent geographic locations with a number. Sanity check: lines of latitude are constant, lines of longitude converge at the poles. Therefor, if you take a square that's 10 degrees of latitude by 10 degrees of longitude, depending on where you are in the world, the north line and the south line are going to be different lengths. It'll look like a square with the top or bottom corners smashed together slightly. State Plane Coordinates are not like this. There is an x axis and a y axis, both constant. State Plane Coordinate Projections are broken down by state. Some times a state will have several state plane zones. Like state plane west zone, state plane central zone, and state plane east zone. These projections are much smaller than the WGS84 projection as to restrict on the effect of convergence. If you are to understand the reason why PPK enables drones does not directly relate survey grade ground positions, you must first understand this basic concept. Final Thoughts. I can tell you that I'm not just regurgitating info that I've researched. I've flown a site with a drone that had PPK GPS and utilized a base station. I've flown the same site with the same drone with the same light conditions with out the PPK GPS while utilizing well placed, highly accuracy GCP's. In survey lalaland, there no comparison. They were close, but distortion grew the further away you got from the base station when relying on the PPK system solely. In the extreme, the worst variance I found was over 2 feet at the furthest point away from the base station, about a quarter mile away. Thats my 2 cents on the topic. This is a hairy topic and I encourage your input. More to come, and as always, fly safe! Dan Inloes
  5. My first thought is that the imagery thats available by google is not orthoimagery. Its a compilation of stitched satellite imagery. If you look carfully at the google imagery, you can almost always see the sides of trees, buildings, light poles, etc. If overlay google imagery underneath survey linework, you can see that there is significant distortion (significant in survey land) in the imagery. With out diving into a big search on this topic, I'd say that google has an army of attorneys and I'm sure theres language somewhere that says that they release all liability as to how their imagery is used.
  6. Just as reference, here is Oregons ORS 672.002 (1)"Board" means the State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying. (2)"Engineer," "professional engineer" or "registered professional engineer" means an individual who is registered in this state and holds a valid certificate to practice engineering in this state as provided under ORS 672.002 (Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 672.325) to 672.325 (Civil penalties). (3)"Engineering intern" means an individual enrolled by the board as having passed an examination in the fundamental engineering subjects. (4)"Geodetic survey" means a determination of the size and shape of the earth or the position of any point on the earth. (5)"Land surveyor," "professional land surveyor" or "registered professional land surveyor" means an individual who is registered in this state and holds a valid certificate to practice surveying in this state as provided by ORS 672.002 (Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 672.325) to 672.325 (Civil penalties). (6)"Land surveying intern" means an individual enrolled by the board as having passed an examination in the fundamental land surveying subjects. (7)"Photogrammetric mapping" means an evaluating and measuring of land that is limited to the determination of the topography, area, contours and location of planimetric features, by using photogrammetric methods or similar remote sensing technology, including but not limited to using existing ground control points incidental to the photogrammetric or remote sensing mapping process. (8)"Photogrammetrist" means an individual registered with the board and holding a valid certificate to practice photogrammetric mapping. (9)"Responsible charge" means to have supervision and control of: (a)The engineering design of works with responsibility for design decisions; (b)Land surveying work for the purpose of ensuring conformance to the relevant requirements of law and sound surveying practice; or (c)Photogrammetric mapping project work, which may include, but need not be limited to, work regarding the extent of coverage, location of ground control, aerial photography or similarly remotely sensed data, the measurement of features detected by remote sensing equipment, quality control for compliance with standards and specifications and the presentation of findings. (10)"Supervision and control" means establishing the nature of, directing and guiding the preparation of, and approving the work product and accepting responsibility that the work product is in conformance with standards of professional practice. [1971 c.751 §1; 1983 c.614 §1; 1995 c.33 §1; 1997 c.210 §1; 2005 c.22 §475; 2005 c.445 §6; 2009 c.259 §1; 2015 c.576 §9] Further more. (1)A person may not practice photogrammetric mapping in this state unless the person is registered and has a valid certificate to practice land surveying, engineering or photogrammetric mapping issued under ORS 672.002 (Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 672.325) to 672.325 (Civil penalties). (2)A photogrammetrist shall, upon registration, obtain a seal of the design authorized by the State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying. The registrant shall sign and stamp with the seal of the registrant each final document, including drawings, specifications, designs, reports, narratives and maps issued by the registrant. The signature and stamp of a registrant constitute a certification that the document was prepared by the registrant or under the registrant’s supervision and control. (3)A photogrammetrist may perform services defined as photogrammetric mapping under ORS 672.002 (Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 672.325). A photogrammetrist may not engage or offer to engage in an act constituting the practice of land surveying other than photogrammetric mapping. [2005 c.445 §2; 2009 c.259 §3] and last but not least. In addition to any other penalty provided by law, any person who violates any provision of ORS 672.002 (Definitions for ORS 672.002 to 672.325) to 672.325 (Civil penalties) or any rule adopted thereunder shall forfeit and pay to the State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying a civil penalty in an amount determined by the board of not more than $1,000 for each offense. So, as you can see, states rules and regulations regarding photogrammety can vary considerably. I looked up the rules in Washington and as you found, there is no mention of photogrammety. Like not even once. As to answer your question. I'd say if you are providing volumetric data in Washington, theres nothing in the Washington code that says you cant. If you want to put a disclaimer on your data, you can totally do that, if not to just cover your bases in terms of liability, but to clarify what the accuracy actually is. I plan on going over this in my next post. Great question.
