Local start-up, Avetics Global, developed Heron, a portable flying drone for aerial surveying and mapping. Its software, Exmaps, which is available on beta release for global drone users, calculates the drone’s flight time, distance travelled and wind speed to help users detect anomalies and rectify faults in the machine. Heron can capture photos of crop fields to enable farmers to determine crop health, and take aerial shots of construction sites for analysis. It provides 3D analysis of sand piles with volumetric representation, which is more efficient and accurate than conventional laser scanners.
Heron is fitted with a specially modified camera that captures high resolution maps of up to 5cm resolution and is 100 per cent “cloud free”. Satellite images have 50cm resolution and 15 per cent cloud cover.
The drone can be launched by hand without the need for bulky launchers. This makes it suitable for use in small spaces and remote or rural areas. The drone uses industrial battery technology to provide a flight time of 90 minutes, as compared to conventional unmanned aerial vehicles that fly up to 50 minutes. Heron features a modular upgradable system and this allows users to upgrade selected parts of the drone.
This technology has been deployed by Australia’s Treasury Wine Estate to produce high resolution maps that can display sharply the rows of vines in vineyards. It is also tapped by clients such as plantations or oil and gas companies. Future developments include new software to capture and render 3D maps using any drone or any camera.
Avetics Global was founded by Zhang Weiliang, who graduated from NUS’ Faculty of Engineering. Avetics Global is incubated by Small World Group under NRF’s Technology Incubation Scheme.