EIGHT BUILDING BLOCKS THAT MAKE A PERFECT COMMERCIAL DRONE SOLUTION
We have built and supplied commercial drone solutions for clients across Africa since 2008.
We’ve watched with pride as they disrupted old ways and ushered in increased productivity, cost savings, and significant commercial advantage.
Don’t expect to find your perfect commercial drone ‘off the shelf’ — each drone application has a unique set of requirements.
As Africa’s leading supplier of commercial drone solutions, we understand the 8 building blocks that work together to create your perfect drone solution.
THE PERFECT DRONE SOLUTION
STEP 1. DRONE INVESTMENT BUDGET
Commercial drone solutions are not cheap.
Don’t be fooled by low-cost retail drones — toy cars do not reflect real car prices — the same applies to drones.
Before you set your drone investment budget, research exactly what benefits you can expect and be clear on their value to your business in potential cost reduction, improved efficiency, new data streams, and competitive advantage.
Review drone use in your industry via Google and our magazine. Serious companies start and continue using drones only when they provide a good ROI. Are your competitors and industry leaders adopting drones?
Consult with drone experts. Endurance Drones offers a no-cost initial consultation that can provide clear guidance based on years of experience working in many business sectors.
THE PERFECT DRONE SOLUTION
STEP 2. FLIGHT PLATFORM
Drones come in many shapes and sizes from single-rotor through multi-copters with 9 or more propellers.
Fixed-wing drones and the new VTOL (Vertical take-off and landing) drones combine copter advantages of vertical take-off with the longer flight duration and fixed wing craft.
Each flight platform has advantages and disadvantages that must be carefully matched to your specific requirements and the conditions in which you will fly.
In helping you select the best flight platform for your needs we take many factors into consideration including:
How much does your payload weigh? The platform’s frame strength and motor thrust must be adequate to comfortably carry that load in all conditions. Be sure to consider future payload weight in case you decide to upgrade your capability.
What distance must you travel and what speed is required to arrive at target destinations, or to fly inspection or data capture routes. Must you fly over or navigate between high obstacles? Are there other drones, aircraft or birds of prey flying nearby?
To operate in strong wind you need a high thrust to weight ratio, smaller propeller blades, and longer flight times or extra batteries. Some flight platforms are designed for severe weather, high altitudes, extreme heat, and dusty or humid conditions.
Each drone operation has its own set of requirements for speed, altitude, stability, and the ability to change course or altitude quickly. These impact on your choice of flight platform. Many platforms are specially designed for specific applications.
Most drones claim a 20 to 30 minute flight time, but payload weight dramatically significantly reduces this. Choose a platform that provides the flight time you require. We can provide drone solutions with extended or even unlimited flight time.
Consumer and many off-the-shelf drones are designed for occasional flight and may not last under working conditions. Commercial flight platforms are reliable and built to last for years under commercial use.
Will your drones work from the same base or do they need to be transported to site by air, in vehicles, or by backpack into rugged terrain? Some platforms are too large to transport quickly and easily, while others fold up into compact cases.
Will your drones have suitable take-off and landing areas as required by fixed wing platforms? Do you need to launch from moving platforms like ships or vehicles in motion? We can supply flight platforms to meet these requirements.
STEP 3. PAYLOAD & GEAR
To develop your perfect commercial drone solution we need to equip it with the payyload and gear that will enable it to best meet your requirements.
New payload and gear options are becomming available every week to provide commerical drones with an ever increasing range of capabilities. These examples show options we can provide:
You control and receive data from your drone via telemetry multi-channel radio transmitters. Transmitters are chosen for the number of bands required, their broadcast power and range, and their antenna configuration.
Autopilot systems use data from onboard accelerometers, gyroscopes, GPS and satellite receivers, airspeed sensors, barometers, cameras, and AI image recognition systems to fly remotely controlled or preprogrammed flight missions.