  7. Is This Legal? This thread is intended to develop and discuss key points on whats needed to provide data to surveyors and engineers. The Nuts and Bolts of the question "Land surveyor license needed?" I've been involved in the thread "Licensed Surveyor License Needed" and my personal intro thread that discussed integrating drones into my day to day duties as a Survey Tech. I use an Inspire 1 Pro with an X3 camera with an Ipad Pro and have employed it on over 60 projects from 1 acre plots to a 21 mile by 2000' corridor project over the past year with great success. On my intro thread, I stated that if anyone had any questions regarding drones and surveying, to drop me a line or call me and I'd share any and all info I've accumulated over the past several years of experience as a drone pilot in the survey industry. That still stands and I am eager to help where I can. It turns out that a lot of you are interested in generating survey/engineering deliverable/products and have questions about all aspects of the process. Lately, I've received questions from several guys asking the same questions and I want to take the time to clear the air and give some input on the most common and most important questions I've fielded over the past year. Its also worth noting that everyone thats contacted me regarding this topic was not a licensed surveyor or a licensed photogrammetrist. Just regular guys trying to figure this out. Also worth noting, I am not a lawyer and my thoughts and opinions stated hereon are intended to be for reference only and is not intended to be legal advice. I'm wading through the same struggles that you are, I'm just a few years ahead of most and have a lot of insider experience. I tell the guys that call me, "if you want to live on the bleeding edge of technology, your going to bleed". I am no exception to that saying and hope this thread can be your proverbial band-aid to some of your issues. In order to accomplish this task (producing products for surveyors and engineers) and maintain clients and grow your business, you must have a great understanding of state law, FAA Regulations and Authorizations, UAS Piloting, Weather Conditions, AutoCad, Photogrammetric Methods, and the most fun, Geodesy and Map Projections. Sure you can buy a Phantom, take some pictures, upload them to a cloud based processing firm, and deliver that, but I'm here to tell you that you're going to fall short and your data will be unreliable and not reproducible, which is a deal breaker for surveyors. Cloud based processing firms can serve as a useful tool for some products, but the products that pays the bills will come from in-house processing. Personally, I use a fire breathing processing machine and Pix4d to produce 100% of my deliverable. I'm just going to jump right in with the most important question you need to ask yourself. Q: Is it legal to produce data for surveyors and engineers? A: This is a loaded question that does not have one answer. It depends on which state you intend on working. You need to research your states statutes and determine if there is a Photogrammetry license in your state. I live in Idaho and there is no such license. But, there is a Photogrammetry license in Oregon. This means that in Oregon, if you're caught producing "photogrammetric data that is intended to be used for measurements" (orthos, ortho-planes, contours, volumes, etc.), you can get sued for providing a professional service without being licensed. If you get sued, your drone insurance is not going to cover it. You need professional liability insurance, which is not available unless you are licensed by the state. So, first look up your state laws on photogrammetry and if you find nothing, look up the laws for surveying. In Idaho, the word "photo" is only mentioned a few times in the state code for surveying. A couple times for photo ID and once for photogrammetry. The one mention of photogrammetry basically says that surveyors can employing a variety of methods to generate measurements, one of which being photogrammetry. That's it. This means that there are no state laws that prohibits or restricts what Billy Bob's Drone Services can provide, or to whom he can provide them to. Oregon on the other hand is very different. This varies greatly from state to state, so do your due diligence. In the more strict states, the key phrasing that you need to be looking for is "responsible charge". The best way of explaining this is to run a scenario. The field guys that work for a PLS are "under the responsible charge" of the PLS because they are employees of the PLS. If you're providing a service or product that measurements are intended to be generated from as an independent contractor, your business, by nature, is not directly overseen by the responsible charge of a PLS, unless you have one on staff. In which case, you'd be providing a stamped product. But 99% of you are not licensed nor have a PLS on staff. That's why we're talking about this. If you find yourself trying to conduct business in a state where photogrammetry is blanketed by the survey license or a photogrammetry license, you've found yourself between a legal rock and a hard place. I am in a unique positions as I work for a PLS and am eligible to become licensed, as of last April. But for the vast majority of you, you are not a PLS and have no intent on becoming such. You might be saying, "well if I'm generating survey grade data, I'm going to be working very closely