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The forestry business has witnessed significant technological advancements that have improved productivity and job flow. The challenges for forestry, such as how to improve forest management planning, documenting actions, detecting and managing pests and diseases, managing and preventing forest fires, and managing large-scale forest plantations, are but a few of difficulties that the drone technology can speed up and assist with.
Best drones for forestry
There are a lot of different options on the market when it comes to drones that are adequate for forestry. That being said, you can find a drone that is best suited depending on the task at hand, and here we compiled a shortlist of the best drones on the market so you can be sure to pick the one that suits you the most. So, without any more delay, let’s dive into the review.
Autel Evo 2
The Autel Evo II, Autel Robotics’ first 6K folding drone, offers one of the longest flying lengths of any prosumer drone on the market, with 40 minutes of flight time. It has 19 sensors, including 12 visual sensors, the primary camera, ultrasound, and twin IMUs, and it has Omnidirectional Obstacle Avoidance, which allows it to instantly construct three-dimensional maps and plan courses across complicated terrain in real-time.
The ability to swap out the gimbal payload is a unique feature of the EVO II. The payload choices include an 8K sensor, a 6K Pro Sensor, and a Dual sensor, which combines an 8K sensor with a thermal sensor. All three cameras have a maximum bandwidth of 120 Mbps and a color depth of 10-bits.
While not all of the Autel EVO II series drones are aimed at pros, the consumer versions (original and Pro) are an excellent addition to many corporate operations.
The airframe installs obstacle sensors all around, and at regular speed, they will keep the aircraft from colliding with anything, giving you more time to focus on your camera work. The flight battery is also rather large, contributing to the EVO II’s best-in-class 40-minute flying rating.
The actual battery life varies. The way you fly the EVO is important. Hovering requires more power than flying ahead; the battery is rated for around 35 minutes of hover duration. When you switch to high-speed flying mode, it also drains faster.
The EVO II can reach 9.8 m/s in conventional flying mode and has all-around obstacle detection. It’s especially beneficial when working closer to the ground, where trees or other obstacles may be present. When you’re flying higher, over the trees, switching to the Ludicrous mode adds motion to your film.
👉 GPS is used to stabilize the EVO. It floats in situ with no discernible drift thanks to accurate satellite placement and its multiple sensors. You can check the drone’s position on a globe map if you use it with a phone app, but you won’t be able to do so if you only use the provided control. However, automated return-to-home is still possible—the EVO II remembers its takeoff location.
The drone allows you to limit how far away it may fly, but there is no geofence around airports or other prohibited flight zones. As a result, it is your responsibility to determine if you are permitted to depart from your current place. If you have any doubts, use the FAA’s B4UFLY app.
There’s an extra attraction here for pro pilots who know where they’re authorized and not allowed to fly. DJI drones automatically enforce no-fly and restricted flight zones, requiring authorized pilots to go through an unlocking procedure before departure. There’s no need to go through that extra step with the EVO II if you already have authorization.
Feature Overview ✍️
- Max flight time: 40 minutes
- Max speed: 9.8 m/s
- Weight: 1150 g
- Long flight time
- Obstacle detection
- Professionally made
DJI Matrice 300 RTK
DJI’s latest commercial drone platform, the Matrice 300 RTK, is inspired by current aviation technology. The M300 RTK raises the bar by incorporating intelligence with maximum performance and unmatched consistency, up to 55 minutes of flight time with up to 15 km of transmission distance, an IP45 protection rating, 6 Directional Sensing & Positioning, advanced AI capabilities, and support for up to 3 payloads simultaneously.
The DJI Matrice 300 RTK offers a great deal of features that will make the tasks at hand easier and faster. With a short tap, you can mark an object in the camera or map view and obtain its coordinates, which are then displayed to all camera views as an AR symbol and immediately linked with another remote controller or internet platforms like DJI FlightHub.
Additionally, using the Smart Track function, you can identify and track moving things such as people, automobiles, and boats. The dynamic location of the target is continually obtained and transmitted to the remote controller or DJI FlightHub.