Advanced high-capacity batteries power most drones and payloads. Extended capacity and extra batteries can extend flight time, but weight reduces flight-time so this can be tricky. Consider charge rates and power for battery chargers.
Multi-battery chargers allow operators to maintain charged batteries on hand for multiple flights. In remote areas where power for charging is not available solar chargers can be provided.
Lightweight loudspeakers convert drones into flying public announcement tools. Adding a microphone can allow two-way communication in rescue, security, and other scenarios.
Most drones are fitted with one or more specially designed lightweight conventional, thermal imaging, multispectral or hyperspectral cameras. Specialized cinematography and photography drones can carry large conventional cameras.
Cameras for data capture, photography, surveillance, and filming can be expensive. Special mounts are used to secure the camera and minimize vibration. In multi-purpose drones an interchangeable mounting system allows rapid camera change.
Storage and travel cases protect a drone, together with spare batteries and flight controller between use. Depending on your requirements you may require special travel or weatherproof cases.
Commercial ground control stations provide remote drone and payload control functions and allow installation of application specific hardware such as autopilot RF-modems, video receivers, data links, data storage and recording devices.
FPV headsets allow the drone pilot on the ground to see exactly what the drone is seeing using video feed to a virtual reality or similar technology. Some FPV systems incorporate flight controls.
Flight controllers often incorporate links to stabilization and GNSS systems, and autopilot, follow, orbit, target, waypoint, cruise, mimic, and intercept functions, and return-home/auto-land ability that triggers on low battery or system failure.
Flight recorders log every aspect of your flights including altitude, speed, and all control actions. Some also provide onboard high-resolution video, photo and data capture and GPS enabled geo-tracking.
For gas and oil pipeline inspection drones can be fitted with gas sniffers that detect increased concentrations of ethane and methane above the pipeline. Together with video footage and precise GPS recording, this can pinpoint serious or emerging leaks.
Three-axis camera stabilization gimbals with brushless motors allow remote camera movement. They may incorporate accelerometers and gyroscopes to reduce vibration and compensate for sudden wind movement, providing a stable image platform.
Global Navigation Satellite System describes satellite navigation systems using the GPS, GLONASS and other satellites to provide accurate autonomous geo-spatial positioning data and drive computerized navigation compasses.
New drone-mounted GPR can penetrate 80-120m deep underground. Applications include geology, archaeology, utility location, environmental assessment, mining and research.
Multispectral and hyperspectral cameras record multiple wavelength images that provide powerful data for many applications including precision agriculture, ecology, oil and gas, oceanography and atmospheric studies.
Infrared cameras enable drones to see at night. They can be tuned to recognize and highlight specific targets like humans and animals by their temperature, and to find problem hotspots in solar energy installations, powerlines, pipelines and more.
Drones are fitted with multicolored LED lights for identification and visual communication. Drone swarms fitted with variable color LED lights are used in entertainment settings. Bright LED light panels can be used to illuminate dark spaces.
Like Radar, LIDAR builds 3D representations by measuring how long a laser-generated burst of infrared light takes to strike a remote surface and bounce back. LiDAR is a powerful survey tool used in survey and mapping
Motion sensors are computerized devices often including a 3-axis accelerometer to measure movement and a barometer to detect changes in altitude. They create a computer-calculated model of drone position as a navigation backup to GNSS.
Drone navigation systems use input from GNSS, motion sensors and cameras to accurately determine drone position. New systems also use visual data from multiple cameras together with machine learning and AI processing to navigate.
Onboard power amplifiers and range extenders may be used to extend drone wifi, video transmission and controller signal distance, and to improve power efficiency and thermal performance.
Signal range extenders can be fitted to reduce interference in signal-noisy areas like cities, and to improve drone control at distance and high altitude using multiple antennas, parabolic antennas, and other signal booster upgrades.
Electronic speed controllers convert the pulse-width modulation (PWM) signal to drive the brushless flight motors by controlling the electrical power level. The ESC controls speed and direction, and can act as a dynamic brake for each motor.
