\
drone_partners_photo_draft 2.png
 

How do I become a drone pilot?

Do you have a passion for drones, agriculture and want to fly for Aerobotics? Follow these 5 easy steps that will enable you to become a professional, licensed drone operator.


Flying for Aerobotics

What are the benefits of becoming a registered Aerobotics Drone Partner?

Find out more >

Flight Planner App

Aerobotics has developed an app that allows you to control your DJI Drone.

Find out more >

Hardware

All Aerobotics Drone Partners need specific hardware, along with their drone. Read the list of requirements.

Find out more >

UPloads

At Aerobotics, there are standards which determine the way you capture and upload data to our software.

Find out more >

Flying tips

Our Drone Operations team has worked long and hard on making your job easier and more efficient.

 

How to become a Drone Pilot


Drone Partner Agreements:

South Africa:

Click to download

United States:

Click to download

Europe:

Click to download

Everywhere else:

Click to download

Infield Flight Tips:

Download the PDF

Here are the 5 steps to become a professional, licensed drone operator:

  1. Get your RPL

    The first step is to get your Remote Pilot License (RPL). Join a flight school and within a couple weeks you will learn the necessary theory and practical skills to ensure you are capable of flying a drone. Some flight schools in South Africa include UAVI, Cranfield, and Drone-X. Click here for more information on getting your RPL.

  2. Buy your Hardware

    Currently we require our pilots to have a drone from the DJI Phantom 4, Matrice, or Inspire ranges. The drone must then be integrated with the multispectral camera. We recommend either the MicaSense Red Edge M/MX or Altum. This setup captures the necessary images that enable us to provide our farmers with the visual and health layers for their farms.

    For any hardware queries or a quote please contact dronepartners@aerobotics.com.

  3. Partner with a ROC holder

    Drone operators need both a Remote Pilot License (RPL) and Remote Operating Certificate (ROC) to fly legally. An alternative to investing in your own ROC, you can partner with an existing umbrella ROC holder that will take care of the process for you. Some existing South African ROC holders include Prommac, DC Geomatics, and Drone-X. Click here to find out more about getting your own ROC.

  4. Insure your business

    It’s important for you, as our drone partners, to be fully insured in case your drone crashes, gets damaged or even stolen. Unicorn Insurers offer a variety of insurance products that cater to this need.

  5. Grow your business

    The use of drones in various industries has created its own drone service and data collection sector. Using Aerobotics as an example of this, we pay our drone partners for the collection of aerial images.


Flying for Aerobotics


Who is Aerobotics and what do we do?

Aerobotics is an Ag-tech startup focused on providing tree crop protection to farmers through early problem detection and alerts. Our Aeroview platform combines weekly satellite data, drone imagery and scout information to track farm performance on a per-tree basis, allowing farmers to take a data-driven approach when optimising the health of their farm.

Our software uses machine learning to identify early stage problems, automatically detect pests and diseases, and guide farmers to these locations. Farmers validate our algorithms in-field and diagnose the specific problems, ultimately advancing the algorithms’ intelligence and benefiting our grower community.

We need our drone partners to capture and upload the images to our online platform.

WE REQUIRE DATA TO BE COLLECTED AS FOLLOWS:

  1. Using a Multispectral sensor (MicaSense or Parrot Sequoia ranges are supported) integrated with a DJI Phantom, Inspire, or Matrice, enables us to provide the health and per tree analytics to our clients. Aerobotics have designed custom mounts that facilitate the drone/sensor integration.

  2. The RGB camera has to be a minimum of 15MP as we use the visual images for tree counts.

  3. Aerobotics Flight Planner Application has been specifically designed to assist flying using the correct parameters (height, speed, overlap, side lap etc).

HOW DO YOU AS A DRONE PARTNER FIT IN?

  • Our client will request a drone service for their farm
  • Our Drone Operations team will obtain all the necessary information and contact one of our Drone Partners in the area with the information and match the clients drone service request with the Drone Partner.
  • Once matched, our Drone Operations team will assign the drone service request to the Drone Partners profile.
  • Once assigned, the Drone Partner will be able to view the farm on their Aerobotics Flight Planner Application as well as the upload link on their Aeroview account page.
  • The Drone Partner will make the necessary plans and arrive at the correct farm, on the correct date and time, fly the requested blocks, and keep our Drone Operations team updated.
  • Once the collection of images is complete, the Drone Partner will upload the data to our platform using the upload link in their pilot profile.
  • Once the upload is complete, the Drone Partner can invoice Aerobotics for the work completed using the allocated Purchase Order number provided by the Drone Operations team.
  • Payment of invoices will be paid within 2 weeks of the uploaded date passing quality control checks.
  • Where data does not pass quality control and needs to be re-flown due to poor quality or missing imagery, the pilot will be asked to re-fly at their own cost at the next available date.

