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Micro Drone 3.

0 / 3D Mapping / Drones for Good


April 2016 No 05 Price 5 . 99

999

Arrested! Fire Drill Your Best Shot


A commercial pilots We send a drone Simple rules for taking the
tale of caution up in smoke perfect aerial photo

Join the
Professionals How you can put your
Image by Freefly / Shutterstock

piloting skills to work

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contributors

Adam Gemma Mark Will


Juniper Cox Baker Glover

Hooked from the moment he Our launch editor for DRONE, Mark Baker is a commercial drone Will Glover is an award winning
saw the AR.Drone at CES, Adam Gemma has worked at the helm of pilot based in the New Forest. aerial cinematographer and
Juniper has spent the years since NEO magazine for over ten years. In 2014, he founded Naughty founder of Fleye Aerial, a leading
building, crashing, sinking, Spending over a decade immersed Cat Media and specialises in UK helicam film company
losing and occasionally flying in Asian pop culture, she recently providing low level aerial video working on projects nationally
drones. With a background in branched out into the world of and photography using drones. and internationally for TV, viral,
photography publishing and over technology to take on UAVs. Shes Most of his work is carried out with online content and stock footage.
a decade writing about video and most excited about the future of lightweight and affordable systems Fleye mainly use large helicams
still photography in his rear-view FPV racing and the prospect of like the DJI Phantom series. Check carrying DSLR and film cameras.
mirror, he was the only choice drone deliveries! Can drone racing out some of his shots and get in He recently invested in a Freefly
for Ilexs new book The Complete go prime time? She certainly hopes touch at his website, located at Alta and you can read more on his
Guide to Drones. so! Follow NEO at @NEO_Magazine. www.naughtycatmedia.co.uk. experiences with it on page 66!

Andrew David Owen Patrick


Wat ton-Davies Stock James Sherman

Andrew spends his time reading David is a professional photographer A former software engineer, Owen A private pilot and master scuba
up on drones, watching bad sci-fi, and picture editor based in London. James is the founder of the London diving instructor, Patrick is better
and giving lots of fuss to his cats His interest in the unusual and Drone Film Festival. The festival known as Lucidity to fans of
in the hopes they wont moult on quirky led him to an FPV event one combines his experience of flying the Roswell Flight Test Crew. A
his quadcoptors. A graduate of the day and he hasnt looked back since. RC aircraft for over 35 years with technological evangelist for the
Rufus T Firefly Freedonian Flying Hed like to see how drones could a passion for filmmaking to help safe, beneficial and non-intrusive
Academy, he has never failed to be incorporated into his work and promote aerial filming to a wider use of drones, he has flown
walk away from a UAV landing. As would love toget more into flying, audience. As a licensed drone alongside public safety officials,
well as keeping his finger on our but one expensive hobby is enough, pilot his emphasis is on safety, research scientists and industrial
news pulse, he also found time to for now Davids photos can be seen enjoyment of the sport and the inspectors, as well as speaking and
review the Micro Drone 3.0. atwww.davestockphoto.co.uk. responsible use of technology. teaching classes across the USA.

4 DRONE MAGAZINE

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APR 16 Issue 5
www.dronemagazine.uk

Uncooked Media Ltd, PO Box 6337,


Bournemouth, BH1 9EH
Telephone: 01202 586035
www.uncookedmedia.com

Editor: Ian Collen


dronemaguk@gmail.com

Managing Editor: Gemma Cox

Design: Launchpad Studios Ltd

Contributors: Gemma Cox, Mark Baker,


Dronestagram, Will Glover, Owen James,
Emily Johnson, Adam Juniper,
Lee Schofield, Patrick Sherman,
David Stock, Andrew Watton-Davies

Customer Services
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The Big Kahuna


Editorial Director: Darren Herridge
wonderdaz@gmail.com

To Issue 05 of Drone Magazine!

I
Distributed through the UK newstrade by
f youre reading this then the chances are youre already something of a drone fan. Seymour Ltd, 0207 429 4000
Whether youre a seasoned pilot or curious newcomer, youll have some idea as to 2 East Poultry Avenue, London EC1A 9PT

the enjoyment and practical applications that can come from piloting an airborne Distributed through the UK/US specialist trade by
Diamond Comic Distributors, 020 8536 5730
craft. However, the mainstream media still weighs heavily on the negative aspects
Printed in the UK by Precision Colour Printing, Telford,
of drone misuse and this feeds into the public paranoia that drones are some kind of Shropshire, UK
physical threat or an invasion into their privacy; at best drones are little more than a DRONE is published every four weeks by Uncooked
toy or a geeky gadget that will soon go away. Media Ltd. All text and layout remains the copyright
of Uncooked Media Ltd. DRONE is a fully independent
Now, Im certainly not oblivious to the potential for a minority to abuse drones, publication and its views are not those of any company
mentioned herein. All characters and artwork shown
be that by dropping contraband into prisons or finding ways to weaponise them, in this magazine remain the and trademark or their
but drones can do so many great things beyond simply being good fun to fly so respective owners. No part of this magazine may be
reproduced without the express written permission
weve decided to address that balance this issue. Over the following pages weve of the publisher. DRONE can accept no responsibility
got a collection articles showing you how various industries are using drones to for inaccuracies or complaints arising from editorial
or advertising within this magazine. All letters and
streamline their working practices, saving time, money and even, potentially, lives. emails received will be considered for publication, but
Who know? Maybe this will give some of you a few ideas of your own about we cannot provide personal replies. The publishers
cannot be held responsible for unsolicited manuscripts,
taking your passion and turning it into a career though not dismissing the fact photographs, transparencies or artwork. Please do not
call, email or write to enquire whether your unsolicited
that youll need to be qualified (as reported in Issue 03) and fully prepared to meet submission has been received, as our priority is the
the varying requirements to fly commercially (more on page 48). If nothing else production of the magazine.
I hope that this issue will simply serve as a reminder to all that drones are a good Another quality cold cut from
thing and theyre here to stay. So the next time someone asks you what good has
ever come from using a drone? you can give them a very long answer.

Enjoy the issue!

Ian Collen, EDITOR


EST. 2003
DRONE 2016 Uncooked Media Ltd
ISSN 2059-2876

facebook.com/DRONEMagUK twitter.com/DRONEMagUK instagram.com/DRONEMagUK

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18 34
58

44
26
Getting an
xx overview of history

contents
10 // NEWS 31 // COMPETITION 44 // HISTORIC ENGLAND
Round up and reaction to the latest This issue weve got not one but THREE prizes You might think that drones are great for
developments in the drone world, including a to give away, courtesy of TRNDlabs super-cute taking aerial snaps of castles and youd be
report on the $1million Drones for Good awards. Skeye Nano with Camera. right. But they can do so much more.

18 // EDDIE MITCHELL 34 // UP IN SMOKE 48 // PERMISSION TO FLY


An aerial photographer who was wrongly Patrick Sherman from the Roswell Flight Test If youre interested in flying commercially,
arrested for trying to fly a drone weve more Crew puts his drone in harms way to capture a youll need to know a few things. This is where
on that and the rest of Eddies career. dramatic fire drill in action! you get started.

26 // THE FLYING SQUAD 40 // CROSSRAIL 58 // MICRO DRONE 3.0


We chat with West Mercia & Warwickshire The biggest infrastructure project in Europe One of the biggest crowdfunding success stories
Police Force as they embark on a trial to test is finding drones to be a great tool for keeping to date, we take Extreme Fliers latest bird to the
drones for operational policing. everything on track. skies for a test flight.

6 DRONE MAGAZINE

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72

62
Reviewed:
Skeye Nano
with Camera 68

66 76

SUBSCRIBE TODAY FOR ONLY 14.99!


TURN TO PAGE 90

62 // SKEYE NANO & CAMERA 72 // AUTO-PILOT 90 // SUBSCRIPTIONS


Seeing as were giving some away, we might as There are so many automated controls, so do Previous issues have been selling like hot cakes
well tell you why we like it so find out more in you really need to be able to pilot a drone? so subscribe now to avoid disappointment or
our review. Obviously, the answer is an emphatic yes. at least a long walk to the shops.

66 // FREEFLY ALTA 74 // PIXRACER 92 // BUYERS GUIDE


As he gets to grips with his Alta, in his third Its the latest addition to the PixHawk flight We still argue about whether it should be
report professional cinematographer Will control family. Lee Schofield chats to its co- Buyers or Buyers Guide, but the end result is
Glover begins turning on the style. founder to find out more. always lots of great drones, all in one place.

68 // 3D MAPPING 76 // PHOTO COMPOSITION 96 // REGULATIONS


A complicated technology but its easier than The latest in our bumper tutorials on making Whether you want to fly commercially or just
you might think to create your own 3D images. the most of your aerial photos, this time we for fun, these are the core rules and regulations
We cover the basics to get you started. delve into framing the perfect shots. that all UK pilots must abide by.

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34
fighting fire with a flyer!
we take a drone out for
a real-life fire drill
Photograph: Roswell Flight Test Crew

8 DRONE MAGAZINE

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Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies

3DR in the UK 3DU Academic Program


expands across the Atlantic

3
DR, the largest drone able to carry a variety of cameras
maker in the USA, has and sensors. Additionally software
announced the expansion like Pixhawk and the DroneKit
of its 3DU Academic Program to app platform enable students to
the UK and Ireland. The program, gain experience with application
launched in America in September development as well. We want
2015, is available at primary, Solo to be the number one
secondary, university, graduate developer platform for academia,
and postgraduate levels and offers says Brandon Basso, 3DRs vice
discounts on 3DR hardware, along president of software engineering.
with support to those interested We enable development on Solo,
in using UAVs as teaching and for Solo and for the Cloud.
learning tools. The program is Beyond the drones themselves
being run in partnership with TNS 3DU also offers support with
Distribution, a global distribution curriculum development,
service, and features discounts on webinars on drone-related
the Solo drone and its accessories topics and virtual tours of the
to eligible teachers and instructors. 3DR Offices. For teachers there
In the past, drone research and is assistance with connecting
teaching tended to be restricted to other teams using drones as
to aerospace or engineering educational tools, and for students
departments, says Chris setting up drone clubs, they will
Anderson, CEO of 3DR. This is supply stickers, posters and even
quickly changing. These schools autopilot sponsorships for those
realise that UAVs will become a engaged in team competitions.
multi-billion dollar commercial There is also a blog that highlights
industry; consequently were the use of drones in education,
seeing massive adoption of our enabling those involved in the
drone platforms in education. The program to further spread interest
diversity and creativity of these in their projects and awareness of Liverpools John Moore University, With the continued growth in
programs is astonishing, from new potentials being discovered. and hes also at the forefront of the interest in drones, and the
archaeology to cinematography to Every day were discovering the use of drones for scientific potential for student activities
precision farming. Were seeing the new uses for drones, popping up applications. Academics in the to boost both sales to young
shape of next-generation industry across many new fields, says United Kingdom are rapidly hobbyists and the talent pool
taking form in the schools and we Dr. Greg Crutsinger, Academic adopting drone technology for involved in the industry, time
want to empower them. Program Director for 3DR. We a whole range of applications. will show if other companies will
3DR consider the Solo to be an want to make sure the world Academic pricing on open source follow the path being set by 3DR.
ideal drone for use as a teaching knows education is being drones, such as the Solo, is Full details on the 3DU
and educational platform, due to its transformed from the sky down. therefore very welcome so that Academic Program, including
built-in safety features and its easy- The project has been endorsed the technology can more quickly how to apply, can be found at:
to-learn flying experience. Its also by Professor Serge Wich from enable teaching and research. www.3dr.com/3DU.

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Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies

Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies


A Force for Good
Claw and Order
Further UK police trials
for drone use planned

A
Police considering eagles s you can see from our article on page 26, the police
as drone catchers do also see the positive side of drones and the
Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire
police forces are the latest to adopt them as a support tool,

T
he Dutch National Police has released a video with the early stages of a combined project underway to test
featuring a demonstration of a quadcopter drone the usefulness of drone technology within their day-to-day
being captured mid-flight by a bald eagle trained operational practice.
by the company Guard From Above. The trial, believed to involve the use of the 3DR Solo as the
The demonstration, part of a longer testing of the eagles abilities, drone of choice, will involve the training of 10-12 operators
dramatically showed off the potential of birds as an anti-drone and up to 10 drones, deployed across the tri-force area.
system, as not only was the target successfully interdicted but it was Operators will be working in pairs to ensure compliance
also safely landed by the eagle (and then pecked quite savagely). with the police forces Civil Aviation Authority licences and
Described as a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem, the safety guidelines.
method is the result of COO Ben De Jeijzers 25 years of experience A spokeswoman from the Cambridgeshire Police Force
training birds of prey the eagles instinct is to attack the craft as it has confirmed that the drone would be used to assist
would consider them competing predators invading their territory. with all types of policing operations. For example, open
The video was impressive enough for the Metropolitan Police country searches of missing persons, exterior building
Chief Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to instruct senior officers searches, to assist with road crash investigations, airport
to investigate whether the approach could be used in London. In security site assessments, armed patrols, sieges. The proof
addition, in Scotland, Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and of concept trials will involve deployments at any of the
West, commented that: Training eagles to bring drones down safely above incidents. Each deployment will be risk assessed for
is something Police Scotland could look at I think it is something the safety purposes.
force should consider. This is one of several similar trials across the country,
Unsurprisingly, not all reactions to the scheme have been positive. although concerns about the use of drones have been raised
Nicholas Lund of the National Geographic raised concerns that by privacy advocates, including Big Brother Watchs Daniel
drone blades can cause serious damage to an animal, especially if Nesbitt who has commented that: Police forces across the
the drone operator were to take evasive or defence manoeuvres. A country have recognised that drones have the potential
petition against the use of the eagles by the Met has been started by to be useful its important that the police communicate
Jemima Parry-Jones, Director of the International Centre for Birds of the results of this trial very clearly, so they can provide
Prey, and states that no birds of prey should be used and it would lead reassurance about how this technology will be used to
inevitably to injury to the birds. I have since spoken to people who protect citizens and maintain their privacy. The results of
work with drones and they also said it was a very bad idea. this trail will be available in the summer.

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Regulation
Round Up

Andrew Wat ton-Davies WITH more global until incorporated fully into the law. As of 29
February UAS will also need to be registered
developments on drone legisl ation with the CAD or face possible detention.
Guidelines on the safe usage of drones in
Bahamian airspace, including accountability
Raising Drone and those who have no experience or adequate of the operator for any accidents, can be found

Awareness in the UAE information about aviation and drones, the


GCAA has made raising awareness on the
at www.bcaa.gov.bs.

A two-week long campaign has been enacted


in the United Arab Emirates aimed at raising
best practices when using drones a priority.
Laws governing the use of drones in the UAE,
Fresh Regulations
awareness of safety issues amongst new drone including a flight ceiling of 500 feet, drone Coming to Guyana
users. The focus of the campaign has seen the registration and the requirement for a licence The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority has
distribution of brochures as well as signs to for commercial usage, were introduced in April confirmed that, following complaints from
draw attention to legally restricted airspace. 2015 following incidents at Dubai airport. the Guyana Defence Force of their helicopters
Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi, director- Full regulations for flying in the UAE can being encroached upon by civilian drones, a set
general of the GCAA, stated at the launch that: be found at: www.gcaa.gov.ae/en/Pages/ of operational regulations is being worked on.
Given the varying range of sectors in society, UASRegistration.aspx. The Minister of Public Infrastructure
announced: We have a draft circular which

Drones in we are working on. The head of the agency,


Chaitrani Heeralall, has said that: Users of
Paradise these drones need to realise that they can
From 01 February, impact on the use of the airspace and they
anyone wishing to need to be cautious, and that at the moment,
bring UAVs into the like many other countries, we dont have
Bahamas will need regulations for governing the uses of drones
to get a Certificate because these things are new. Even the
of Registration from International Civil Aviation Organisation
the Civil Aviation doesnt have regulations, per se.
Department (CAD). The new Special Regulation The Guyana Defence Force has issued a press
applies to all classes of drones. The Hon. Glenys release reminding the public of the potentially
Hanna-Martin, Minister of Transport and fatal consequences of using UAVs in airspace
Aviation, has confirmed that the Regulation allocated to low flying aircraft and asking
has been issued due to the increase of drones the public not to fly them around Base Camp
in the Bahamas, and will remain in place Ayanganna and all other military bases.

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000_DM04[adverts].indd 1 19/02/2016 15:31
Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies

And the winner is


MILLION DOLLAR INNOVATION PRIZE AWARDED BY Drones for Good

A
fter considering 664 submissions from teams in 121 countries, the final rounds of the 2016 Guide Drones for Blind Athletes
Drones for Good awards took place between 4-6 February at the Dubai Internet City in the A companion drone to allow blind runners
United Arab Emirates with a cool $1million on offer to the eventual winner. 20 teams, 10 to be guided by sound, thus giving them
in the International competition and 10 in the National, invited by the UAE Government, spent more freedom of movement and the ability
three days doing live presentations of UAV projects designed to find solutions that will improve to exercise independently.
peoples lives and provide positive technological solutions to modern day issues.
Humanit3D SwarmNet
The teams were amassed from throughout Flare 2.0 An automated drone swarm that provides a
the world, from universities, start-ups, and A folding scissors style collapsed quadcopter mesh network allowing for the exchanging
NGOs, each bringing with them cutting edge stored within a cylindrical tube the size of an and gathering of information in emergency
technologies, innovative uses and intriguing umbrella that can travel at speeds of over 60 situations where cellular communications and
applications of UAVs potential. Semi-finalists km/h, with a range of 100km, to seek out the internet connectivity is not available.
in the national category, featuring student nearest cell site and transmit actionable details
creations from around the UAE, included: to emergency services to carry out efficient and
effective recovery.
Ocean Eyes
A platform using four synchronised Smart Inspection of Solar Panels
quadcopters to provide a sky view of the A drone that uses a thermal imaging camera to
immediate area, allowing the manoeuvring of allow for more rapid and accurate inspection
ships with greater accuracy and safety. of solar panels, thereby improving the
effectiveness and reliability of solar farms
through more frequent maintenance.

The international category included entrants


from the around the globe, including the UK, ROMEO
USA, Ethiopia and the Philippines. The list of The Remotely Operated Mosquito Emission
entrants included: Operation is a UAV that delivers a payload of
half a million chilled sterile adult mosquitoes,
Advanced Airborne breaking the breeding cycle of the disease-
Radiation Mapping carrying insects.
Areioi A low altitude radiation mapper, allowing for
A quadcopter system designed to produce 3D real time monitoring and hotspot radiation
maps of an area with the detail and precision intensity maps at incidents akin to the
of Google Maps, enabling rapid surveying and Fukushima accident, for less than a hundredth
re-surveying of areas and structures. of the price of current aircraft based systems.

The level of the projects was complimented by


a judging panel of 25 renowned members from
the world of academics, scientific research and
UAV related industries. The three finalists in
each division are over the page:

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National

Buildrone Aerial Robotics Lab ReefRover New York University of FlyLab Flylab
An autonomously operating gas or oil Abu Dhabi Affordable drone technology using
pipeline leak detection system, that An undersea drone for the collection of coral computers and microcontrollers,
is able to independently fix leaks with reef data in a standardised format, made such as Arduino or Raspberry Pi, and
polyethylene foam. available to both scientists and the public. communicating with standard smart
devices aimed at being used in practical
experiments to teach mathematics, physics,
chemistry and engineering.

International

Navig8 UAV 4FrontRobotics (Canada) Save-Me Sense-Lab (Greece) Loon Copter Embedded Research
A vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drone A compact drone and app that combines Laboratory, Oakland University (USA)
compatible with an array of detection life-saving information available on a Part quadcopter, part boat, part submarine,
systems, designed to go into buildings for smartphone if you are inside a cellular the Loon is usable for search and rescue,
search and rescue operations when it would network, with the ability to take your phone, investigation and environmental response
be unsafe to send response teams. and details gathered from it, to emergency both above and below water.
services if you are out of service range.

Results
Taking away the National Competition trophy, and the one million
dirham prize money (just over 188,000 / $272,000), was Buildrone. In
the International Competition the trophy, and the one million US dollar
prize, was claimed by the Loon Copter team.
However, for most of the participants, the competition was about
much more than the challenge or the prizes. As Jovan Jovanacevic of
the ReefRover team put it: The competition was our opportunity to
showcase our effort and build a network of people who now know about
drones. We believe that events like the Drones for Good awards stimulate
development in emerging drone technology. The focus on the application
of the technologies in the National part, as well as on technological
advancements in the International category, gave rise to some amazing
ideas and creations.
Given the technology on display, we will be keeping an eye on the
OVERALL WINNER
dronesforgood.ae site for news of the 2017 competition and who The Loon Copter took home the $1m top prize, offering the potential for
knows? Maybe this will inspire a few of you to consider entering with search and rescue operations both from the air and underwater.
your own grand designs next year!