with the surveyor and he's going to be deeply involved in what I'm doing". That doesn't cut it in terms of the law. Its my understanding that by virtue of the fact that you are conducting business as an independent contractor, you are not under the responsible charge of the clients PLS. The only way I can see this working is if you become a temporary employee of the PLS. In essence, the PLS would be hiring you as a specialist field crew member that has all the authorizations and FAA requirements dealt with and has his own equipment to collect data for a specific project. Once the product has been developed, the terms of your employment would end. So... First things first. Is it legal to do what you want to do in your state? This is the most important question you can ask yourself before you develop a business plan for your drone business. I look forward to continuing this thread with anyone thats interested in voicing their opinions and questions. Its my goal for this thread to cover specific questions as it pertains to this profession. As more questions arise, I intend on heading each question topic with a big, bold header like I've done on this on. (Is This Legal) As always, I'm available and willing to talk to any and all regarding drones and surveying. Feel free to drop me a line. And above all, Safe Flying! Best regards, Dan Inloes
  8. Hey boys, Let me start by saying that I feel your pain. Not a good feeling when you loose contact with your bird. I've experienced this same issue in the past and through my research, I discovered that the shear amount of data that's being crunched in real time during flight was heating up the iPad so much that the processor was shutting off, as to not fry itself. The issue of shutting down I was having was with the Maps Made Easy pilot app. I've came to trust this pilot app above all others due to its capabilities for large multiflight missions, grid missions, linear missions (would work great for your river project), and terrain awareness. After careful consideration, I decided to drop the $800 on the new iPad Pro that came out earlier this year. Since then, I haven't experienced this issue. The iPad Pro is much better suited for this type of data processing. I hate to say it, but I'd get a new iPad Pro. Best of luck, and safe flyin boys!
  9. Very well said, Kyle. I couldn't agree more with what you've said. I also feel your pain with dealing with TBC and the UX5. When i first started using drones, I was trained on the first gen UX5 and was tasked with flying cut blocks up in northern Alberta, Canada. As you said, the processing is a critical point that cant be overlooked. I havent worked with the photogrammetry module in TBC since then, but what I remember about it was that the software just wasn't up to snuff. What Trimble did was purchase a company out of Belgium i believe called Inpho. As the big players usually do, they bought out a little company and incorporated it into their software package. The problem that I ran into with TBC was that the Inpho photogrammetry module was designed in such a way that it was not capable to threading all available processors. This slowed down the processing huge. In the end, I was never able to produce any useful data using the UX5 and TBC. Since then I have become very acquainted with Pix4d. They have become my processing software of choice for the type of flying I do. Do you use any other processing software other than TBC?
  10. I'd have to disagree. DJI offers a wide range of drones that are more than capable of producing survey grade data. The vertical landing and take off is pretty legit, but in order to create survey grade imagery, speed is actually more important than you might think, but in the contrary. High speed imagery mixed with non perfect lighting creates blurry imagery, even when using the high dollar metrically calibrated cameras. Having longer flight times at a slower ground speed is what is needed. DJI P4P is a great starting point. 23mp camera and 25 min of flight time. Run it at 10 to 12 mph and you're in biz. Just my 2 cents.
  11. Using toy drones and cloud based processing are just a couple aspects of what differentiates non-survey grade data and survey grade data. To create survey grade, consistent, repeatable and reliable data, it's not just a push button deal. Knowledge of photogrammetry and surveying, especially coordinate projections, is a must. Survey grade GCP's and the ability to process your own data is also a must if you're looking for that kind of data. I can tell you that I've produced data with drones that has been within a tenth of survey grade total stations, GNSS, and HD laser scanner data. If you're looking for a good set up to start with, you'll need a good quality drone (DJI, 3DR, etc.), a computer that can turn and burn, and a software package like Pix4d. This will get you headed in the right direction if your wanting your clientele to include surveyors and engineers. But, keep in mind that if you sell drone data to an engineer without it being stamped by a surveyor, you risk major liability lawsuits and they risk losing their engineering license if their design goes sideways due to bad ground data. Engineers use survey data for design so that the surveyor is who is liability for the ground data. That's their job, that's their bread and butter. But surveyors don't stamp data they don't trust and can't repeat. That's the hurdle thats most pertinent to drones and surveying.
