FULL REVIEW – New Skyward Drone Mapping and Modeling Platform
I saw on linkedin that skyward has a new mapping and modeling module powered by pix4d. I have not used the skyward ecosystem, although it is a very powerful enterprise, drone management platform with the addition of the mapping and modeling module. I would say this could be a complete end to end, but let’s find out. Are you ready, let’s, go we’re doing a deep dive into skyward because they just introduced a mapping and modeling module onto their existing enterprise drone platform? So i have not used skyward before so i’m going to give my first impression. Overall, i’ve used lots of other platforms but i’m going to do sort of my first impression of both the computer and mobile experience, so let’s dive in so when you log into skyward, you come to this dashboard. You have some basic information on your organization. Any upcoming operations, uh information on personnel aircraft, um number of hours that you’ve logged total logged operation, so log flights um. So here i always since i’m, a mapping guy. I always start with a map. If i’m going to be starting a mapping project, i would start with a map. So when we come to the map, you get a nice a couple different base maps that you can choose that you can upload uh shape files, import, kml’s, that’s, important uh. You can change the uh base layer change it to terrain to you even have the the section of the vfr map that’s very nice let’s go ahead and go into my area during commerce city move to the satellite map great.
But here we can also see there’s a terrain map, a dark style map, that’s kind of nice and and a vfr map layer. Obviously the vfr doesn’t work necessarily at this scale very well, so i’ll probably go back to the satellite map. You can see that there’s no advisories for this area um, but i can see that the lance grid is up and i do have a 300 foot ceiling. So, if i’m going to plan a mission here, new operation give it a name. I call this one park. Demo and then the tool tip comes up here: draw operation area it’s going to do this half of the park, let’s click four corners of the polygon and that’s it that looks like you can add it to a library and you can hit next. You can save this shape to the library park that off great. So now you get this neat uh operation sort of this operation overview um. I see that hasn’t. This is a tool tip for this. This appears to be a risk assessment checklist um. I can do the risk yep, i guess, do the risk risk assessment right here, uh on site time, let’s go ahead and schedule this for sort of right now, it’s currently let’s see let’s. Do it for 100 to yep can’t come before the end. Time appreciate that that’s, fantastic uh, 1600 great it’s right down the road select the pic if there’s any additional crew members like a vo, select my mavic 2 pro great, even add, custom fields and notes, add batteries and payloads that’s, really nice.
It does see for this area that i do have a 300 foot ceiling. I can add, in my request, in this case i’m only going to request 200 feet and request authorization. Great notification intended use, read all of these fantastic correct. I agree Music and just like that authorization, improved that’s, really really handy. I can see the sort of mission weather 1500, 75 degrees, clear, small, chance of precipitation, it’s really nice outside today, six mile, an hour winds, gusting, 14 and sun up a sunrise and sunset 10 statute, mile visibility and no precipitation crop cover daily weather. You can see that’s kind of nice. I can see the day the weather helpful as well just kind of overall clean information. I can save i’m going to save the risk assessment until i’m, actually out in the field, because that’s sort of the best time to do that. Um. If i had checklists, i can add checklists here. So if i wanted to add checklists, i could do that. That’S that’s pretty handy as well, and i can submit a note that is pretty nice usually processed during monday, through friday, on 24 hours, advance and they’re sent directly to the fba by skyward that’s, really nice. I will not submit a note for this notify the crew members download a report delete the operation duplicate the operation nice. I can add documents, exemptions, insurance, regulatory documents, client documents. I can have customer information, job reference numbers phone numbers, any customer notes and all this looks like it will be included in a summary report.
That’S, really nice and handy doing everything that you need to do to just plan the area of interest. Do the lance. You know your airspace authorization, weather your pilots equipments any documentation um, so all of that any customer information. All of that can be handled in advance before going out into the field Music, so that’s, that is handy. If i go back, i can see uh personnel. You can have multiple uh personnel here, information on the the person themselves, their certification um, any hours that were uploaded any documents for these people. This could include, like background checks, um insurance, um, any other uh checklist or certification documentation. I can change the role within the organization if i edit this, it looks like they have some pre assigned roles, vo payload operator and flight dispatcher, and you can put their information in there excellent. I can also do the same thing. Manage the the aircraft. Put the information on the aircraft serial number registration number firmware, wait any hours, uh service history, add new service events. So definitely an enterprise management software for sure. So this is, this is very handy. Manage checklists checklists are obviously extremely important um. I can add a new checklist here. Add new tasks um like if you want to uh just you know: have your own preflight command your own preflight. You can uh require for all new applications, and then you can edit checklist tasks. Very, very handy, handy uh check equipment for defects.
