A Closer Aerial Inspection of Automated Shipping Yards in Motion

Storage cranes at Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG’s (HHLA) modern and efficient shipment yard require an annual survey of over 30km of rail per terminal. A research team at TU Braunschweig – AEROINSPEKT, has developed a system to perform airborne measurement of critical infrastructure in operation, thus reducing downtime required by manned ground inspection.

Millimeter Resolution using Aerial Photogrammetry

The AeroInspekt team has created a cost-effective solution that provides airborne measurement and inspection critical infrastructure during operation.

Automated storage cranes are the heart of HHLA's modern and efficient container terminals and require annual inspection to measure any changes in the systems’ rail tracks due to changes in geomorphological conditions of subsoil in the harbor. Using a Phase One Industrial iXM-100 medium format camera (150 mm optics) at low altitudes of 35 m makes it possible to acheive an large image with of 7.7 m with a resolution of up to 1 millimeter.

Captured with a Phase One Industrial iXM-100, f/5.6, 1/2500sec, iso320, 150mm focus, 35m height. AeroInspekt – Germany 2019 ©
Automated storage cranes form the heart of modern, high-performance container terminals. High operational requirements regarding the exact tracking of the cranes demand an annual survey of over 30km of rail per terminal.

"Phase One’s iXM-100 is the only camera that can capture such sharp and large images with its wide swath, from a safe altitude. The camera just works with no triggering problems"

Markus Bobbe

PHD Researcher - Institute of Flight Guidance, TU Braunschweig

Quick Facts

1 mm RESOLUTION & 7.7 m image width at 35 m (150 mm lens)

Phase One Industrial medium-format cameras with 150 mm RS lens provides a resolution of up to 0.3mm (from 10m flight height) and 0.9mm (from 35m height, flown at HHLA).

Surveying Systems in Operation

By using a drone harbor cranes can remain in operation while undergoing inspection


Fully Integrated Drone Solution iXM-100 and
DJI M600 PRO Drone

Surveying Systems in Motion, Saving on Downtime

HHLA’s Storage cranes have to be regularly checked, measured for any ground settlement changes or movement, and repaired. Traditional surveying activities lead to operational disruptions as they cannot be conducted while the systems are in motion.

Innovative automated surveying systems increases productivity through uninterrupted use of container storage and improve human-machine interaction. Possible physical stress on the infrastructure can be reduced and occupational safety can be increased by using UAVs.

Data Acquisition

By flying the Phase One iXM-100 medium format aerial camera at low altitudes of only 35 m, surveying with a resolution of up to 1 millimeter is possible. During the project, the workflows for processing and interpretation of the large data sets are developed, optimized and evaluated by the team on the ground.

Captured with a Phase One Industrial iXM-100, f/5.6, 1/2500sec, ISO320, 150mm focal-length, 35m height, image width 7.7m. AeroInspekt – Germany 2019

Aerial System

    • The fully integrated drone solution contains:

    • Phase One iXM-100 Aerial Camera
    • 150mm RSM lens
    • DJI M600 PRO drone
    • Phase One iX Capture Mobile Application

The system offers a cost-effective measurement of small-scale areas with millimetre accuracy. The motorized RSM lens offers the flexibility to fly the UAV at higher altitudes, if needed.

Reactive Mission Planning in Dynamic Environments

Drones conventionally follow a stripe-pattern to evenly cover a photogrammetry survey mission area. During the inspection of crane rails in an operating container terminals this approach is unsuited since parts of the tracks on the created images will be covered by moving cranes. A complete reconstruction of the rails requires an adaption of the flight path of the drone depending on the current position and velocity of the operating cranes.

The AeroInspekt system monitors the mission for conflicts and re-plans the UAV flight path while considering the constraints given by the terminal operator and the photogrammetric surveyor.

Orthophoto created of rail tracks by AeroInspekt

Watch AeroInspekt in Action

Watch the Phase One Drone Solution as part of the AeroInspekt and HHLA project - 2019 © TU Brunschweig.

Phase One Drone Solution

Phase One Industrial iXM-100 medium format camera

Phase One iXM-100 Camera
- 100 MP Aerial Photographs
- 11,608 pixels cross-track coverage
- CMOS (effective at 6400 ISO)
- High noise resistance (effective at low light)

150mm RSM Lens

- 150mm
- f/5.6 - f/22
- 1/2500sec

Fully Integrated DJI M600 PRO with iXM-100
- Compatible with iXM-100 and iXM-50
- Ronin-MX gimbal - full control & functionality
- Ideal for professional aerial photography and industrial applications

iX Capture Mobile Application
- Intuitive and user-friendly interface
- Remote management of the camera
- Auto or manual capture settings
- Camera control via DJI Lightbridge

Get a Wider View of Our Newest Aerial Cameras!

Phase One Industrial Partners

With thanks to our partners in this case study

TU Braunschweig Institute of Flight Guidance & Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry
Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG        

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