AutoCopter Corporation has developed a patent-pending system for “orthorectification of remotely captured data” using the company’s remote controlled G15 AutoCopter helicopter with a mounted multi-spectral camera. 

Immediately after flying the helicopter and landing it in the field, a crop consultant or ag retailer agronomy specialist in precision agriculture systems is able to see the results to immediately share with farmer customers. 

“Processing can be done there in the field if desired, and all data is archived and can be copied to a DVD for safe and permanent storage,” said Donald Effren, founder of AutoCopter. “There is no more waiting for processing, and highly important is no waiting for clouds to clear or weather conditions to cancel scheduled flights.”

He also said, “At a cost of $2 per hour, the AutoCopter flies with both the multi-spectral camera and a HD Video camera allowing for scouting and recording the data at the same time.  You see what the helicopter sees as it flies.” 

At the end of the flight session, the data can be processed to NDVI and/or to maps; orthorectified data can be exported as “mosaicked files” into a farm management program. It is all possible the same day the data is captured—even within 15 minutes of landing. Also, the images can be automatically processed into GeoTiff files eliminating expensive post processing by technicians and time delays, Effren explained.

The AutoCopter is GPS enabled and flight plans (missions) can be written to fly specific parts of the field, or the entire field with the plan saved  for the helicopter to fly the same flight in weeks to come—exact same path, exact same altitude, exact same speed for accurate and meaningful comparisons.

Because it flies below cloud cover the AutoCopter can be in the air immediately after a rain.  All day flying uses less than a five-gallon can of regular gasoline, Effren notes. 

“The cost benefits are real and the ability to save inputs and receive measurable increases in yield are real,” Effren said. 

“Competitive data gathering systems are not as easy as an AutoCopter. The helicopter is 62 inches long, 17 inches high and is radio controlled with stabilizing software, which makes it easy to fly with a short training session, the company founder said.

Other claims are that low altitude flying provides for image clarity not available with satellite or manned airplane flights, he said.