This is great, it could be a text field check, box, uh, add task. This is this is actually pretty nice, um, nodums, uh or there’s. Just a lot of things you can add here. So this is really really good, so if you have a preflight checklist and all operations should have a preflight checklist depending on the operation um to be able to put this in here is very handy. You can save this. If i go back, i can add multiple checklists, so that’s very that that is very good. If you do multiple different types of operations, that’s really nice to be able to do that. Um – and you can add these directly within the operation as well. If i come in here to the park demo, i can now see that there are checklists. I can add a checklist. I can add the preflight that’s awesome nice. I got as many checklists as i want there, depending on the operation, so that is, that is very handy and now i think, it’s time to head over to the mobile app, so let’s go and fly this thing so jumping into the mobile app and click on Your operations, click on today’s flight and from here we can start a risk assessment. We can just go through and answer the questions. A lot of questions. Each category has you know, we’re talking about uh different categories related to you know: crew right, like i ain’t going through.
Basically, i am safe going through uh aircraft, your equipment, you know if it’s airworthy it’s been inspected if you’ve checked return to home. If gps signal is where it needs to be uh, you could you could put any mitigations in there if it’s, not quite meeting that um that class checking you know any of the weather limits cloud, sealing visibility, all of that temperature humidity. All of those that you should be going through, you can go through those it’s, a pretty good risk assessments um. I would probably add a few things to it: uh the goes through location if you’re authorized, if there’s people, if it’s populated um in this case it was populated as a park there’s people playing in the park, you know terrain any hazards, probably add more to a Checklist to this um, but it’s pretty decent, related to location, um and if you’ve seen the there, then once you get thrown done with that, it’ll tell you those 21 different risk areas and i’ll say this is a moderately risk mission, so from here now, we’re ready To uh you know, we’re ready to go fly, but here i like to add you can add an additional checklist elements on your own preflight checklists. It just is helpful, and here you can check your authorization, your lance authorization, it pops right up within the app so that’s helpful as well. If someone’s, just asking about your authorization on the fly and you don’t have a printout, pull it right up on your phone.
That’S pretty handy, i kind of like that and with that you’re ready to go, fly Music, all right, transitioning to flight mode. The display goes to landscape and it looks very similar to sort of dji go4 with some tweaks right. You have the in flight logo on the top left hand, corner notice. Here we have the aoi, it has the 300 foot ceiling on it. You can click on the pink sort of button and it’ll pull up the uh it’ll pull up the automated flights. So pulp survey and what you do is you verify click on fly this automated flight it’ll go through sort of a preflight checklist, make sure everything’s connected and then you can just select take off like and once you select take off. I was really expecting more information, but this is all that i ever saw was just this and while i did have some flight statistics down in the bottom right, i could see the altitude, the distance, the the msl. I could see that information and i can see the moving map. I was missing some information. I was missing mission statistics, including completion percentage, number of image taken, um it’s yeah. All that information is missing and one big thing missing for me, and maybe this is just a setting that i missed, but it should just come up automatically and doesn’t. Every other app is the uh. The bottom left hand corner. There was no or even the bottom right hand, corner there’s, typically a image preview window, showing that all the images are being taken.
You know that your the gimbal is looking straight down. There’S no information on this, and once the aircraft leaves there’s. No, you have no idea whatsoever if images are being taken or if things are being going and to be very honest, the the constant cautions are extremely annoying i’m hoping there’s something you could do to turn those off. So the mission by itself – um, i believe, was successful. It says it was complete, so let’s see all right. We are back from the field and now we are about to upload the images into a new project so to upload to a project. We need to create a project. I did create a project already test project and we’re, going to upload the media to that project. Here we can just drag and drop or select images from device, so i’m going to drag and drop the 246 images. Great. All of you are located, it looks like it does a little check date and then uh there’s. Nothing else in this, so hit next great, so we’re going to go ahead and do map and 3d we’re going to upload and process okay. So at this point, it’s going to upload the images and we’ll come back when it’s done all right processing has finished. I did not get an email saying the process is completed. I did get an email saying that processing has started that the pix4d enterprise engine has picked up the job, but i didn’t get an email saying that it was finished just an approximated time, somewhere between an hour and uh one to two hours, which is exactly when It finished to finish about an hour and a half for about 250 images.
