to preview the flight using a simulation feature to ensure the 
flight plan is correct and the system won’t encounter obstacles. 
He sets the airplane on the catapult and, with one click, au-
tomatically launches it; once it reaches its cruising altitude of 
150 m (492 ft), Jobard watches the X100 fly the pre-defined, 
45-minute flight and monitors the data from the onboard sen-
sors on his ground-control tablet PC via telemetry link. Once 
the flight is complete, the X100 lands automatically, and the 
data is downloaded for processing.

At a cruising speed of 80 kmh (50 mph), and altitude of 150 m, 
Jobard can survey the entire Hinkley Point C site in two flights, 
acquiring up to 800 photos with a ground sample distance 
image resolution of 5.7 cm (2.2 in).

From Flight to Sight
Processing the data with the system’s customized Stretchout™ 
photogrammetric software is also largely automatic, says Jobard.

To begin, Jobard uploads the camera imagery, flight-recording 
data and coordinates of previously surveyed ground control 
points (GCPs) into the software for seamless integration. There 
are seven permanent markers around the site which were 
surveyed with RTK-GPS technology as reference points; and 
depending on need, Jobard uses manmade, cross-shaped 
markers that are surveyed for additional GCPs to increase accu-
racy. The software integrates the three data sources and Jobard 
then chooses the processing parameters. As the images are 
collected with a 75-percent overlap, Jobard can either click “go” 
and the software automatically identifies a few thousand com-
mon reference points between photos to produce a seamless, 
georeferenced orthomosaic, or he can choose more sophis-
ticated functionality to produce point clouds, 3D models, or 

orthomosaics draped over 3D models. All of those outputs can 
then be exported in various formats for viewing or integration 
into other software such as GIS or Google Earth. 

Extending the Wingspan 
Though the X100 was initially acquired as an aerial surveil-
lance and mapping tool for the engineering department, its 
wingspan has quickly extended across other business divisions 
such as land surveying, security, facilities management and 
traffic management.

For example, during clean-up operations required at the site, 
crews encountered asbestos, which required a different ap-
proach to clearing the contaminated soil. Jobard was able to 
process the weekly X100 flights into layered 3D models to cal-
culate stock pile volumes to better monitor the soil excavation.

Given the level of rainfall in the area, the X100 imagery aided 
engineers tasked with developing flood management strate-
gies. The 2D maps effectively showed where water was pooling 
after heavy rains, enabling them to identify a suitable location 
to build a temporary reservoir. They could then monitor how 
quickly the reservoir filled with water to determine whether 
the structure was sound.

Traffic management professionals used the imagery to help 
identify suitable locations for traffic signs and car parks. A 
targeted X100 survey of a 10-km (6.2-mi) access road allowed 
them to determine whether that road, which has a few tight 
curves, would be sufficient for heavy equipment loads when 
construction began. 

“The UAS was an ideal surveying and mapping support tool 
for our preliminary site preparation work,” says Jobard. “It’s 
a great complement to our traditional ground surveys and 
continues to provide frequent business intelligence. With our 
nearly weekly flights, mapping with the X100 can be done on 
demand for 20 times less cost than conventional aerial photo-
grammetry, without sacrificing image quality.”

See feature in American Surveyor's Issue 10 #6: www.amerisurv.com