Using first BVLOS SFOC drones for more scalable, productive surveying at lower costs across Newfoundland and Labrador

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. and RENO, Nev., June, 2022 Working with safety innovator Iris Automation, Florida-based Overhead Intelligence has commenced its first major EVLOS (extended visual line of sight) plus BVLOS flight (with 50/50 split) operation using Casia I for the entire province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The mission is for UAV magnetometer surveys in partnership with GroundTruth Exploration.

With the Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) granted by Transport Canada, Overhead Intelligence is conducting large-scale magnetometer surveys for mineral deposits over high potential exploration areas, covering up to 500 line-km (about 20 km2) per day with its Phase 1 system. The SFOC allows one pilot to significantly expand the area they are able to cover in a day, enhancing the economies of scale for drone geophysical survey platforms. Overhead Intelligence plans to continue to secure additional SFOCs across Canadian Mineral Exploration districts in coming months. 

Overhead Intelligence is a geospatial data company that designs and deploys integrated solutions for large-scale UAV mapping missions. GroundTruth Exploration provides innovative exploration methods to increase the odds of successful discoveries. With its Drones to Drills™ approach, it significantly reduces costs and environmental impact. 

Overhead Intelligence has begun the deployment of its system in Canada and exceeded its baseline production targets on preliminary survey work. There are immense challenges to operating unmanned aircraft in remote northern territories. Engineering enhancements, developed and integrated by Overhead Intelligence, include enhanced radios, onboard collision avoidance, streamlined power distribution, intensive data logging, and long-endurance heavy-lift hybrid drones. By the end of the 2022 field exploration season, Overhead Intelligence aims to have mapped a total of 50,000 line-km.

Drones offer a variety of advantages over crewed aircraft and ground surveys. Drones can fly closer to the ground than manned aircraft, capture higher resolution data and are significantly cheaper to operate. In contrast to ground surveys, drones can cover massive areas quickly, including surveying over water. UAV data collection also substantially reduces the overall risk of airborne mapping missions by enabling a ground-based crew. 

Quote from Roger O’Neill, Director, Overhead Intelligence

“A drone operator faces a laundry list of barriers when trying to deploy UAV systems for large scale mapping projects. As a result, most mapping customers choose crewed aircraft for large and complex data collection campaigns. The lack of available off-the-shelf UAV solutions has forced us to collaborate and develop a variety of integrations to even make an attempt at collecting data at this scale. Iris’s products and services are an example of a top-class, relatively off-the-shelf integration that actually helps solve one of the biggest issues in the industry. Achieving and deploying this SFOC is a significant step towards our goal of fully automating the airborne mapping process. We can now push our mapping systems to the limit of their capabilities, which will be a massive disruption to the airborne mapping and geospatial collection industry in coming months. In time we will have fully automated systems capable of producing maps that are cheap enough to sell on a subscription basis.”

Overhead Intelligence used Iris Automation’s Foundation Package of regulatory services to help complete the SFOC application. Over 18 months, Overhead Intelligence worked closely with Iris Automation to develop the extensive documentation needed by Transport Canada and the application was approved within a month of submission. Overhead Intelligence now has detailed templates for achieving future SFOC approvals.

Quote from Lori DeMatteis, Global VP of customer success, sales and marketing at Iris Automation

“Autonomy unlocks the next century of growth in aviation by dramatically improving safety, cost efficiency and productivity with the amount of data gathered across larger distances. The work Overhead Intelligence has done is a prime example of this – scaling drone operations massively while seeing big benefits in both productivity and reduced costs. As a leader in this space, they are now well educated to go forward and complete further waiver and SFOC requests.”

About Overhead Intelligence

Overhead Intelligence specializes in the development of geophysical mapping platforms that generate multidimensional models of topography, physical space, and other electromagnetic phenomena.

Visit https://www.overheadintel.com/

About Iris Automation

Iris Automation is a safety avionics technology company pioneering on- and off-board perception systems and aviation policy services that enable customers to build scalable operations for crewed and uncrewed aircraft; unlocking the potential of countless industries. Iris’ Casia system runs either onboard the aircraft or in a ground-based configuration. We work closely with civil aviation authorities globally as they implement regulatory frameworks ensuring BVLOS is conducted safely, partnering on multiple FAA ASSURE and BEYOND UAV Integration Programs and Transport Canada’s BVLOS Technology Demonstration Program.

Visit www.irisonboard.com.

By Press