Testing Times – Phase One Industrial iXM-100 Camera is Proven Best for UAV Bridge Inspection
Keystone Aerial tested three aerial cameras integrated with its UAV to see which provided best results during the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge Inspection Project. There was a clear winner – from 130ft away!
Reducing Costs and Safety Concerns
Keystone Aerial, experts in digital, film, and LiDAR surveys, understands the challenges brought by bridge inspection work. Based close to the Upper Delaware River , they conduct regular aerial inspection surveys for the Delaware River Bay Authority to determine predictive maintenance and infrastructure needs.
Bridge inspection has traditionally fallen to engineers to make annual on-site inspections. An arduous and costly process, which often calls for partial or complete bridge closures over extended periods and is costly to bridge operators and poses dangers to the engineers onsite. The introduction of UAV inspection has removed the occupational safety concern of engineers and eliminated the need to stop the flow of traffic during the mission.
Close Enough to Shoot without Danger
Challenged by the danger of flying close enough to obtain detailed imagery of bridge structures, together with FAA regulations prohibiting flying of piloted aircraft any closer than 1,000 feet (under Visual Flight Rules), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's), or drones, are the solution Keystone needs.
UAV's are quickly deployed, manned easily, pose few risks, and offer stable platforms for a range of optical and thermal sensors. Phase One lndustrial's iXM- 100 metric camera on-board these aerial platforms provides invaluable aerial -imagery data that enables predictive maintenance for inspection missions of many structure types such as bridges, power lines, wind turbines, roads, forestry and agriculture.
Acquired digital images can be assessed by analysis at a fraction of the cost of manned inspections. Effective inspection of aging infrastructure and fast identification of fundamental weaknesses is crucia l. Drone technology, with medium format photography assists in the execution of such projects while maximizing image quality and minimizing time, cost, risk to people, and traffic disruptions.
"Aerial imaging can save operators 10-20 percent in annual inspection costs, that can run into the millions of dollars."
David DayExecutive Vice President at Keystone
Keystone was one of the first commercial operators to obtain an FAA waiver to allow flight in controlled airspace. However, flying so close to structures can lead to greater magnetic interference and scattering of GPS signals. Wind turbulence close to bridges can also be incredibly variable and entails a lot of very stressful manual flying. This, coupled with rapid advances in aerial sensor technology, prompted the company to conduct a new bridge inspection trial from a safe distance.
Three advanced aerial cameras were tested aboard Keystone's DJI Matrice 600 Pro (M60 0 Pro) hexacopter to determine how each performed.
A Clear Winner in Aerial lnspection
Phase One lndustrial’s iXM-100 metric camera with 80mm motorised lens was pitched head-to-head against DJl’s Zenmuse X5 and Sony’s first- generation Alpha 7R cameras. AII three cameras were flown at two distances – 30 feet and 130 feet – along the bridge capturing stills.
The iXM-100 outperformed the other aerial cameras with images captured at a distance of 130 feet where definition was on par with images acquired by its nearest competitor at a distance of 30 feet, as images show.
Lightweight and purpose -engineered for UAV-based mapping, surveying and inspection missions, Phase One’s iXM 100MP medium format camera is available with a range of RSM lenses at 35mm-300mm focal length. The field of view offers large surface coverage at extremely high resolution, providing accurate visualization of objects with millimetre-sized damage spotting detection . The iXM-100 pushes the boundaries as the first high resolution sensor to incorporate backside illumination technology to boost spectral sensitivity and extend dynamic range Wirelessly-controlled motorised lenses with variable focal lengths means operators can key-in new distances from which to focus while the motorised lens does the rest. A big time-saver .
Phase One lndustrial ‘s drone solution opens the door to new mission types and applications Whether for inspection projects or for photogrammetry, map -making and homeland security purposes, the combination of the M600 / M600 PRO and Phase One lndustrial medium format cameras enable users to offer professional results, higher quality of images, larger coverage, and in shorter time.