WWW.DRONEMAGAZINE.UK 15

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Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies

Super
No Fly
Zone
3,000 square miles
off limits during
Superbowl

T
he FAAs release of a video on 03 included unmanned aircraft operations. So,
February, expressly declaring the Levi over the course of ten hours it was technically
Stadium, Santa Clara, California the illegal to fly a drone anywhere within an area
venue of the 2016 Superbowl as a No Drone of over 3,000 square miles, including San
Zone was not an unexpected announcement. Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and a number
Concerns about safety issues and unregulated of large parkland areas, for a population of
flights simply disrupting the event had been around five million people.
raised by officials and fans alike in the run up Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA, noted
to the event. that the FAA could issue a fine for violators and
What did surprise people was the fact that potentially file criminal charges, and confirmed
the overall no-flight zone extended to a 32 that the United States government may use Though technically accurate, commentators
nautical mile radius, and that the follow up deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is also noted that any action taken against drone
press release to the video explicitly stated determined that the aircraft poses an imminent flyers away from the inner core of the zone
that the ban on flights from the surface up security threat. would be by local police at their own discretion.

Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies

ICARUS gets its wings


New app simplifies the admin grind

C
ommercial drone flying can generate individual job records are all available as a CSV
a lot of paperwork, which means a lot file or uploaded via the dropbox.com Cloud
of time when the operator isnt in the storage system.
air. CAA stipulations state that an operators Matt Williams, Managing Director and Head
Permission for Aerial Work permit can be of Training and Flight Operations for AMP,
forfeited if a complete risk assessment isnt said: The ICARUS Flight Planning App is a
performed in advance of every commercial useful tool for everyone who is operating a
job, in addition to having all flight and drone for commercial purposes as it completely
maintenance logs fully maintained at all times. removes the paperwork associated with each
To help reduce the amount of time spent job, allowing pilots to record information
keeping records, Aerial Motion Pictures (AMP) in real-time with the added benefit of being
has developed the ICARUS Flight Planning automatically backed-up to the Cloud.
App. With a built-in risk assessment form, The ICARUS Flight Planning App is
flying area survey, preliminary finding reports available to buy from the App Store for an
and flight data recordings, the aim of the app annual subscription cost of 59.99, or 4.99
is to place the administrative burden of flying per month, and is free for the first three
into one simplified location. On top of that, months following completion of an ICARUS
the tracking of flight data such as weather, training course. For further information visit:
equipment usage, operator flight time and aerialmotionpictures.co.uk.

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000_DM04[adverts].indd 1 19/02/2016 15:32
Photo by Darren Cool
Arrested Development:
Eddie Mitchell
Coincidentally, Eddies arrest
was captured on camera.
The police officer hardly
looks like a natural pilot!

Were all aware of the good that drones can do, but
many negative fears still need to be allayed; fears that
led to photojournalist Eddie Mitchell being wrongfully
arrested for simply doing his job. David Stock shares
Eddies story and his work above the law

M
ost drone pilots wish to fly responsibly and have When a fully-qualified and CAA licensed drone pilot and
fun. They understand the inherent dangers involved photojournalist was wrongfully arrested mid-flight, leaving
and that safety is always a priority, while the likes three inexperienced police officers to bring a UAV under
of the UKs Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are on hand to control, within the Air Traffic Zone and busy flight path of
issue guidelines and regulations to all pilots regarding the the UKs Gatwick airport, it highlighted a general lack of
rules and regulations of flying. As with similar organisations awareness of the rules governing drone flight, especially
in other countries, the CAA also licenses professional pilots amongst those entrusted with enforcing it.
whose work requires the use of drones filmmakers,
photographers and surveyors to name a few. Video Captured
It trains these pilots to ensure they are well informed, The man arrested was Eddie Mitchell, a news photographer
respectful and always fly within the law. In exchange it based in Sussex. It was in December 2014, when he was
gives those pilots special permissions to work outside of covering a fire at a residential site for a major UK news
the standard regulations imposed upon recreational users. outlet. I was asked to get a general view of the site, he says,
Despite this, drones are still often seen as invasive, spying but despite following all of the rules and good airmanship
devices and police, overzealous with anti-terrorism laws of his CAA training, things turned from bad to worse. I did
can be quick to demonise legitimate pilots. everything right I was about 750 metres from the scene

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DRONE PRO

All Photos by Eddie Mitchell / aerialnews.co.uk, except where stated

Not all of Eddies work requires him


to get too far off the ground, such as
this bus crash in Brighton. But, as the
bottom shot shows, it can help.

I was amazed. They ripped the


controller from my hand; there
was nothing I could say. I never
in a million years thought they
would disarm me

itself and had the landowners permission. I introduced


myself [to the police], explained that I was fully qualified
and outlined what I was going to do.
He gave the police 25 minutes to raise objections before
launching. Mitchell knew that, despite operating near
to an airport he was around 5km away from Gatwick
Airport he was still legal to fly, as craft under 7kg do not
need air traffic controls permission. Besides, he already had
an ongoing operational plan in place with their air traffic
control: As long as I stayed under 150ft I wouldnt have
to contact them he says. But this did not stop the police
intervening once he was airborne, and Eddie says he could
see from the drone that these three officers were marching
at me from the other end of the site.
Normally it is bad form to disrupt any pilot during a
flight, leaving your spotter, if you have one, to communicate
when appropriate and safe to do so, thereby relieving the
pilot of undue stress. The pilot should be allowed to land
safely and in their own time, too, as Eddie confirmed: The
pilot should never be distracted at any point; it is up to me
whether I think it is right to bring it down.

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DRONE PRO

This photo shows an ongoing fire


at the Gribble Inn near Chichester Despite this, the police gave Mitchell one short warning What made this all the more surprising to Mitchell was
in West Sussex taken in 2014. to land the craft, which couldnt have been more than 25- the fact that, as well as working as a photojournalist for
35 seconds, he says, which is a ridiculously short time. numerous newspapers and TV stations, he also regularly
What followed left Mitchell speechless. I was amazed. They works for Sussex Police and the West Sussex Fire Brigade.
ripped the controller from my hand; there was nothing I I have a number of hats on, he explains. I am also a fire
could say. I never in a million years thought they would brigade photographer, trained to work at major incidents,
disarm me. Mitchell was arrested and spent three and a where he captures images for their internal use and to assist
half hours in Surrey Polices custody. But, perhaps worse with their training.
still, he had to watch as three unqualified pilots passed the
Theres no harm in supporting
the stylish aerial shots with a controller between them, eventually bringing the drone An Emergency Service
few down to earth photos. down with a thump, and not before performing some fairly From his early work as a Worthing Life Guard and
erratic and dangerous manoeuvres. subsequently working for a local Sussex newspaper, The
Argus, Mitchell built up a good working relationship with
the emergency services. Thats how I got a good on-call
working relationship with the fire brigade, he says,
explaining how he often gets calls from fire commanders to
come out to incidents.
Whilst not all of the images that he takes can be released
to the public via news outlets, the unprecedented access
ensures that he is often first on the scene and that his shots
are from the front line of any incident.
When drones became affordable Mitchell saw a great
opportunity and was quick to get on board. Id flown RC
planes or helicopters since I was a kid so I knew all of the
ins and outs of it, he explains. It was a distant hobby but
one that was rekindled with the idea of doing it with my job,
as it was a great way of taking aerials. And with the news
gathering and photography industries undergoing major
changes at the time, and newspapers in decline, Eddie was
quick to jump on any new tool that could help feather my
nest elsewhere.

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DRONE PRO

Brighton Pier is very much in Eddies back yard, so


I was at the cutting edge I was one of, if not the only were not surprised hes taken an aerial view of it.

journalist in the country who was armed with one of these Some more great photos from Eddie below,
showcasing the unique shots a drone can provide.

After gaining his CAA license in March 2013, Mitchell


became one of the first journalists in the country to be fully
authorised to use small unmanned aircraft (SUA) in his
work. Thanks to his affiliation with the West Sussex Fire
Brigade he also gained special permissions to work close to
buildings and fly at night.
As an early adopter it wasnt always easy. People didnt
understand at all what we were talking about, Eddie says
of talking to clients. But it wasnt too early for the main
part of my business, which was reacting to news, going to
major incidents and having a different platform for me to
take pictures with. I was at the cutting edge of that, I was
straight in, and I was one of, if not the only journalist in the
country who was armed with one of these. He was quick to
identify the potential for others too. I always thought that
for the fire service it would be a fantastic tool for them in
control and command. No one was using drones in the fire
brigade at that point.
Possibly inspired by Eddies great work alongside the
fire brigade during the Eastbourne Pier fire in 2014 (more
in the Pier Pressure boxout), emergency services all over
the country now utilise drones and the Surrey and Sussex
police forces, whom Eddie has also flown in conjunction
with, were awarded almost 250,000 to expand their use of
drones on operations. Its definitely the time and place for
drones, says Mitchell.

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DRONE PRO

Eddies work during the 2014 Eastbourne Pier fire not only showed the
benefits of a drone for news coverage, but also for the fire brigade.
The Fire Chief was actually
controlling the fire from the
pictures from the drone and using
his assets to put the fire out

So, with emergency services making the most of cutting


edge technology, responsible use and enforcement should
be a certainty, surely? Not quite, Eddie warns. Theres lots
of ambiguous information out there. The police still arent
clued up as to what they can and cant do. However, Eddies
arrest triggered a sequence of events that led to a change in
the way the police, civilians and other services engage with
pilots, both amateur and professional.

Cleared for Take-Off


During his arrest and unbeknownst to the police on the
scene, Mitchells drone filmed the incident and backed
up his version of events. It turned out that the officers
had embellished the truth about my arrest and the drone
footage proved it, Eddie says. The footage showed how,
contrary to the police account, he was not given ample time
to safely land the craft before his arrest. Once they saw the
drone footage they realised that it was a completely false
Pier Pressure arrest. I did everything right.
In 2014 Eddie had to opportunity to really showcase how useful a drone could be, not only Surrey Police settled out of court for a five-figure sum
for newsgathering but for the emergency services, too. When a fire broke out on Eastbourne and a letter of apology a costly mistake by all accounts.
Pier on 30 July, Mitchell was quick to respond. The commanding officer was keen to make In February 2015 Sussex Police also admitted to gaps in
use of this new tool and, once airborne, his aerial video feed was relayed live into the control existence relating to overall police officer understanding
room on the scene. The Fire Chief was actually controlling the fire from the pictures from and in terms of delivering a consistent approach to dealing
the drone and using his assets to put the fire out, Eddie explains. The feedback he got was with the use of drones, and an Association of Chief Police
amazing: They loved it and were most grateful. Officers (ACOP) guideline document was commissioned
looking at how police officers should deal with drone usage.

22 DRONE MAGAZINE

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DRONE PRO

It was a welcome outcome for Eddie, and not just on


a personal level. This was very good for the industry
because it had been yearning for some sort of clarification
from the police to address the situation. Particularly
pertinent to Mitchells case was the guidance that officers
should not attempt to take control of the system UNLESS
EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES EXIST, such as threat to
life or injury or damage to property [] trying to land the
system yourself may cause the drone to crash leading to a
very real risk of injury to persons and damage to property.
It suggests that the best course of action if a pilot refuses to
land a drone is to wait for its battery to die.
Most pilots fly responsibly and Eddie is quick to
highlight that effective enforcement is important to
prevent illegal, nefarious and criminal uses of drones.
They undermine the whole industry and every drone
pilot gets a bad name. He points to the likes of the CAA
course that teaches safety and good airmanship for pilots,
emphasising that we try and stay on the right side of
everyone and try and be polite, courteous and keep the
standards that we have all been taught.
Ultimately its all about safety, safety and bloody safety,
according to Eddie, as a drone pilot its instilled in us. And
thats why, perhaps, rather than criminalise the responsible
pilots, police should be taking the time and effort to reward
and encourage them.

Eddie Mitchell operates as Aerial News (www.aerialnews.


co.uk) and shoots for local and national newspapers and
TV clients including the BBC and Sky News. He uses a
DJI Phantom 2 and a Phantom Pro as well as a DJI F550.
All are equipped with GoPro cameras.

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Drones at Work
They dont wear suits, but drones are
working more and more in businesses. As an
a huge alteration in the way companies collect
vital data. Here are just a couple of examples of
Geo-Mappers client experience having worked
introduction to our collection of articles in the industry for almost two years now:

on drones in the workplace, Emily Johnson of n Offshore inspections: We recently worked


Geo-Mapper explains how drones can be, and with offshore dredging company Van Oord
to survey and inspect the insertion of its
have been, utilised in the commercial world. underwater subsea pipeline, which transports
oil from an offshore port to an onshore refinery.

D
rones can be good fun as a hobby. drones we are able to survey large areas better We were able to get some incredible aerial
However, they can do a heck of a lot than any other technology on the market can, footage of the development of the project from
more than just fly around. Drones can quickly and efficiently and as a result drones start to finish. This footage was utilised in
gather intelligent data like no other technology can acquire more (and better) data. Van Oords promotional video, produced by
on the market. Despite being perceived as Keyhole Visuals.
toys, weapons, or dangerous by the public n Aerial Inspections: Using a drone you can
or the media, drones can have extremely take images of objects that are difficult to reach n Onshore inspections: Weve also worked
advantageous uses in the modern workplace. physically, in order to save any employee from with Amec Foster Wheeler and the National
At Geo-Mapper, we have been working with climbing or being in places that may be deemed Grid in the inspection of their new T-Pylons
drones for the past five years, and have gained unsafe. We regularly inspect objects such as that have recently been established. Similar to
more from them than most hobbyist drone roof tiles on ageing houses, offshore wind Van Oord, we also provided them with aerial
pilots could ever imagine. High quality drones turbines, T-pylons and more. footage, which they could use in some new
are spearheading aviation technology, and training videos for their engineering teams.
they are quickly changing, and enhancing, the n Interactive 360 Panoramic Tours: 360
ways in which industries and businesses alike Panoramic Tours can be created with both As the drone industry evolves, so we can
complete projects. regular cameras and drone cameras. They are continue to develop intelligent solutions to
We can utilise drones to produce a selection revolutionising imagery and online content. For aerial work surveying, inspections, mapping,
of specific data sets, whether projects are example, they are advantageous to hoteliers, photography and video in the work place by
onshore or offshore, national or international, which will use them to show customers using drones and other emerging technologies.
and our client base ranges tremendously. UAVs the hotel bedrooms online, long before the One recent example would be the creation of
offer capabilities that no other technology can, customers have had a chance to see the hotel our very own Geo-Mapper 1900 Survey UAV.
and we have completed a selection of strenuous in person. Another example would be a golf This fixed wing drone is carefully engineered
projects for various high profile clients. The course, and the ability to reveal 360 aerial and capable of high-resolution data, one-hour
kinds of services drones can provide are wide- views of all of the different areas of the course. flight time and fully automated flights. During
ranging and highly advantageous, such as: These tours can be made fully interactive so a single flight we can collect a vast number of
that users can click onto multiple panoramic images, which are then processed to produce
n Aerial Photography: Photography from the tours via one map, and they are able to have a highly accurate orthophotos, digital terrain
air is outstanding, and with the use of drones mixture of aerial and ground tours, too. models and digital elevation models.
and high-resolution cameras we are able to As has been regularly pointed out (and in
capture photos as good as those which have Currently, most corporate companies that this very magazine), drone training is essential
been captured with a helicopter. This kind of require photography, survey and inspections if novice pilots are to consider utilising their
imagery creates an overview of a place/object/ for their properties, structures, power lines, drones commercially. Aviation education
location like no other technology can. or green energy technologies, such as wind is so important, and people fail to realise
turbines and solar panels, involve their the heavy regulation upon drones, Simon
n Aerial Videography: Birds eye view footage employees physically checking the condition explains. If you are looking into using your
adds an exciting dimension to any film, and of these locations or objects. Using UAV drone commercially it is even more important
makes it look far more professional too. Aerial technology reduces the health and safety to get qualified. Many companies offer drone
video is not easy to capture with a drone, but risks to personnel completely, as they are no training, but exams and flight tests are only the
once you have developed your multi-tasking longer required to work hazardous areas or at beginning; just imagine what you could achieve
skills (moving the camera and flying the drone compromising heights. in business and beyond. Maybe the following
simultaneously) its fairly simple. Simon Huntridge, founder of Geo-Mapper, pages will give you a few ideas
comments: We are constantly finding new and
n Aerial Surveys: We have a range of innovative ways to improve businesses with
professional high quality drones that we have drone technology. Drones have the ability to do You can find out more about the work of
created in-house and these drones have the all the difficult ground work more efficiently, Geo-Mapper by emailing Simon Huntridge
capability to measure certain aspects of the cost-effectively, and with better data and results. on simon@geomapper.co.uk or visiting the
land and ground very effectively. With our Over the upcoming years we are going to see website www.geomapper.co.uk.

24 DRONE MAGAZINE

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Theres almost a limitless number of potential uses for drones within numerous industries,
Caption
asdf
whether its inspecting offshore platforms, getting a close-up view of wind turbines or gathering
asdf
geographical data for the purposes of surveying sites or assisting with agriculture.
asdf

All Photos by Geo-Mapper

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This trial is one of several
running across the country with
more planned for the future
and there seems to be no
shortage of willing volunteers!

THE FLYING SQUAD


ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY, POLICE AUTHORITIES ARE DISCOVERING THAT
DRONES CAN HELP FIGHT AND PREVENT CRIME. DISCOVER WHETHER YOU
COULD SOON ADD police DRONE PILOT TO YOUR CV AS Ian Collen speaks
to Inspector Damian Sowery about the latest tech on trial

W
hen it comes to emphasising the good that drones Some forces have gone down the line of spending a
can do, its hard to look past their potential significant amount of money on a device, in some cases
uses within the emergency services. There are 40-50,000, Damian explains. Theyve established a
countless ways in which UAVs can aid in the already fine team to operate that device and it tends to be used more as a
work being done by the police, ambulance or fire and rescue planning tool than a response tool, because ultimately it can
crews. Futuristic visions of fully automated drone patrols only be flown when those people are on duty, is generally
aside, current tech has the potential of saving not only time, too big to fit in the boot of a car and you can only deploy it
but also millions of pounds to the taxpayer. Drones and when those people are available. My feeling in our force area,
the surrounding tech can aid the police in all manner of because were so big (West Mercia takes in Herefordshire,
activities, providing a helpful new perspective on events. Shropshire and Worcestershire), is that if we went down that
One of the latest forces to get behind the use of drones line we would never use it.
is the West Mercia & Warwickshire Police Force, led by Instead theyre using the drones with traffic officers, or
Inspector Damian Sowery. Theyre running a six-month those who have the higher capability vehicles. Theyre the
trial, which follows in the footsteps of a similar trial thats ones who have the higher level of training and are advanced
been running in Devon & Cornwall since November, and drivers who can get around the force quickly. Simply put,
there are several more happening (and planned) around the these are drones on call, ready to respond to any incident, at
country. Damians crew of seven CAA-trained pilots will be any time of day and the purpose of the trial is to see where
using a DJI Inspire 1 and a Phantom 3 Advanced a decision it works, where it doesnt, and how (or if) drones can be used,
made because they see drones as primarily a response tool. in the longer term, to support operational policing 24/7.

26 DRONE MAGAZINE

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Although their specific use wasnt revealed, French police were seen using drones
during the Paris shootings possibly hunting for gunmen or isolated victims.

Saving People,
Time and Money
One thing the drones wont be doing is replacing the
helicopters flown by the National Police Air Service (NPAS),
helicopters Damian admits are far better and far more
proficient and technically capable than a drone will be; this
generation of drone anyway. However, with NPAS suffering
the same cuts as most other public services, Damian sees
the potential for drones as a support tool, to offer a quick
response, to speed up various operations and become
potentially, a cost effective way of helping operational
officers to do a number of tasks.
Those tasks might include everything from finding The purpose of the trial is to see where it works,
missing people, aerial photography, to supporting crime where it doesnt and how (or if) drones can be
investigation or collision investigation. It could be looking
for suspects who might be on premises, and there are used to support operational policing 24/7
cannabis farms that might give off a lot of heat. You could
have a situation where someone might be suffering with
dementia, for instance, and has left a care home and headed would be a road closure and they would spend a long time
into a wooded area or a rural and remote area. We could methodically and meticulously documenting the scene and
use a thermal imaging drone and put it up to cover a wide doing various calculations to work out what happened and
area, whereas in the past we would have had to send a lot of how the collision occurred.
officers on foot to look for that person manually which This is all very important work, especially if a prosecution
takes up a lot of time and resources. is warranted or a coroner is required and a professional
Indeed, saving lives is one thing, but saving money could investigation is needed. However, as Damian explains,
also be a possibly surprising upside with road traffic that becomes a very time-consuming task. In the case of a
accidents just one example Damian gave us. If you look motorway and theres a lot of motorways in Warwickshire,
at a fatal collision, what would normally happen at the less so in West Mercia you can end up, and it does happen
moment is wed use a Collision Investigation Unit who are from time to time, closing a motorway in a busy part of the
specially trained officers. They would carry all sorts of laser country for several hours, and that comes at a massive cost
measuring equipment, field lights and what have you. There to the taxpayer.