Lightweight high-strength ground-anchored tethers provide power and data connections to drones. Tethered drones can fly continuously for days or months in static positions, enabling new applications, especially in the communication and security sectors.
Drones may drop out of the sky for a wide variety of reasons including equipment failure, pilot error and external attack. Trackers are GNSS enabled devices that enable you to locate and recover lost drones.
Transponders allow a drone to respond to interrogations by traditional radar and TCAS, a collision avoidance system, used on manned aircraft. They report drone ID, type, position, velocity and course at one-second intervals.
STEP 4. SELECT YOUR SOFTWARE
Commercial drones incorporate many motors, systems and sensors that are driven by sophisticated software.
Specialized software ensures fitness to purpose.
PHOTOGRAMMETRY software has been redeveloped to take full advantage of drone capabilities. Most flights today utilize photogrammetry software with a host of sensor types for surveying and mapping, mining, agriculture, engineering, geology, architecture, biology, forensics, and archaeology.
AUTOMATED FLIGHT SOFTWARE controls computers that, when equipped with the correct flight information and sensors, are better than humans at flying drones. It is not clear when authorities will allow this. For the moment, licensed drone pilots are required to oversee automated flights.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE SOFTWARE is developing fast for onboard use in drones.
With onboard AI, drones can count sheep and plants, search for sharks, weeds and invasive plant species, search for predators and wildlife, and even to take stock in massive warehouses at night.
AI is being taught to identify faults and potential faults in the inspection of infrastructure including powerlines, pipelines, communication equipment, and even aircraft inspection.
CLOUD BASED software and processing is widely used to convert the vast amounts of raw data captured by drones into formats that are especially useful for individual applications.
Archaeologists use navigation and flight control software together with photogrammetry software with a range of advanced sensors and even Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). Cloud based software coverts raw data into useful intelligence.
Navigation and flight control software helps inspect communication towers and devices, and to establish line of sight for new installations. Drones can provide cellphone & WIFI service for concerts, public events, and to disaster areas.
Specialized navigation and flight control software assists in daily survey and monitoring of constructions sites, progress monitoring, stock control, workforce monitoring, security and more. Cloud based software quickly coverts raw data into useful intelligence.
The fast-developing field of drone delivery relies on sophisticated logistics software applications to integrate drone delivery into the logistics and supply chain. Major international players are investing heavily to make drone delivery a real thing.
Many large corporations already run fleets of drones. Fleet management software helps to track usage, plan missions, manage pilot and drone resources, plan scheduled maintenance and more.
43 Thousand drones are sold a day, projected to increase to 185,000 a day worldwide within 4 years. Automated traffic management software will prevent drone to drone collisions, keep drones away from aircraft and sensitive geographic locations.
Drones using a host of different specialized software to survey and map damage and to help plan optimal response strategies. Drone delivery of emergency medical equipment, blood and supplies is little more than a year old and growing internationally.
Specialized navigation and flight control software expedites daily survey and monitoring of sites and provides progress monitoring, stock control, workforce monitoring, security and more. Drone data allows early problem detection to save costs.
Drone shows took off when 300 drones with color-changing lights backed Lady Gaga’s halftime 2017 Superbowl show. Singapore, China, Amsterdam, Canada and Walt Disney parks quickly followed. Sophisticated software controls the choreography and LED effects.
Specialized navigation and flight control software expedite large scale environmental survey and monitoring, identifying and counting plants and animals, monitoring damage, early fire identification and alerts, and even planting millions of trees for reforestation.
Drones provide a low-cost eye in the sky platform for photography and cinemaphotography. Special software enhances filming potential by allowing smooth flights, providing object tracking, and allowing filming inside tunnels and other difficult spaces.
Specialized navigation and flight control software expedite large scale forest survey and monitoring, identifying and counting trees, monitoring soil condition, damage and disease, providing early fire identification and alerts, and even planting millions of trees for reforestation.
