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Fixed Wing Drones

Has anyone in the community had any experience with fixed wing drones?  Good or bad experience with the hardware?

Has anyone started processing images from fixed wing in Pix4D?




I am in the US, so my comments may be specific to US-based operations and are solely of my opinion.

I teach the senseFly eBee (fixed wing UAS) to 60 students per semester. The integrated simulation capability for eMotion (the computer-based vehicle control software for eBee) is realistic and an exceptional tool to use in my classroom. I teach students how to fly the eBee in the classroom starting with the simulator. We have software introductions and then three complete simulated flights, which have scenarios that match the free-downloadable data from senseFly’s website. Students then process the three data sets in Postflight Terra 3D, which is a version of Pix4D limited to the cameras used in an eBee. In other words, imagery from a GoPro would not work with Postflight Terra 3D because it is not a camera used in the eBee. For other cameras Pix4D would be necessary; however, the software works exactly the same way (except for cameras available).

My students generate orthorectified mosaics from the eBee imagery in one class period and perform analysis on their data sets in another class period, that is 3 data sets over 6 classroom days (50 minutes each). Analysis includes interpreting the quality report to determine how accurate their data was captured. They also place Ground Control Points (GCPs), measure straight lines, area, and volume, motion video presentations as 3D fly-throughs, all using Postflight Terra 3D. They have challenge tasks to measure similar ground features to determine the largest and smallest. 

In the field, I am able to take students in our UAS hobby club (we are also an approved Section 333 holder, but these flights are solely volunteer activities with no course requirements to participate, and I am not compensated to work with them) and provide minimal supervision for their data collection over a 25-acre plot of land. They process the imagery using a specific workflow that I taught them and generate geo-referenced orthos within an hour (flight + process data = 1 hour). 

The eBee is extremely durable and I have not had one issue with it. I have had days of up to 8 launch and recoveries per day. The eBee is exceptionally integrated with the eMotion software, which eliminates many opportunities for safety-of-flight type of errors, which could hazard the aircraft or people (also, we only have participating individuals, including Visual Observers, within 500’ of the aircraft’s operation). 

To gist in my experience, the hardware is good, the software is even better, using the eBee as a fixed wing UAS.




Thank you very much Joe.  That confirms my feelings based on the research I’ve done as well.  The inspire 1 with Pix4D is what we are using now and I am super pleased with its abilities, but the eBee can cover so much more area that it seems like a necessity for any commercial fleet.

It’s good to hear you are training so many students.  The industry is just in the beginning the commercial phase of growth.  Send us some of your Aces to TN. 

Thanks again,