Posted 9/20/2023 09:26 (#10408590 - in reply to #10407472) Subject: RE: General Consensus on Drone?
Lotta variables at play here, need some more info on the what's the goal here.
Is this strictly multispectral? Thermal? How many passes/images in a season? Any spraying/spreading too? Are they manually uploading and stitching images on local computers, or outsourcing that to servers? What was the resolution of the plane images? What kind of drones (quad vs fix wing)
It's not impossible to service that many acres, but the man power and computing power needs to be there. One guy can fly multiple drones if the fields are close. The bigger concerns are desired resolutions. The higher the resolution, the longer one flight will take. If you're aiming at like, 5in or 7in resolution, you can fly a quarter in like 10-20mins with a quadrocopter. Any higher than than that and you're looking at 30+ min flights. Fixed wings are faster though. Gotta make sure to have enough batteries for each drone too. Last time I had a plane fly a field for multispectral, it was 7.5in resolution, so I'd expect switching to a drone would want equal or better than that. These are just spitball numbers based on my own multispectral drone, but you could expect 400-500 acres an hour with a mavic 3m at roughly 5inch resolution. I haven't actually pushed acres per hour though.
Then you got all the images to handle. Local computing will require some beefy hardware. Outsourcing is limited on upload speeds and then you're at some other companies mercy. Unless they are down the road and you can take an SD card to their door.
Spraying is a whole other ball game...one guy set up with one T40 under decent circumstances (easy/flat fields, few trees, etc etc) can reasonably cover 20-30 acres an hour. With 20 ac/hr being with obstacle avoidance turned on which limits the drone to 23ft/s (~15mph) and 30 being without OA, which can go up to 32ft/s or 20mph. Only time you would turn OA off is of its a perfectly flat field with no obstacles. Any hills/terrain to follow and you need it on.
One guy with 2 drones can be done (not legally mind you with the T40 yet) and you can theoretically get 40ac per hour but that guy is gonna be stressed trying to maintain 2 drones. Which is where manpower comes in.
Got a bit more long winded than expected, but that's just some general overview from my experience.