Geologists use navigation and flight control software for survey and mapping, while cloud-based software converts data from multispectral cameras, lidar, and ground penetrating radar to map and create 3D models, find minerals, and better understand our planet.
Drones inspect pylon tops, wind turbine blades, long stretches of pipeline, aircraft and ships and under bridges. In addition to specialized navigation and flight control software, AI software learns to identify specific problems and defects from sensor data.
Drones can map and inspect damage. Specialized software can fly roof inspections, identify problems and provide estimates for repair. Some companies survey large insured premises regularly to update policy information and simplify claims processing.
It has never been faster, easier and less expensive to map. Specialized navigation and flight control software quickly gathers high precision data through drone sensors that is converted by cloud based software into accurate maps according to specific data requirements.
Specialized software expedites fast and economical performance of myriad mining duties from geo-surveys to security, stockpile measurement to equipment and resource monitoring. Mining is one of the fastest developing drone applications.
Mission planning software allows easy programming of autonomous drone flights from a mobile phone or tablet, or using specialized ground control hardware. Most governments still required licensed drone pilots to oversee flights, full automated is the future.
Drones unique potential gave rise to ‘precision agriculture’ in which each field can be comprehensively mapped and monitored, with drones managing (and increasingly performing) water, fertilizer and pesticide application only where required.
Researchers are now able to gather data from the sky without the prohibitive cost of manned aircraft. Thousands of articles highlight how researchers are using innovative software to investigate and learn in hundreds of different disciplines. Talk to us about your needs.
New sensors and software simplify search tasks and make them more effective. Drones provide a fast and low-cost way to delivery emergency goods and gather data in emergency situations.
Drones can use specialized software to provide 24 hour automated monitoring of staff, intruders, stock levels and more. Fast drones can respond very quickly when alarms are triggered and relay visual information back to base stations and reaction teams.
It’s never been faster, easier and less expensive to conduct surveys. Specialized navigation and flight software quickly gathers high precision data through drone sensors, and cloud based software produces accurate survey maps according to specific data requirements.
Drones can monitor weather in real time in places not examined in the past. Meteorologists around the world are experimenting with drones to capture extremely accurate data to refine and improve existing weather modelling and forecast technology.
STEP 5. INTEGRATION
Our specialists have worked with you to identify the flight platform, hardware and software that best meets your solutions.
Sadly, they are not plug and play.
Integrating these to create your perfect drone can require the design and development of custom interfaces.
Endurance Drones Integration Team have the skills and experience required to source and assemble your custom commercial drone solution and to make all the systems and software work together.
After integration and testing, your drone will be delivered with pride and our unique PEACE OF MIND GUARANTEE.
THE PERFECT DRONE SOLUTION
STEP 6. TRAINING
Endurance Drones can help you to arrange training for your team to become licensed drone operators, so you can legally operate and properly insure your drones.
We also will train your team to become proficient on your Endurance Drone commercial drone solution.
Our team is available to spend time on your site ensuring your team’s familiarity with flight control and other software and hardware, and helping to develop process adjustments and standard operating procedures.
We can also assist in programming standard flight missions.
STEP 7. MAINTENANCE
Like all flying machines, drones occasionally break or even drop out of the sky. They’re subject to wear and tear and require regular inspection and maintenance.
Your commercial drone investment is made to provide your company with important data, save you money, improve your capabilities, and build your competitive advantage.
Endurance Drones provides scheduled maintenance and repair contracts with service level agreements tailored to ensure you keep flying, or get back in the air fast.
As Africa’s largest drone repair facility with clients across Africa and Austral-Asia, we have the resources and experience to keep you flying.
STEP 8. REVIEW
Like any important investment, your drone solution requires periodic analysis and review.
We recommend the scheduling of periodic reviews and contract to assist you in assessing drone performance against requirements, determining your cost of ownership, and helping to establish return on investment.
During reviews we will inspect your drones and equipment to check performance and wear and tear in your unique environment and usage conditions.
We also assess your technology and advise you on new hardware and software that may have become available that we feel may improve your solution.