Microdrones Methane

Cool Gear at the Commercial UAV Expo: Part 1

This entry is part 30 of 80 in the series Pangaea

The third Commercial UAV Expo brought together 2,000 professionals from 53 countries and every U.S. state, representing a wide array of industries, all in sunny Las Vegas where the October weather was quite agreeable. The event featured four keynotes, three plenaries, dozens of industry-specific presentations, offsite flying demonstrations, numerous networking events, and more than 150 exhibitors packing 180 booths with UAV solutions for commercial end-users and asset owners.

The next expo will be October 1-3, 2018 and will incorporate Drone World Expo, recently acquired by Diversified Communications.

Now that we’ve gotten the numbers out of the way, let’s talk cool stuff!

Pipeline Monitoring

Microdrones MethaneIncluding both onshore and offshore lines, there are over 300,000 miles of interstate and intrastate transmission pipelines and 2.1 million miles of distribution natural gas pipelines, according to Pipeline 101. Microdrones’ new methane detection system is a valuable tool for monitoring methane pipelines for safety and environmental issues. The mdTector1000 CH4 is a fully integrated aerial methane inspection package. Purpose-built for professionals who are responsible for inspecting methane gas infrastructure, it contains a Pergam gas sensor, mounted and integrated perfectly with a Microdrones md4-1000 UAV. What’s more, it has an onboard HD video link, which means that you can see in real time what you are detecting with the laser sensor.

Corridor Mapping

Problem: blackouts caused by vegetation growth into power lines and improperly rated lines cost utilities and businesses billions of dollars. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has developed requirements for U.S. and Canadian utilities to routinely monitor the 450,000 miles of transmission lines that exist in North America for encroaching vegetation and line-rating assessment.


One solution: corridor mapping and monitoring with the new RIEGL miniVUX-1DL is a variation of the RIEGL miniVUX-1 UAV miniature UAV laser scanner and is purpose-made for corridor mapping missions. The designation “DL” means “downward-looking” and refers to its special design tailored to meet the needs of corridor mapping tasks (downward-looking, optimized field of view, small size). The RIEGL miniVUX-1DL is compact and lightweight (2.4 kg/5.3 lbs) and well suited for tasks such as powerline and pipeline surveillance or for infrastructure inspection, such as highway or railway monitoring.

Geophysical Surveying

I saw this rocket-shaped device at the show and had to ask: What is it? The AirBIRD is a lightweight, towed magnetometer system designed specifically for UAVs. This system has everything needed to carry out high-precision magnetometer surveys from an UAV. Weighing 3.5 kg/7.7 lbs., the AirBIRD is suitable for medium and larger quadcopters and helicopter UAVs. The turnkey system is designed to simply be attached to an appropriate UAV (i.e. one that can carry a 3.5 kg payload) for survey operations. Applications range from archeology, to mineral exploration, to earthquake research, and much more.

Stay tuned for more cool gear next time.

Pangaea LogoThis article appeared in xyHt‘s e-newsletter, Pangaea. We email it twice a month, and it covers a variety of unusual geospatial topics in a conversational tone. You’re welcome to subscribe to the e-newsletter here. (You’ll also receive the once-monthly Field Notes newsletter with your subscription.)

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