  12. In a lot of cases, drone data can be higher quality and better than data collected using conventional methods, especially if you have inexperienced field guys doing topo. But, like you said, there is no replacement for the traditional methods. There will always be a need for traditional survey equipment, but just like GNSS, when that was introduced, surveyors were hesitant to use it because is was voodoo. Now its "traditional equipment". Drones will eventually be in the tool box of most surveyors. In my opinion, it would be foolish not to have one. Your concern about producing ground data with a drone and selling it to an engineer and having them use it for design without checking its validity is bad new bears. That is what Streamwhuddle was talking about. If engineers are using that data without it being stamped by a LS, the liability falls on them, the engineer that stamps the design drawings. Typically that liability would fall on the surveyor stamping the topo. At least the drone firm wont get sued, and it will weed out those cnivil engineers. All we can do is play by the rules and hope we done get sued but it is a very good idea to add that kind of disclaimer into your produce package. Any other thoughts?
  13. Its hard to believe that people are getting away with producing actual surveys when they are unlicensed land surveyors. I'm not buying that. In my mind, a survey is a stamped legal document. Sure, people are producing maps who are not PLS's, but are they determining boundaries, creating legals, know what schedule B items are or know what aliquot means? Very unlikely. I can see your frustration as your/our clientele is dwindling (or being reduced slightly) because drones are impacting the types of jobs you/we get, but I think you're overseeing an important aspect of your concerns. There is a change happening in our profession where lots of people don't want/need to hire a stamp at $250/hr to perform a basic topo or calc quantities, and now they don't have to. Survey grade capable equipment is no longer limited to expensive total stations and GNSS. Similar data can be produced by using a $1000-$2000 drone and a subscription to some cloud based processing software. Before drones and "push-button" processing solutions existed, the majority of maps were created by surveyors and photogrammetrists with fancy stereo-scope monitors. Drones have created a new market of inexpensive, ultra high resolution ground data acquisition that can be created by anyone with a couple bucks. Those types of job are the "low hanging fruit" that we've been spoiled on because we were the only ones able to create that kind of data. That's no longer the case. You must understand that our client audience has split into two categories; Those that need a stamped legal document, and those that don't. Can you charge $250/hr to perform a quantity calc survey? Sure. Can you have the same job done at 5 time the precision using a drone for half the cost? Yes. Does that need to be stamped? No. Times, they are a changin, and our only option is to adapt to the change and figure out how to have drones help our profession grow. We knew that drones were going to creep on our bottom lines, but we've taken that "low hanging fruit" for granted and we must now adapt.
  14. Hey Kam, I'm interested in having a chat with you regarding this topic. I'm more than willing to talk shop with anyone willing to listen. It's an exciting new world of Technology and UAS is going to creep on the survey industry just like GPS did in the 80s. Feel free, everyone and all to email me with questions, comments, orconcerns. Thanks, Dan
  15. Hey guys, I thought I might chime in here. I'm a land surveyor in Idaho, USA, and hold a degree in Geomatics. I am in the process of starting a UAS Department for my current employer which is a Land Surveying, Engineering, and Landscape Architecture firm. My goal is to provide UAS ground data that a licensed land surveyor will feel comfortable signing and stamping. This is the final goal for many of you looking to provide "survey grade" ground data. But, let me tell you, its not as easy as just using centimeter grade GPS or a 1 second Total stations to set GCP's. A huge part of our job is to go collect ground data that will eventually be used to create a Existing Grade (EG) surface for engineers to use as their base surface to design from. Its the surveyors job to ensure that the ground data is accurate and precise (there is a difference). Think of it as shooting arrows at a target. Precisions is when all of your arrows are in a tight cluster, good grouping, but the grouping is a foot from the center of the target. Accuracy is when the grouping is tight & hitting the center of the target. That's what you're looking for or else a surveyor will not sign it, thus not making its way to an engineers desk for design. The way to ensure that your data is good is to have checks... lots of checks. UAS work will not replace ground shots taken by a surveyor, but it can dramatically reduce the number of shots they need to take. One thing that is important to keep in mind when planning a UAS project for a survey or an engineer is to have the surveyor at your disposal and at your direction when you are flying. The only way to assure the surveyor that your data is sub-centimeter (or damn close) is to have survey data to compare to. Its my theology that the surveyor needs to know when the new design will be tieing into existing conditions and focus his work in these areas to insure that the tie-in areas are as accurate as possible. This will most likely be curb, gutter, sidewalk, and utilities, manholes especially because they will need invert data on all manholes. This means that they need a dead nuts elevation on the lids to calculate inverts. So if you can convince them that the ground data that you are providing is within a tenth in the x, y, & z of their data, the likelihood that they will adopt your product is much higher. Survey grade GCP's is required. Using the coordinate system the surveyor is using is required. Comparing your data against their ground data is required. Providing a standard deviation between their data and your data is recommended (surveyors like numbers) or some sort of average variance between the two sets of data. I hope this explanation is helpful. If you would like more info on this, please feel free to get ahold of me. I'm more than willing to spread the knowledge of my profession with any and all. Thanks guys!