First mapKITE commercial campaign officially authorized in Brazil

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The company ENGEMAP –GeoNumerics’ partner in Brazil for mapKITE– has been awarded the first official authorisation for a mapKITE commercial mission by the MD and the DECEA.

In August 2018, along the highway BR-259 (state of Espirito Santo, Brazil), the company ENGEMAP conducted a mapKITE geodata acquisition campaign. The [simultaneous, tandem terrestrial and] aerial campaign was the first mapKITE flight officially authorized by the Ministry of Defence (MD) and the Department of Airspace Control (DECEA).

In the campaign, terrestrial measurements were collected with SENSORMAP’s SMM mobile mapping system while aerial measurements were collected from a UAVision’s UX Spyro drone equipped with SENSORMAP’s SAAPI-V photogrammetric payload for drones from. The resulting mapKITE block consists of 11435 aerial and 316000 terrestrial images along 104 km. Approximate flying altitude above ground was 120 m. With these type of data, 3-dimensional corridor mapping of the BR-259 and its ±100 m environment “can be optimally performed” according to César Francisco, ENGEMAP’s Chief Executive Officer.

“The mapKITE concept where the mapping drone follows the mapping van at distances shorter than 150 m –less than 120 m vertical distance and, typically, less than 30 m horizontal distance– makes it easier for the mission to abide by the drone rules since a mapKITE flight falls within the category of Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)  operations” further said Mr. Francisco. “From a pure mapping perspective, as compared with separated mobile terrestrial and aerial surveys of the same corridor,” he added, “the mapKITE mapping method results in less drone images to be processed, the practical elimination of ground control points and a shorter time between geodata acquisition and map availability.”

MapKITE is a GeoNumerics patented (USA 9477230, ES 201231200) method for 3-dimensional corridor mapping that combines the two latest geodata acquisition methods, terrestrial mobile mapping and drone-based mapping. MapKITE is a tandem terrestrial-aerial mapping method and system composed of (1) a terrestrial mobile mapping system (land vehicle and sensors) carrying (2) an optical target on its roof, (3) an [unmanned] drone aerial mapping system and (4) a real-time virtual tether and post-mission software. In a mapKITE mission, the drone follows the land vehicle, and thus the vehicle target becomes a kinematic ground control point visible and measurable on each image. It is a high-accuracy, high-resolution Earth observation –images, 3D point clouds– method. MapKITE combines the advantages of mobile land-based (manned) and aerial drone (unmanned) mapping systems. The mapKITE patent in Brazil (process number 11 2015 001737 1) was already filed in 2015.

ENGEMAP (Assis, SP, Brazil) is one of the largest and oldest mapping companies in Brazil. It has more than hundred employees, three aircraft, two mapping land vehicles, a number of rotary- and fixed-wing drones and a record of accomplished mapping and cadastral projects.

GeoNumerics (Castelldefels, Spain) is a research and development (R&D) intensive small-and-medium-enterprise (SME) company specialised in geomatics and accurate navigation. MapKITE is an invention of GeoNumerics.

The Ministry of Defence (Ministério da Defesa, MD), in addition to its defence mandate, shall authorise any aerial surveying mission, manned or unmanned, over Brazilian territory.

The Department of Airspace Control (Departamento de Controle do Espaço Aéreo, DECEA)  is responsible for the management of all the activities related to the safety and efficiency of the Brazilian airspace control. Its mission is to manage and control the air traffic in the Brazilian sovereign airspace as well as to guarantee its defence. Any aerial surveying mission shall be also authorised by the DECEA.