Product Release Wrap-up July 2017

Improved sharing, 90% reduction in crop maps with holes, support for SLANTRANGE and Sentera sensors and more

DroneDeploy
Jul 20, 2017 · 7 min read

The summer is heating up, and we’re thrilled to share a few exciting product updates we’ve been working on here at DroneDeploy — including an important processing improvement ready just in time to address the challenge of mapping late-stage crops. But that’s not all — read on to learn about a commonly-requested change to sharing, support for near-infrared and multi-spectral sensors and much more.

Stitching Improvements Remove 90% of Holes in Crop Maps

If you’ve used drones for mapping late-stage crops in seasons past, you might have received maps with holes, warped areas, or you may have had maps fail to process at all. This happens because photogrammetry — the technology used to process photos into a map — relies upon identifying unique points that appear in several different images. And when you’re mapping a large field of mature crops where everything looks the same, that’s a tall order.

“It’s an issue we’ve been having in the last couple of years, especially in corn crops,” said Robbie Weathers, an agronomist in South Carolina. “Trying to stitch together a corn field late in the season is like trying to stitch the ocean — it’s really hard.”

After analyzing data from over 10 million acres mapped and hearing feedback from hundreds of users, we’re thrilled to share that we’ve successfully improved our proprietary processing algorithm to render better late-stage field maps. We tested the new algorithm by reprocessing thousands of incomplete maps and found that the new approach generated a complete map 90% of the time and often improved the accuracy and sharpness of the map.

Before and after images of just a few of the maps reprocessed using the new method.

One of the reprocessed maps belongs to Kevin Wright, a corn and soybean grower and commercial drone pilot in Illinois.

“Being able to close a hole as big as that,” said Kevin, referring to the difference between his original map, and the reprocessed complete map, “it’s very impressive — especially for a map flown in windy conditions. It just proves that DroneDeploy is headed in the right direction to solve these particular problems.”

The processing improvement is available for all DroneDeploy users in agriculture and will run automatically for at-risk crop maps. Have questions or suggestions? Let us know on the forum.

To learn more about how to successfully map late-stage crops, check out our Best Practices for Flying and Stitching Crop Imagery or check out our Guide to Crop Scouting with Drones.

Give Map Feedback to Help Improve Map Quality

Your feedback is vital to us, especially as we roll out processing changes like the one to reduce holes in crop maps. It helps us understand the problems you’re trying to solve using DroneDeploy, and it also shows whether the changes we make actually improve your experience. Now it’s easier than ever to give feedback on any map.

If you’re happy with your map or 3D model quality, give it a thumbs up or “good” rating. If the map has issues or you aren’t satisfied with the quality, give it a thumbs up or “bad” rating and briefly describe what’s wrong. Your quick feedback will help us diagnose your issue and provide helpful tips, and it will also help us continue to improve the overall quality of our map processing.

Have questions or suggestions about the new map rating feature? Join the discussion on our forum.

Give Clients View-only Map Access to Clients That Don’t Have a DroneDeploy Account

You’ve asked for it, and now it’s here. Now you can share a complete view-only map with a client or someone else who does not have a DroneDeploy account. Simply click the “Share” button, copy the link and share it with whomever you choose.

Before, a client that clicked a link to view a shared map would see only the specific map layer shared with them. To see the complete map, the client would need to create and login to a DroneDeploy account.

Now sharing a map via link will give the viewer complete view-only access to the map, including the ability to:

  • See the satellite base layer
  • Explore all layers of the map, including the 2D orthomosaic, 3D model, elevation map, and plant health
  • View any annotations or measurements on the map
  • View and toggle any overlays attached to the map
  • View and export any existing exports that the map owner has already generated

Did you know that you can include your company’s logo on any map you share with a client? Check out our support center to learn more about this and other sharing options or give us feedback on the forum.

Use DroneDeploy with SLANTRANGE or Sentera Sensors

Drone pilots mapping for agriculture have many different hardware options to choose from — and now they have more freedom than ever to use the camera or sensor of their choice with DroneDeploy. While most begin with the visible spectrum cameras that come standard on drones like the DJI Phantom 4 Pro, many turn to sensors designed specifically for agriculture in order to perform more accurate, scientific analysis of plant health.

Now DroneDeploy customers can fly and capture imagery and process and interpret maps using sensors from Sentera and SLANTRANGE, all compatible with the latest DJI drones. To create a DroneDeploy map with these sensors, just install the free SLANTRANGE or Sentera application within DroneDeploy, fly using the DroneDeploy mobile app, and upload imagery to DroneDeploy for processing. Once the map is complete, you’ll be able to view, analyze and share plant health data specific to the sensor used.

Sentera Double 4K, one of three Sentera sensors now supported by DroneDeploy

The supported near-infrared sensors from Sentera, including the High-Precision NDVI Single sensor and the Sentera Double 4K, allow growers to create NDVI (normalized difference vegetation index) maps to accurately detect crop stress.

"Sentera is excited to bring our most popular and most affordable high-precision NDVI sensor to the DroneDeploy platform. We’re committed to supporting our customers’ preferred workflows and enabling an open and accessible set of downstream analytics based on genuine NDVI and other index products,” said Eric Taipale, Sentera’s CEO. “Our partnership with DroneDeploy does just that, providing DroneDeploy users a seamless integration with Sentera’s high-quality sensors.”

NDVI map from Sentera imagery, processed on DroneDeploy. Click to explore.

The SLANTRANGE 3p sensor captures high-resolution, calibrated, multi-spectral imagery data using patented sunlight calibration algorithms so that growers and agronomists can accurately compare crop data over time.

SLANTRANGE 3p calibrated multispectral sensor

“SLANTRANGE is committed to promoting an open ecosystem that allows customers to collect and process their data using a combination of tools that work best for their business,” said Matthew Barre, Director of Strategic Development at SLANTRANGE. “This partnership gives DroneDeploy customers access to the accuracy and specificity of SLANTRANGE’s true multi-spectral imagery.”

NDVI map from SLANTRANGE imagery, processed on DroneDeploy. Click to explore.

Check out our support documentation to learn more about how to capture and process imagery from Sentera or SLANTRANGE sensors.

To learn more about how to use drone mapping to monitor plant health, join our upcoming webinar with SLANTRANGE, Quantifying Crop Trends with NDVI. To learn more about different drone and camera options for agriculture, read DroneDeploy’s recent Drone Buyer’s Guide.

Discover New Apps in the App Market

Now it’s easier than ever to see what’s new in the App Market and get help with an app if you need it. When there are new apps in the App Market, there will be a blue dot on the App Market icon.

Within the App Market itself, new apps will appear at the top of the list, labeled as “New”. And of course, you can still filter apps by category.

Recently added apps include an integration with MapTasks to manage your map projects, an app to apply correct flight settings for Sentera sensors, a tool to export annotations and one to optimize overlap settings for hilly terrain.

If you need support using an app or have suggestions, you can contact the developer directly from the App Market.

Have any suggestions or an idea for a new app? Let us know on our forum.

Start Mapping with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

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