Getting Up to Speed on our New Drone Tech

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By Dallas VanZanten, Operations Manager.

At Firmatek, we strive to remain on the forefront of innovation and technology. If you’ve read any of our previous blogs, you know we talk a lot about providing insights to our clients. We are constantly researching and testing new tech that we think is beneficial to our services. We want to equip our clients with the business intelligence they need to improve their operation. Making sure that we have the best technology available – the right tool for the right job – helps us ensure that we can do that. Providing the best in precise and efficient data collection continues to be a top priority for the Firmatek team.

With this in mind, we recently had a field technician training day where we introduced our team to two new members of our drone family. During our All Company Meeting last month, our field team got together for basic training on the DJI P4P RTK with Base Station and the FireFly6 Pro drone.

To take proper care of our drones, we’ve teamed up with GO Professional Cases.

DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro with RTK is a drone that we are deploying both internally and to our clients this year. The upgrade to the P4P gives our team and our clients the same easy to fly system that we have come to love from DJI, and in addition gives us a much more robust system. The addition of RTK will save both our team and our clients significant amounts of time in the field, because with the RTK system, there is no need to establish ground control points. Overall, this new drone will simplify data collection for our team and our clients. The ease of use and the increased accuracy without the need for ground control makes this platform a great option for many of our mining clients.

“The DJI P4P RTK (or P4R for short) platform is major upgrade to the Phantom 4 Pro UAV system that Firmatek has been using successfully, in conjunction with ground control for accurate 3D mapping applications. The P4R is fully integrated with a DJI base station that operates in RTK mode, virtually eliminating the need for manual ground control. When the base is placed over a known control point, the images are automatically geo-referenced in real time. The P4R works in VRS and PPK modes as well,” said Andrew Maximow, Chief Drone Officer.

Along with the DJI P4P RTK training, we also showcased our FireFly 6 Pro. It’s a Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) drone that also uses RTK for precise mapping. With a VTOL drone, you get the convenience of a vertical take-off, like a standard quadcopter, and the efficiency of a fixed wing drone. The combination of these features makes the FireFly 6 a great platform for many of our large mapping projects.

Our field techs weighed in on the effectiveness of the FireFLY and here’s what they had to say:

“The FireFLY is a remarkably speedy drone. It’s VTOL capabilities allow us to map large areas with the speed and efficiency of a fixed wing, while allowing us to take off and land from areas that previously would not be possible,” said Isaac Chantos, Geospatial Field Technician.

“The FireFLY’s modular payload system allows us to not only obtain imagery, but scan with a variety of sensors,” said Justin Real, Geospatial Field Technician.

Introducing new technology into our fleet comes with the necessity to understand and update work flows, learn new processes, and create new Standard Operating Procedures. We know that while there are a lot of similarities, each piece of equipment has its own quirks. That’s one of the reasons we took some time to get everyone on the team an introduction to the new equipment.

Training is an important part of setting up our team and our clients for success. It is critical for our team to have the skills to succeed. If we just give them the tool, but don’t give them knowledge to use it, we are not going to be successful. In addition, training gives our team the opportunity to gain skills and grow as professionals. We give them the knowledge to raise the bar.

At Firmatek, we believe in using the right tool for the job.  Training our team to utilize new technology not only gives them the tools they need to succeed, but also allows them to better serve our clients.

We are a services-led and tech-enabled company. We need to give our team and our clients the best technology, and we need to be prepared to deploy it successfully. Training days like these allow our team to familiarize themselves with the technology, understand what each piece of technology is best suited for, and prepare to serve and support our clients. We are already deploying this new technology both internally and to clients and look forward to continuing to add new tools to our toolbox in 2019.

Photo credit: Guinn Partners.

Drone Case Partnership with GPC Custom Cases.

FireFLY6 Pro drone from BirdsEyeView Aerobotics.

DJI Phantom 4 with RTK

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