European drone specialist UAVenture has reported that it has successfully trialled a hybrid VTOL mapping system in partnership with UAV manufacturer Wingcopter.
Team members from Wingcopter and UAVenture travelled to a remote location in the north of South Africa to complete training and run mapping trials with the Wingcopter Mapping Package for Smops SA as they prepare to launch their mapping services across Africa.
The Wingcopter Mapping Package consists of a Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift with a full-frame camera, such as the 42MP Sony a7R II, providing a GSD of 1.3cm and a high accuracy PPK system from Klau Geomatics. In a single flight the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift is capable of covering more than 500 hectares with a battery reserve of 30%.
While previously employed as RPAS pilots by a Mozambican company, Robyn and Jacque, the co-owners of Smops SA, carried out extreme mapping jobs in very remote and poorly accessible locations with a conventional flying wing mapping system.
Robyn explained: “Fixed-wing drones perform adequately in completing large mapping missions, takeoffs and landings have proven to be hazardous due to the fact that small clearings or rocky areas are the only option available. The results were often catastrophic and the lifetime of these drones were limited, requiring frequent and expensive repairs.”
As a result they began looking towards vertical takeoff solutions that still brought extended flight times with moderate cruise speeds.
Due to the multi-kilo payload capacity of the Wingcopter the pilots were are able to carry a larger high quality camera, a Sony a7R II, and acquire very high-resolution images with centimeter precision using an on-board PPK system.