👉 Furthermore, the AI spot-check feature offers you to automate routine inspections to ensure consistently accurate results each time. To maintain consistent framing, onboard AI detects the point of interest and recognizes it in future autonomous missions.
The M300 RTK also has a redesigned Primary Flying Display (PFD) that combines flight, navigation, and obstacle data to provide the pilot with superior situational awareness.
The M300 RTK has new and improved safety and dependability features, such as AirSense (ADS-B technology) for increased airspace safety, anti-Collision Beacon to improve aircraft visibility, particularly in low-light settings, IP45 protection rating, and self-heating battery: for inclement weather (-20 to 50°C).
The 6 Directional Sensing and Positioning System has a maximum detection range of up to 40 m and allows you to adjust the aircraft sensing behavior using DJI Pilot. More than ten system redundancies and safety procedures are in place to ensure maximum safety and dependability.
The new integrated Health Management System provides the current condition of all systems, as well as notification records and initial troubleshooting guidance. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p display that is ultra-bright and retains good visibility even in direct sunlight.
Feature Overview ✍️
- Max flight time: 55 minutes
- Max speed: 23 m/s
- Weight: 6300 g
- Long flight time
- Smart Track technology
This drone combines best-in-class measurement accuracies with multichannel lidar sensor capabilities. The drone can provide a high-resolution 3D point lidar picture for customers, assessing both surface topography and objects emerging from the ground.
This drone has a system that can record measurements from up to 220 meters away, making it ideal for instances when the environment prevents you from getting near to your subject of interest.
👉 This drone is available in basic or premium packages, with the premium including inertial navigation packages to help resolve system location uncertainties that may arise during data collecting. You may also add a high-definition digital camera to create real color topography and 3D point clouds.
This drone is ideal for anybody searching for a low-cost, off-the-shelf option for high-accuracy and high-density ground point 3D mapping.
The post-processing program produces centimeter-level positioning results, implying that the data it collects is reliable. With a single click, the software or post-processing may also create a system performance report for your team’s review.
This drone also comes with LiPlan, an iPad software that may help you plan your trip. With a single button, you may take off and land as well as to conduct an automated calibration maneuver.
Feature Overview ✍️
- Max flight time: 21 minutes
- Max speed: 5 m/s
- Weight: 4240 g
- High accuracy 3D mapping
- 220 m range for measuring
- High-definition camera
SxenseFly eBee drone
SenseFly eBee drones were successful in reinventing aerial mapping while also assisting forestry and so much more. One of the most essential features of this drone is its ability to make survey flights as efficient as possible while also scanning large swaths of territory. The Sensefly Ebee drone is a fixed-wing drone with a new design. It has a really attractive and strong design when it comes to looks.
When you buy the Sensefly ebee drone, you will also receive a hard-side carrying case, which will allow you to effortlessly transport it anywhere you want while also keeping it secure at all times. This drone has a significant benefit in that it weighs just 700 g and is relatively tiny in comparison to rivals who provide the same functions in a larger size and are also 2 or 3 times heavier.
This model’s uniqueness stems from its simplicity. It is one of the tiniest drones among its rivals, and it is also foldable, making it even more portable. The ebee package includes everything you need to get started mapping.
It is the Pix4Dmapper program that assists you in processing and analyzing the ebee’s photographs, making your flight experience more enjoyable.
In an automated mapping flight, the Ebee model can cover up to 12 km2 and has a flying length of 50 minutes, which is rather outstanding. A significant advantage is that the firm has included a safety system, so if you strike someone, neither the person nor the drone will be harmed. If you fly this drone at low altitudes and over tiny regions, it can provide photographs with ground sampling distances of as little as 1.5cm per pixel.
👉 According to the firm, the Ebee is the most user-friendly mapping drone on the market. Simply toss it into the air, and it will capture the photographs you want, and when finished, it will land on its own. Even if you are a newbie drone user with no flying drone abilities, you will not have any problems flying this drone because it does not require any piloting expertise.
Emotion 3 is a constantly growing workflow center. This capability allows you to link your drone wirelessly to industrial cloud solutions, airspace data, survey-grade base stations, and even live weather updates. This is an extremely crucial component that provides you with a wealth of useful data that you can use and gather.