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An off-the-shelf DJI is a safe
investment for a trial, but other The estimated expense for having a major road closed sight of a police car and disappear, could be one option.
options could be considered in
during a busy time has been given to us on a couple of However, by and large we see these as being about public
the long-term.
occasions (though as yet unverified) as being 1 million an safety, looking for criminals, looking for people whove gone
hour to the UK taxpayer. Using a drone to support the work missing, supporting existing aviation services in terms of
of the Collision Investigation Unit to capture the scene and things like photography and so on.
document the data can potentially reduce the road closure The reaction from the police force itself has also been
time from 4-5 hours down to a single hour saving not only very encouraging and unsurprisingly Damian wasnt
money but also enabling those officers to get back to work short on volunteers when the trial was announced,
a lot quicker. So the next time someone asks you what good adding that Ive had to disappoint quite a few people!
has ever come from flying a drone, you can tell them that a But its not just the pilots who will benefit. The kind of
drone might just have saved them three hours in traffic; oh, things we think were going to have, are the kind of jobs
and maybe the small matter of 3 million as well and thats that the officers dont particularly enjoy doing anyway.
just from one single incident. If we go back to the scenario of the missing person in the
middle of the night, for a police officer to be out on foot, in
Big Brother isnt Watching rough terrain, in the dark, the cold and the wet, its not a
As you may have seen from our news article on page 11, there particularly pleasant experience.
can be some public concern about the police flying drones. Most people Ive spoken to so far, and Ive spoken to
However, Damian says hes been pleasantly surprised by the quite a few, are overwhelmingly positive about it and see
community response after explaining the trial to his local it as a good thing. Nobodys come to me and said theyre
Independent Advisory Group. I have to say that they have worried about the impact it will have on their job, because I
been overwhelmingly supportive about it. I was expecting to dont think it will. I think it will enhance their operational
be challenged quite a lot on the privacy angle, that the police capability and it will take away some of that burden from
would be using these devices to spy on people that whole the jobs that we do at the moment that we dont particularly
kind of Big Brother concept. But actually their concerns want to do.
were really more about safety and making sure we have the
right governance in place. A Force for Good
That said, Damian was still keen to reassure the public Its worth noting that, for the purposes of trial, Damian is
that drones will only be used for standard operational work. happy to restrict the potential uses for his drones. They do
The message we want to get across to the public is that this have a thermal imaging camera that has several potential
is not about Big Brother, this is not about surveillance uses (not least enabling them to fly at night) but thats it
although he did add that using a drone to capture footage for the time being. As Damian points out, theres no point
of drug dealers in a park, who would otherwise flee at the spending money on some great tech if you cant be sure
youll use it. Im acutely aware that there are some fantastic
applications out there and lots of different devices. Fire and
rescue services, for example, use a drone thats equipped
A drone might just have saved them three hours with chemical sensors and things like that which they can
in traffic; oh, and maybe the small matter of 3 fly into a fire and monitor the air.
But, for the moment, those are really expensive. Its not
million as well all about the money, but we want to make sure that what

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One early use of the drones before the trial even began was to film T-Pack training to
help educate traffic officers in containing a moving vehicle.

Policing Drone Use


Of course, the flipside to Damians work is that the police do still have to deal with nefarious
drone use themselves and he says theyre taking a common-sense approach. As an
organisation we would always seek to advise people before we try and criminalise them. What
weve seen, and from speaking to our colleagues around the country, is that most illegal drone
use at the moment seems to be more, not ignorance or malice, but there are a lot of people out
there flying these things and not really appreciating the rules and regulations about them.
Devon & Cornwall, for one, has done some work with their communities to try and get that
message out, looking at YouTube and identifying people who have been flying them and sending
out advisory notices to them, just in the first instance, to say do you realise that what youre
we do buy, we are going to use for practical policing rather doing is unlawful? We would always seek to educate rather than enforce. Theres also work we
than it sitting in a van somewhere and not being used. One have to do within the force, and part of that is educating our own officers and making sure they
of the points of the trial, for us, is as much about testing understand what the legislation is.
the concept of drones in policing as it is testing the drones
themselves. The point of having the six month trial period
is to get enough data so that we can properly evaluate
them and that will help us to look at whether the devices
weve currently got are the ones we would want in the
longer term.
One interesting aside, and current drawback, to the
use of tech comes from the potential problems for using
drone-based evidence in court, as Damian pointed out after
we suggested using drones for 3D mapping crime scenes
could be useful. Whenever new technology is brought in,
certainly if its going to be use evidentially in court, it has to
go through Home Office approval. The difficulty with drones
at the moment is that, so far, none of this technology has
been tested in court.
As one example, laser equipment that the collision
investigators use after a car accident has been approved,
and so when they present information in court, theres
never any question. At the moment, I can see us having a
challenge in court if we tried using surveying equipment,
however good it may be. Ultimately we might even end
up losing court cases because the equipment hasnt been
approved. And thats my roundabout way of saying yes,
wed like to use that technology but we have to be careful
about the legalities of it.
Clearly Damian does see a future use for drones within
the police force. I think its fair to say that the emergency
service market for drones is expanding; theres a lot of
interest not just from the police, but the fire and rescue
services, the ambulance service. This is a part of the market
that hasnt really been there before and is now emerging.
I think once that happens then manufacturers like DJI,
globally, will be interested and theyll be interested to see
how they can service other customers. And certainly wed Getting an aerial view in the event of a
be interested in taking up Damians offer of another chat in siege or a missing person can give the
police an invaluable extra perspective.
six months time to see how the trial went.

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000_DM04[adverts].indd 1 19/02/2016 15:33
competition
All images 2015-2016 TRNDLabs / Albert van de Maat

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WWW.DRONEMAGAZINE.UK 31

031_DM05[compo]NTICGC.indd 1 19/02/2016 17:19


school break
Kids on the basketball court during
the school break in Vilnius, Lithuania

Photo by Karolis Janulis, Supplied by Dronestagram

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Flying with the
Fire Service

34 DRONE MAGAZINE All Photos by Roswell Flight Test Crew

034-9_DM05[ftFireDept]NTICGC.indd 34 18/02/2016 21:19


When a fire crew in the United States took part in a live-fire
training exercise, Patrick Lucidity Sherman from the Roswell
Flight Test Crew offered to take a drone equipped with a FLIR
thermal imaging camera to help. Heres hIS REPORT

O
f all the places that drones will be put
to work over the next few years, none
is more important than alongside
firefighters and other first responders at least
in our eyes. No doubt enormous economic
benefits will be recognised in applications as
diverse as precision agriculture, mapping and
utility inspection, but none of these can offer
the immediate potential to save human life.
Thats why, whenever we get the
opportunity, we head out to the fireground
in order to demonstrate the potential of this
technology. We were especially excited about
a recent event right here in the Roswell Flight
Test Crews home state of Oregon because it
was to be no ordinary drill.
For the most part, firefighters learn to fight
fires in flameproof burn buildings made
from reinforced concrete and covered with
heat-resistant tiles. However, this was to be
one of those rare instances when they would
have the opportunity to practice their craft in
a live structure: a dilapidated and disused
residence situated in rural Clackamas County.
This real venue is invaluable to the
firefighters because fire behaves differently
in a wooden building, where the flames can
spread through the structure itself, providing
training that much more closely approximates
the circumstances that they would confront in
the real world.

Fuelling the Flames


Prior to our arrival, the 1,600 square foot
home had been stripped of its furnishings and
fixtures. Even the carpeting had been pulled
up, leaving behind bare floors. To simulate the
household goods that would likely provide the
initial fuel for a fire such as a sofa, a cabinet or
an electrical appliance the firefighters loaded
heaps of straw and wooden shipping pallets
into the building.
These were placed in several different rooms,
creating distinct sets where they would take
turns battling the blaze. However, rather than
putting the fire out as quickly as possible,
as they would during an actual emergency
response, the firefighters would watch how the
blaze grows and spreads across the fuel load
and into the building itself.
Then, before it becomes completely
uncontrollable, they knock it down with
their fire hoses, but stop short of completely
extinguishing it. After that, a new team
The Roswell Flight Test Crew sends their hexacopter
into the inferno, using on-board thermal and visible enters the structure and the cycle repeats
light cameras to monitor the progress of the fire. until the set has been exhausted and the
training continues in another room. Thus, they

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034-9_DM05[ftFireDept]NTICGC.indd 35 18/02/2016 21:19


One of the RTFC drones make the most of this rare opportunity before completely We worked as a two-man crew, with the pilot wearing
provides an aerial perspective destroying the structure in a final, fiery inferno known as First-Person View (FPV) goggles to see the live video feed
on the structure as the
the terminal burn. coming down from the aircraft, and a visual observer
terminal burn takes hold.
As far as our initial involvement went, we were located looking for hazards outside the pilots field of view as well
safely on the perimeter of the fireground; our mission was as potential conflicts with any manned air traffic that
to use our drone and its FLIR Vue Pro thermal imaging appeared in the vicinity. We also took care to avoid flying
camera to monitor the fires progress. But first we had to directly over the people on the ground, to ensure they
ensure that we ourselves honoured the Hippocratic Oath: wouldnt be hurt if the drone suffered a catastrophic failure
First, do no harm. This meant strictly adhering to the and came crashing down to earth.
principles of safe drone operations.
Our Eyes in the Sky
Our primary aircraft for this mission was a custom Vortex
hexacopter from UAV Experts in Atlanta, Georgia. Its
unique in that the airframe is produced entirely using
aerospace-grade 3D printers and it flies with a DJI E600
power system and NAZA flight controller, bound to a Futaba
14SG transmitter. It is powered by a massive, six-cell,
16,000mAh battery that weighs four pounds by itself
bringing the crafts overall flying weight to ten pounds.
The payload was a cluster of three front-facing cameras:
the FLIR Vue Pro thermal imaging camera with 640 x 512
pixels of resolution; a GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition sports
camera mounted on a DJI Zenmuse H3-3D three-axis
gimbal; and a SKY Runcam 650 TVL First-Person View
(FPV) board camera in a metal enclosure.
Although the roof is still intact, this thermal
Throughout the day, the FLIR Vue Pro was capturing
image reveals the buildup of heat caused by thermal video at its maximum resolution, and while 640
the fire raging inside the structure. by 512 pixels doesnt sound very high-resolution by the
modern standards of HD video, it is considered very good
quality in the thermal imaging business. As an added
We wondered would our aircraft literally melt bonus, each frame of video essentially constituted a full-
resolution still picture, making it easy to analyse and share
while hovering over the fire? images afterwards.

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The drone captures the view from directly above the conflagration, revealing how
emergency response vehicles and personnel are deployed around the site. The
rising smoke column being carried away also shows the prevailing winds at altitude.

FLIR and the Vue Pro


The GoPro was recording 1080p video at 60fps in the visible
light spectrum, and the Runcam FPV camera, which has no
integral recording capability, was available as an emergency
backup. A three-position switch on the Futaba allowed us to FLIR is the worlds leading manufacturer
change back and forth between all of the cameras. of thermal imaging cameras and produces
If the other two cameras failed, the Runcam would provide thermal imaging systems for military and
an alternate source of video to safely manoeuvre and land public safety users, in addition to utility and
the aircraft. We also had a Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K, both building inspection, technical and scientific applications, security and maritime
to capture high-resolution aerial stills and as backup albeit operations, as well as the general consumer market.
without thermal imaging capabilities in the event the
Vortex became unserviceable at any point during the day. In 2015, FLIR introduced the
Vue Pro camera, designed
Slow and Steady specifically for use on small,
The idea of an emergency response conjures up images of civilian Unmanned Aircraft
heroic firefighters smashing through doors and pulling Systems (UAS). Based on the
trapped victims to safety; dynamic action worthy of a companys Tau camera core,
Hollywood blockbuster. However, for those of us operating it incorporates many features
the drone, dynamic was not an adjective that applied to specific to the drone market,
our activities nor did we want it to be. including:
For the most part, the Vortex hovered overhead in a
fixed location, simply providing an aerial perspective on n On-board recording of
the scene. What modest drama we did experience revolved both thermal stills and video
around maintaining a ready supply of fully-charged to a micro-SD card, as well as future
batteries and ensuring that we could safely launch and land MAVLink integration.
the drone as an increasing number of curious onlookers n A mini-USB plug compatible with GoPro-type connectors that provides both
gathered to watch the proceedings. power in and video out.
For the majority of our flight time we stayed with the n The ability to start and stop recording, change colour palettes and set other
video feed from the FLIR thermal imaging camera because, camera functions via the Pulse-Wave Modulation (PWM) controller input.
for the first few hours at least, the visible light cameras had
little to show us, apart from the intact roof of the structure The company also recently announced a partnership with DJI to develop the
with occasional rivulets of white smoke escaping from it. Zenmuse XT thermal imaging camera gimbal, expected to be available by the
The thermal camera, however, showed us something of the beginning of Q2 2016. For more information visit: www.flir.com.
drama unfolding inside the building.

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The RFTCs hexacopter monitors the progress
of the fire even as heavy billows of black smoke
begin to obstruct the view provided by its visible
light cameras.

Firefighters from Clackamas Fire District


#1 listen intently as their officers provide a
briefing about the days planned activities.

Contrary to what you may believe after watching movies began to disappear, we realised that they were now fully
and TV shows about secret agents, thermal imaging will engulfed in flame, and the end was near for this house.
not allow you to see through walls or other solid structures.
However, it will reveal the presence of a heat source inside Feeling the Burn
a structure as it raises the temperature of the structure If you have never been at the scene of a structure fire (and
itself, and this can provide you with a fairly nuanced wed hope you never have to be), the experience most
understanding of what is happening inside. especially during the terminal burn can be difficult to put
From our perch high above the fireground, we watched into words. Its obvious that fire is hot, but there is nothing
as different locations within the structure flared with heat short of actually having lived through such an event that
and then diminished a few minutes later as the exercise will help you understand how much heat radiates from a
progressed to another room just as we would have burning building.
expected. However, one thing we didnt anticipate, which As the fire builds, it becomes impossible to stand within
stemmed from the fact that this was a real structure and 50 feet of the flames, then 75 feet and then 100 feet. Coming
not a purpose-built burn house, was that we could actually home afterward, your face feels like you have spent a sunny
pick out the individual roof joists in the thermal image, as day at the beach without sunscreen, and you notice that
they absorbed some of the heat from the fire below. As those your clothes smell distinctly of soot and smoke. More than

Flying Colours
Thermal imaging cameras, like the FLIR Vue Pro, between different pre-defined colour palettes that are black. You will also notice that the firefighters and their
detect the heat emitted or reflected by objects in integrated into the camera to determine how the image vehicles around the perimeter are darker shades as
the environment and use the temperature variations is displayed, based on the subject and the personal well, owing to their intrinsic body temperature and the
between them to construct an image that the human preference of the user. heat generated by their engines.
eye can recognize. Of course, these fluctuating In the three sample images shown here, the same The centre image is white-hot, so that the warmest
variations occur at wavelengths that are invisible to scene is rendered in three different colour palettes. object in the frame is now white, and the coolest is
unaided vision: between 7.5 and 13.5 micrometres in The left-most image is black-hot, meaning that the black. The right-most image is rendered in a FLIR colour
the infrared spectrum. warmest object in the frame is black and the coolest is palette named Ironbow, which does a particularly
Consequently, thermal images do not have any white. Notice that the roof of the structure, where heat good job of highlighting warm objects against the
intrinsic colour. Instead, the user can choose is rising from the fire burning inside, is almost entirely background. All palettes can provide vital information.

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It was an experience that left us profoundly
struck by the courage and fortitude of the
firefighters who face this mortal peril

anything else, it was an experience that left us profoundly


struck by the courage and fortitude of the firefighters who
face this mortal peril.
However, we were determined to capture visible light and
thermal imagery throughout the final phase of the fire, and
this was clearly the most dangerous moment for our craft,
if not for ourselves. For all of its intensity on the ground, the
overwhelming majority of the heat generated by the blaze
rises skyward, creating turbulence and pockets of hot air
that could potentially bring down a drone.
Indeed, we watched as even the robust and powerful
Vortex got bounced around while traversing the smoke
column that provided a visible indicator of the heat
plumes location. We had an additional concern, as well:
3D printers, like the ones which were used to create the
Vortexs airframe, use heat to render the printing medium
malleable. We wondered would our aircraft literally The Vortex hexacopter from UAV Experts
melt while hovering over the fire? It turns out that the provides thermal and visible light imaging from
fact aerospace-grade 3D printers were used in its creation above the scene of the fire as the terminal
burn begins to devour the structure.
proved to be an important distinction. Although the main
body of its fuselage was almost too hot to touch when
we brought it back to earth, there was no discernible
deformation of the material.
The firefighters stepped back as the final conflagration
took hold, the goal of the exercise shifting from controlling
the flames to destroying the structure as thoroughly as
possible. At the end, they even brought in a backhoe to
knock over the remaining walls and pile them up in the
centre of the blaze. Finally, where only a few hours before
a countryside cottage had stood, all that remained was a
concrete foundation and a smouldering pile of ashes.

Seeing Through the Smoke


The infrared wavelengths captured by thermal imaging cameras like the FLIR Vue Pro do not
Patrick Lucidity Sherman is one of the founders of interact with materials in the environment in the same way as visible light. For example, glass
the Roswell Flight Test Crew an educational non- is transparent to the light we see with our own eyes but opaque to thermal imaging cameras, so
profit and civilian drone demonstration team based you are not able to see through windows with a FLIR.
in Portland, Oregon, and active since 2011. You can However, as the pair of sample images shown here reveal, the thermal imaging camera (on the
find out more about their drone coverage at www. right) can see through the smoke rising from the burning structure, which obscures the vision of
RoswellFlightTestCrew.com and view their regular the visible light camera (left). This is one reason why thermal imaging is so highly prized by the
series of YouTube videos by searching for Roswell military and the fire service, even during daylight operations.
Flight Test.

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Going
Underground Words by: IAN COLLEN

AS PART OF the largest CURRENT infrastructure project in


Europe, 118km of new railways, including 42km of tunnels,
ARE BEING ADDED in and around London. We chatted with
Innovation Consultant William Reddaway to find out how
drones are helping to keep the project on track

T
he Crossrail project dates all the way back to and the field engineer would then be able to report back on
1941, when the first proposals for a cross-London the overview of the site. That seemed like a good idea and we
railway were presented. However, it took until 2008 could see some potential savings there, in terms of freeing
until plans were finally agreed upon and approved, and up the engineer to do some engineering work rather than
construction began a year later with a vast network of new time-consuming paperwork.
rail lines stretching from Reading to the west of London, After some initial research and CAA training, it became
to stations in Shenfield in the north-east of the capital and clear that some degree of control would be required, as well
Abbey Wood just south of the River Thames. Thats 118km of as constant line-of-sight with the drone. This changed our
new track, 42km of it underground, taking in 40 stations, approach a little bit and we thought, okay can it be used to
including 10 brand new ones. enhance the site inspection, rather than replacing the field
With a project as big as this, just how can a few small engineers requirements? William and the team could
drones make a noticeable difference? The answer comes see the benefits of this birds eye view and the level of detail
from one simple idea quickly snowballing into an entire they could get from their DJI Inspire 1s camera while also
building site of possibilities. Crossrails Innovation appreciating that a human presence to interact with people
Consultant, William Reddaway, is also part of the was still important.
companys Innovate 18 programme which funds research But thats where the seed of the idea was planted and
into new technologies, and one early question posed was grew, says William. How could we improve our site
about using drones to help with field inspections. inspections and what could we do to make the drone a
One of our field engineers was working at one of our useful tool for large sites? From there the ideas started to
depots which is over a mile long and requires regular increase on how we could use the drone on site. Those ideas
inspection, William explains. Using drones seemed like are showing no signs of slowing down, with 3D mapping
a good time-saving proposal for a tedious task. One of and modelling, thermal imaging and more constantly
the initial ideas was to create an automated system using adding to the drones potential. Other sites quickly began to
drones. So the drone would take off, do a circuit, come back, take notice.

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All images courtesy of Crossrail

How could we improve our site


inspections and what could we
do to make the drone a useful
tool for large sites?

