feel the thinner air as the platform was much more responsive,
especially when descending—less air for the propellers to grab
onto. I left it at one demo flight as we all were tired and still
cold, and so we went inside and enjoyed a great dinner, with
more planning discussions.
My plan was to use DroneDeploy to map a couple of areas
of the Adamello Glacier. One of things we wanted to see was if
we could measure a change in the glacier from morning
to the afternoon. The mountain guides expressed
interest in this, as they can feel and see a difference
in the glacier from morning to afternoon. Also, for our
search-and-rescue tests, we needed to create a 2D
map of one of the search areas.
The protocol for the search-and-rescue tests stated
that three different tests were to be conducted for each
scenario. So we created three teams, with a mountain guide
in each as the lead. Team 1 was to go out into the search
area looking for the missing hiker with no additional information; this is just as it is done today. Team 2 was to first see
a 2D map that we had just created of the area; based on that
data, they got to review their approach. Team 3 was able to
use the drone as an additional tool and aerial support during
We wanted to measure how long it would take until each
team spotted the missing person and then made physical
contact. Often, there is time between spotting the missing
person and making contact. One measurement is if a drone
can cut that time down; for example, if you know ahead of
time that a missing individual has fallen down a cliff, you can go
directly to the bottom of that cliff.
Before the search-and-rescue tests, we flew the DJI Phantom 4, with the assistance of DroneDeploy, over the search
area and gathered images to create a 2D mosaic output of the
area. It was early in the morning at high altitude, with winds of
about 20 knots (23mph) and a temperature of approximately
2°C ( 35°F)—overall, not bad conditions. And what you would
expect on top of a glacier anyway?!
The Phantom 4 flew the mission without any problems, and
we quickly off-loaded the images. Since we did not have any
connectivity up there, we planned on creating the mosaic with
native software on a laptop. It meant that we had to align each
row individually and then stitch the rows together. After about
30 minutes, we had a dataset and transferred it over to one of
the Android smart devices for Team 2 to review.
From the past few search-and-rescue missions as well
At this Altitude, the quAdcopter performed very well. i could feel the
thinner Air As the plAtform wAs much more responsive, especiAlly
when descending—less Air for the propellers to grAb onto.
Practice flight across
the valley from the