A drone map of a gas plant

Mapping an operating gas plant for localization

An energy service provider mapped an operating gas plant to produce an up-to-date, high-resolution map for improved facilities localization.

Energy service provider Abacus Datagraphics mapped an operating gas plant in Canada, using a fixed-wing UAV and image-processing software Pix4Dmapper to produce an up-to-date, high-resolution map for improved localization of facilities for the plant operators.

Project Information

CompanyAbacus Datagraphics Ltd
Project dateJune 2015
Project membersKurtis Poettcker
Project size80 acres
Number of images326
GSD3.6 cm
Aerial image of an operating gas plant.

A comprehensive and up-to-date map

The aim of this project was to map an operating gas plant in Alberta, Canada, using high-resolution aerial imagery to obtain an orthomosaic. The orthomosaic was then underlay with a survey drawing showing all underground facilities, creating a comprehensive and up-to-date map.

Using the fixed-wing senseFly eBee, the Abacus team flew one flight, capturing 326 photos of an 80 acre area in around one hour. Because the eBee would be flying over an operating gas plant, strict regulations regarding safety policy had to be followed: takeoff and landing were performed outside of the actual plant area.

Eight ground control points were established from a previous conventional survey of the plant site, though they did not contain the elevation values and were only used to improve the horizontal accuracy.

Aerial image of an operating gas plant showing long shadows.

"Results came out very well"

A georeferenced orthomosaic of the entire gas plant site was generated by the latest version of Pix4Dmapper, 2.0.71. Results came out very well and in high-resolution. The orthomosaic required some manual editing, however, due to moving vehicles during the image acquisition, which had caused blurring, or “ghost effect.” Additionally, the flight was executed in the evening and thus captured the significant movement of shadows, resulting in multiple long shadows on the orthomosaic.

The final orthomosaic of the gas plant.

Visualize buried facilities

Before the use of UAVs, the only way to get an orthomosaic underlay for a project like this was to purchase aerial orthophotos or processed satellite imagery, which tend to be out-of-date and of much lower resolution.

“Such results were too pixelated to be of much value,” said Kurtis Poettcker of Abacus Datagraphics. “Having a high-resolution image really enhances the usefulness of the underground map, allowing operators to really visualize the location of buried facilities.”

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