In the beginning there were some obvious safety


concerns, William told us, explaining that, we dont want
to have people looking up, then tripping over and creating
potential health hazards by having the drone. However,
those fears were quickly forgotten after a handful of flights.
The more we started to use it on-site, the more we got
acceptance that it was there. People started to ignore it and
began to realise that it was just there as a tool and it wasnt a
threat or monitoring their work or anything like that.
And the more people accepted it, the more people
Wed agree with William that drones can become a regular, and
wanted it on their sites: Ooh, theyre getting good footage, useful, tool for any large-scale construction project.
we want some. So the first six months with the drone was
more about lets see if we could use it and lets see if the
sites are happy for us to use it. Since then its become a more
important part of our tool kit.

Have Drone, Will Fly


Indeed, as the drone became an increasingly familiar tool,
so its work load spread on an almost accidental basis. One
example William gives is of an impromptu crane inspection.
One of the crane appointed persons came up to us and
said: Ive got a warning light on my display. While I test the
pulleys can you fly up and inspect the crane for me? So we
flew up and he did a few tests with it and we could see there
was no error.
What that did was to save him having to bring the
crane down, dismantle it and then test it, having wasted
several hours of lifting time. He might have solved the
problem without our help, but we just happened to be on
site and sped up that process. Not only that, but it echoed
the quality of the 4K camera because the resolution was
so good that you could even read the serial number off the
control box at the top of the crane!
Another example of the power that drone-compatible
technology can bring to any site came with an early foray
into volumetrics and using the drone to evaluate a mound potentially, is that you can create an as-is or an as built
of excavated earth. We flew over it and got an output of model so you do a scan to show how the model currently
something like 75,000 square metres of earth, says William, is, then you overlay it on top of your plans and you can see
and they worked out they needed something like 36 how the models interface with real life. This gives planners
dumper trucks. They then worked it out for themselves and and engineers a better perception, a better feel, for how
it was within one or two dumper trucks of accuracy so for progress is going and it can actually bring some tangible
a very quick calculation, for an approximation, it was very data to the planning.
useful for them to corroborate their calculations. Again, it Another important twist on technology that can help
was one of those ad hoc things; can you try this for us? in this and many other industries is thermal imaging
obviously a relatively new feature for the DJI tech team
New Tech, New Ideas to play with. Weve done some extensive trials here at
On more of a day-to-day basis the drone was initially used Crossrail for the use of thermal imaging cameras within
mainly for surveying work not to mention giving some spray concrete areas. Weve learned from using thermal
nice aerial shots to help showcase the project to the media imaging that we can detect water ingress, and in concrete,
or the local community and give them a great view of the water ingress is the last thing you want, but by detecting it
work-in-progress. A lot of the drones work is done in the early you can fix it early.
tunnels, running checks and providing live data back to the William also sees the benefits of using the tech to further
team (although in a tunnel the signals arent particularly support their BIM models. If we were to fly over one of
great) and high-quality images for gathering data. our depots we could then create a thermal image model
However, William and the team have also seen the of our depot and understand if there are any potential
potential for using drones to create 3D models, not so much environmental issues, such as if the insulation is poor in
as part of Crossrail as so much of it is underground, but some areas and heat is pouring out. We can trim and tailor
for importing exterior models into their BIM (Building the thermal gradients to basically flag up things that are
Information Modelling) data. The advantage of this, beyond a certain threshold.

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The more people accepted it, the more people wanted it on their
sites: Ooh, theyre getting good footage, we want some

Also flying through a tunnel and getting a thermal map


of Crossrails tunnels; that will either enhance the data
weve already got from our thermal imaging trials or add to
it. Imagine having our 3D model and then being able to add
a thermal imaging layer over it. It may well provide some
very useful information that we may not have thought of
initially. So thats the next toy Im asking for at Christmas!
Although with a 360 degree camera recently bought, so
you can then have a full inspection of the tunnels as you fly
through them, theres no shortage of fun toys already at the
disposal of his team.

Cross Purposes
William clearly sees drones as having a very welcome
home on any construction site. If theyre used safely
and sensibly, and as the technology gets better and safer

Innovate 18 and more safeguards are put into them, I think theyll
become much more accessible. On potentially hazardous
The use of drones as part of the Crossrail more than 1,000 submitted and all results sites, with William pointing to the water industry as an
project is due to the companys Innovate will be shared. Crossrail is going to pass example, drones could end up keeping humans away from
18 scheme named after the year Crossrail what its learned onto the rest of the UK risk. If you could send a drone up to do that inspection,
is due to open: 2018. With funding from construction industry, William explains. which provides as much data as the human eye, then why
a range of major engineering companies, Our aim is to pass on all weve learnt wouldnt you do that? Why would you not spend a few
each donation matched by Crossrail, the through our learning legacy portal, which thousand pounds on a drone and getting yourself certified
programme is a mechanism by which we launches later this month (February). This when you could spend five times that amount to send a
can enable proof of concepts throughout the includes all the innovations, all the lessons crew up to do that inspection and put peoples lives at risk?
research and development arm of Crossrail. learned and all the stuff weve done on Were not disagreeing.
So far more than 600,000 has been Innovate 18, including drones there will be However, William is quick to counter that the human
invested with 450 ideas followed-up from this central pot of knowledge. element is still key, and hes not looking to replace that. It
wont replace a human being in terms of making certain

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Simply using the drone to capture aerial views of sites can
help Crossrail to manage those sites and inform the public
and shareholders of the ongoing progress.

Crossrail also use the FLIR Vue


Pro thermal imaging camera, as
decisions and potentially fixing a problem, but certainly explained in the previous article.
once you understand you can inspect something from a safe
environment, you can better prepare a plan for addressing
that problem without rushing in to inspect it in a hazardous
environment. Neither will the team force the use of
drones just because they can and he admits that sometimes
sticking a GoPro on a crane is a much simpler solution.
Another problem is staying within the laws. They may
not need a PFAW (though all pilots are fully trained) but
Crossrail does still need to take responsibility for things Flying in underground tunnels
like managing crowds of workers. The law enables you to does pose some problems
fly drones over crowds of 999 or fewer people as long as for maintaining signals and
downlinks for live feeds.
theyre under your control, which is easy enough on a site
where daily briefings can be given to inform the workers
of all flight plans but problems with residential areas
and managing public awareness is one reason why drones
arent being used on Crossrails central London sites, and
thats always going to be one concern for drone use in the
construction industry as a whole. However, Will still sees a
bright future for drones.
Certainly for construction and engineering, moving
forwards, I see a place for them, absolutely. As the
technology becomes increasingly available, as apps are
developed for it and as the uses for it become cheaper and
more accessible, as the controls become easier, as the risk
mitigation software for it gets better all of this combined
makes it a much more attractive opportunity. Things like
creating wire-frame models and real-time data monitoring,
I think there is a huge opportunity for drones to become,
certainly in this industry, a common practice.

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Image by Skyline Images Historic England

An Overview of
History
WeVE all seen THOSE PRETTY aerial shots of old castles and
stately homes, but drones can also be used to help explore and
preserve them. Paul Bryan from Historic England explains to Ian
Collen how modern technology is helping to unravel the past

H
istoric England is a relatively new body, formed pinpoint surface locations). A lot of manual surveying was TOP: A low level aerial
in April 2014 when English Heritage was divided. undertaken, generally creating maybe several hundred view of Fountains
Abbey, North Yorkshire.
According to Paul Bryan, whose full job title points of data a day. Now were into laser scanning, point
Geospatial Imaging Manager, Remote Sensing Team, clouds and capturing devices, and were generating millions
Investigation & Analysis Division could fill two business and millions of points every day.
cards, its role is as the governments official independent
advisor on what we call the historic environment. We Eyes in the Skies
advise them on the survey applications for recording, His teams first introduction to the potential of drones took
analysing, understanding and even revealing heritage. place in 2008 at Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. A
Its a list of tasks that might not sound immediately manufacturer, Microdrones, had contacted us as they had a
appealing to some drone users, but as the technology drone they wanted to show to us, so I organised that with a
continues to grow far beyond getting a few nice aerial group of colleagues involved in architecture, conservation
photos, so the likes of Historic England can find more and The National Trust. It was obvious that the interest in
and more uses for UAV technology. Its not only capable the technology was really great, even at that time. People
of surveying sites in a manner thats far quicker than were starting to think outside the box about how we could
traditional methods but its also revealing new and potentially tap into that.
previously hidden information about some historically From there, the use of drones grew. The first thing we
significant sites. looked at was a quadcopter, one not too dissimilar to what
According to Paul, who admits that his job title is really were seeing today. It had a compact camera attached to
just a fancy title for surveyor, when he joined Historic it; it even had a thermal camera way back then. They were
England in 1985 they were using the likes of analogue trying to promote this sort of real-time application through
photography and stereo photogrammetry (photogrammetry VR goggles so that architects, or people that have to manage
being the use of photos to determine measurements and heritage, could physically see the image as its flying along.

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Were finding that drones,

Image by Future Aerial Innovations English Heritage


because of their ability to just
raise that camera above the
ground, start to give you another
view of the landscape

Its worth noting that Historic England dont actually


own or fly the drones themselves we prefer to use
commercial contractors who do this full time, who know
all about the health and safety and the risks involved but
they do process the data from each flight and the benefits
of the new technology were quickly apparent. The simple
answer is that it enables us to elevate the camera, Paul A nice shot of Tintagel Castle, Cornwall
captured by Future Aerial Innovations.
explains. Other props such as kites, poles and cherry
pickers had been used to get cameras up in the air before,
but a drone means youve got a lot more flexibility in what

Image by Jon Bedford Historic England


you can record. So for a site like Fountains Abbey, which
is already giving you fantastic visual images, by surveying
that site it means we can not only study the landscape but
also the buildings as well.
The more and more we become aware of the capabilities
of the platforms, the more potential applications may
surface. And when you talk to the end users there, some of
them get extremely interested and excited, Paul told us.
Although interestingly he did add that there was a flipside:
Others are slightly nervous of the technology, particularly
people that are using conventional methods for capturing
aerial photography. It may be seen as something of a threat.

Multirotor or Fixed Wing?


One interesting discussion we had with Paul was about
the pros and cons of using multirotor drones over fixed
wing craft, with the latter being used quite a lot in general
surveying work. Multirotor or rotary drones have greater ABOVE: In this screenshot you can see Structure from Motion (SfM) processing for Thornton Abbey showing the automatic
manoeuvrability, can carry more weight and take better alignment of drone acquired imagery within Agisoft Photoscan.

images, while fixed wings can fly for longer over pre- BELOW: Heres Paul Bryan showing off the DJI Phantom 3 with a GoPro Hero 3 at Thornton Abbey, North Lincolnshire.
planned routes making them a good choice for covering
larger areas.

Image by Rebecca Pullen Historic England


To us, image quality is key, Paul explains. We dont
see the point in capturing sub-quality imagery because
when you post-process that you end up with sub-quality
data, so we like to use good quality cameras and lenses,
and make sure that people are aware of their operation of
the camera. To us, the rotary ones are, I wouldnt say the
better platform, but theyre currently the more appropriate
platform for quite a lot of the applications that we do.
The sites that we get involved with tend not to be large-
scale landscapes. In a typical English Heritage site youre
talking a few hectares really, which is quite easy for a fixed
wing craft to capture. However, the rotary ones are winning
in terms of being able to carry cameras, and of course you
can go down the video route; 4K, 6K, 8K. Thats where the
rotary wins out, because of the gyro-stabilised mounts
and all of that. But if youre purely focused on surveying a
landscape and you want to do it quickly, then the fixed wing
is very appropriate.

Taking in the Sites


One thing crucial to the work of Historic England is that as
the technology evolves so does the quality of the results and
the data they can gather. One quick example given was at
Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, where a drone survey was able
to reveal where a parterre garden had once stood a garden

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044-7_DM05[ftHistoricEng]NTICGC.indd 45 19/02/2016 17:27


Drones can be used to inspect the
tops of walls and are able to scan an
entire building in a matter of minutes.
Image by Skyline Images Historic England

theyve since been able to recreate. Another prime example


Image by Rebecca Pullen Historic England
of the technology can be seen from Pauls work at Thornton
Abbey in North Lincolnshire.
Back in 2007 English Heritage undertook a very detailed
archaeological survey of it using the technology available
at the time, which was basically GPS on a pole, and they
had people there interpreting the landscape and recording
it with GPS. Times change, and in 2014 the team returned
to the site along with a crew from Skyline Images equipped
with a Droidworx Aeronavics XM8 octocopter carrying a
Canon EOS 5D MkIII DSLR camera.
One of the things we wanted to compare and contrast
was both the quality of the data that the drone could
provide and also its accuracy, its representation and its
ability to actually derive new information. Needless to
fancy flying Over History? say, the results were very encouraging, to the point where
previously unnoticed features and areas were highlighted.
If you want to fly over an English Heritage site, youll need to get permission first. People That site began to tell us, and colleagues in our assessment
who are interested need to email their requests to customers@english-heritage.org.uk Paul team, that there is scope for using them on other projects as
explains. Every single enquiry that comes in will be considered, although he adds that he well, particularly on the landscape side.
cant guarantee a speedy reply because a few different teams might need to view the request And its not just Pauls team making the most of the
and they do have to be careful who they give permission to. But at the end of the day were available drone technology, with English Heritage making
pleased that people have contacted English Heritage; the issue is when people dont. good use of 3D mapping to help showcase their estates. If
To boost your chances of a positive response, Paul offers the following advice: If you visit Tintagel Castle (in Cornwall) its had a revamp
anyone wants to do anything that has a hint of commercial use to it, they have to provide in terms of the visitor facilities and within that there is a
four documents: Their valid Permission For Aerial Work; a risk assessment of what theyre three-dimensional model, a physical model, of Tintagel
planning to do; a copy of their valid insurance so if anything does go wrong they are covered Castle upon which various virtual information has been
in that respect and also some method statement highlighting what theyre flying and what projected. Its a sort of three-dimensional projection screen.
it is theyre looking to do with it. Those four documents will help us consider their request. If That was all created through drone-acquired imagery and
they dont send anything in and just say I want to fly my drone, they can probably expect a processed in-house through modern photogrammetry
very short answer, very, very quickly! software. Its fully interactive, too, giving visitors an
entirely new and unique perspective of the site.

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Here you can see how aerial images of Thornton Abbey can be processed to reveal valuable information - not just for mapping but also in helping to identify where long-lost structures may have once stood.
Image by Skyline Images Historic England

Image by Skyline Images Historic England

ABOVE: Tintagel Castle dates


Image by Skyline Images Historic England

back to medieval times, before


the castle itself was built in the
13th Century.

LEFT and FAR LEFT: The3D-


printed model on display
in a new visitor exhibition
that explores the origins of
Tintagels links to the legends
of King Arthur.

Looking to the Future I hope drones are here to stay, but we need, in the
The potential neednt stop there. We met up with Paul at the
SkyTech conference which was showcasing many new and
industry, to keep promoting all of the positive uses
emerging technologies and a couple caught his eye. First up
was low level aerial LIDAR (light detection and ranging).
We already use high level LIDAR so it makes sense to tap kit and this is just another tool in the surveyors tool kit. I
into that technology if flown at a lower level, so that to will say that theyre not appropriate for every single project;
me is a very interesting area and it could tease out more fixed wing systems will always have a place for capturing
archaeology, particularly under vegetation canopies. photography using LIDAR data thats off the shelf. When
The other thing is the multi- and hyperspectral sensors we want to do targeted research were finding that drones,
that were seeing as well. I cant help but think that if there because of their ability to just raise that camera above the
is going to be one sensor that has all of this technology, that ground, start to give you another view of the landscape.
would give people like us, and also people in the agriculture The public tend to think of drones as bad, as a nuisance,
industry, most of what we need. Some of the platforms that theyre only doing things that will intrude on their
have multiple sensors and thats one way of doing it at the privacy. Hopefully things like SkyTech and this article can
moment, but maybe the future is one box fits all! demonstrate that there are lots of positive applications out
For now, though, drones are very much an incredibly there that will justify this increasing trend of money and
useful option for Paul and the Historic England team. I like funding being put into drone technology. I hope drones are
to say theyre complimentary to what were already doing here to stay, but we need, in the industry, to keep promoting
and, because Im a surveyor we tend to talk about the tool all of the positive uses. Were happy to help.

WWW.DRONEMAGAZINE.UK 47

044-7_DM05[ftHistoricEng]NTICGC.indd 47 19/02/2016 11:03


Previously weve looked at the laws and HOW TO becomE
a qualified pilot; now Mark Baker is on hand to talk you
through the practical and additional legal requirements
OF FLYING professionally

Part
one

Permission to Fly
I
n Issue 03 of DRONE Magazine, Steve Robins from Heliguy your Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW), or have recently
gave us a comprehensive look at the process of becoming attained it, then hopefully you will find some of these case
a commercial drone operator in the UK. In it he covered studies and experiences very useful in making the move
the steps from recreational flyer to trained pilot with CAA into commercial flying.
accreditation. However, in many ways that is just the start
of the journey and the step from theoretical flights to live Taking off the L plates
ones can be daunting to say the least. Much like with a driving test, there are a minority of flyers
Confidence is often the hardest skill to learn, and over who think that once they have a PFAW it is a licence to do
the following pages and into the next issue, were going what they want with a drone. The fact is that most of the
to look at some real-life situations and some of the key restrictions which apply to a hobbyist are still in place
factors you need to consider if you want to fly a drone as for commercial pilots. If anything the requirements for
part of your job. If you are still considering a course with someone carrying out aerial work are more exacting (aerial
a National Qualified Entity (NQE), are working towards work being the CAA term used to describe any paid work

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Insurance Tips
n Start with a clear idea of the cover that you want/need, and
use this as the basis for comparing policies.
n Remember that if you have a policy in place for recreational
flights this will not cover you for any type of aerial work. The
same principle applies in reverse most UAV insurers will
not cover recreational flights unless they are clearly linked
to your commercial operations. In many cases it is worth the
relatively small expenditure to hold a separate liability policy
if you plan on using your UAV outside of work.
n Always factor insurance costs into your business plan, and
allow for considerable price rises at renewal.
n Most insurers can provide you with a proof of cover
document. This will usually be a straightforward one-pager
which does not have any commercially sensitive information
on it. This can be used to reassure clients at the planning stage
of an operation.
n Your Public Liability insurance is one of the key things that
sets you apart from an unlicensed operator. Dont be tempted
to take any shortcuts or carry out work beyond the scope of
your policy.

Useful Resources
NATS
www.nats-uk.ead-it.com
Formally known as National Air
Traffic Services, NATS provides
the Aeronautical Information
Service (AIS). This is a fantastic
resource for all pilots and contains
comprehensive information on
airports/aerodromes, NOTAMs
and the AIP. It also has links to
many of the authorities you might
come across as a commercial
operator. Although primarily
aimed at manned aviation it is a
treasure trove of information for UAV pilots.

Sky Demon
www.skydemonlight.com
A free but very useful
downloadable air chart. It shows
and gives details of the different
airspace categories in the UK. If
you keep it updated, it will also
allow you to input a flight plan
onto the map and view relevant
undertaken by an aircraft). Fortunately most NQEs do a restrictions, hazards and NOTAMs, making it a great tool to use ahead of a site
good job of weeding out the boy racers and sending out survey to identify other potential air users and safety considerations.
competent pilots ready to step confidently, and responsibly,
into the world of aerial work. ARPAS
Perhaps more prevalent are the new pilots who are www.arpas.uk
overwhelmed by the amount of work that actually goes The Association of Remotely
into an assignment. They can find themselves pressurised Piloted Aircraft Systems is a non-
by a client into compromising their safety procedures. At profit association representing
the other extreme they will turn away work because they UAV pilots in the UK. Its a good
are intimidated by the amount of planning and preparation source of industry information and
that it entails. There are no shortcuts but there are some ARPAS also offers membership
common misconceptions and misunderstandings that we options at different tiers.
should be able to clear up

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GETTING INSURED
The issue of insurance is often a contentious one. What fluctuations, a figure of 1million cover is more than
level of cover is required? How expensive it can be? Where adequate. In practice some local authorities and corporations
do I get it from? These are all topics which generate a will demand a higher figure. Most PFAW holders typically
lot of discussion. Some of the official guidance is at best have 2-10million of Public Liability insurance in place, but
ambiguous but here are the key points: it is dependent on the type of industry you are working in.

n What cover do I need? n Where can I find an insurer?


