How to Use Drone Flight Planning Software to Collects Quality Data

How to Use Drone Flight Planning Software to Collects Quality Data

Flight planning is the process of determining the flight path and flight requirements along the (unmanned aerial vehicle) UAV path. Fuel consumption and air traffic control procedures are part of flight planning to measure how much fuel is required to reach the destination, including air traffic hurdles that may exist. Flight planning also involves weather forecast for its fuel calculations. There needs to be extra fuel kept in case of a diversion if the destination is unavailable due to weather conditions or any other reason. In the past, flight planning was a manual task involving complex hand written calculations and predictions. Now with the latest technology, flight planning has gained popularity over computer based systems. These computer systems have provided efficient calculations and predictions reducing not only the fuel consumption but also time duration. This flight planning is done for normal aircrafts which have a scheduled procedure for take-off and landing.

What is Flight Planning Software?

With the development of drones, flight planning has taken a new shape and format. These drones are flown without a pilot and they are operated at the ground. They are operated by very intricate flight planning software which determines their optimal paths and other conditions to make them run safely. The flight planning software helps the drone operate smoothly. It gives a pre-programmed mission to the drone with all the instructions stated when the drone takes off. New instructions can also be added when the drone is in the air and busy collecting videos and photos. The drone can also be programmed by the flight planning software to land and take off autonomously. There is no outward intervention and the drone follow the programmed mission. If a drone needs to take a specified number of turns, then the waypoints are circled and the drone completes its action.

Flight planning software for Drones usually consists of the following features and capabilities:

  • Full 3D and 2D view which allow drones to capture clear data
  • Flight tracking and control
  • Various camera controls for better and higher resolution shots
  • Offline mission planning
  • Visualization of the area to be mapped



Flight planning software gives a full account of the view obtained through the drone. The view can either be in 3D or a 2D format. The drone is able to collect 3D images and provide best quality data. This software also keeps a track of the drone flight as to when the drone took off and which path it has taken. All the waypoints are recorded and a track is kept of all the activities associated with the drone. Camera control provides a better angle to take shots so that the data collected is of good quality. All visualization techniques are given so that all kinds of data is gathered effectively.

Analyzing UAV Flight Planning in the Agricultural Sector:

To better understand the functions of flight planning software for best data results, we need to have a look at a specific field to see how the mechanism actually works. Drone technology holds immense importance in the agricultural sector. It is very useful for the farmers to have a look at the overall health of their crops. By surveying and collecting data through drones, they can determine the current conditions of their crops.

The agricultural sector needs specialized drones which are simple data gathering tools to collect data and analyse results. Flight planning software benefits:

  • Farmers- utilizing imaging mission drones for their crops
  • Agriculture service provider- utilizing the software to fly the drones for the farmers.

When using flight planning software for their drones for surveying and analyzing results, it is always best to first understand the complexities of the software itself. By using flight planning software, the drone can gather various images regarding crops, livestock and fields. Some other parameters for which the data needs to be gathered are:

  • Number of plants
  • Plant health
  • Presence of disease
  • Plant height
  • Any weeds present
  • Any nutrients present
  • Relative biomass estimates
  • Location of livestock
  • Movement of livestock

How Surveying is Executed with Flight Planning Software?

As we have taken the example of agriculture to under how flight planning software works, it is important to first look at some basic points. First of all, you need to plan your drone flight. Now this looks pretty easy but it requires a lot of study and research. You can easily draw a box around the field you need to collect data from. When you have drawn the box around the field, a flight plan will automatically be generated by the flight planning software. This indicates that the drone has been programmed for a scheduled route with instructions. Some flight planning software applications have the ability to automatically capture images through the camera. The camera shots are also programmed and scheduled so when the drone is in operation, the shots are captured on the marked positions of the map.

Once the flight plan is loaded and the drone has been armed properly, it is time to fly the drone over the field and get the data images. The drone is sent over the field and shots are taken through GPS positions on the map. With every GPS location marked, the shot will be taken on that location. Once the flight path has been covered and route finished then the drone will automatically land with success, gathering all the data required.

Now if you compare this to a manual process for obtaining data, one person on the ground would be triggering the camera fixed in the drone to take images. These images would again be taken at GPS locations and not time. Whenever the drone reaches a location where a shot needs to be taken, the person in charge would take a shot at that instance. It becomes a very hectic and time consuming job for people to gather data like that. It is always recommended to pre-set the instructions and everything is done automatically in less time and effort.

Once all the data has been gathered and images collected, the most challenging part that comes is the processing of these images. The images collected are all in high resolution and processing each image is not easy. This is where image processing software comes in. These software apps do the job for you and enable you to analyze these images better, figuring out any abnormities associated with the field.

As you have seen, we have given you a detailed account of how flight planning software was used to gather the best quality results in the agriculture sector. Similarly, in other sectors where images need to be taken at different places, this software will also assist you very effectively.

Is Flight Planning Software Effective?

Flight planning software not only does the job within less time as compared to manual intervention but it also cuts down on the cost factor. The job that is done through flight planning software is completed in no time and the results gathered are of best quality. This reduces the cost of manual systems which consume a lot of time and effort, increasing the cost of the flight.

Flight planning software is also able to build multiple flight plans. This means that when one flight operation of the drone is finished, the next flight plan would be followed. All these flight plans are scheduled before the drone takes off and it operates as long as the operator wants it to fly. All flight plans are stored inside the drone and all instructions are given before take-off and once the drone gets into operation, it automatically does the tasks for you.

There is not specific training which is required to use flight planning software. The interface is user friendly and different companies have made their functions very simple for new users to operate. People often do not wish to get extra training for these software programs and it is always better to go for ready to use software. You only need location points on the map to give a route to your drone, and you do not need to keep an eye on it all the times.

Conclusion

Flight Planning Software for UAV flights has made the task of capturing images, mapping, surveying and data acquisition quite simple and easy. With very little to do, a planned flight to collect different kinds of data would be effectively done. It is advisable for all commercial pilots flying drones to embed this software as a necessity for gathering high quality data to attain best results.