Closer to the market - successful first mapKITE workshop with end-users and stakeholders

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On March, 15th 2017, the BCN Drone Center hosted once more an event related with the Horizon2020 project mapKITE. But this time the activity was not related to sub-system testing or laboratory development -something bigger was in place. mapKITE was presented in a workshop that gathered industry specialists from the world-leading mobile mapping integrators (Leica, Trimble, Teledyne-Optech, IGI GmbH), reference European mobile mapping service companies (GeoSAT, TopScan), local cartographic and infrastructure management agencies (Institut Cartogràfic i Geologic de Catalunya, Direcció General d'Infrastructures de Mobilitat Terrestre, Port de Barcelona) and some other stakeholders.

The event resulted in a successful presentation of the main insights behind the revolutionary tandem drone-MMS concept to an audience of around fourty people. Additionally, the European GNSS Agency (GSA) provided the latest insights about the European GNSS systems, EGNOS and Galileo, and its uses for mapping and surveying applications. Finally, Antonio Lira, from Engemap (Brazil), presented the success case of the early-bird implementation of mapKITE in real operations for road mapping in Brazil. The event included a demo, in which the participants could also see the system operating in a real flight, and a round table discussion with the attendees.

During the rest of the week, several testing activities were carried to validate the upgraded functionalities of the current mapKITE system, such as the virtual tether, the operation in higher speeds, and calibration maneuvers.

After two years of development, the mapKITE project has materialized a new mobile, terrestrial and aerial, geodata collection and mapping paradigm. Geodata acquisition in mapKITE is accomplished by a tandem terrestrial-aerial mapping system based on a terrestrial vehicle and on an unmanned aircraft, both equipped with remote sensing payloads. In the mapKITE paradigm, the UA follows the TV at an approximate constant flying height above ground while geodata are acquired simultaneously from air and ground. The final product is high resolution, oriented, calibrated and integrated images of a corridor and its environment.

In the application context of corridor, mapKITE combines the advantages of the terrestrial and airborne (manned or unmanned) systems, and responds to corridor mapping market needs only fulfilled by much more expensive separate terrestrial and aerial missions.

For this purpose, the European GNSS systems are instrumental in mapKITE. An enabling component of mapKITE is EGNOS, which provides the desired level of accuracy for the terrestrial navigation solution (which is the source of the UA waypoints) and also for the UA guidance. Additionally, the Galileo E5 AltBOC signal, superior to existing or planned GPS signals, is of particular interest because of its robustness properties against multipath at the ground level.

MapKITE goes beyond just traditional mapping with new technology; it is a mapping breakthrough as in introduces a new surveying paradigm, new mathematical models, new ways of fusing sensors and a new “map” product. It is protected by the Spanish patent 201231200 and US patent US9477230, and filed applications for Europe and Brazil.

GeoNumerics (Castelldefels, Catalonia, Spain) is a research and development (R&D) intensive small-and-medium-enterprise (SME) company specialised in geomatics and accurate navigation. The mapKITE concept is an invention of GeoNumerics. GeoNumerics was awarded the “Innovative SME” seal by the Spanish “Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad” (Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness).

MapKITE is currently being developed by an international consortium within the frame of the project “mapKITE: EGNOS-GPS/GALILEO-based high-resolution terrestrial-aerial sensing system.“ The project is funded by the European Commission (EC) through the European Union (EU) “Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation,” supervised by the European GNSS Agency (GSA) on behalf of the EC, and coordinated by GeoNumerics. The mapKITE consortium includes ten organizations from five European countries and Brazil.