As a bare minimum for aerial work you need to have Public The number of insurers offering specialised UAV policies is
Liability insurance in place. This needs to be a policy that still fairly low but has grown considerably in the last 12-18
A minority specifically covers the use of UAVs for aerial work. Whether months. Your NQE may be able to give you specific advice
you choose to extend your coverage to include damage/ and some have arranged discounts with named insurers.
of flyers loss/theft of equipment is entirely up to you but not a Fellow pilots may not be able to pinpoint the ideal policy for
think that compulsory requirement. you, but generally they will provide enough leads for you
to be able to carry out some research and start to generate
once they n How much cover do I need? quotes for comparison.
have a The CAA refers to Regulation (EC) 785/2004. This convoluted
regulation is primarily aimed at manned aviation but does n How much will it cost?
PFAW it is a provide guidelines for liability cover. Confusingly it is based UAV insurance is still an emerging market with policies
licence to do on the International Monetary Funds Special Drawing struggling to keep pace with technological advances. There
Right (SDR). This is an amalgamation of four of the worlds can be wildly divergent prices between companies and
what they key currencies. Assuming you are flying a UAV below 500kg getting a direct comparison can be difficult. Depending on
then the minimum cover expected is 750,000 SDR. your levels of cover, excesses and equipment you can expect
want with a Handily, one SDR currently equates to approximately one to pay anywhere from 600 to 1,800+ per year. Heavy
drone British pound so, with a generous allowance for currency price rises after year one seem to be prevalent, though.

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CROWD CONTROL
The regulations around operating within a congested
area are some of the most difficult to interpret. The recent
EASA publications concerning UAV classification and use
are likely to add to the confusion. Even defining what is
classed as a congested area is open to debate, with the
CAA guidance stating that it is any area of a city, town
or settlement which is substantially used for residential,
industrial, commercial or recreational purposes.
There is some good news. Currently if you hold a PFAW
for a UAV of up to 7kg then permission to operate within
a congested area is given as standard. There are some
restricted areas (especially around central London) which
are excluded and this does not supersede the mandatory
50m distance requirement.
If you are using a UAV in the 7-20kg category, you
currently need to submit a CAOSC (Congested Area
Operations Safety Case) to the CAA. This is also the case
if you want to make a variation to the standard terms of
the PFAW, such as a reduction in the permitted distances
you are required to maintain. The process requires a
substantial amount of paperwork and the cost for the CAA
to review your documents stands at 134 per hour. If you
envisage carrying out a lot of work within a congested area
(particularly with a 7kg+ UAV) then your NQE is probably
the best place to start for advice.

Google Earth can be a great


Mitigating Risk tool for flight planning, but
With the right planning there is almost nothing that is remember the imagery may
impossible within a congested area. The problem comes be years out of date so dont
when you look into what is feasible and/or practical in any allow it to take the place of a
thorough site survey.
given situation. Your focus needs to be on bringing as many
variables as possible under your control, assessing the risks
posed by those which you cant, and mitigating for them
with additional safety measures. The following pointers
are not exhaustive but should give you some idea of the
considerations you need to make.

Roads/Traffic
n Most local authorities have a mechanism in place to
manage applications for temporary road closures or traffic
restrictions. This can be an expensive and time consuming
process. Whether it is practical will depend on the scale of the
operation and the amount of time and money available at the
planning stage. If you do get permission remember that you
may have further conditional requirements placed upon you.
n If you have a relatively quiet road (or one with limited
access points) then it may be possible to position helpers
along it 50 metres or more from your operating site. You
will not have the authority to stop or divert traffic, but if
you have communication in place then the pilot can be
advised to move the UAV to a safe position and maintain
the required distances. You will need to consider the safety
of your helpers and identify safe holding areas and landing
sites for the UAV.
n Keep in mind that the potential for a collision with the
UAV is only one of the possible safety issues. UAVs can be a Congested areas pose more
distraction for drivers so always be aware of your proximity problems than just a collision
risk. GPS systems may not
to fast/busy roads and consider your flight route carefully.
function as expected and
You also need to be mindful of your own safety and that of different building materials can
your crew if anything does go wrong and you need to land cause UAV calibration issues.
in an alternate location.

As a bare minimum for aerial work you need to have Public Liability insurance in place
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Managing client expectations
is a considerable challenge;
detailed planning and some
lateral thinking can sometimes
lead to a workable compromise.

Buildings/Structures areas and this can impact on flight behaviour as well as


n Most buildings and structures arent going to do anything failsafe systems. Residential and commercial areas are
surprising, but there are a couple of important things to often flooded with Wi-Fi signals and other transmissions
think about in relation to a safe flight. It is easy to assume which could interrupt control or video signals. If you
that the worst case scenario is a collision which causes dont have the confidence or ability to control your UAV
damage to the building, the UAV, or both. The reality is that in manual (or at least ATTI) flight mode than you should
even a minor crash can escalate quickly into something seriously consider whether you should be working within a
much more substantial. Dont be tempted to fly that bit congested area.
closer or more aggressively because its just a building. n Have a clear process in place to manage the shutdown
n Think about the potential for people/vehicles to enter or and recovery of your UAV in the event of a crash or collision.
leave a site without warning. Its usually polite to inform Even if you remain airborne your priority should be landing
residents or workers that you will be operating nearby, as quickly and safely as possible.
but this does not constitute a safety briefing. You cant
infer that a notice or an email brings someone within your Congested Areas
control. Look at exits and access points and try to identify In one case study, our original brief was to provide video
any possible incursions. footage of a luxury property on the south coast of England.
n Take into account how your UAV systems could be The client had requested a fairly standard combination
affected. GPS is susceptible to problems within built up of low level shots and some panoramic views to show off
the surrounding area. They also wanted us to be able to
complete a continuous flight, from the property itself,
along a river towards a local landmark, to show how the
route could be walked. A few problems became apparent at
If you hold a PFAW for a UAV of up to 7kg then the early planning stage:
n The full route from point to point was just over 1.2km,
permission to operate within a congested area is much further than our visual line of sight (VLOS)
given as standard restriction of 500m.

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Stay Positive
Try to manage your clients
expectations without them losing
their enthusiasm. Where possible
give them solutions to a problem
rather than concentrating on what
you cant do. If they cant work
with the compromises you suggest
then dont be pressured into
taking risks or flying outside the
terms of your PFAW.

n A direct flight would have taken us over a densely The end result was something that both we and the client
populated residential area. were really happy with. With careful planning we were
n There was a busy main road which looped around the able to maintain our 50m distance while flying some really
flight path before crossing the river. nice smooth lines through the congested area. Where it was
n The land on the final approach to the landmark itself was impossible to do this we had found sites with enough room
almost certainly going to be very difficult to get permission for us to be able to carry out more controlled filming close to
to operate within. the town centre.
Come back next issue for more tips on flying pro!
Rather than go straight back to the client and tell them that
the project was impossible we decided to try and look for
some solutions. After a lot of research our proposal was to Mark Baker is a fully licensed commercial drone pilot. You
split the flight into six separate legs. This allowed us (with can see more on his work at www.naughtycatmedia.
some editing trickery!) to give the idea of a continuous co.uk and in his photo composition feature on page 76!
journey but meant that we could complete flights on either
side of the main obstructions. As well as maintaining VLOS
we could now break the flight down into more manageable
chunks which made sure we kept our safe distances. It
In Part 2 coming
was also much easier to manage the possibility of public next Issue
incursion and other variables. Chart Success: Making the
We obtained permission from the landowner on the much most of flight planning resources.
quieter side of the river to take off and land on the first four
legs. We also found a tennis club and private marina closer In the Zone: Flying safely and
to the landmark so that we could maintain the illusion of confidently in controlled airspace.
having flown across the congested areas. This meant that we Permission to Land: Helpful
could have relatively secure and controllable sites to operate advice on dealing with landowners.
from which were still close to our target locations.

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All Photos by Adam Juniper

Play Time!
Weve covered a lot of rather serious uses for drones
in the workplace, SO now Adam Juniper is on hand to
help you unwind with some office-based fun and games

T
hroughout this issue youll have seen pretty limited. Trawl the web for the latest cat Parrot is far from alone in the small-drone
numerous examples of drones in the video? Meh. Perhaps if you had a little more space either. If youre prepared to forego the
professional world, all helping to get imagination you might fashion whatever stabilizing influence of optical flow, there are
tasks done and contributing to the cause of projectiles you could from paperclips and countless mini-drones available in the stores
productivity. Thats certainly exciting stuff rubber bands. Admittedly a lot of that has to do with the
but, here in Britain, we already work the Now you simply need to reach for a drone. We power of modern business practices its a
second-longest hours in Europe (behind only can remember DJI talking a lot about the Inspire lot easier to start a company selling a drone
the Greeks) and are always up for a break from 1s indoor manoeuvrability (thanks to the designed by a generic firm in China than it is to
the 9-5. Subsequently, the governments own revolutionary optical flow sensor), but they design your own.
statistics also show that despite those hours, certainly werent thinking about our offices, or Look closely in stores and youll start to get
our national productivity is far from second in anywhere else with people and/or paper. what we mean, but one thing youll want to
the corresponding list. Drones, it seems, can be Parrot, however, has been using the take seriously indoors is prop guards. Inside,
part of the problem as well as the solution. So technology for a relatively long time now away from the long arm of the CAA, youll need
lets go and stir the pot! since the AR.Drone 2.0 was launched back to be responsible all on your own (and your
Leaving aside all the stats (theyre a bit too in 2012 and its always been a lot kinder HR department will have a lot to say about it if
much like work, after all), lets say you find on interiors (with optional prop guards or you slice out anyones retina). Even if youre an
yourself, through no fault of your own, in bumpers included in the box) and noticeably evil robot with no concern whatsoever for the
the office with an idle few minutes. Up until kinder on the wallet, too the cheapest preservation of squishy humans, offices have
now (assuming you didnt have a willing co- Phantom which inherited that tech from the a lot of sharp corners, so prop guards are just
worker and keys to the stationery cupboard) Inspire is the 700 Advanced, and thats before a common sense way of preserving the life of
your options for in-office entertainment were you find any prop guards. your future flying overlords.

Francesca Leung, author


of The House Rules,
comes under attack.

54 DRONE MAGAZINE

054-5_DM05[ftFunAndGames]NTICGC.indd 1 19/02/2016 16:04


OFFICE
GAMES
The Circuit
The concrete pillars that form
the basis of all modern office
architecture naturally form
goals. Bet you cant fly round
the column in accounts and
back without hitting anything!

Build a Gate
Take things up a notch by
making the route a little
harder. Two paper recycling
bins, perhaps with some tape
between them, will make things
more challenging.

Espionage
Some people think drones are
creepy. Prove them right by
hovering over their desk and
capturing the contents of the
document on top. Best picture
wins. (Parrot Minidrones feature
downward-facing cameras
that can be activated from the
phone-screen controller).

Jousting
The object is to hit the other
drone as hard as possible in the
Pete Hunt, senior production manager air and be the only one flying
at Octopus Publishing Group, decides
afterward. Keep some spare
that size does matter.
props handy!

Indoor Drones
Sanlianhuan CX-10C Parrot Bebop
Street Price: 20 Street Price: 320
Weight: 25g Weight: 400g
Diagonal: 4cm Diagonal Span: 248mm
How long before the Parrot How long before the
boss gets back: 4 mins (USB charge) Minidrones boss gets back: 22mins
Wow factor: Just so tiny, still has camera Street Price: 80 Wow factor: Streaming HD Video
Weight: 55g
Although you cant look through the camera If youve got the space, why not move things up
Diagonal: 10cm
live, it nevertheless manages to cram one in to to the big leagues? The Parrot Bebop increases
How long before the
record your adventures, and a MicroSD card to range since it works via Wi-Fi, and will also
boss gets back: 6 mins, USB charge
capture to. The plasticky controller requires let you watch the flight from the comfort of
Wow factor: Big drone flight quality
AAA batteries but works surprisingly well. the boardroom TV (with Apples inordinately
Robust enough to be flown around in an office expensive Lighting Port to HDMI adapter,40).
environment, and with the added inclusion Get a couple of these dancing in the air in your
of one or another form of prop guard, Parrots open plan space and you can create fun and
smartphone-controlled mini-quads are an mayhem in equal measure!
excellent choice. Thanks to Bluetooth control,
you wont even have to drop out of the office
Wi-Fi network, and if you choose the Rolling
Spider version youll have enough protection to
go for a ground-based rolling race too.

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054-5_DM05[ftFunAndGames]NTICGC.indd 2 19/02/2016 17:07


Grand Prix
Show Jumping in
Darguiai, Lithuania

Photo by Karolis Janulis,


Supplied by Dronestagram

56 DRONE MAGAZINE

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REVIEW

Words by:
Andrew Watton-Davies

Extreme Fliers
Micro
Drone 3.0
L
aunched to much fanfare, including an article in Issue
02 of this very magazine and widespread coverage
across the media, (not to mention managing to raise
3,077% of its IndieGoGo crowdfunding project), the Micro
Drone 3.0 from Extreme Fliers has been one of the most
anticipated and talked about mini-drones of the last six
months. Promising an impressive range of features for $175,
the product started shipping on 01 February to its 4000+
backers, and we were sent one of the Level 3 packs to see if
the wait has been worth it.
Open the minimalistic box and you are greeted with the
drone sitting on its holding card with hello written at the
top. The ovoid design of its central hub instantly gives it a
sleek look and feel. Take it out of the holder and it feels light
and delicate, but also well-built and ready to go. Despite
having different coloured rotors already attached, it lacks a
face which can be a bit disorienting whilst getting used to

Street Price: From $175 (120)


Camera: 1280 x 720 HD (30FPS video)
Weight: 56g (71g with camera)
Gyro: 6-axis MEMS gyroscope
Frequency / Range: 2.4GHz / 120m
Battery type: Lithium 450mAh
Flight time: Up to 8 mins
Charging time: Approx. 1hr
Dimensions: 50 x 135 x 135mm
Website: www.extremefliers.co.uk

58 DRONE MAGAZINE
All Photos by Extreme Fliers

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it for the first couple of uses. At a diagonal width of 165mm
its not quite palm-sized but its certainly easy enough to
move around one-handedly without worrying anything is
going to fall off.
Move down to the next section of the box and you have
the main components presented in a clear and well-
organised manner. The custom 450mAh battery and
charger are up first, both in the stylish black plastic that
is the units motif. The charger uses a Micro USB port to
get it powered up; the provided cable is either a compact
five and a half inches or very short depending on your
preference, although it can be easily substituted for
anything you may have to hand already. The pair work
effortlessly together and the charging displays LEDs show
whats going on without lighting up the room.
A set of blade guards are included, however the manual
doesnt give much of a clue on how to mount them and
its not the most intuitive process. Care needs to be taken With a stylish design and effortlessly fun to fly, the Micro Drone 3.0 is
here, as its easy to apply too much pressure in the wrong a good choice if you dont want to spend a fortune getting in the air.
direction and then have to shove the drive units and their
housing back into place. Once on, the blade guards provide
reasonable protection against light bumps and grass crash
landings. In addition to the pre-fitted rotors there are a set
of regular replacements and a set of inverted flying blades,
along with a mounting tool. Instructions are given on the
process, but they are not particularly well written.
The final portion of the box is given over to the controller,
which is a lovely piece of kit. Comfortably two handed,
spaciously laid out and of the traditional radio-controlled
variety, it comes with two control modes (Mode 2 for roll on
the right and turn on the left, or Mode 4 for the opposite), an
invert trigger and three sensitivity ratings (Slow, Fast and
the fittingly entitled Insane). Youll also find Standard and
Stunt mode, incremental trim controls on all axis, as well as
a digital readout which shows battery, percentage position on
the last moved axis, plus other info. It also beeps a lot, giving
audio confirmations when in flight. The only thing it doesnt
come with is batteries, so make sure you have a set to hand.
The manual does warn you to be careful when putting
the battery onto the drone, but with the runners guiding it
in you would have to be careless rather than incautious to
do any harm. Pairing with the controller is almost instant,
as is calibration, and once youve found the biting point you
will be confidently airborne in seconds. And youll be happy,
because we are glad to report that this is certainly a fun flyer.

micro flight
Its zippy, its responsive, it can handle impacts, and
thanks to the tail of the recent Storm Imogen hitting the UK The app can offer a secondary control system as well
we can confirm it still operates in moderate winds without as a useful camera view finder.
too much trouble. Its size also practically encourages you to
see what you can fly it around and through, although that
takes a bit more practice. However, whilst auto-levelling is
included, and at times it shows through well, this is not a
point and click lazy-flying experience. Beginners will be
able to use it due to the pecise controls, but you will need
to stay on the ball to avoid things going awry, and bunny-
hopping is never that far away.

It has managed to live up to the


hype so far and has the clear
potential to continue to do so. Its
just a joy to fly

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As an interesting aside, this image almost perfectly
represents the rule of thirds discussed in our
photography feature on page 76.

If youre feeling brave, you could just cut straight to


Stunt mode and have the flips trigger when hitting 100% on
the corresponding sticks axis. Then do it again and again
and again, as you can chain them together into acrobatic
contortions and have four non-trigger axis available to
guide it around.
You can also try the Fast mode if you are ready for that
bit more speed and delicacy in your movements or, if
youre very awake, the twitch-sensitive Insane mode. The
difference in settings is satisfyingly noticeable and at good
increments, so whilst you might bite off more than you can
chew youll know that its coming. Inverted flying is, as you
would imagine, tricky but once you get used to the controls
changing it can quickly become a good party trick to show
off with to your friends.
All of this is great UAV entertainment, but the main
A Glimpse into FPV package isnt the only thing thats been sent out. Included
One other thing that the combination of camera in the bundle was the Wi-Fi Camera Module a 1280 x 780
and companion app can do is give you a first- pixel add-on that also allows for flight control through
person view of the flight. Due to the quality your phone. The camera itself is another svelte black plastic
of the camera and the variable nature of phone affair and only slightly larger than the battery. Connecting
displays inside the DODOcase 3D viewer, this is to the battery through the Neodymium nickel magnets is
certainly far from the ultimate FPV experience easy, and once on the extra weight is noticeable in the flight
available, but it does gives you a reasonable dynamics but not unmanageable.
taste of it and is a perfectly usable The only two issues we found with the design of this
mechanism. Just be prepared to crash into component were the aerial on the side occasionally slipping
things as you are getting used to it, and out of place or off of its holder, and rough landings causing
avoid flips if youve recently eaten. the unit to occasionally fall off. Both can be countered with
a small bit of black tape or a little more careful handling.

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It might only be small, but Extreme Fliers has big
plans for the Micro Drone 3.0 in the coming months.

Inverted flying is tricky, but


once you get used to the
controls changing it can quickly
become a good party trick

Installing the Android or iOS app to use it isnt that


straightforward, though, as at the time of review the link
in the manual and on the box lead to a 404 message, so an
App Store search was needed instead (Micro Drone 3.0 will
do it). Once on your device, a straightforward Wi-Fi scan arguably better versions of each of these for a similar price.
will connect you and from there your options are either to However, its the diversity of the unit that makes it what
use it as an okay substitute controller or as a good camera it is, and puts it beyond simply jack of all trades and into
view finder. Slightly larger camera control buttons would competent all-rounder territory.
be a nice addition, and we hope they will be included in This leads onto the second consideration: that this is a
the multiple updates that Extreme Fliers has told us it has Backers version of the product, so some of the issues (the not-
planned through the year. great manual, the app link not working, the weak aerial clasp
The provided holder will take most smartphones and on the camera) can be forgiven if its viewed as a version
a few of the smaller tablets, and sits firmly onto the main one rather than final finished product. All of which brings
controller, mimicking the control setups of popular larger us onto the final consideration: that the 3.0 is designed to be
drones. The picture quality is good, both in photo and video something that gets added onto. As the box itself says, the
mode, and playback is clear and timely. Getting the right shot current elements are just the beginning of the Micro Drone
with a single position camera can be tricky, at least until the 3.0, so its real value is going to depend on the next 12 months
gimbal comes out, but the images are of a perfectly usable of development that Extreme Fliers (which has the gimbal
quality for personal use, and if the lighting is right you can planned for launch in May and alternative blades planned for
get some excellent results. Images can be sent and stored on July) and the community put into it.
your device or you can put a MicroSD into the camera itself, Taking these three things into account, and having put
which will allow for 128GB of storage. Fundamentally, space the Micro Drone 3.0 through its paces, we think its fair to
and rapid sharing isnt going to be an issue. say that it has managed to live up to the hype so far and has
the clear potential to continue to do so. Its just a joy to get
a work in progress your hands on and fly, even if youre limited to around seven
Final evaluation of the Micro Drone 3.0 has to take into minute sprints. So, should you be looking for something
account three key things. Firstly, you need to remember exciting, adaptable, that gives you a taste of several areas of
that its essentially three drones in one: a stunt flyer, UAV flying and the promise of more to come, you may well
a camera platform and an FPV drone, and you can get want to look at getting one of these ordered.