Your drone flight is generated using missing blocks with the eMotion, so all you have to do is map your block, mark the location you want, establish the settings, and the emotion will instantly build your drone’s flight. Another useful feature is the emotion’s built-in flight data manager, which automatically handles georeferencing and photo preparation for post-processing in software.
Feature Overview ✍️
- Max flight time: 50 minutes
- Max speed: 11-30 m/s
- Weight: 700g
- Large area coverage
How drones can be used in forestry applications
There are many ways a drone can be used to help with forestry, here are some of the applications.
1. Improve forest management planning
A forest management plan describes the goals that a landowner has for his or her property, followed by a set of activities that should be implemented to achieve those goals. Furthermore, these plans include information regarding the area, borders, forest stands, wood species, and biological inventories.
The employment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a tool in the creation of these designs is quite beneficial. The forest planner saves a lot of time and can significantly improve the quality of the designs.
2. Document actions
The data collected by the drone can offer information about the possible need for cleaning or thinning; it can map windfalls after a storm, lowering the expenses associated with retrieving the fallen timber. It can also capture driving damage afterward, allowing for corrective steps to be made.
3. Detect and manage pests and diseases
Pests and diseases can pose a significant threat to forest existence. The good news is that with drone technology, it is feasible to detect breakouts at an early stage, allowing for quick remedial action. Furthermore, with this knowledge, landowners may take preventive measures to safeguard their woods from future infestations. It is essential to equip your drone with a multispectral camera in these instances.
4. Manage and prevent forest fires
Handling forest fires is another key drone application field in forestry, where drones can even save human lives. Drones, for example, can assist firefighters in keeping track of fire fronts and identifying the location and severity of hotspots, therefore assisting decision-makers in directing firefighting actions. Drones are a highly effective approach to detect hotspots that may cause the wildfire to reignite after it has been extinguished.
5. Manage large scale forest plantations
Drone technology is becoming a more common tool for surveying and maintaining forest plantings. The drones can give the owner critical information such as volume, tree height, and the general status of the plantation.
Cameras to mount on drones for forestry
Here is a shortlist of quality cameras to mount on your drone.
Livox Lidar camera with drones
The Livox Horizon is a high-performance LiDAR sensor designed for autonomous driving at Levels 3 and 4. It has a detection range of up to 260 meters, high-density point clouds, and is tiny enough to be readily attached to drones.
ZenMuse cameras are a great choice when it comes to forestry. There are a lot of amazing options on the market, and you can find the one that suits your needs easily.
The most advanced photogrammetry payload for the DJI Matrice 300 RTK series. The Zenmuse 3-axis gimbal stabilizes the full-frame 45 Megapixel CMOS sensor in this camera. The mechanical global shutter makes it an excellent camera for photogrammetry mapping missions, allowing for quick picture capture while eliminating rolling shutter aberrations.
To improve the overall accuracy, TimeSync 2.0 technology synchronizes system data to the center of the image with millisecond precision. The DJI P1 may be used with the DJI DL Lens Set (24mm, 35mm, 50mm).
The first hybrid multi-sensor solution with intelligent capabilities, the H20 series is divided into two models: the H20, a triple sensor with a 20MP, 23x Hybrid Optical Zoom Camera, a 12MP Wide Camera, and a Laser Rangefinder covering distances ranging from 3m to 1200m, and the H20T, a quad sensor with a 640×512 Radiometric Thermal Camera that allows operators to see what the human eye cannot due to high thermal sensitivity and a 30 fps video definition.
There are many applications for drones when it comes to forestry, for example, like we talked about in the review, you can use them to better manage your planning, prevent forest fires, keep pests and diseases in check, manage large scale plantations and document your actions.
They use the DJI Phantom 4 RTK.
DJI Phantom 4 RTK is considered to be one of, if not, the best surveying drones on the market.
Yuneec H520 RTK is considered the best drone for mapping.
Lidar stands for light detection and ranging, it is a remote sensing method.
It is a drone equipped with a lidar system.