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Tag: drone


Google Earth drone control

by Timothy Whitehead on Sep.24, 2014, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

After our post on drones, GEB reader Satyen Sarhad (creator of Geoception that we looked at back in 2012), pointed us to a couple of Ground Control Station systems for drones that make excellent use of the Google Earth plugin.

Open source software HappyKillmore’s Ground Control Station is focused on being easy to use and working well on low resolution screens. The primary purpose of the software appears to be to monitor a drone in flight. It displays the data that is received from the drone on the various instruments displayed and also shows the position, attitude and path of the drone in the Google Earth plugin display. You can also download a number of 3D models of drones for use in the software. It can show a live video feed from the drone. Although it can be used to set up a mission with way points, it doesn’t appear to allow direct manual control of the drone.

HappyKillmores Ground Control Station
Chase Camera view

Above: HappyKillmore’s Ground Control Station in action.

Another YouTube video with a vertical perspective showing the flight path can be found here.

Open source project QGroundControl allows you to create a mission by setting way-points by clicking directly on the Google Earth plugin.

Above: QGroundControl Ground Control Station features.

Check out their website for more videos showing its capabilities.

Both programs make good use of the capabilities of the Google Earth plugin, including different perspectives, the ability to work offline and the ability to display 3D models. Also of note is that they use the plugin directly and are not dependent on web browser support, so they should continue to work even if web browsers start to drop support for the plugin.

The post Google Earth drone control appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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Aerial imagery from drones

by Timothy Whitehead on Sep.15, 2014, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Back in 2007 we took a look at the concept of capturing aerial imagery from drones. Since then a lot of progress has been made in drone and camera technology. Now it is no longer the technology that is an issue, but rather regulations surrounding the flying of drones. For example, we told you last year how Falcon UAV were assisting with the emergency response to flooding in Colorado, but were stopped by FEMA.

senseFly eBee
The senseFly eBee, an example of a commercially available drone capable of capturing aerial imagery and producing 3D elevation models.

In the US the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strict rules regarding drones, especially around airports, flight paths, and populated areas. Drones operated for hobby and recreation purposes fall under a special exception and are subject to different restrictions, but may not be used for commercial purposes under this exception.

However, there have recently been some reports of drones being approved by the FAA for use in capturing aerial photography. For example, this article about Le Sueur county being the first county in Minnesota to get FAA approval for drone operations. However, even in that instance, there are still tough restrictions.

Here in South Africa drones are already being used for commercial filming and anti-poaching operations, and possibly in the near future, for crime prevention and disaster management. South Africa, however, also has strict rules about the use of drones, and many of the current users are probably breaking the law.

Drones have a significant cost advantage over manned aircraft, which means that aerial imagery can be captured much more frequently, as well as after natural disasters or other important events. As the use of drones for aerial imagery acquisition takes off around the world, we should start to see a major boost to both the quality of imagery as well as the frequency with which it is refreshed.

In April this year, Google acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace and it has been speculated that capturing aerial imagery may be one reason for the acquisition, although another possibility is that Google wants to use them for providing internet access similar to Project Loon.

Google has also been developing drones for use in delivery of goods, and they chose Australia for the tests because it has less restrictive rules for flying drones. For more on that project, see the video below.

Do any of our readers know whether any of the imagery currently in Google Earth was taken by drone?

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