Drone imaging is a radically disruptive technology that is safer, quicker and usually cheaper than surveying manually.
Although unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and camera drones are still widely associated with the military or hobbyists, businesses are discovering their huge potential in environmental screening, construction, manufacturing, infrastructural inspection and urban planning, among other uses.
MIPAR Image Analysis has partnered with numerous survey companies to ensure that detailed measurements can be reliably extracted from aerial images.
They specialize in algorithmic image analysis based on an end-to-end consultative approach and a powerful deep learning toolbox.
The result is a sophisticated analytical software package that is completely bespoke and tuned for specific user needs – even in new and emerging markets. Drone imaging has become one of their core specialties in the last three years.
Image Credit: MIPAR Image Analysis
Drone Imaging 101: The basics
Drone imaging encompasses any application where a camera is fitted to a lightweight unmanned aerial system (UAS) for remote video capture or photography.
Drones are increasingly employed for low-altitude photography, but it is often associated with obtaining images from height. For example, it is challenging for human operators to perform process assurance and product inspections on fully-automated manufacturing lines with robotic assemblies.
Drone imaging can also be extremely helpful for product control and defect screening in sensitive environments.
The Matter of Drone Optics
Usually, drone imaging systems can be classified by their optics, typically either infrared or visible.
The main concern of aerial photography is visible light, while thermal imaging creates pictures by utilizing radiation on the short-wave infrared (SWIR), near-infrared (NIR) and mid-wave infrared (MWIR) spectrums.
Hyperspectral cameras are being integrated into UAV systems more and more, but these are extremely expensive and have not yet reached the same degree of market penetration as thermography and visual photography.
There has also been a slight growth in industrial drones fitted with X-ray cameras and this has sparked some debate over personal privacy. The truth is that, currently, drone imaging with X-rays is exclusive to research environments.
How to Analyze Complex Drone Imagery
As it has only been available to consumers for a decade, many business sectors are still in the first-mover phase of drone technology, where only one or a few companies are using drone imaging in any meaningful way.
Even so, in a short time-frame, UAV imaging systems have become more sophisticated, providing increasingly complex imagery based on almost any spectrum of interest.
Crystallinity in semiconductor defect screening can now be measured using X-ray diffraction (XRD) imaging mounted on a UAV. Likewise, contaminant particles can be detected and classified by grain size, shape and orientation.
Remote sensing and monitoring of almost any object can be performed at the conventional aerial imaging level. However, the problem with all of these is that image analysis must be performed on a manual basis in the absence of sophisticated software.
This means that many of the autonomy advantages that make drone imaging so attractive in the first place must be sacrificed.
Drone Imaging at MIPAR
MIPAR works collaboratively to design and supply image analysis software packages that are unique to the user. They develop custom systems that are able to automatically distinguish between different regions of interest, from individual particles to entire forests.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by MIPAR Image Analysis.
For more information on this source, please visit MIPAR Image Analysis.