Aerobotics Flight Planner App for DJI

Planning a mission:

  1. Download the Aerobotics Flight Planner Application for DJI on the Play Store (Android only).

  2. Open the Aerobotics Flight Planner App on your tablet.

  3. Sync your Aeroview Boundaries to the Flight Planner Application

  4. Select a block you want to fly by tapping on it, to fly a bigger Boundary, select multiple blocks.

  5. Generate Mission by tapping the Generate Mission Button

  6. To draw a custom mission tap on the “pen icon”, and draw the custom boundary with your finger.

  7. Once you release your finger it will generate a boundary.

  8. Adjust the boundary by holding onto the blue markers and drag them where best suited. Pull the boundaries out slightly to ensure you have enough coverage.

  9. To access the parameters, click on the mission icon. Ensure you select the correct drone which will determine the camera settings such as the white balance. Select the correct speed based on the height you want to fly at. Ensure you select the “sunny” setting if it is sunny and the “cloudy” setting if there is cloud cover.

  10. Hatch Angle is dependent to the Boundary. Adjust the hatch until the flight path is parallel to the longest sides of the boundary.

  11. Once it says “Ready to Go (good)” Click Start, and the drone will automatically Take off, Fly the Mission, Return and then Land.

  12. To delete a mission, tap on the “delete mission” icon.

  13. Telemetry icons in order from the left. Battery percentage, flight mode, radio signal strength, distance from home, altitude and GPS status.


Ensuring Correct Overlap:

  • Getting the correct overlap of the images is important to ensure successful data processing. Aerobotics requires at least 75% overlap and side lap (set through the Flight Planner Application). However, this overlap is set relative to your takeoff point, thus where you take off from is important.
  • Do NOT take off from the lower part of your mission. This will reduce overlap between images where the terrain is higher than takeoff point.
  • Take off from near the highest part of your mission. This will increase overlap as the terrain gets lower than the takeoff point.
  • If you are worried about lower resolution imagery when flying steep slopes, break the mission up into separate flights with different takeoff points.
  • When flying areas of steep slopes, it is best to fly along the contour of the slope.

Hardware

Micasense Parameters.jpg




























Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 14.11.51.png


MICASENSE/DRONE SETUP AND CALIBRATION (PRE-FLIGHT)

  1. Power, connect and calibrate MicaSense. To connect to MicaSense, go to the tablets wifi and connect to the “redegeXXXX” in the wifi list. (Password: micasense)

  2. Once the MicaSense is connected to the wifi, go to the web browser and type in the IP address 192.168.10.254, go to the settings tab (gear icon), and then in basic configurations change the recommended parameters as shown on the left.

  3. Set the MicaSense altitude to your DJI flight altitude (80 - 120m). It is important that the MicaSense and DJI altitude match to prevent loss of storage space and overlap. We find setting the RedEdge target altitude to 10m below intended flight altitude works well to eliminate the potential of images being missed. RedEdge MX seems to be susceptible to this while the RedEdge M hasn’t had this issue from our experience.

  4. MicaSense overlap must be 75% - some pilots use 80% to be safe.

  5. Click Save.

  6. Next, go to Advanced Configurations and switch off Sensor 1 And Sensor 2. You only need to fly with bands 3, 4, and 5 - Red, Near Infrared, and Red-Edge.

  7. Click Save.

  8. DLS Calibration - Go to the DLS Calibration tab and carry out the calibration. You will have instructions to follow. This only needs to be done once per area per day. More than that is unnecessary.

  9. Drone Calibration -  Calibrate the DJI Phantom compass using the DJI Go 4 App. This only needs to be done once per area per day. More than that is unnecessary.

  10. Make sure to reset DJI camera settings to default.

  11. Make sure obstacle avoidance is switched off.


ONCE THE SETUP AND CALIBRATION IS COMPLETE

  1. Power up the Remote.

  2. Power up the Drone.

  3. Plan the mission in the Aeroview Flight Planner App for DJI.

  4. Power up the Micasense, and wait for the LED on the front to flash green.

  5. Wait for 2 minutes for the drone to initialize and acquire gps lock.


Before TAKE OFF

  • Take a picture of the calibration panel placed on the ground using Micasense trigger button (sun to your back, 1m above ground, and no shadows on the panel).

  • Start mission using Aeroview Flight Planner App (Micasense triggers automatically 50m before flight altitude).


AFTER LANDING

  • Take picture of calibration panel once more before disconnecting the battery (Same procedure as the first calibration the first image was captured pre flight).

DATA ORGANISATION

  1. Offload data from both The Micasense and phantom every 2-3 flights to a laptop.

  2. To ensure your data looks good, have a look at the first and last images.

  3. To ensure you don’t have any corrupt files, arrange the images by size. Any photos with a size of 0 are corrupted.

  4. To organise the collected data, create a folder called flight 1, Within that folder create two folders called MSP and Visual. Copy The Visual images from the DJI Phantom Memory card to the Visual folder, and copy the Multispectral images from the Micasense memory card to the MSP folder. Do that for every flight their after.



