Home' Position : Position Apl May 2016 Contents Matthew Smith is a Director
of CEH (Dapto) Pty Ltd, an
Illawarra and Sydney-based firm
of land and mine surveyors. An aerobatics
pilot in his spare time, with several state
and national championship titles to his
name, Mr Smith and colleague Robert
Dickers, a former long-haul freight pilot,
have embraced a new way to fly with
the introduction of the company’s first
Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
CEH Survey hopes that RPAS will
replace traditional survey methods for
large scale surveys and stock pile volumes.
“I think there will always be a place for
total stations and GNSS, however for
some applications RPAS enables us to
capture comprehensive data considerably
faster and more safely,” Mr Smith said.
The company purchased its first RPAS
solution, a MAVinci SIRIUS Pro, in
“Although I’d been keeping an eye on
developments in the industry, it was only
when I heard about this RPAS that didn’t
require ground control that my interest
was piqued,” Mr Smith said.
The SIRIUS Pro is a fixed wing RPAS
that is specifically designed for surveying
purposes. With an on-board GNSS receiver
and MAVinci Connector base station, the
SIRIUS Pro effectively puts ground control
points in the air, saving time, increasing
safety and enabling surveys of hazardous
and hard to reach areas.
Mr Smith found himself impressed with
the data the SIRIUS Pro captured: “Not only
can we survey right to the edge of high wall
faces and other areas that can’t be captured
on foot, but we also survey the entire site,
not just the specific points we need.
“Clients love the fact that we can
deliver a complete data set of the site,
it’s a powerful visual tool as well as an
accurate historical reference for the
project at that time,” he added.
Steady as she goes
Mr Smith recommends choosing a
professional standard solution to others
looking to invest in a system.
“The SIRIUS Pro takes incredibly clear
pictures, which translates to very accurate
data, and that is due to its in-flight
stability, not the camera,” he said.
“Stability is the key differentiator: the
SIRIUS has powerful inertial measurement
units that enable it to compensate for wind
and other environmental factors, which
results in fewer distortions in the data.”
CEH Survey averages accuracies of 3
GSD (Ground Sampling Distance) and
Mr Smith states that his clients have
been very happy with the accuracy of
the results. He has also found that the
SIRIUS Pro was also built to withstand
the harsh environment of mining and
“It is tough enough to land on the hard
rock surface, so it’s ideal for our work.”
Data take off
Acceptance in the industry is becoming
more widespread, although Mr Smith
explains that it is taking time: “As with any
new technology, it takes time for it to be
fully trusted and with RPAS in particular, it
requires a different understanding of how to
manage and represent the data it captures.”
CEH Survey is actively involved in
the development of Propeller, a new
collaborative software platform that
delivers web-based access to orthophotos
and Digital Surface Models (DSMs). It
also enables users to layer data sets and
alter layer opacity to monitor changes and
progress over time.
“Propeller is a great tool because it is
web-based, so clients don’t need to get
approval from their IT departments to
install new software and they don’t need
to upload or download large amounts
of data. It’s secure, it’s affordable and it
removes a lot of the hassle of sharing and
working with large data sets.”
Whilst learning how best to use the data
took a little time, learning to fly the
aircraft did not.
“There aren’t many surveyors who
come with as much flying experience
as Matt and Rob,” said Gavin Docherty,
Position Partners RPAS Product Manager.
The MAVinci SIRIUS Pro can operate
in fully automatic mode or pilot-assisted
manual mode, with the option to switch
between modes during a flight without
having to abort the flight plan.
“When in manual flight mode, you
could tell straight away that they’re pilots
and they bring their own piloting style
to flying the RPAS,” added Mr Docherty.
“As an aerobatics pro, Matt pushes the
system and can manoeuvre it on a 10-cent
piece, whereas Rob takes wider turns and
lines it up to land as though he’s flying a
After retiring as a long-haul freight
pilot, Mr Dickers completed his survey
degree at the University of NSW, where
he wrote a thesis on the quality of drone
survey data. He also teaches as a flying
instructor in his spare time.
“I suppose our experience helped to
make on-boarding with RPAS a pretty
straightforward process,” Mr Smith said.
“Position Partners’ service and support also
helped, the system was delivered quickly
and we started our training that same day.
It was all very efficient and easy.” n
“You could tell straight
away that they’re pilots
and they bring their
own piloting style to
flying the RPAS.”
Survey director and aerobatics
pilot Matthew Smith in action.
Screenshot of the Propeller
software used for mine surveys.
Links Archive Position Feb Mar 2016 Position Jun Jul 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page