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Skeye Nano
Drone with Camera
Words by: Andrew Watton-Davies

Regaled in the orange and white of TRNDLabs rapidly well thanks to the smallness of the controller, and the heel of
growing fleet, this latest addition to the Skeye ranks is a your thumb can reach those buttons with ease.
version of its Nano quadcopter. The company claims it to The charging cable is built solidly and comes in cant
REVIEW be the worlds smallest camera drone and its certainly a lose me yellow, fitting snugly into the drone with no risk
good looking and undoubtedly cute flyer, but whats it like of falling out, even when moved around. Charging cables
once you get it out of the box? may not be the sexiest of technologies out there, but with an
The controller is the same size and style as the one which average flight time of three and a half minutes youll be glad
came with the Nano Black that was reviewed in Issue 02: a that thought went into this one. Youll also be glad that the
small Xbox-style affair with minimal buttons and very little charge up only takes 30 minutes.
space for your hands. Other than the different colour scheme Also included are a 2GB MicroSD card and a USB MicroSD
it also has one less trim button, with just forward and back card reader. The card can hold around 25 fully filmed flights
present and the left and right trim button now given over worth of footage, but other cards can be used by if more
to the camera controls. The positioning works surprisingly space is needed. Getting them into and out of the drone is
easy, with the card-holding housing being solid and nicely
sprung. The card reader isnt flawless though, and a number
of times a bit of jiggling is needed to get it to connect, so if
you have a spare then you may want to break it out.
Street Price: 49.99 The drone itself looks very much like the original
Camera: 3 Megapixel SD (640 x 480) Nano; cute and ready to go. However, there are a couple of
Weight: 14g differences in the layout and construction that allows for
Gyro: 6-Axis Gyro the inclusion of camera, whilst also giving it something of a
Frequency: 2.4GHz Nano 2.0 look. It also feels reassuringly solid for something
Battery type: 3.7V 120mAh of its size and weight.
Controller Battery: 2 x AAA (not included) Connection, calibrations and launch are straightforward;
Range: Up to 50m although the initial flight experience isnt the smoothest
Flight time: 3-4 mins going while you get used to it, with lots of bunny-hopping
Charging time: 30 mins happening, and only the one trim makes balancing out very
Dimensions: 4 x 4 x 2.2cm difficult. If flying outside then expect even a light breeze to
Website: www.trndlabs.com add to the fun, due to its minimal weight.

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All images 2015-2016 TRNDLabs / Albert van de Maat

The company claims it to be the worlds smallest


camera drone and its certainly its a good looking
and undoubtedly cute flyer

Three levels of sensitivity are available, with a noticeable Putting a camera into such a small frame is no mean
gradient between them, but it can still take a while to achievement, but without smooth flight its hard to really Turn to
page 31 for
really get to grips with this Nano. As ever with drones make the most of it. If the same camera went into the Hexa, a
chance to
of this size, the short flight time doesnt help as you are or if the Nano had a little more stability, then we would be win
a ske ye nano
forced into a landing and recharge just as you feel youre singing its praises. However, if you are willing to put in a drone wit
h
getting comfortable with it. However, it has got a flip trigger decent amount of practice time, or just want a fun flyer with c amera
thats perfectly responsive, giving the requisite and hugely the odd photo opportunity, then this becomes a much more
satisfying whoop when performed, and its an enjoyable appealing proposition.
piloting experience overall.
Fortunately for something that can fly a little erratically,
the build quality is top notch with nary a scrape nor mark Features:
on it from having it bounce into walls, furnishings, concrete SD Camera
and a tree. Unfortunately, unlike with the original Nano, no Throw to Fly
protection guard is available, so any impact does have the RTF (Ready to Fly) Technology
potential to leave marks from the blades. 6-Axis Flight Control System w/ Adjustable Gyro Sensitivity
From testing out the blades on flesh (the things we do Stable & Easy to Fly
for you! Please dont try this at home!), and the groans that Aerobatic Flip Capability
resulted, it makes the promotional video showing it flying LED Lights for Night Flights
near animals and people, and having some of those people 3-Level Adjustable Controller Sensitivity: Beginner, Mid-Level, Expert
batting the drone out of the air, a little bit questionable!
When you do get used to flying it, or if you simply enjoy
bouncy motion videos in the meantime, then the video Package ContentS:
camera is easy to kick in and has no appreciable impact on 1 x Skeye Nano Drone with Camera
flight time. The resulting footage is totally usable for a fun 1 x 4-Channel 2.4Ghz Transmitter (Mode 2)
share with friends or a quick upload to YouTube, and it will 1 x USB Charging Cable
even give you a mayhem-eye-view of the flips. The picture 1 x User Guide
quality is pretty good, too, although unless you either get 4 x Replacement Rotor Blades
very lucky or can get the drone to stay stable when you hit 1 x 2GB MicroSD Card
the button, pics may mostly be something of a blur. 1 x USB MicroSD Card Reader

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Open Air
Mass yoga exercise
in Vingis Park,
Vilnius, Lithuania

Photo by Karolis Janulis,


Supplied by Dronestagram

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The Pros View
Freefly Alta Part 3
Aerial cinematographer Will Glover is now getting so comfortable with his
Freefly Alta that hes been teaming up with others for a triple Alta display

F
lying one of three Freefly Altas in close proximity to other members of the group, so they can buy or rent with
each other was, to be honest, more nerve-racking than confidence that the kit will be awesome, and they can then
I expected. Including cameras and gimbals, thats over refer to tutorials that teach them how to set it up and use it.
45ks worth of kit in the air; so its not for the faint hearted! With the release of Freeflys new Akira firmware for the
For those of you that dont know, we form part of The Movi, and a good few of us really liking our Altas, it seemed
Drone Aerial Operators Group (aka Drone Aerial Ops or like a good idea to have a meet up and see what we could do
DAO), which is a specialist group of very experienced with them and the new firmware. The operators involved
operators worldwide. In part, knowing this did help calm were ourselves (Fleye Aerial), Rogue State Media, Skyhook
the nerves a little! The flight took place in mid-February and Horizon AP.
when we took to the skies with a few of the other guys from Being the professionals that we are, we had a few drinks
the group to gather our collective thoughts on new kit, the night before, and so made it to one of the Drone Aerial
drink a few beers, share stories and have a bit of fun at the Ops test fields around 11am. Its great up at the DAO base,
8,000 acre DAO testing ground. with so much space and varied terrain. Plus we lucked out
on the weather a great sunny day with low winds, which
Team Work has been rare lately!
To go into a little more depth, the DAO is a collective of
extremely experienced operators working together to use Taking Flight
drones in the best possible way with ops like ourselves, and Installing the new Freefly Movi Akira firmware was pretty
others, providing new kit reviews (HD downlinks are next easy and from there we filmed a talk-through of the Alta,
on my radar!) to help you lot decide what to spend your getting it ready for flight, for a soon-to-be-released Aerial
hard earned cash on next. Well also be providing tutorials Ops video. I have to say, Im normally the one behind the
to figure out how you use what youve shelled out on and, lens so being in front of it was a little different!
lastly, running a drone training and testing site up at the Then came the fun part: flying! After a quick chat about
DAO base in the north east of England. some possible moves (a bit complicated with three Altas
As mentioned, part of the premise of Drone Aerial Ops in the air!) we decided to go for it, so we lined them up
is for operators like me to test and review the latest kit and took off together. It was awesome. The stability and
kit that wed like to use and pass what we learn onto manoeuvrability of the Alta platform meant that, with a bit

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All Photos by Fleye Aerial

Whenever youre flying close


to any other moving objects, it
pays to be extra careful.

of communication, we immediately started pulling off some


cool moves together.
We were soon flying out over a close by lake, then over
and through trees for some more flights and all while
staying in close proximity to each other. This is where the
new Movi firmware came into its own; after a bit of tuning
we were getting superb stability even at focal lengths on
100mm (FF equivalent), which allowed us to get awesome
close up air-to-air footage of the Altas in flight. Needless to
say I think the video will look great.
While it was great fun and pretty special to see, a day like Is there a collective noun for
this also has some very good learning opportunities. Were a group of drones? Were
opting for a payload of Altas.
all very experienced ops and being part of the ops group
allows us to have days like this where we can share set-up
tips and ideas basically all the knowledge we have built up
over the years.
We all have had different experiences and learned
from them, and the group enables us to share this with
each other and so improve as a whole. It also means were
building up an awesome knowledge base that Drone Aerial
Ops paying members can access, thus avoiding the time
consuming (and often costly) trial and error approach!
For more on getting the Alta set up and flying (with me on
camera!), and setting up your Movi with the new firmware,
go to www.droneaerialops and check us out.

As ever, if you guys have any questions for Will, please


feel free to drop him an email over at hello@fleye.co.uk.
And if you want to find out more about the work of Will
and his team just head over to www.fleye.co.uk.

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on point:
A Guide to 3D Mapping
Using simple drone technology with readily available software,
theres little to stop you from creating your own THREE-
dimensional images. Adam Juniper talks you through the basics

W
hen you picture a map-maker, you All the hard work has been done in terms of
might think of an engineer with putting things in their planetary position.
a high-vis tabard and a slightly Modern mapping is all about the application.
mysterious orange box on a stick. Alternatively, On a larger scale you can already easily see
if youre of a more romantic bent, you may whats there Google Earth or the luscious 3D
even picture someone with callipers fumbling Apple Maps have got that covered. Where UAVs
with their scrolls. Since youre reading this come into their own is tasks specific to you, in
magazine, though, its a safe bet that you which youll no doubt crave higher-resolution,
already know where were going next! Tripods, more up-to-date imagery than these providers
careful measurement and paperwork are so offer. Whether thats to help monitor a whole
last millennium, after all. Bring forth the farm, plan the foundations for a building or
rotors, gimbals and SD cards! record a place of interest for posterity, the
Actually before we do, lets step back a bit. principles will be broadly similar.
Mapping with drones doesnt really sound
super-scientific. All that business with the Photogrammetry
Ordinance Survey, theodolites and trig points Though it sounds a little hokey, the science of In Google Earth you can select the Ruler tool, then click in one spot
has to be pretty essential for accuracy, doesnt taking measurements using photographs, or followed by another to get a spot-to-spot measurement.
it? In fact, no. Not if you really think about it. photogrammetry, is pretty well established.

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Used instead of DJI Pilot, DroneDeploy can guide a Phantom 3 or DJI Inspire (including
the Zenmuse X5 variant) to do its bidding, then send the files directly to the Cloud.

The Draganfly Micasense


camera records in a number
of different spectra at once,
specifically designed to see
minor differences in the colour
of vegetation the Normalized
Difference Vegetation Index
(NDVI). This is the data that
agricultural drone users crave.

SenseFly R&D engineer Adam


You can use it in a very simple way with Google Earths additional information, too, like knowing where in 3D
Klaptocz (pictured on the
Ruler tool, clicking on one point and then another to get a space the picture was taken something some drones opposite page) has been to the
measurement (a very handy way to establish if your chosen routinely add to the images EXIF data (though its only as summit of the Matterhorn to
flying spot meets CAAs distance rules). good as their sensors). get it mapped in 3D.
When it comes to create new maps, the principle owes Before taking it into the air, this is a technology with
a lot to image stitching tools, like the one you might use its roots firmly on the ground, too, and one you can try
in Photoshop, but with one big difference: the software out with nothing more than a phone as a useful way of
has to cope with the cameras movement. In a panoramic getting to grips with it. The best way to have a play is to
image, the camera remains in the same spot and is simply download 123D Catch and dive in (more in the boxout). This
rotated, so finding overlaps is merely a matter of looking application takes a series of photographs and converts them
for similar arrangements of pixels in different positions. into the kind of 3D file a computer understands, made up
As soon as you start to move the camera, itll see things of polygons and textures. For example, a boring block of
from different sides. And from different sides things can flats could be made of just five polygons (rectangles for each
look different thats not going to make life easy for any side) and projected onto each would be a picture of that side
stitching algorithm. of the building the texture. Put very simply, textures are
The solution is to realise that, as soon as you start to take why video games dont look like Tron any more.
multiple images, the lens can perceive 3D (just as our eyes
do). Its still going to need a lot of computing horsepower, Lift it up a Notch
but with enough images a computer can discern shape 123D Catch is a great partner for 3D printers, but only Mr
from the appearance and disappearance of surfaces from Tickle, or perhaps Futuramas Bender, would have arms
the camera lens. Using the lens and sensors specifications long enough to photograph a whole house, castle or farm, if
the drone can assess where each ray of light has come from they had the inclination. Thats where your drone comes in.
before reaching its sensor pixel. It can take advantage of By flying around a larger place of interest, or by flying in a
planned pattern over a larger area, you can collect the data
to cover a much bigger space.
Any drone with GPS Loiter will In the case of a single location, like a building, then its
perfectly possible to adopt the former; in fact any drone
be reasonably easy to fly around with GPS Loiter will be reasonably easy to fly around a
subject, taking a still image often enough that each has a
a subject, taking a still image good overlap (opinions differ, but between 50% and 80%).
often enough Three orbits at different altitudes (with a smaller radius

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Fixed wing aircraft can cover a as you climb) should serve you well, but dont skimp on Tools of the Trade
lot of ground in a single flight; the imagery and make sure that, as you climb to the new Pix4D offers a suite of applications, including the capture
only 11 flights covered the 28
altitude and adjust the camera pitch, you dont forget to take tool already mentioned. A Swiss company, Pix4D is
square km around the 4,478m
mountain at a resolution of one a few extra snaps as you go so youve got a good chain of (arguably) the market leader and its certainly very drone
pixel for 20cm on the ground. overlapped images. focused, with professional pricing to boot: 224 a month,
To get a 3D picture of a larger area, its best to let software 2,400 a year rental or a truly eye-watering 7,900 to buy.
handle the route plan though youll need to know the For that youll still be doing all the processing at your end,
altitude of the tallest obstacle in the neighbourhood. There so youll also want to budget for a very meaty computer. Its
are a number of tools but they all work in a broadly similar on Windows only for now, though you can try the Mac beta.
fashion; you define the area you want to map and the This tool gives you the power to review and clean up data
tool works out a route thatll capture enough overlapping to your hearts content on your own computer system, and
images to work from. Pix4Dcapture is one such tool. supports advanced features like Ground Control Points

123D Catch
Autodesks 123D Catch is available for iOS,
Android, Windows Phone and PC, and using it
is simplicity itself. You just need to get your
subject in a well-lit area and follow the on-
screen instructions. Youll be asked to take
photos from different positions around the
object, indicated by a segmented circle which
is shaded in as you progress. Afterwards
youll be given the opportunity to review the
images and re-shoot any bad ones before
submitting to the Cloud for processing. After
some thinking time, youll be shown the
results and asked to frame the view (a bit like
a 3D version of cropping in Instagram) before
sharing your creation with the world.

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Working with
Aerpyn Labs,
Pix4D was
used to create
a stunning
rendering of
Rios Christ
the Redeemer
statue with
enough detail
that it can
be used in
preservation
works.

super-accurate measurements of ground locations with


professional GPS tools made to ensure greater accuracy
than the aircrafts consumer-grade sensor.
Another option is Agisoft Photoscan, which is a tool
with its roots in capturing objects (just like 123D). With a
30-day Free Trial or $179 for a Standard edition ($3,499 for
the pro), this is an accessible, if not entirely welcomingly
priced, consumer version. As with so much specialist, but
potentially very interesting, technology, cost is a big barrier
to experimenting the first time.
Economics require software creators to earn as much as
they can from their commercial customers. DroneDeploy,
at least, has put its service in the Cloud so you can get a You can download a
good idea of what you get before you subscribe (five maps a demo and sample files to
month at up to 20cm per pixel are free any more detail or experiment with for free from
processing and youll need $99 a month). The user uploads Pix4D. In this sequence, after
the initial import, we were
their images and awaits the results, just as with 123D. This
able to see the views from
time, however, you can switch through a number of views. every capture overlaid in 3D
Alternatively, if youre determined not to part with a space (as if the drone had
penny, the open source community can oblige you, too. You been some kind of projector).
From there a Point Cloud was
could turn to Visual SFM, an application which again works
calculated (points with X, Y &
in a similar manner to 123D or Agisoft, to create Structure Z coordinates), and onto that
from Motion (yes, the SfM!). More encouragingly there are a mesh was overlaid creating
titles such as OpenDroneMap, although, while we would the polygons.
urge open source enthusiasts to check this out themselves
to see if its ready for their attention, its still in need of
Ubuntu at this point, but it can already manage textured
surfaces models. Mapping technology is progressing all the
The Skys the Limit time, and the size and accuracy of your
Once youve created your map, your software will allow maps is limited only by time and technology
you to measure in both 2D and 3D, for example to compute
the volume of mud still left to dig out of a hole. And
mapping technology is progressing all the time, and the
size and accuracy of your maps is limited only by time and
technology. The Parrot Disco could prove as interesting in Top Tips for Great Images
democratising 3D mapping as the Phantom did for aerial n Cloudy is good. You might think a cloudy day isnt ideal for photography, but clouds
photography to get a sense of that you only need look at act like a giant diffuser, making sure that light hits your subject from every angle
the mapping of the Matterhorn; a drone using the Discos reasonably evenly and that nothing is lost in shadow.
big brother the eBee.
n Glass and reflective surfaces dont work. 3D mapping works on tracing the path
If you decide to take things more seriously, youll find
of light rays, and shiny surfaces like glass and water are confusing since they have
a whole world of specific technologies available too, from
reflections on them that dramatically alter the apparent colour.
LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) which uses lasers
to accurately measure the distance to a target, and multi- n Sequence your pictures logically. Computers have to start somewhere when they
spectral cameras like the Draganfly Micasense. However, look for overlaps and matching information, so if they encounter overlapping images in
right now its just a great time to get out there and try sequence theyre more likely to detect the overlap quickly.
the demo products, as firms are increasingly seeing the n Use an aircraft that embeds GPS data, but for complete accuracy youll need to
enthusiast community as one to engage with. make ground reference marks, measured using a professional, ground-based GPS unit.

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With so many GPS-based control systems around,
Owen James poses the question: Do you really
need to know how to pilot a drone anymore?

I
f you listen to what the slew of new drone manufacturers However, ultimately of all these great features are
have to say then the answer you will get is no. Every controlled by software and, as a former software engineer
week it seems there is another start-up or crowd-funded for 25 years, this writer can attest that even the best
company that has a drone that flies itself. These devices software can be prone to bugs. And if a manufacturer
are controlled by pointing to map locations on a tablet or releases a software update with a bug it could mean the end
smartphone and tilting your device to control direction or of your drone if that glitch causes the flight controller to
using some type of armband, leash or tracking device that malfunction in an automatic flight mode. So where does the
programs the drone to do what you want it to do and / or benefit of manual flying come in?
enables it to follow you. When flying in GPS mode the flight computer will correct
So, with all these options on the table, why do we actually deviations cause by wind and sudden gusts, making the
need to learn the basic flight controls of how to fly a drone? aircraft much easier to fly. If you get confused you can just
One thing to consider is that most automated flight controls let go of the controls and, hey presto, it will stay in a hover
rely on a good GPS signal to operate. If the signal is not in the last location it was. Some pilots only fly in GPS mode
there then the aircraft will not know where it is in relation because its easier. However, if they are flying in high winds
to anything else. But isnt GPS available everywhere? Well at a distance and suddenly they lose the GPS signal, their
not always; depending on your location and proximity to aircraft can start to drift. Novice pilots can quickly lose
buildings and other obstructions such as mountains and so orientation and, without manual flight skills, things can
on, the GPS signal can be compromised. quickly escalate and cause loss of control or collision with
Some manufacturers have even added the ability to another object.
access both US and Russian satellites to give more accurate A number of years ago a relative of ours was on a flight
GPS tracking data but not all drone GPS systems have this. from London to New Zealand. This was in the days before
Most drone manufacturers point to their failsafe Return they locked the cockpit compartment to passengers and
to Home (RTH) feature as a cure all for any problem, but in he was able to talk to the pilot. He asked him how long he
reality, without a good GPS signal it will not work. had actually been flying the plane since take-off. He was
Now dont get us wrong, automated flight has huge told the pilot had not flown it at all. It was all controlled by
benefits; it allows mission planning for aerial surveys, 3D computer auto-pilot.
mapping and even automated filming with products such The technology to fly aircraft automatically has been
as the 3DR Solos automated smart shots and the enhanced around for decades, however the public still demands a
collision avoidance of the Yuneec Typhoon H. fully trained pilot be at the controls at all times just in case

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Being able to program a drone to simply follow you around via a sensor strapped to
your wrist is fine - but someone needs to able to take control if something goes wrong.

something goes wrong. When you fly a drone you should


always be thinking that something could go wrong and,
when things do go astray that you have the contingency in
place to take care of it.
Being able to manually fly your aircraft is one of these
contingencies. You should always be prepared to regain
control of your aircraft at all times from automated flight.
When you have a fully automated drone with no manual
control you are at the mercy of the software. If it fails or one
of the sensors feeding it information fails you could be in
serious trouble. There is also a legal aspect to think about
for commercial operators, as some countries require that
you have full manual control over your platform at all times
and require a license for automated flight, such as waypoint
mission planning.
In the event of an accident, saying that the drone lost its
GPS signal and crashed will not save you from prosecution
and, if it turns out that automated flight without a license is
prohibited in your country, you could well find yourself in
for more legal headaches.
Certainly the automated flight of drones is here to stay and
will no doubt bring huge benefits to the industry by opening
up opportunities to users who would never have piloted a
drone under any other circumstances. However, just like
the clich, with power comes responsibility. Users of these
platforms must recognise the limits of their machines and Owen James is the festival director for the inaugural
operate them in ways that offer the least amount of risk to the London Drone Film Festival taking place in May.
public, property and themselves and being able to maintain You can find out more about the event at www.
control of the craft at ALL times is a crucial factor in that. londondronefilmfestival.com.

