Keystone is an industry leader in the safe and legal use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS, UAV, Drone) as an inspection, remote sensing and mapping tool. In early 2015, Keystone became one of the select companies in the US to be given permission by the FAA to legally fly UAS for Aerial Survey applications, under Keystone’s Section 333 Exemption and blanket Certificate of Authorization (COA). As of September 2016, Keystone has transitioned smoothly into operations as a Part 107 UAS flyer with a team of UAS pilots and aircraft prepared for taking advantage of the more expansive areas open to UAS operations. Keystone has successfully applied for Class B, C and D Airspace Authorizations from the FAA and a Nighttime Flight Waiver. Keystone is experienced working with the FAA to gain access to difficult locations and can support night inspection using its thermal cameras.
Keystone’s long-term membership in ASPRS and MAPPS, coupled with membership in the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), demonstrates Keystone’s commitment to spreading the word about the safe use of UAS in the National Airspace. Below are more specific details about Keystone’s UAS division and the markets Keystone is pursuing.
The DJI Matrice 600 is the professional offering from the most well-known manufacturer of drones in the world. The system is a 6 motor VTOL aircraft with a heavy lift capacity and flight times up to 40 minutes. It can support Keystone’s Sony A7r 36MP camera, the Sony A6000 with zoom lens for inspection, the FLIR VUE thermal camera, most DJI cameras and virtually any other sensor or combination of sensors. This system also supports our Field of View GeoSnap Pro GPS/IMU for increased accuracy in the georeferencing of the images taken.
A fixed-wing aircraft with a 22MegaPixel (MP) camera that is capable of imaging in both RGB in CIR. This system is ideal for larger area collections and remote locations since it needs ample space to land and turn. However, its extended flight time of up to an hour, its speed and stability make it a valuable tool for Remote Sensing work.
This is a 4-motor rotorcopter with two (2) camera options available. The Zenmuse X5 camera produces high-resolution video as well as 16MP still imagery. The 12MP X3 camera is equipped with a lens and sensor system to capture NDVI-7 imagery. The Inspire is a great workhorse for all types of applications including; inspection, real estate, mapping and precision agriculture.
This aircraft has 8 motors. This system is very flexible and is capable of lifting heavy payloads. It is currently fitted with a Sony A7R; a 36 MP camera and captures beautiful high-resolution imagery ideal for mapping, survey and engineering work. The Mavrik can easily be fitted with other sensors, making it an ideal tool for a constantly-evolving industry.
The FLIR VUE Pro R thermal camera, equipped with a 13mm lens, has a resolution of 640 by 512 pixels and a field of view of 45 by 37 degrees. The camera is able to record NTSC compatible video with the still frames containing accurate, calibrated temperature data embedded in every pixel. This adds radiometric data-gathering to Keystone’s expanding UAS applications. The use of thermal imagery from UAS is a valuable tool for many types of surveys and inspections.
Keystone supplies the same quality acquisition products clients have come to expect from our large-format digital imagery: ortho photos, 3D point clouds, and DEMs along with the introduction of new products such as NDVI, HD Video, contours, 3D printing and more from these exciting UAS platforms. The use of professional grade cameras to acquire precise imagery, quality GPS equipment to obtain positional information and state-of-the-art software packages allow Keystone to deliver high-quality products at reasonable prices. The use of ground control points will further increase absolute accuracy, should clients require this.
Click here to view a sample of an HD video from our library.
Keystone has partnered with Datumate to provide UAS acquisition and initial processing of the data for its Datugram3D software. If you are a surveyor who uses Datumate or are interested in their software, please visit their site or contact Keystone with your questions.
Keystone has identified numerous applications for drones based on the capabilities they can provide. Below are some of the markets in which Keystone serves clients with it's UAS capabilities.
UAS provide a new and often unique view of nearly any type of industrial structure: bridges, towers, wind turbines, building facades, electrical towers, exhaust stacks, solar panels and more. While not replacing inspections by qualified professionals, drones can supply views that are not possible or safe for inspectors to reach. Keystone works with the inspectors to fly the UAS at the site while the inspector operates the camera to view and record the structure. Photogrammetry can also be used to map walls, roofs and other structures to check for cracking, deterioration, etc. By using high-resolution imagery and state-of-the-art software, Keystone can provide detailed solutions in 3D color point clouds or imagery that were not possible before UAS.
Keystone is working with engineering companies and local agencies (both new and existing customers) to provide these new solutions to maintain public safety and minimizing downtimes.
Providing data and services in support of survey and mapping work has been the mainstay for Keystone over the 50 years it has been in business. Keystone will continue to provide support for this industry with its UAS. With the use of non-metric cameras and new sensors, the existing software and workflows for large format imagery is proving to be inadequate. Keystone has extensively researched and invested in new tools and workflows for generating mapping and survey grade products from this new imagery type and is committed to providing the services at the level needed by our clients. Whether it is raw imagery and telemetry or processed products such as point clouds, Keystone can provide the expertise and quality needed for any project.