That seems about right. So, coming back to the projects tab, we can see that we have this new project, this media um – i can click on it and it fetches brings it automatically into the project area and pulls up the orthomosaic orthomosaic, as we sort of look around sort of like Just for overall quality um it’s, a it’s, a good quality, ortho um, it doesn’t have information on the orthomosaic sort of here on the screen. Um just sort of basic map display elements. I do have some uh. I do have some some tools, some basic tools. I can i can measure uh linear measurements. I can do areas and i can highlight points so we can sort of throw all of this let’s just give this a shot. Let’S take a look at that great great. You can change the color. You want it to be a different color awesome and just some basic uh statistics awesome. You can give it a name area, great um, and you can save these in the map, so they show up sort of with some basic statistics, basic area measurements and a basic linear measurement, and both of these annotations are here in the map. So this is sort of the basic what you have here, there’s, also the the dsm product that comes up. I can turn these annotations off. We can take a look at this annotation. Take a look at this um. This was the same picnic area and all of the the the playground implements.
It looks there’s a small anomaly here in the dsm um i don’t believe um, just for just for giggles let’s pull up the 3d model and let’s see if that anomaly shows up in the 3d mesh. If i bring this down, i don’t see a vertical anomaly in that spot in the 3d mesh. Nor do i see it necessarily in the point cloud. Maybe just a dsm, processing, error, um, but yeah these 3d products look uh about what i would expect them to look for this type of survey. So, overall, the the products here are they look good uh. These are. These are good. Looking products, they look about. The same um as i would expect any sort of uh photogrammetry engine to process with a basic single lawnmower pattern with 75 and 75 frontal and side overlap, so overall great products put the orthomosaic back up and we can see we can download these products from here. You can download the orthomosaic as a geotiff same with the dsm uh point cloud las and the 3d model data uh, both the sort of facade information and the uh obj. So the color information in the model itself – all uh here as well as uh – that i can download so pretty simple overall, not not made to be incredibly complex, but that’s that’s, i believe, is what they’re going for sort of end to end being able to do. The whole enterprise drone platform management uh from the equipment to the personnel to the flights to the batteries to the payloads every in to the jobs, everything in between manage all operations, uh being able to see where all operations are occurring, uh, filter and report.
All of that is built into it as well, so yeah a lot of management capabilities and now with the addition of the mapping and modeling. This is a this is a powerful tool for sure, so i’ll be very curious to see where they go. With this see what a sort of additional added functionality they add, but for now this is a great addition to skyward i’m excited to see where they go so there we have it folks, there’s my take on skyward’s uh entire end to end processing chain from enterprise. Drone management through mission planning through capture with their inflight app all the way through the new mapping and modeling powered by pix4d. I will tell you that skyward is doing a webinar i’ll leave the information for the webinar below, but you can catch up their webinar june. 8Th and you can register for their webinar on their websites i’ll leave that below down in the description as well, but it should be a very good uh overview introducing this new capability. I just wanted to take a look at it first and see what i thought. Overall, i think there are some powerful traits to it, but i do think there are still some operational limitations, that sort of, and not just bells and whistles things – some like basic things i i described earlier so i think, with a few tweaks. This could be a bit of a game changer in the industry, so another powerful tool, the more tools, the better speaking of more tools.
My next video, what i’m planning for is somewhere down the road here in a very short order, i’m going to be covering the top five drone capture apps for ios and android, so we’re gon na be taking a look at those there’s about if you just type In drone mapping into your app store, you’re gon na see there’s quite a few apps out there. Some paid some free i’m just gon na, do a quick review just for the capture portion of the mission, so we’re gon na take a look at those rack and stack them and i’ll. Give you my thoughts. As always. I love that you’re all here with me. Um leave questions down in the comments would love to hear more from all of you that are watching all my subscribers. I appreciate you so much and i just like very much doing this it’s a lot of fun for me uh. So, thank you so much it’s a little bit of creative outlet for uh sort of an overall, very technical kind of day. So, thank you so much and i hope you have a great memorial day weekend and we will catch you on the flip side.