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Close up solar panel inspections - Is it easy to align the flight plan with the solar panel rows?

HammerMissions

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Hi there,

Some of our users were finding it difficult to conduct close up solar panel inspections using traditional mapping software.

So we introduced a new mission type in Hammer focused specifically on solar panel inspections.


It helps you mark the solar farm and select the solar rows, so that the flight plan can be automatically aligned with the solar rows for close up inspections.

We're curious to understand if this is a common challenge faced by solar inspections globally? And if so, how do you solve this currently?

Thanks!
 

chasco

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We use DroneDeploy and it is very easy with the default planning if they are in a straight row, but you can also do it with linear flight if you need to put intermediate turns to change the direction. Other softwares have the same default lawnmower pattern, but most do not do linear flight. Litchi is also a great option because the control plan is totally configurable and curves can be put in, but it is a little more legwork up front.
 

chasco

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@chasco thanks for sharing! surely the linear flight plan would involve marking each row separately? also, do you fly with a constant orientation or following the direction of travel?
With something like DroneDeploy you pick the point for the centerline and by adjusting your altitude and overlaps it creates the actual flight path. With Litchi you are setting waypoints on the flight path, but it is much more configurable. With either of them the default orientation is heading to the next waypoint.
 
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chasco

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Can you easily create something like this to follow the solar panel rows?

Yes you can, but it is a pain to get the side overlap setting just right in order to get exactly in a consistent orientation to the actual centerline of the panels. It would be better to use a standard waypoint mission or a linear mission where the centerline of the flight path is more accurately located. From that scenario it looks like flying directly over each row with a single path should capture sufficient overlaps for a good reconstruction. In DroneDeploy most of the settings are automated derived from your AGL and overlaps, but in a single path linear mission it is just the front overlap that you need to configure. It handles the shot location and speed,. In Litchi you use a 2-second interval and have to calculate what you speed should be according to your AGL and desired overlaps. I have found that 18mph at about 250ft with a Phantom 4 Pro will provide 75% front laps.
 

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