Mapping floodplains with a high-accuracy survey drone

Photogrammetry mapping of floodplains with a high-accuracy RTK survey VTOL drone (c)Wingtra

VTOL drone performs photogrammetry with RTK

In the state of Illinois, US, a solar farm was going to be built by a large energy firm, in the area where the Mississippi joins the Ohio river. During heavy rainfall the banks of the rivers rise, partly flooding the area. Bacon Farmer Workman Engineering and Testing Inc. (BFW) was hired to survey the area. Jacob Cash, a BFW surveyor with over 15 years of experience used a WingtraOne VTOL drone to fly over these challenging wetlands. Aboard the WingtraOne, the AsteRx multi-frequency GNSS receiver delivers reliable centimeter-level positioning information needed for accurate surveying. Cash said that he chose the WingtraOne drone not just for its accuracy of photogrammetry, but also for its reliability, to ensure safety of people on site. Not only was it the wet season, but also the windy season by the river delta. Despite this, Cash was able to survey the site in 6 hours, spread over several days due to limited time windows allowed by the harsh weather conditions. Accurate elevation information and digital terrain models created by BFW allowed optimal placement of solar panels and other equipment, avoiding costs of equipment damage during flooding.

We needed to provide our client with accurate data. And that’s where photogrammetry really shines. The high quality of the sensors aboard the WingtraOne, not only helped us get accurate survey results, but also gave us confidence in the safety of our workers on the ground, even under windy conditions.

Jacob Cash
BFW Mobile Mapping and LiDAR Department Manager
solar flares causing ionospheric scintillation
Solar flares can cause sudden ionospheric disturbances (SID)

Aboard the WingtraOne drone is the AsteRx multi-frequency GNSS receiver

  • WingtraOne is a VTOL fixed-wing drone flying fully autonomously, including take-off and landing
  • During the flight, photos are time stamped and geotagged with RTK centimeter-level accuracy, by the AsteRx GNSS receiver aboard the drone.
  • If there was no real-time link between the drone and the base-station, then flight data is post-processed for cm-level RTK accuracy, using the intuitive Wingtra PPK workflow.
  • A highly reliable GNSS sensor in the navigation system adds to safety of autonomous flights even in the toughest environments. AIM+ Advanced Interference Mitigation technology ensures robust receiver operation in environments with radio interference, which can be emitted by various sources in urban areas.
  • In the survey described above, the Sony QX1 payload was used, with images processed by software including Pix4D to create rich outputs with an average accuracy of 4.5 cm (1.8 in).

Our WingtraOne is a VTOL drone that can take off and land in virtually any environment. The Septentrio receiver is ideal for this type of drone because it is robust and reliable enough to perform no matter where the job is. This reliability of the GNSS sensor is key in fulfilling the safety requirements of our customers.

Armin Ambühl
CTO at Wingtra
The WingtraOne GEN II drone has been launched in 2021 as the next generation VTOL drone for accurate, reliable, and versatile mapping