Geo Week News

June 17, 2013

Trimble’s new UAS targets big survey, geospatial projects


UX5’s 16.1-megapixel camera’s imaging sensor captures sharp, color-rich images, even in dark, cloudy conditions

Trimble Navigation Ltd. Monday unveiled its next generation Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) – the UX5 aerial imaging rover with the Trimble Access aerial imaging application – for large, geospatial and survey projects.

Calling it the first complete UAS photogrammetric mapping solution, Trimble said the new system serves a variety of traditional surveying applications: topographic surveying, site and route planning, progress monitoring, volume calculations, disaster analysis and as-builts.

The UX5 and the imaging app are being sold to the surveying, oil and gas, mining, environmental services, and agriculture sectors in markets where UAS commercial operations are allowed, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and Africa.

But not the U.S. market, as Federal Aviation Administration regulations continue to restrict their use. However, the federal agency is required by legislation to implement requirements for the operation of public UAS in U.S. airspace no later than Dec. 31, 2015.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based, publicly traded (Nasdaq: TRMB) Trimble, with $2 billion in 2012 revenue, uses positioning technologies – GPS, lasers and optics – to focus on applications requiring position or location, including surveying, construction, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety and mapping.

Like the X100 but better
Just like its predecessor, the Gatewing X100 – the market’s first commercial aerial imaging rover – incorporates mission planning, automatic field image acquisition and fully digital and automated image processing software.

Trimble acquired privately-held Gatewing, a Belgium-based manufacturer of lightweight UAVs for photogrammetry and rapid terrain mapping, in April 2012.

To ensure optimal image quality and maximum photogrammetric accuracy,  the UX5 carries a Sony NEX-5R mirrorless, 16.1-megapixel camera with a fixed focal-length external lens and a large imaging sensor that captures very sharp, color-rich images, even in dark or cloudy conditions.

The large field of view from the camera allows the rover to cover 50-75 percent more area to enhance efficiency and reduce operational costs.

In addition to the increase in flight efficiency, the Trimble UX5 is capable of producing 3D surface deliverables with a ground sampling distance of just about one inch.

UX5 is capable of flights between about 250 and 2,500 above ground level and can be flown in light rain and up to 40 mph winds.

The UX5 airframe is comprised of a carbon frame inside expanded polypropylene with impact-resistant plastics and composite fibers used for the aircraft components, including winglets and belly plate, giving the aircraft the ability to withstand rough landings.

Performance enhancements also include the ability to execute steep landing approaches and thrust reversal for accurate and repeatable landings.

The landing procedure starts about 1,000 feet from the landing location allowing the UX5 to be used for jobs that have site restrictions such as buildings, towers or trees.

UX5 aerial imaging app
The Trimble Access aerial imaging application is field software for planning UAS missions, performing flight checks and monitoring flights.

The imaging app is used to define the project area, avoidance zones, and flight parameters as well as take-off and landing locations. In the field, it is used to perform pre- and post-flight checks and download the flight data and images after landing.

Trimble Business Center
Trimble Business Center (TBC) allows surveyors and other geospatial professionals to combine aerial photography with data collected from GNSS receivers, total stations, 3D laser scanners and other 3D data capture devices.

The TBC photogrammetry module provides users single-click processing for stitching aerial images to credate deliverables such as orthophotos, contour maps, 3D photos, point clouds, digital surface models (DSMs) and feature maps.

Trimble’s product portfolio
Trimble uses Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), robotic measurement systems, inertial positioning, 3D laser scanning, digital imaging, optical or laser measurement, and UAVs.

Its office-based products include software for planning, data processing and editing, quality control, 3D modeling, intelligent data analysis and feature extraction, deformation monitoring and analysis, project reporting and data export.

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