The all new L-A series fixed-wing professional mapping drones were recently announced by French company Lehmann Aviation. The lineup has been completely redesigned and consists of three types of UAS capable of fully autonomous operation, each of them sporting unique features for applications such as precision agriculture, mining and construction, terrain mapping and DEM, as well as other professional as well as personal usage scenarios.
The new drones promise to be even more efficient, easier to use and more reliable than previous models. Their entirely new unique modular design allows for interchanging or upgrading parts on-the-fly, further enhancing cost effectiveness for their owners.
High tech materials such as carbon fiber and aircraft grade aluminum are used for manufacturing the airframe, while military grade protection is used for electronics and connectors. EPP foam is used as wing and control surfaces filling in order to further minimize weight. A single brushless motor propeller drives the drone.
With respect to models they will be replacing soon, the LA500 series drones have a slightly larger wingspan of 116cm and weigh 950-1250g, depending on model and payload. Despite this the drones are more compact and easier to transport thanks to their detachable winglets. Flight time has been improved at up to 45 minutes – with a 4000mAh 11.1V battery pack – and as a consequence range has increased to 25km or over 15 miles. The flight ceiling is now as high as 1000 meters (AGL).
An increased variety of payloads is now supported such as standard GoPro cameras, FLIR View Pro thermal camera, as well as the high resolution Sony Alpha A6000 mirrorless camera which sports a 24.3 Megapixel APS-C imaging sensor. These mapping drones are also capable of acquiring oblique imagery data for detailed 3D maps.
Along with high quality imaging also comes high mapping precision, the LA500-RTK drone can resolve details down to 3-5cm thanks to its all new integrated real-time kinematics (RTK) module. The other two models are capable of 1-5 meter resolutions, however their accuracy can be increased to be on par with the RTK model by means of ground control points (GCP) when possible.
The LA500-AG model can capture invisible light radiations thanks to the Parrot Sequoia multispectral camera, a very useful feature for precise agricultural observations such as soil erosion, pests, reflectance mapping and more.
The powerful autopilot takes over right after hand launching the drone and can perform fully autonomously right down to belly landing the aircraft.
The highly advanced OperationCenter 2 software, designed for Windows 10 devices, allows for complete drone management, from flight planning and monitoring to data acquisition and processing. The software has advanced ortho-mosaicking and DEM capabilities.
|Applications||Land surveying, mining, construction, GIS||Agriculture||Land surveying, mining|
|Integrated equipment||–||Sequoia multispectral camera||RTK module|
|Payloads (optional)||GoPro Hero, Sony A6000, FLIR View Pro|
|Communication||2.4GHz radio, 3.5km/1.9mi range, up to 5km/3mi with optional long range data modem|
|Weight (g/oz)||Up to 1250/44.1 with Sony A6000||950/33.5||Up to 1250/44.1 with Sony A6000|
|Altitude AGL (m/ft)||1000/3280|
|Wind resistance (km/h/mph/knots)||37/23/20|
|Autonomy (minutes)||45 with 4000mAh, 11.1V power pack|
|Accuracy (h-v)||1-5m/3.3-16.4ft (3-5cm/1.2-2in with GCPs)||3-5cm/1.2-2in|
|Software||OperationCenter v2 for Windows 10 devices|
|Image processing (optional)||Agisoft and Pix4D files|
|I/O, storage||USB 2.0, WiFi, microSD|
Pricing and ordering
The LA500 series drones and accessories can be preordered from the manufacturer online store, deliveries starting in 4th quarter of 2016.
As for pricing, the LA500 standard model will set you back US$3,490, or 3.490EUR depending on market, camera not included. Price for the LA500-RTK model is US$5,890 (5.890EUR) also without camera, while the LA500-AG drone is for sale at US$7,990 (7.990EUR) with the Parrot Sequoia camera included. Upon preorder the long range data modem is included for all drone versions.
Image credit: Lehmann Aviation