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Phillip Kocmund is understandably happy
with his companys latest creation.

Taking
Control
PixRacer is the latest addition to the PixHawk family of flight
controllers. Lee Schofield speaks to its co-creator Phillip
Kocmoud and explains the tech behind this new arrival thats
targeting the FPV crowd

T
he PixRacer is the latest in a long line of flight The PixRacer is the first of a new PixHawk generation
controllers that supports planes, multirotors, rovers referred to as FMUv4 and was born out of the development
and helicopters. In 2009 a project established by teams desire for a board that was designed to fly the most
3DR spawned a series of flight controllers that flew well, powerful quads being built today. There was a big push to
had excellent GPS support and could also fly autonomous use the latest generation of IMU chips, PixHawk co-creator
missions using GPS. The original ArduPilot board was Phillip Kocmoud explained.
released in 2009, followed by the APM 1.0 in 2010, APM 2.0 in Other boards are expected using this improved
2012 then the APM 2.5/2.6 in 2012. architecture fully in 2016, with the PixRacer being
All of these platforms were based on the Arduino and considered FMUv4 Lite. This specification will become
started to look dated with their small memory size and the standard for PixHawk-based flight controllers moving
dated architecture, so in 2013 the new PixHawk, a modern forward. We are committed with all of the FMUv4 boards
32-bit successor, was released. The new board was a huge to creating a long term support path so that manufacturers
improvement over the APM with better electronics, an can develop products that use these boards without worry,
ARM core and improved sensors, and it was one of the more Phillip says. The PixRacer is manufactured in the EU and
popular choices for pilots looking for solid GPS flight modes we are also hoping to manufacture them in the US too.
and the ability to fly autonomously but using the same easy- The new PixRacer uses four times the sampling rates on
to-use PC interface as the previous versions. its improved updated sensors to allow it to fly even the most
The PixHawk and the APM series has been a go-to flight powerful drones. This is the only board weve found that
controller for those flying multirotors where a reliable works in a drone that can pull 9G, Phillip explains. There
GPS hold and return to home features are needed. Its are developments in the code that will allow PixRacer to fly
perfect for camera drones and great for many other practical the latest advanced fixed wing aircraft with features like
applications like aerial photography and mapping. However, VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing), too.
the latest incarnation, the PixRacer, has its sights set firmly There are significant changes to the input and sensor
on the drone racing community. electronics on the new boards. The ability to use the

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redundancy we have in the sensors on the board is now
far superior to what it was. The new design also increases
the speed of the connection between the processor on the
PixRacer and the signals from the radio receiver, making the
board much faster to respond to the pilot and eliminating
lag for a better flying experience. Its faster because all of
the I/O functionality has been brought on-board. Weve
removed the separate I/O processor.
The size of the new PixRacer board is now the same
physical size as others that racers commonly use and
mounts using the common 30.5mm x 30.5mm mounting
holes found in the majority of frames today. Despite the
smaller size, the team has managed to fit almost all of the
electronics from the previous versions of PixHawk into the
smaller physical package and add some new ones, too.
A MicroSD card slot is fitted underneath, allowing for log
files and telemetry to be saved to replaceable, inexpensive
SD cards. This also provides support for pilots to save boot-
up scripts onto the SD card that can be used to alter the
configuration of the PixRacer at start-up, making the board
and port configuration extremely flexible.
There is now on-board support for both traditional
and SmartPort telemetry for FrSky pilots, allowing for the
telemetry to be easily transmitted back down to the radio
without extra electronics and displayed in real time. We have
very clever inverters on the board that will turn, twist or do
whatever it needs to get the signal into the board, Phil says.
The new board is available with a custom power
distribution board (PDB) of the same size that not only
provides power to the model but also provides current
and voltage sensing right into the flight controller for easy
power management and monitoring. But what about the
GPS support and Mission Planning? All of the features that
PixHawk and APM pilots use are still there. We have all of
the same interfaces that the PixHawk does, were assured.
Due to the Open Source nature of the project there are
choices for the software we can use with these new boards as
well. Options for ground-station and configuration software
include the traditional Mission Planner, PX4 AutoPilot,
ArduPilot and QGroundControl, among others, so that
Windows, Mac, Linux and Android pilots are supported.
It looks like we may finally have a small and powerful 32-
bit board that can not only handle the demands of the fly it
like you stole it crowd, but also provides advanced features The design is still a work-in-progress, and readily open to the community to make requests and refinements, so it may well
like solid GPS support, autonomous flight and advanced GPS see a few modifications in the coming months.
flight modes for those pilots who need those features.

More information, and the board itself, can be found at


www.auav.com, with more on the work of PixHawk at
www.pixhawk.org.

++++++++++++++++++
PixRacer Specifications
Integrated Wi-Fi telemetry and boot loading through ESP8266
Invensense ICM-20608 Accel / Gyro (4 KHz)
Invensense MPU9250 Accel / Gyro / Mag (4 KHz)
Honeywell HMC5983 magnetometer with temperature compensation
Measurement specialties MS5611 barometer
JST GH connectors
MicroSD
S.BUS / Spektrum / SUMD / PPM input
FrSky telemetry port
OneShot PWM out (configurable)

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Photography on the Fly

Composing a
Masterpiece
Continuing his series of in-depth tutorials, professional
aerial photographer Mark Baker explains the key factors
in framing the perfect shot

C
omposition is one of the fundamental more interesting. Whether you just want to understanding some basic rules of thumb will
skills in all aspects of photography and improve your understanding of photography, or help you in terms of visualising the shot and
understanding it can help you create you are moving towards creating prints, there giving yourself the best chance of capturing
great images. Some people have an innate are a few simple tricks which can make your something that will require little or no editing.
ability to visualise a shot and know instinctively shot stand out from the crowd. If that doesnt work then your second chance
how to frame a subject and bring a scene to life. Were going to cover two distinct areas to get it right is in the way you process the
Luckily, for the rest of us, there are some simple of composition. The first is what you can do image. Often minor changes can lead to
techniques to learn which can make our images before the image is committed to SD card; something more balanced and eye-catching.

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Photography on the Fly

Air Time
Aerial photography has some particular
challenges when it comes to planning and
executing the perfect shot. Things often look
very different from 400ft up than they do
at ground level. A bit of consideration and
planning will help, but remember this is one of
the great things about drones so dont kill the
fun by over-analysing things! Some of the best
shots are happy accidents.
Find a balance by preparing for one image
but be flexible enough to spot the opportunity
for another. You might only have 20 minutes in
the air but you have a lifetime to spend editing,
so give yourself as many options as you can.
Take shots on the way up and the journey to
and back from your subject. Remember you
effectively have a floating camera so youre free
to shoot from as many angles and heights as
you can. Just remember to leave enough juice
to bring it back home safely

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Photography on the Fly

The Rule of Thirds


Many of the principles for composing a modern digital image have their
roots in thousands of years of mathematics, philosophy, architecture
and art. While it is impossible to quantify what makes something
aesthetically pleasing there are some well-known ratios which seem
to occur in so many places that we can safely say its more than a
coincidence. Thankfully thats where the history lesson ends were
more concerned with how they can help us produce great aerial shots.
This leads us to one of the cornerstones of traditional composition:
The Rule of Thirds. Like most rules it can be broken (and well look
at that later) but understanding its uses in drone photography can
completely change the way you look at your own images (and almost
every other piece of art, photography or architecture you come across).
So lets get started with some fairly ordinary shots, and see what magic
we can work on them

If you fly using one of the popular apps you might have come across an
option to overlay a grid similar to the one shown above onto your display.
If not then you will almost certainly have come across it elsewhere.
Many digital cameras and smartphones have the same feature, and
almost all editing apps and programs will have it as standard when you
are resizing or cropping an image. The reason for this is to aid you in
composing an image according to the rule of thirds.

LINED UP
The shape of the nine sections can vary according to the dimensions of
the frame, but in all cases you should have four lines which meet at four
intersections. The screenshots to the right are taken from Photoshop and
demonstrate the principle the dimensions of the image may change but
the horizontal and vertical planes will always be divided by four straight
lines with four intersections.
In classical composition the horizon will fall onto one of the two
horizontal lines. Depending on the line you choose you should end up
with an image that is 1/3 sky and 2/3 foreground, or vice versa. We need
to lose the ugly props, so you can see in the middle screenshot that weve
placed the horizon on the top line (which is also a good way of checking
that your image is straight!).
Our horizon now sits perfectly, but in order to achieve that weve
altered the images dimensions to such an extent that it has a letterbox
look. That can be interesting in its own right but also problematic if
you wanted to have prints made. Also certain websites will only let
you upload in a standard 4:3 or square format. The result is your image
essentially being cropped again, or having large borders applied to it.
This brings us neatly onto the next, and perhaps even more important,
element of this mode of composition.

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Photography on the Fly

Straight to the Point


The four intersections of our
grid are often called the power
points. Because of the way our
brains process imagery the
overwhelming majority of people
will subconsciously be drawn to
them. We mentally scan an image
along its imaginary grid of thirds.
Placing points of interest along
these lines and their intersections
gives the viewer a natural flow
and focal point. This often leads
to their attention being held for
longer as they are drawn to the
images different elements.
In the screenshot to the right
weve tried to take advantage of
some of these power points.
By cropping in from the
left and then making minor
adjustments weve achieved two
different things. The red buoy
and distant yellow sail are the
two brightest colours in the shot.
Theyre now positioned almost
exactly over the bottom right
and top left power points. Also
the mast of the yacht in the left
foreground now sits neatly along
the first vertical grid line.
The temptation would be to
crop down further so that the
black sailed yacht sits on the exporting it for print or online
right-hand vertical line. For some that bit easier.
reason, though, our brains seem Other than cropping, our final
to distrust this symmetry where image has had no other processing
the two objects dont mirror each carried out on it. We had to take
other. As our two foreground out the propellers anyway, and
yachts are both heading in the with a couple of tweaks weve
same direction (and for other produced a nicely balanced shot.
reasons well look at later) were If your first step is usually to crop
going to resist this urge and let the out unwanted props or landing
red buoy be our focal point. Weve gear, then take the extra few
also come close to our original seconds to try out some of the
aspect ratio, which should make principles of the rule of thirds.

Situational
Awareness
You wont always have a nice clean horizon like the example to the left
had. If youre flying at low level, or among trees and other structures,
you might need to adopt a slightly different approach. Sometimes you
will be shooting straight down from overhead, or at such an angle that
you dont have any sky in shot at all. The same basic principles apply,
though, and later on were going to look at a couple of common aerial
photography situations. While they are not as straightforward to fix as
our previous example they should help us to focus on getting the basics
in place before weve landed. As with most photography, the more
options you can give yourself the better chance you have of ending up
with something special.

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Photography on the Fly

Between the Lines


Now were going to introduce where the river meets the tree line a natural vanishing point, where diagonal lines in red to show what
another idea. As well as our four at the left edge) to meet the rule of some of the diagonal lines within we mean. Remember, they dont
power points being useful places thirds criteria. an image converge to a single have to be perfectly straight; our
to position elements, they can also The alternative approach is point. You can use rivers, coasts, brains do a pretty good job of
be used in a different way. In this to make the most of some of the tree lines, fencing, roads and so joining up the dots when they
scenic shot of a riverside cottage, strong diagonal lines in the shot. on anything that creates a strong need to!
the low altitude and treeline mean As well as placing subjects on line in your image can be used to The final image is probably the
that we dont have a horizontal our power points, we can use frame other elements or lead the best compromise of the different
divide between the foreground lines within an image to intersect eye towards them. elements. The river bank passes
and sky. In this case we could use them. This sort of composition In the top right image weve through our bottom right power
the implied horizon (the point works really well when you have highlighted the three main point and disappears from view
on the top third line. The cottage
now sits on the top right power
point and looks more natural
than if we had framed it centrally.
Shooting from this sort of angle
also helps to make the buildings
look less flat than if we had been
directly facing them.
All in all its not a bad image
there are some strong recurring
triangles and weve got the cottage
nicely placed within the frame. It
could have been better, though,
and this is what brings us back
to having as many options as
possible at your disposal.

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Photography on the Fly

The Art of
Subtraction
Weve already seen how easy it is to crop out unwanted
parts of an image. Sometimes its simply to remove props,
other times its beneficial to the overall composition. What
we cant do, however much wed like to, is to add anything
back in. Were going to work backwards in our next
example to try and highlight the benefits of shooting from
different perspectives.
What we are looking at here is a group wedding shot
almost exactly as it was commissioned. The bride is very
much front and centre but we also have plenty of the venue
and gardens to look at. Its good to remember that aerial
photography isnt all about flying as high as you can this
shot is close to the ground but the angle would just not be
possible without the additional 40-50 feet of elevation that a
drone provides.
The composition is straightforward and works fairly well.
Our lower third line passes at eye level through the central
row of guests. The upper third line cuts neatly through the
dark beams of the hotel and meets the lowest portion of sky
over the flat roof on the left of shot. It would have been easy
to frame this shot on our FPV monitor as it is and think job
done. But then we look at the shot and wonder if its a bit
cramped, and whether it would have been nice to have a
wider aspect.

stepping back
So we take a step back to the image that we cropped our
final shot from. Our upper and lower third lines are in
practically the same place but our left and right hand
thirds now both pass through the smaller pitched roofs.
We havent had to change the aspect ratio by much but the
breathing space around the hotel and the guests makes the
composition far more balanced.
On reflection this makes us wish wed pulled back a
bit further and really pushed the boat out with a wide
panorama, a bit like the previous incarnation of the same
image. The attention is definitely moving away from the
bride and towards the hotel. This helps to give the buildings
much more of a grand and gothic feel.
In composition terms we have three distinct horizontal
thirds the wedding party and gardens, the buildings and,
on top, the skyline. The diagonal lines in the shot might
not pass through the ideal points but they do a good job of
leading the eye towards the hotel from the top of the shot as
well as the bottom.
Even the last shot is itself a crop down from the true
original. Hopefully, youll appreciate this subtle trick,
though, and it will give you some ideas of your own as well as
showing the benefits of shooting at different heights, angles
and distances. It would have been easy to set up the close-
cropped shot by just flying nearer to the group. However, by
starting with a wider angle weve opened up the possibilities
for three or more images from a single capture.

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Photography on the Fly

Space Travel
Weve already touched on the concept of allowing space
around a subject and here we can take it a step further.
Weve seen that we dont need to fill the centre of an image,
as it can be more effective to have our main elements on
the power points around it. This also helps to demonstrate
another important aspect the idea that we can convey
movement in a still image.
We saw in our previous shot of the sailing regatta that
the wake behind the yachts gave an impression of where
they had come from. The yachts that had already rounded
the buoy added to the idea that our two main subjects were
also going somewhere. Much like with the diagonal lines
we covered, if we give the brain enough information it can
fill in the blanks and infer motion. This helps to make a shot
more visually appealing and have a greater impact. Well
stick with the wedding theme for now but feel free to try out
some completely different ideas.
Were going to use three similar shots, and with the first
of them were going to throw everything we just mentioned
out of the window! Our first image captures a candid
moment where our bride has leant forward to kiss her
pageboy. Having her central in our composition works as a
moment frozen in time but it is impossible for the viewer to
infer any movement within the image. Weve cropped down
tight so that there is nothing else in the shot to distract the
eye. The space around our subject acts as a frame within a
frame and draws all the attention to the kiss.
Were going to stick with the idea of leaving space around
our subject but return to the power points idea. In the next
shot we wanted to try and give the illusion that our bride
was moving so weve framed her with her eyes on our
bottom left power point. Unfortunately, because her body
angle and line of sight are aiming towards the lower left, the
empty space is almost useless. Its too easy to focus on the
bride first then follow her eye line and completely disregard
the space behind her.
The only way this composition might have worked was
if we had: a) other members of the wedding party to trail
behind her or b) she was a true Bridezilla and had a 60ft
wedding dress train! Either of these two things could have
functioned like the wake from our yachts and given a
natural sense of where she had come from.

Congratulations
In the end we settled on the image to the left for our final
composition. Weve placed our subject on the upper right
power point to take advantage of her eye line and body
posture. Hopefully it gives the suggestion that she is moving
through our shot on a diagonal line which would take her
through our lower left power point.
We called this one The Lonely Walk as the space around
her gives the impression that she is completely alone on her
way to the altar. The truth is that she was standing still for
a posed portrait from the ground after the ceremony, with
friends and family just out of shot. Weve used a fair bit of
artistic licence, but remember that you dont always have to
tell the truth in the pursuit of the perfect image.

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Photography on the Fly

Weve used a fair bit of artistic license, but remember that you dont always
have to tell the truth in pursuit of the perfect image

A Higher Level
After a few low-level examples from a lot higher and further out. third line. The effect is to lead the but the space they provide echoes
were going to climb a bit higher The only thing we can really use eye to the only real subject in the the sky. In this case we dont have
and try out some of these concepts to give us some movement is the shot - the cottage in its clearing. a straight line to sit on our lower
on some more traditional aerial river itself. Because we have such Weve put this on our lower left third. The curves of the river,
photos. The top-left head-on a clean horizon on our top third, power point rather than having though, are close enough to it
shot of a cruise ship approaching its a nice contrast to have the river it too central. The fields in the while still breaking the image up
shows an interesting angle but breaking in and out of the lower foreground are quite featureless enough to stop it becoming too flat.
has a few problems with its
composition. Because the ship is
so dominant, moving it onto either
of our vertical third lines leaves
the shot very unbalanced. Weve
got a nice ratio of foreground to
sky but there is very little we can
place on our power points. Overall
it feels a bit flat, without a real
sense of movement.
Fast-forward thirty seconds and
weve swung the drone around to
keep our legal distance (it sounds
obvious but remember when you
are filming a moving object you
need an awareness of how close it
is). This actually gives us a much
more balanced and stronger
composition. The subject is still
fairly central but we now have it
cutting diagonally through the
shot. Its prow sits on our lower
right power point and its wake
trails away towards the upper left
one. There is enough space in front
of the ship to suggest where it is
heading, which also adds to the
sense of movement.
Weve also returned to our
cottage from earlier, this time

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Photography on the Fly

Point of Interest
One of the common challenges with in the forest. This was to try and take
aerial photography is finding a subject advantage of the long shadows against
within an image to naturally guide the frosty ground. Unfortunately the
the eye. There are some stunning ponies who were supposed to be the
landscapes and panoramic views at 400 subjects decided to wander off in the
feet up but they often end up looking flat other direction. We had deliberately
by the time they make it to your laptop. launched about 200 metres away to
Sometimes even a tiny detail can be the avoid spooking them, but they changed
difference between what makes a great course and left us with frostbite and five
print and what would make inoffensive empty batteries!
wallpaper behind it. Were going to However, what had now become
look at how we can incorporate some little more than a gratuitous selfie was
composition skills into both planning a salvaged from the recycle bin to help
shot and editing it. show the benefits of a bit of lateral pilot on the lower left power point. The
Shooting straight down (the traditional thinking. There are only really two clump still sits on a third line but its the
birds eye view) can throw up some prominent elements in this shot the shadows that make the shot.
really unique perspectives and is devastatingly attractive pilot in his The way weve cropped it means
especially good for revealing patterns woolly hat, and the clump of vegetation that the pilots shadow now ends at the
and shapes that arent apparent from in the lower right hand corner. We upper right power point. It might not
the ground. So how do you stop it from could have rotated the image 45 degrees be what we set out for, but at least we
becoming a glorified Google Earth image? counter-clockwise, which would have have something interesting and plenty
The image to the right was shot just put the two elements close to our lower of ideas about how we could apply this
after sunrise on a freezing morning power points. Instead weve put the to other shots.