Just as it did in assisting clients in the transition from Film to Digital imagery, Keystone is committed to supporting and partnering with our clients to make the game changing transition to UAS.
The use of photogrammetry, video and imagery has become a valuable tool for the modern commercial construction site including; planning a new site, monitoring and mapping daily progress or for as-built documentation. The use of UAS for documenting these small sites at extremely high-resolution is a perfect application for this exciting technology. Single image capture of a job site or video flights provide documentation for clients, insurance and more. Additionally, in an effort to eliminate job site injuries and accidents, builders have turned to weekly (or even daily) maps arming foremen and site managers with current data highlighting changes in the location of equipment, hazards or other potential risks.
With the growth of Building Infrastructure Management (BIM) in conjunction with GIS and the recent wave of underground utility breaches, the ability to accurately document and disseminate the locations of underground utilities, foundations, etc. before they are obscured is rising. Point clouds and imagery from UAS with centimeter accuracy in X, Y and Z are used to generate detailed 3D environments for BIM use and gives builders value-added capabilities.
The DJI Inspire provides an ideal platform for high-resolution video capture that makes it a great fit the high-end Real Estate market. Providing a birds-eye view of the property and its surroundings can speak volumes about the beauty, accessibility or seclusion of a property.
The use of imagery for determining the health, growth rate and readiness for harvest of crops, as well as insect and weed incursion, and soil health has been available for many years. There are well established algorithms and methodologies that are available to seed companies, ag consultants and farmers. Until the proliferation of drones, however, this data collection has been limited to satellite and manned aircraft only. Due to costs and timing, the use of these technologies has been limited. Although it may be impossible to view the fields in a timely and cost-effective manner using satellite imagery or a survey aircraft this is entirely possible with UAS, which in turn also ensures timely delivery of imagery and analysis.
With UAS, imagery can be collected on specified dates with less cost, weather restrictions than manned aircraft acquisition and processed quickly. Keystone’s UAS can capture both standard RGB imagery or Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) imagery derived from CIR data. Keystone’s UAS are flexible enough to carry full multispectral cameras as needed and can deploy quickly for multiple collections. Working with qualified analysts, a team with Keystone as the data collection provider can deliver valuable information to ag consultants and farmers.
The use of thermal imagery visualization and collection from UAS is a valuable tool for many types of surveys, inspections and emergency response applications. For many of these uses, such as electrical infrastructure, heat loss studies, wildlife inventories or search and rescue, the best times of day for flying is at night or just before dawn and just after sunset. Keystone’s nighttime flight waiver allows us to fly at these critical times. For other applications, timing may not be as significant. Solar panel inspection, wind turbine inspection, hollow cement detection, façade inspection and other applications can be performed efficiently with UAS to add to or replace exiting inspection methods at affordable rates.
Keystone’s trained technicians/pilots can assist with interpreting information displayed/recorded by our FLIR VUE Pro in our continuing commitment to assisting our clients in the understanding and usage of the data we provide.
Safety is extremely important to Keystone for both its manned and unmanned operations. Keystone’s Flight Operations Manual (FOM) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) clearly define safety measures for our FAA certified pilots and visual observers, and ensures Keystone’s safety standards are of the highest quality. For fixed wing operations, Keystone uses a two-man crew of both a pilot and observer, but for inspection and other work with VTOL aircraft, a single man crew is used.
Keystone uses quality equipment, follows all manufacturer maintenance protocols and performs pre-flight checks at or above these standards before each flight. Procedures for lost link, GPS loss are established in our FOM and SOP. A risk assessment and emergency plan are created during the planning phase and are reconfirmed on site.
Keystone has successfully applied for Class B, C and D Airspace Authorizations from the FAA and a Nighttime Flight Waiver. Keystone is experienced working with the FAA to gain access to difficult locations and can support night inspection using its thermal cameras. Night crews are two Remote Pilot Certified pilots with night flight training.
Keystone has a long track record of safety from its 50 plus years of manned aviation that has won it the respect and trust of clients, competitors and insurance companies alike. Keystone is fully insured for its aircraft, liability and all work performed.
Keystone operates under FAA Part 107 rule for UAS commercial flying. However, to ensure compliance with the FAA regulations there are a number of limitations, specifically with regard to locations, times and circumstances where commercial UAS can be flown.
The Certificate of Authorization (COA) provided to Keystone allows us to legally fly only when a minimum of these rules are adhered to:
Any area or project fitting these specifications can be flown almost immediately, however, by obtaining a specific COA, other operations are possible outside these restrictions.
For Class B airspace operations and nighttime flight operations, Keystone will always use a two-person crew. The first case is for assuring proper separation and Air Traffic Control communication while the second case is to follow FAA waiver guidelines.”