One of QuestUAV’s research partners has been running a series of test flights with a 2kg fixed-wing DATAhawk in the Andes, for cadastral mapping and the calculation of municipal taxes. The following case study is the result of trial flights to evaluate the performance of the DATAhawk aircraft at heights above 3000m ASL. Read on to find out about the extreme conditions faced and the challenges of high altitude drone missions.
There are a wealth of diverse applications for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the high resolution, information-rich data they provide. One of the various disciplines supported is the registration of properties through municipal cadaster – storing information that is used for calculation of taxes according to the surface and characteristics of the property. Whilst the data collected can be used directly for these calculations – it can often inform and direct policies that the controlling agencies implement.
Due to the importance of these type of activities, the manner in which the property measurements and characteristics are taken are of the utmost importance. Controlling agencies need to take into account that there are places and regions that are difficult to access to carry out the cadastral survey, as is the case for areas with steep features. The risk to the survey personnel attempting access is also important and it is here where the usage of UAVs is important. UAVs are used to obtain territorial information through photogrammetry, leading to the production of orthophotos that allow the technicians to evaluate the territory remotely with an acceptable precision, with a correspondingly short time until the required information is available.
Land use is rarely arranged in a straightforward manner across flat areas, near populated, low-lying centres – instead of being rather distributed through the region of any particular territorial district. In the case of the town of Quero, which is part of the Tungurahua province in Ecuador, the terrain characteristics are typical of Andean territories. The common features of these areas are:
- Ground heights of 3000 to 4000m ASL and higher.
- Mostly mountainous or steeply graded landscapes.
- Almost no purely flat areas.
- Areas of interest of mainly populated with agricultural activities embedded alongside.