Bending the Rules


There are times when its interesting to or objects that can be used to give some
come at composition from another angle. vertical elements.
We can still apply the same principles We used this panoramic sunset
but interpret them slightly differently. (bottom right) in our feature on photo
Often when we try to break the rule of hacking last issue, but it also serves as
thirds we still end up with something a good example of how we can break up
that conforms to it! On the face of it this our horizontal lines. The skyline sits very
sunset shot goes against many of the low, a long way from our lower third
ideas that weve looked at. Our horizon line. This helps to make the clouds the
passes through the middle of the image main element of the image. Boosting the
and the sun itself sits almost in the contrast of our foreground and using the
centre. So why does it work? silhouetted structures helps to turn a
If we go back into Photoshop and thin sliver of foreground into a series of
overlay our thirds a couple of things vertical lines which break through our
become clear. Our top third runs lower third line.
through the narrow band of cloud, Remember, some rules are made to be
and our lower third runs through its broken. If you find yourself in a rut with
reflection in the water. The wooden your composition then experiment in as
post is our only real vertical line and many ways as you can. See what other
it sits directly on our lower left power photographers are doing (Dronestagram
point. What we end up with is a nicely is a great place to start) and what
balanced image that still conforms to the ideas you can incorporate into your
classic style of composition. own planning and editing. Whatever
The use of vertical lines can really you do, have fun and dont forget that
help in aerial photography. We looked photography is just one part of the whole
earlier at the river as an example of flying experience!
placing something along our horizontal
third lines that isnt perfectly straight.
Sometimes breaking up our straight
lines can be a good way of adding some You can see more shots from Mark
interest to a shot. When youre planning Baker and the work that he does
a shot (especially a sunrise or sunset) it by heading to his website over at
is always worth looking for structures www.naughtycatmedia.co.uk.

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Photography on the Fly

Framing tips
We wouldnt call them rules, because in photography, as in many things, rules are meant to be broken. However, by keeping the following tips
in mind you might be able to transform a good photo into the perfect image. As always, experiment with everything and have fun with it!

Complex shapes can be difficult to compose try and place interesting The rays of light emanate from the upper right power point and give
elements along the third lines. some depth to an otherwise flat image.

Using strong diagonal lines guides the eye naturally through an image. Experiment and combine colour divisions with straight and broken lines
together in the same image.

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big fat
Buyers guide
your one-stop shopping list of some of the coolest drones around.
choose your budget, check the specs and see what catches your eye!

Skeye Mini Drone with HD


Camera
Skeye Hexa Drone Category: Toy, Compact, Flying Camera
Category: Toy, Indoor, Compact Street Price: 66.98
Street Price: 39.92 Camera: Fixed 2MP
Camera: None Weight: 37g
Weight: 30g Diagonal Motor Spacing: 88mm
Diagonal Motor Spacing: 130mm Battery Type: Li-Po
Battery Type: Li-Po Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 50m
100

Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 50m Best Feature: Easy-to-use camera


Revell Nano Quad Best Feature: Great for beginners
Category: Toy, Indoor, Compact Halfway between a fast stunt/racer and a solid
Street Price: 25.00 Small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, camera platform, the Mini Drone doesnt quite
Camera: None the Hexa manages to offer a smoother and more stand out as one or the other. With cheaper
under

Weight: 11.5g elegant flight than many similar models. It may and easier to operate competitors in both areas
Diagonal motor spacing: 56mm be five or ten pounds more expensive than a lot of its hard to recommend to everyone. However,
Battery type: Li-Po introductory mini/micro drones and it may have a if you can wrestle it under your control then
Control / Range: 4-Ch / 50m couple of minor design issues, but the extra flight its still a drone worth some consideration.
Best feature: USB charger, ideal for the office time and stability makes it worth a look.

Syma 4 Channel 2.4Ghz


Quadcopter with Camera DJI Flamewheel
Category: Indoor, Outdoor Simple but effective, this copter is more F450 / F550
Street Price: 45.00 comfortable with a bit of wind than a Category: Specialist
Camera: Front-facing, 0.3MP nanodrone, while retaining the mechanical Street Price: 70.00
Weight: 590g simplicity. Safety and durability is improved Camera: Optional
Diagonal motor spacing: 300mm with lightweight prop guards which mean Weight: 250g
Battery type: Li-Po you can brush against objects without Diagonal motor spacing: 1045mm
Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF / 500m damaging parts of the drone (or the object Battery type: 6S Li-Po
Best feature: Lightweight prop-guards youre brushing up against!). Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF / 2,000m
Best feature: Optical zoom cameras

92 DRONE MAGAZINE

092-5_DM05[BuyersGuide]NTICGC.indd 92 19/02/2016 17:41


Sky-Hero Little 6
Category: Flying camera
Street Price: 220.00 (frame only)
Camera: GoPro
Weight: 480g + equipment
Wingspan: 580mm
Battery type: Li-Po
Control / Range: RF / 3,000m
Best feature: Flexible electronics, solid frame

Revell Multicopter
Hexatron
Category: Outdoor
Street Price: 100.00
Camera: Optional FPV version
Weight: 1200g
Diagonal motor spacing: 114mm
Battery type: Li-Po
Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF / 100m
Best feature: Its just monstrously big

If you have to ask why this copter is so big,

100-350
then this isnt the drone for you. Are the
six rotors there to lift a heavy camera? No, RadioC Hurricane MARk 1 ImmersionRC Vortex 285
though a pretty standard FPV camera is Category: Racer Category: Racer
an option. Perhaps they lift a big battery? Street Price: 150.00 Street Price: 300.00
Actually, flying time is a fairly average Camera: Fit your FPV camera of choice Camera: Fit your FPV camera of choice
ten minutes. No, theyre just there to be Weight: 280g+bat+camera Weight: 350g+bat+camera
big, made even bigger by the protective Diagonal motor spacing: 250mm Diagonal motor spacing: 285mm
polystyrene hull that adds safety at the Battery type: 3S Li-Po Battery type: 3S/4S Li-Po
expense of a bigger sail area. Control / Range: RF Control / Range: RF
Best feature: Price Best feature: Foldable

Top 5
BUDGET DRONES
1. Parrot Rolling Spider
2. Hubsan X4
3. Odyssey Sky-Runner
4. Parrot Rolling Spider Storm SRD280 v2
5. Extreme Fliers Micro Drone Category: Racer
Street Price: 340.00
Camera: FPV
Weight: 712g
Diagonal motor spacing: 280mm
Battery type: 4S 1800mAh

Hubsan X4 H107D
FPV Quadcopter
Top 5 Control / Range: RF
Best feature: Super-cool covers

Category: Indoor, Outdoor, Compact


Street Price: 160.00
Beginner Drones With six flight modes, this is a fantastic-
looking racer which youll be able to use to
Camera: Front-facing, 0.3MP 1. DJI Phantom 3 Standard develop your skills from first flight to league
Weight: 70g
Diagonal motor spacing: 114mm
2. Parrot BeBop victory. As well as Stabilised Beginner
mode, an Acro Beginner option will help
Battery type: Li-po 3. Sky-Hero Spy you ease into the elite Acro setting. The
Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF / 50m
Best feature: Giant 4.3-inch screen on the
4. Revell Hexatron stylish case also opens up easily for spares or
tech-tweaks.
controller 5. DJI Inspire
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092-5_DM05[BuyersGuide]NTICGC.indd 93 19/02/2016 16:24


Parrot AR.Drone 2.0
Category: Indoor, Outdoor
Street Price: 350.00 Frame only
Camera: Optional
Weight: 890g + equipment
The Beast 280 MK2 Diagonal motor spacing: 600mm (to
Racing Drone 900mm)
Category: Racer Battery type: 6S Li-Po
Street Price: 350 Control / Range: Optional
Camera: Sony 700TVL Best feature: Swappable hull, optional
Weight: 30g GPS function
Diagonal Motor Spacing: 280mm
Battery Type: Li-Po Included in this section for historical reasons,
Control / Range: Optional the AR.Drone was probably the first drone
Best Feature: Very, very fast you really wanted. It showed up everywhere
phone mags, gamers blogs, tech fairs... Its
Simply put, this drone is not for the faint of heart showing its age now the video quality is Parrot Bebop 2
as we seriously doubt there is anything faster than poorer than the 720P resolution implies but Category: Indoor, Outdoor, Flying Camera
The Beast. It flies like a Ferrari with the traction still has both a zippy outdoor hull and an Street Price: 439
control turned off, and it will scare you but it will iconic indoor one. Camera: Front-mounted, 14MP
also thrill you like no other drone. If youve got the Weight: 500g
skills to keep it under control, The Beast could push Diagonal Motor Spacing: 382mm
you to the front of the pack. Battery Type: Lithium-ion polymer, 2700mAh
Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 300m
Best Feature: A nicely priced eye in the sky
350-500

There are other units available that can boast


higher specification, but very few at this price
point. The Bebop 2 delivers good quality photos
and videos, and the 25-minute flight time should
ensure youre filling up the 8GB of storage in no
time, and the few minor gripes we have with it go
nowhere near beating the fun we had flying the
Bebop 2.

QAV 400 FPV ARF kit


Blade Nano QX FPV Category: Racer
Category: Racer, Indoor, Compact Street Price: 370.00
Street Price: 350.00 Camera: Optional
Camera: PAL/NTSC Weight: 375g
Weight: 22g Diagonal motor spacing: 400mm
Diagonal motor spacing: 140mm Battery type: n/a
(incl. guards) Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF
Battery type: 2S 760mAh Best feature: Racer build, camera-
Control / Range: 2.4GHz (5.8GHZ video) / 150m drone size
Best feature: Safe FPV practice
Walkera X350-PRO
Category: Outdoor, Flying Camera
Street Price: 480.00
Camera: Tiltable GoPro Gimbal
Weight: 350g

Top 5 Top 5
Diagonal motor spacing: 350mm
Battery type: 3S Li-Po
Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF / 2000m
All-Time Greats Flying Cameras Best feature: Price

1. Parrot AR.Drone 1. DJI Phantom Professional A development of the popular X350 drone,
2. DJI Phantom (all models) 2. DJI Inspire 1 this GPS-equipped aircraft can hoist your
GoPro aloft and keep it level so you can
3. DJI Inspire 1 3. 3DR Solo capture up to 4K video, having parted with
4. TBS Gemini 4. AirDog considerably less dosh than you would have
to splash out with some other solutions.
5. Hubsan X4 5. Yuneec Q500 Typhoon
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092-5_DM05[BuyersGuide]NTICGC.indd 94 19/02/2016 16:24


DJI Inspire 1 / Pro
Category: Outdoor, Flying Camera
Street Price: 2300.00 - 3600.00
Camera: 360-degree rotatable, 4K / 12MP
Weight: 2935g
DJI Phantom 3 Standard 3DR Solo Diagonal motor spacing: 628mm
Category: Indoor, Outdoor, Flying Camera Category: Indoor, Outdoor, Flying Camera Battery type: 6S Li-Po
Street Price: 680.00 Street Price: 899.00 Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 2000m
Camera: Tiltable, 2.7K / 12MP Camera: Bring-your-own GoPro 3 or 4 Best feature: Landing gear
Weight: 1216mm Weight: 1500g
Diagonal motor spacing: 350mm Diagonal motor spacing: 460mm
Battery type: Li-Po Battery type: 4S Li-Po
Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 1000m Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 800m
Best feature: HD Digital FPV on Best feature: Smart Shot technology
your phone
With a design (and a history) to compete with
The latest iteration of a drone so iconic that DJI, the 3DR Solo has a great deal to offer
Eric Cartman has been seen with one, DJIs and if you want to compare it to a DJI drone,
Phantom Standard is a very capable aircraft; then the Inspire is the one. Its reliance on the
easy to control thanks to built in GPS, and GoPro is both an asset and a weakness, but
capable of recording 1080P and even 1520P the Smart Shots will revolutionise the quality
(2.7k) video via the super-smooth gimbal- of your output. Its not cheap but if you dont
stabilised camera. mind GoPro video, its an excellent choice.

DJI Spreading Wings


S1000+ with A2
Category: Pro
Street Price: 3500.00

500+
Camera: Optional SLR
Weight: 4.4kg to 11kg
DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Diagonal motor spacing: 1045mm
/ Professional Battery type: 6S 15000mAh
Category: Indoor, Outdoor, Flying Camera Control / Range: 2.4GHz RF / 2,000m
Street Price: 899.00 / 1159.00 Best feature: Hoists an SLR and folds small
Camera: Tiltable, 4K / 12MP
Weight: 1280g Yuneec Typhoon Q500 4K
Diagonal motor spacing: 350mm Category: Indoor, Outdoor, Flying Camera
Battery type: Li-Po Street Price: 959
Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 2000m Camera: 12MP, 3-axis gimbal
Best feature: Rectilinear 4K camera Weight: 1.7kg (with battery & camera)
Diagonal Motor Spacing: 565mm
The Advanced and Professional models of the Battery Type: Li-Po 5400mAh
DJI Phantom 3 offer pilots a little bit more in Control / Range: 2.4GHz / 50m
terms of range, and the pro model features Best Feature: A lot of drone for your money
luscious 4K UHD quality video. They also
both feature an upgraded RC with clip for It might not feel as robust as the likes of a Phantom
your iPad so you can monitor (or plan) flights 3, but youll get a lot more in the box than you
in more detail. could hope to from a glossier counterpart. As the
name suggests, this Typhoon Q500 comes with
a 4K camera gimbal (with excellent SteadyGrip
control), as well as a sturdy carry case and a Freefly Alta
controller with a built-in 5.5 inch touchscreen, Category: Professional Rig
giving it good all-round value-for-money. Street Price: From 8,050 +VAT
Camera: Compatible with RED, ARRI & more
Weight: 4.5Kg (empty 6.8Kg max payload)
Diagonal Motor Spacing: 1533mm
Battery Type: 6S 22.2v
Control / Range: Freefly Synapse /
Variable based on transmitter choice
Best Feature: Bottom AND top mounts
Sensefly
eBee Built by professionals, for professionals,
Category: Transcendent the Freefly Alta is a fantastic drone with an
Street Price: 3300.00 amazing build quality. Its expensive, sure,
Camera: 18MP still built in but its beautifully smooth through the air,
Weight: 730g + equipment super-easy to change the settings, has a
Wingspan: 500mm massive flexibility with payload and a huge
Battery type: Li-Po flight time (27 minutes is our best so far!). Its
Control / Range: RF / 3,000m a win-win all round.
Best feature: Launch from throw

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092-5_DM05[BuyersGuide]NTICGC.indd 95 19/02/2016 16:24


RE GUL AT IONS
Learning the regulations related to drone flying is the most important thing
you can do to protect yourself and others. Read up on the official legislation
in place for multirotors in the United Kingdom to ensure you fly legally.

THE LEGAL POSITION Article 166; (Small Unmanned Aircraft) (b) over or within 150 metres of an organised
The operation of multirotors for sport and 2) The person in charge of a small unmanned open-air assembly of more than 1,000 persons;
recreational purposes is covered by the same aircraft may only fly the aircraft if reasonably (c) within 50 metres of any vessel, vehicle or
legal considerations as other model aircraft; satisfied that the flight can safely be made. structure which is not under the control of the
the law makes no specific distinction on types 3) The person in charge of a small unmanned person in charge of the aircraft; or
of aircraft other than weight limits. aircraft must maintain direct, unaided visual (d) subject to paragraphs 3) and 4), within 50
The overriding consideration is compliance with contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor metres of any person.
the relevant articles of the Civil Aviation, Air its flight path in relation to other aircraft, 3) Subject to paragraph 4), during take-off or
Navigation Order; the primary endangering persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the landing, a small unmanned surveillance aircraft
provisions are addressed by Articles 138 and 137 purpose of avoiding collisions. must not be flown within 30 metres of any
which are reproduced here: 5) The person in charge of a small unmanned person.
aircraft must not fly the aircraft for the 4) Paragraphs 2) d) and 3) do not apply to
Article 138; purposes of aerial work except in accordance the person in charge of the small unmanned
A person must not recklessly or negligently with a permission granted by the CAA. surveillance aircraft or a person under the
cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any control of the person in charge of the aircraft.
person or property. Perhaps the most relevant provisions in terms 5) In this article a small unmanned surveillance
of photography / filming with model aircraft aircraft means a small unmanned aircraft
Article 137; as a sport and recreational activity are covered which is equipped to undertake any form of
A person must not recklessly or negligently act within Article 167 below, which sets out surveillance or data acquisition.
in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft, or the basic conditions of operation, as well as
any person in an aircraft. specifying exact distances. These regulations are only concerned with
models equipped with cameras, video
These apply to all model aircraft at all times, Article 167; (Small unmanned surveillance equipment etc that have the potential to be
whatever their weight or size. aircraft) used for surveillance purposes, either visual
1) The person in charge of a small unmanned or electronic. It should also be noted that the
Article 166 (set out here) covers the general surveillance aircraft must not fly the aircraft above legislation (Articles 166 and 167) does
principles that again apply to all model aircraft. in any of the circumstances described in NOT prohibit you from flying a camera or video
However, only the provisions that specifically paragraph 2) except in accordance with a equipped model for recreational purposes.
apply to the activity we are discussing here are permission issued by the CAA. The person in charge of the model must retain
included. Aircraft weighing in excess of 7kg 2) The circumstances referred to in paragraph direct visual contact with the model (Article
have other, additional legislation, but these are 1) are:- 166) and there are some restrictions as to where
fairly specialized pieces of equipment more (a) over or within 150 metres of any congested you can fly (Article 167). Probably the most
usually employed in aerial work. area; important of these restrictions are the limits of

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096-7_DM05[Regulations]NTICGC.indd 1 19/02/2016 16:32


Probably the most important of these restrictions are the
limits of not flying within 50 metres of any person

not flying within 50 metres of any person or package (provided that the activity is legal in The other main consideration is the overall
30 metres from any person during take-off and respect of the Air Navigation Order). suitability of the location for the activity, and
landing, and these are exactly the same as for However, where a flight is made for payment that all flying can take place in compliance
any model over 7 kg. or the purpose is in any way commercial, i.e. with the primary endangering provisions
not as a sport and recreational activity, then it of the ANO (Articles 137 and 138) and also in
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION becomes classed as aerial work by the CAA and accordance with the distances set out in Article
As ever, a little common sense goes a long way requires an exemption to the Air Navigation 167 above.
towards interpreting and complying with the Order to be issued in order to take place
relevant legal requirements. The primary aim lawfully. Details of aerial work and exemption Text provided by www.bmfa.org. Visit the site
of the various Air Navigation Order provisions application information can be obtained for more information on all aspects of model
is to prevent members of the public being through the CAA website www.caa.co.uk. flying, including membership and insurance.
endangered, and full size aviation being It should be borne in mind that aerial work
endangered. To a lesser degree, these provisions is an entirely separate activity to model flying,
also help to limit the potential for causing and as such, it must be insured under the terms
nuisance and for invading privacy. of an appropriate commercial policy. SUMMARY
In terms of filming or image capturing, this The standard policy provided to BMFA members
n Be familiar with the legal requirements relating to
limits how close we can get to people and does not provide cover for aerial photography
your chosen activity.
structures that are nothing to do with us (i.e. on a commercial basis.
n Do not endanger person or property.
not under the control of the pilot); however,
the positive aspect is that the wording of 167(c) FLYING LOCATIONS n Ensure that the proposed flying location is
permits closer operations where it is with the Whilst the overall considerations are the same appropriate and safe.
consent and knowledge of all parties involved as for any other model aircraft, there is no
n Maintain line of sight for the purposes of control at
(notwithstanding the primary endangering doubt that multirotors open up new areas for
all times (see CAA Exemption for specific details of
considerations, of course). flying due to their ability to operate in relatively
FPV flight permissions).
small spaces. This does however mean that
n Charging for flights renders the activity Aerial Work.
AERIAL WORK OR SPORT careful consideration is required before flying
AND RECREATION? in order to remain lawful. n Do not constitute a nuisance.
Another primary consideration is the purpose If intending to fly on private land, then the
n Do not invade privacy.
of the flight. The flying of a model aircraft with permission of the landowner should be sought.
a camera on board is recognised as a sport and If flying on public land such as a park or open n Ensure that appropriate liability insurance cover is

recreational activity by the CAA, and therefore access site, then you must ensure that there are in place to protect you in the event of an incident
covered under the terms of the insurance no bylaws in place specifically prohibiting or leading to a claim against you.
provided as part of the BMFA membership restricting model flying.

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Giants Race
Skiing in Vilnius, Lithuania

Photo by Karolis Janulis, Supplied by Dronestagram

098_DM05[ImageGiantsRace]NTICGC.indd 1 19/02/2016 16:33


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