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TitleEnvironmental scan on the operational use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for geomatics applications in Canada / Analyse du contexte de l'utilisation des systèmes d'aéronefs télépilotés (drones) en géomatique au Canada
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorCanadian Council on Geomatics
Source 2016, 92 pages, Open Access logo Open Access
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20160163
PublisherCanadian Council on Geomatics
Mediaon-line; digital
File formatpdf
Subjectsgeophysics; Science and Technology; Information and Communications; Government and Politics; remote sensing; drones; regulations; research and development; best practices; risk management; geomatics; data processing
Illustrationstables; plots; spectra; geophysical images; bar graphs; 3-D images; flow diagrams; photographs; sketch maps; 3-D models; aerial photographs; schematic representations; location maps
ProgramGeoConnections Secretariat, GeoConnections Secretariat
Released2016 07 15; 2021 02 22
Among a wide range of Canadian industries there is a need for increased situational awareness and site-specific information that is available in a timely fashion and interpretable by local decision makers. Remotely-piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) play an increasingly important role to meet these information needs especially in cases where the cost, level of detail, and operational inflexibility of conventional sensor platforms (e.g., ground, manned aircraft, satellite) are limiting factors. Capable of controlled level flight even though no pilot is onboard, RPAS increase situational awareness while reducing human workloads, and accomplish many monitoring tasks at a lower cost and personnel risk, higher level of detail, and a shorter turn-around time. To close the knowledge gaps between organizations that have already begun to use RPAS with those that are intending to do so, the goal of this report was to reduce the chance for duplication of work between organizations in their developments of RPAS-specific geomatics programs and services. The scientific literature, operational experience, and policy recommendations were synthesized to provide an overview of the technological and regulatory aspects of RPAS operations, as well as best practices and risk management strategies. RPAS are a mature technology to derive geo-information products in Canada, and a large variety of operational platforms and sensors can serve a wide range of mapping and situational awareness applications. Autopilot technology and software for flight planning, flight guidance, and data processing is commercially available and production capable, and is highly automated. RPAS can therefore serve markets whose workforce may have little aviation or photogrammetric experience. The majority of operational RPAS applications are conducted with small RPAS and with consumer-grade cameras, over project areas not larger than 10 km2. The majority of operational RPAS applications are comprised of oblique still photography, video footage, and photogrammetric applications (e.g., ortho-mosaic, Digital Terrain Model) whereby RPAS provide a competitive price-performance level, flexibility, and high-grade accuracies in case of mapping projects. Updated regulations in 2017 are expected to greatly reduce the need for Special Flight Operation Certificates, which will reduce organizational risks and improve the ability to quickly respond to information needs. From a privacy stand-point the collection of personal information from RPAS are subject to the same privacy law requirements as any other data collection practice. Nevertheless, the geomatics industry has much to gain with a transparent approach through public notifications of RPAS missions, purpose specification, designating a point-of-contact, and appropriate data handling procedures. Furthermore, clear end-user license agreements should be in place to specify data rights and restrictions, particularly in the case of sensitive information. The RPAS and associated data processing industry is rapidly growing and evolving both in Canada and globally. This advancing medium will continue to serve both existing and new geospatial information users. Improvements in platform and sensor technology, beyond visual-line-of-sight regulations, availability of Canadian RPAS test sites, earth observation research, data processing and management techniques, and data standards are required to further promote its use. RPAS also provide opportunities for improved geomatics outreach through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) opportunities and community-based monitoring.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Remotely-piloted Aircraft Systems, or drones, have emerged as an excellent tool to monitor small sites of interest. They play an increasingly important role within organizations by providing a less costly, higher detailed, and more flexible method to collect information compared to conventional methods. This report helps organizations determine whether drones are a suitable alternative and how to implement drones within their operations. The report provides an overview of proven applications and highlights the ready-to-fly equipment that is currently available in North America. Organizations must address regulations concerning aviation, privacy, intellectual property, trespassing, and the transportation of dangerous goods. Best practices are summarized in terms of how to design a stand-alone project or implement an operational program, and techniques used to obtain, process, and manage 2D, 3D, and video datasets. Risk management strategies are formulated. Emerging opportunities, recommendations, and knowledge gaps are highlighted to advance the use of drones in Canada.

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