Sentera captures 25 million acres of precision ag images

By Patrick C. Miller | June 23, 2016

Minneapolis-based Sentera LLC this week announced that has captured more than 25 million acres of images from unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) since its start in 2014.

"For us to reach this milestone, capturing an area of imagery that roughly equates to the size of Virginia, is incredibly rewarding,” said Eric Taipale, Sentera CEO. He estimates that 75 percent of the imagery was captured by quadcopters and the remainder by fixed-wing UAVs, all weighing less than five pounds.

Taipale said Sentera decided to take a tally of the acreage it’s photographed after hearing of others in the UAS industry talk about reaching a million acres or a few million.

“It turns out that we’ve covered a lot more than anyone we know about,” he said, adding that the 25 million covers only the images processed by Sentera.

The company designs, develops and manufactures software, sensors and UAS for the agriculture, infrastructure inspection and public safety industries. Its engineering team's experience stretches back to the mid-1990s with Lockheed Martin.

Taipale said the company’s AgVault 2.0 Software translates the imagery into actionable data for the precision agriculture industry, resulting in increased crop yields, greater profits, cost-savings and improved safety.

"Sensing, data and image collection capabilities are always a focus,” he explained. “We see a clear need for our sensor and software solutions to help real people use their data to solve real problems—collaboratively."

Sentera also recently announced product launches that include the AgVault 2.0 Mobile App with autonomous flight capabilities and the fixed-wing Phoenix 2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The Phoenix 2 has up to 60 minutes of flight endurance and a cruise speed of 30 mph, enabling it to cover broader areas than other small UAVs. A Kestrel OnBoard autopilot enables the Phoenix 2 to capture images with precise, even spacing. Image overlap is automatically calculated and can be adjusted by the end user.

Taipale mentioned that one problem associated with small, fixed-wing UAS is overheating. He said Sentera recently tested the Phoenix 2 in Riverside, California, where the temperature was 114 degrees and encountered no thermal problems.

Capable of carrying multiple sensors, the Phoenix 2’s payload can include the Sentera Double 4K Sensor to provide true RGB and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data in a single flight. Sentera’s Quad Sensor—a multi-spectral, six-band imager with red edge capabilities—is also available for agricultural applications.

Mapping sensors include the Sentera-Q for high-resolution ortho maps and the Radiometric Thermal Sensor, which quickly builds high-resolution, true-temperature maps. Sentera also offers electro-optical and infrared gimbaled payloads for live video public safety missions.

The AgVault 2.0 Mobile App adds autonomous UAV route planning for the DJI Phantom 4, Phantom 3 and Inspire families of drones. The app allows the operator to select the UAV’s altitude, sensor configuration, overlap, sideslip and survey area. The drone launches from within the app, autonomously flies the predetermined route and automatically returns upon completion.


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