RECOMMENDED BATTERY SETUP FOR FULL DAY OF FLYING

  • 6 X DJI Phantom batteries

  • 2 X MicaSense batteries

  • 2 X Dji Chargers

  • 1 X MicaSense Charger

  • 1 X 500w Inverter

  • 1 X Powerbank 10000mah +-

RECOMMENDED SD CARDS

SD Card for your Drone >

SD Card for your Micasense >


Uploads

1. Go to your pilot profile in Aeroview.


2. Look for the specific link with the following details:

Correct client details, correct hectares, and correct date for upload.

3. Click on the correct bucket for upload.

If you fly with a DJI Drone and MicaSense, please select that specific bucket. You should never upload just RGB or just MSP, unless asked.

3.png

4. Click next and proceed to drop DJI/RGB photos.

Ensure you select all from the flight. Either drag and drop per flight or as a shortcut, type in ‘.jpg’ in the search bar to find all the RGB images from that flight. Drag photos across and wait until the background goes dark and says ‘drop image files here’ before letting go.

4.png

5. Please ensure there are enough photos to cover the specific boundaries.

Be careful that the uploader doesn’t auto-select boundaries that you do not want to upload to. Ensure you only upload to the specific blocks you have the imagery for. Occasionally if you are splitting an upload, the overlap from one block may cause a separate, smaller block to be auto selected as the uploader believes there is partial coverage. Simply deselect the unwanted block.

6. Click next and continue to drop MicaSense/MSP photos.

There should be at least 3x more MSP photos than RGB photos. Make sure you select all of them as often they take a while to load and you may accidentally copy only some of them. As a shortcut for big flights, you can type in ‘.tif’ in the search bar to find all MSP photos. As there are more MSP photos, it may take a while for the background to go dark and say ‘drop image files here’ so ensure you hold on until it does.

6.png

7. Once all MSP photos are loaded, click next.

Ensure all the boundaries that were meant to be flown are ticked and have enough coverage.

8. If you can't tick one of the boundaries, it may be because of two reasons.

Either intersecting boundaries, which you must inform the Drone Operations team and we will fix the boundary. If the error is due to insufficient coverage, the drone service will need to be re-flown.

9. If all boundaries are selected, click next and start upload.

Please keep the tab open until completed, then you can close. Try not to have more than 3 tabs open at one time as the uploader/wifi may not be able to handle the amount of data. In this case, rather wait for a couple uploads to finish, then start the remaining.

10. If your internet cuts out or the upload pauses, please refresh the page.

Then, click the correct bucket, click ‘continue with previous upload’, re-drop all the RGB and MSP, click next, and the upload should continue from where it was.

11. If you are splitting an upload into two or more uploads, please ensure the following:

Do not upload the same block twice. You will be penalised for duplicate uploads.

12. If the uploader says there are failed images, click “retry failed images”.

Wait for them to start uploading the failed images.

13. If the upload keeps failing and you have already tried refreshing the page and re-dropping the images, it is best to restart your WiFi router and computer, open up a new browser, and start a new upload - do not resume.

UPLOAD NOTES:

  • Uploads can be up to 100 hectares/ 250 acres each. Please do not upload more than this at a time.
  • We recommend an internet connection that has an upload speed of at least 10 mbps.
  • Upload exactly what was requested.
  • Please do not split uploads into multiple uploads unless the job is greater than 100 hectares. As an example, if the request is for 76.08ha, please do one upload for 76.08ha
  • If you forgot or did not finish flying all the boundaries, please rather wait until you have completed all boundaries before uploading.
  • Do not upload the same boundary twice. This causes us to incur unnecessary processing costs and the drone partner.

Flying Tips

  1. Always fly from the highest point.

  2. Make sure you have a decently sized car that can handle the tough terrain of farms and be able to get from block to block easily..

  3. Make sure that there is no more than 30m elevation difference per flight.

  4. Fly between 9.30am and 3.30pm. Smaller trees or vines can be flown from 9:30am. Bigger  trees to be flown closer to solar noon. Start the day and end the day with smaller trees, which reduces the possibility of shadows. Bigger trees will have larger shadows for a longer portion of the day.

  5. Don’t fly when there is rolling or scattered clouds. You can fly when there is full cloud cover.

  6. Make sure the DJI Drone camera is using default settings.

  7. In between flights, load your data on your computer and ensure there are no defective or missing images. It is best to ensure everything is there before you leave the farm. You don’t want to get home and attempt to upload but have missing images or insufficient coverage.

  8. When selecting a boundary to fly, ensure you fly with a buffer to ensure enough coverage. Either pull the blue dots out or fly with a bigger flight path. Often the MicaSense camera misses a photo when it turns.

  9. We have had cases of the power plug on the MicaSense camera losing connection. We recommend securing the cable with some putty or hot glue to ensure the vibrations during flight don’t cause the camera to switch off and miss images.

  10. To make sure you have enough Micasense MSP coverage from your flights, download the basic version of Agisoft here which allows you to check coverage offline:

  11. If the boundary is a triangle please redraw the boundary as shown below:

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 14.12.32.png

We look forward to working with you and building a mutually beneficial, sustainable relationship!

Questions?

If you have any questions, please contact dronepartners@aerobotics.com. We want to help you build a successful drone business.