Each Aeropoint is 0.5 x 0.5 m in size and despite being foam, it is a little heavier than expected, especially when impersonating a packhorse (does this make it ‘imanimalating’?) and carrying all ten. However, the weight is important as well so that they don’t blow away. Which they certainly don’t. Their low profile also ensures that they don’t move once set in place. Unless maybe in major winds, but in that case I wouldn’t be flying anyway. As for the size – well they need to be clearly visible in the imagery so they couldn’t be too much smaller either.
Pretty much all you need to do is spread out the targets around the survey area, turning them on as you go. They need to log for at least 45 minutes to get a good position fix, so it’s important to do this before having a cup of tea and setting up the drone. Simply fly the mission when ready, and collect the targets when done! As you collect each one, it will attempt to upload its data via your mobile device. If you’re not within internet range it will continue to try to connect until it’s successful. It can then take supposedly up to 24hrs to process the location data, but in the trials I have run, they were completed and available almost immediately.
Perhaps my favourite design feature about the Aeropoints is that they are solar powered. It’s a thumbs up for the environment and just one less set of batteries that I need to charge – I have enough of that to do with all of my drone equipment and other field sensors! So this is a really nice touch.
In terms of actual performance, we compared the X,Y,Z values retrieved from the Aeropoints with those obtained by a local surveyor and achieved very pleasing results. I don’t know the system that the surveyor was using – I’m waiting to hear back from them and will update when I find out. The clear 1:1 relationship between the two sets of observations was honestly better than I expected.
Thanks to Tom Watson from Droner for collecting the data to support this.