The present is a very trying time for people all across the world. Most of the people are quarantined at homes. It might be difficult for many drone pilots to find work at the moment, there are still many great things that pilots can do to pass the time and hone their drone skills.
You may not be able to get your UAV to the air, but they’re a certain set of skills you can learn sitting home:
Geographic information system (GIS):
It is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographical data. Drones are commonly used for aerial mapping. In the past, there was satellite GIS (geographic information systems) which were designed for the same purpose. Today, we use drones to capture data including photos that are literally in the hundreds and thousands. Using specific software, we then stitch the obtained photos to put together a precise map because the specifications of the cameras on these drones are very high.
You should learn more about the techniques used for GIS and the software used to finally process the images.
QGIS or Quantum GIS is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system application that supports viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data. It allows users to analyze and edit spatial information along with composing and exporting graphical maps.
It is free software under GNU GPLv2. It is opensource and hence can be modified to perform different or more specialized tasks. QGIS training opportunities are available on many YouTube Channels and online tutorials.
Autonomous data collection and real-time analysis:
We see drones being used for various applications. Well, we still have not been able to utilize the full potential of these flying machines. What we are doing today might be just the tip of the iceberg. One of the advanced technology taking this forward includes autonomous data collection by the drone and connect it to the cloud and start the analysis by itself. This will lead to faster decision making at a reduced cost.
Drone operations usually rely exclusively on human middlemen to land the drone and transfer data from the device to the cloud while on the ground. It then takes operational downtime for the software to make sense of the information that the drone had collected.
This is another emerging field on which you can start working now.
Artificial intelligence and data analysis:
The use of deep learning and machine learning algorithms across many verticals are already prominent in the drone industry – starting from agriculture all the way to defense.
Pix4D had already started using machine learning algorithms for several photogrammetry applications to classify 3D point clouds into categories like buildings, roads or vegetation. Intelligent tools can now be used for counting trees and determining their height and type. The tools can also be used to count cars on roads, in parking lots and to analyze roofs for solar cell coverage.
You can start practicing using the MATLAB Neural Network Wizard. Then from there, you may advance your skills.
Obtaining Orthomosaic maps and surface models:
Data collected by the UAV has to be processed in order to obtain useful inferences. You could learn how to create orthomosaic maps and surface models using mapping software like DroneDeploy, Pix4D, and Agisoft Metashape, etc.
Cinematography and editing skills:
Other skills you can learn are the basics of cinematography. You can dive deep into different types of lenses, how light affects the quality of shots or learning more about editing software, spending time building foundational photography skills will make you an even better drone pilot when you’re able to get back out in the field.
Here is a list of 12 photogrammetry software for building 3D maps and models using drones on the market.
- DroneDeploy 3D mapping mobile app.
- Pix4DMapper photogrammetry software.
- DroneDeploy Enterprise 3D Map software.
- AutoDesk ReCap photogrammetry software.
- SimActive Correlator3D™ software.
- Maps Made Easy orthophoto and 3D models software.
- 3DF Zephyr photogrammetry software.
- Agisoft PhotoScan photogrammetry software.
- PrecisionHawk 3D map software.
- Open Drone Map photogrammetry software.
- ESRI Drone2Map for ArcGIS.
- Agisoft Metashape 3D software.
For those who are beginners in this field can work on the following:
Learning about Drone hardware is the first step towards understanding the internal working of the flying machines. You could try making your own drone or design one. Later you can advance your skills by adding features like automated flights, AI, data collection and more.
Simulators are the best way to hone your piloting skills without risking a drone. You can crash numerous times and can hence fly freely. You could practice various tricks without fearing to damage your drone. Moreover, they are like video games, you can have real fun with simulators.
Some of the resources you can use to learn the skills are:
- Flite test
- Channels like Oscar Liang