As wildfires raged in Canada, two innovative Canadian drone companies joined forces to provide responders with critical aerial data. InDro Robotics and Spexi Geospatial deployed commercial off the shelf drones weighing less than 250 grams, using the Spexigon automation platform, to provide decision makers with rapid damage assessment information and thermal imagery identifying potential problems.
The city of Kelowna contacted InDro Robotics for assistance with aerial data as the threat to the city reached urgent levels.
“We wanted to leverage the potential of drones to gather critical information that can’t be obtained through other means,” says Jazz Pabla, Kelowna’s Director of Information Services. “This mission also worked closely, and with the full support of, Kelowna’s Fire Department.”
InDro is a research and development company with deep expertise in aerial and ground robotics and a history of working with First Responders.
“We were obviously keen to help as quickly as possible,” says CEO Philip Reece. “To complement our own expertise, I felt that Spexigon would be the most suitable platform for rapidly gathering high-resolution imagery.”
One very unique feature of the mission was the use of Spexigon, a new app-based platform that allows automated flights using readily available commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) drones. “Capturing consistent, high-resolution photographs via drone is challenging for a pilot to carry out manually. Altitude above ground level must remain absolutely consistent, with images captured at precise intervals in order to be stitched together using a process known as photogrammetry,” says the company press release. “Spexigon is the first platform of its kind to produce what’s known as “Current State Imagery” – recently captured imagery that is high-resolution, standardized, and can be easily updated.”
Initially developed for commercial use, Spexigon is a powerful tool for rapid assessment of emergency situations. “Using the Spexi Geospatial app, scores – even hundreds – of high-resolution images can be stitched together into a single cloud-based panorama that can be securely accessed by decision-makers. Data from these missions was processed and viewable within three hours of the flights,” says the company.
“Our mission has always been to help decision-makers get the information they need so they can better manage assets & resources,” says Bill Lakeland, CEO of Spexi Geospatial Inc. “In the case of the ongoing wildfires being experienced in B.C., our goal is to support the Province, the city of Kelowna, and our firefighters by getting them up- to-date imagery of what’s happening on the ground as quickly and as safely as possible.”
The Spexigon platform consists of a web app and mobile app that control drone flights in predetermined hexagonal zones overlaid on a map of the earth. These zones are approximately 22 acres in size and are referred to as Spexigons (a.k.a spatial hexagons).
The platform flies automatic, standardized missions using sub-250-gram micro-drones. Because of their exceedingly light weight, these drones are considered very safe to use near people and property on the ground. They can also be launched very quickly.
InDro Robotics has also been overseeing night time thermal missions over Kelowna’s landfill, to identify hot-spots and other issues as fires burn beneath the surface.
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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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