Coal Age

OCT-NOV 2017

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30 October/November 2017 stockpiles continued a 24-hour support team of photogram- metric professionals, whose job is to teach our customers best practices for data collection and turn even the most challenging submissions into accurate 3-D models," San Miguel said. "The plat- form has a live chat function, so that all of our customers have a direct connection to our support team." Stockpile Reports In September, Stockpile Reports released its new app for Apple iOS 11. The new phone, released in September, is equipped with ARKit, an augmented reality (AR) function- ality. That enables the Stockpile Reports Lite app to do two important things. First, the new iPhone is equipped with a sensor that enables the app to take more accurate readings than could predecessor models, making it a relatively affordable and empowering tool for data collection, David Boardman, CEO, said. "Apple has released this ARKit that does very precise locations of your camera in 3-D space: where your camera is pointing, what an- gle, how it is moving," he said. Second, the app can project the result- ing interactive 3-D topographic models into the camera view. "You can drop a stockpile in your parking lot" or on your desk, or "view your entire site floating in the middle of your office," the company reported. Fixed-Wing Drone Solution Enables Accuracy Maker of the E384 and the E386 fixed-wing mapping drones, Event 38 Unmanned Systems recently made a sale to a company working in high-altitude Chilean mines. The sale was a lock due to Event 38 drones being "able to operate as high as 14,000 feet elevation and still cover relatively large areas," company founder Jeff Taylor said. The company's most popular model is the E384, which is typically paired with the company's Drone Data Management System (DDMS), Taylor said. "We provide long endurance drones and a cloud-based post-processing service that simplifies and expedites data analysis," he said. The E384 flies "more efficiently than multirotors, allowing more time aloft" per flight over larger mine sites. Longer flights can result in better data collection, Taylor said. "The E384 is able to fly much longer than most drone aircraft, opening up the ability to fly a cross-grid pattern for higher overlap and accuracy and still cover much more area per flight," he said. "The E384 can survey as much as 1,000 acres per flight." The E384 is equipped with a survey-grade camera and GPS sys- tem. Flights are planned by importing a shapefile or KML to define the mission area. "The software will automatically create the grid to fly according to specified resolution requirements and other optionally specified parameters, like amount of overlap between photos," Taylor said. "Lastly, the mission is uploaded to the drone where it is executed independently of the ground control station." While aloft, the drone talks to the ground control station laptop through a long-range telemetry link, he said. "The link transmits infor- mation about the drone like it's location, altitude, velocity and battery level continuously," Taylor said. "At the ground station, the operator has the ability to reroute the aircraft in flight or call it back to home at any time." The drone can be upgraded with post-processed kinematic (PPK) GPS to increase accuracy. "With it, results are centimeter-level accu- rate without the need for ground control points," Taylor said. "Even without it, we found stockpile volume measurements to be within about 2% of values calculated by manually walking the piles." Drone data is uploaded to the DDMS through an online portal. "DDMS automates the post-processing steps and can be used on low-power laptops since all tools can run in a browser," Taylor said. The user outlines the boundaries of each stockpile to be measured. The system then automatically produces an orthomosaic and a digital ele- vation model for each mission flown. "These can be downloaded in full resolution as GeoTIFFs to work with existing workflows, or be analyzed online through our web interface," Taylor said. "DDMS lets users orga- nize their data by date and mission, and exports stockpile data in CSV format for archiving and tracking over time." PPK post-processing, if chosen, is not automated. Processing for a 75-acre site can take from two to three hours. A miner can adopt only the DDMS, so long as the drones used and the data generated meet certain basic criteria. "Miners need a drone capable of collecting imagery with high overlap, low distortion and em- bedded GPS coordinates in each image," Taylor said. "They may option- ally need the ability to set and record the locations of ground control points or a PPK GPS-enabled drone to produce higher accuracy models." Use of the E384 and DDMS has been proven to cut the time and labor invested in stockpile volumetrics, Taylor said. In one example, stockpiles were previously outlined by walking the piles with a GPS receiver. "The drone was able to calculate the pile volumes to within 2% but required a smaller team and less time per site to perform," Taylor said, "taking the total personnel time investment from 10 hours to four." Event38 provides full training and support. "We support our clients for the full life cycle of their aircraft, from setup and testing to reg- ular maintenance," Taylor said. "We are happy to help new users get through every step of the process." Most clients set up and use their aircraft on their own by following instructions from the company, he said. "We are also available for in-person training on site." Stockpile Reports Lite, a new app available on the latest iPhone, enables the user to project a 3-D stockpile wherever the phone is pointed. Above, a virtual stockpile is dropped on a parking lot. (Photo: Stockpile Reports)

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