UP students push drone tech for Pinoy everyday life
From taking aerial photographs to delivering food in war-torn areas, drone technology has been applied in surveying and mapping, weather forecasting, and even in military pursuit of other drones that may be used in terrorist attacks.
Drones can also uphold strict environmental standards among mining firms, according to students from the University of the Philippines (UP), who have come up with an application that will make auditing mining firms cheaper, faster, and more accessible.
“Monitoring and auditing mining firms using traditional tools is an expensive procedure done over weeks and months. With the use of drones, we can perform the process in mere days,” said Luis Sia, who has a computer science background. The technology can help make sure that mining firms follow regulations, he added.
In late 2015, Sia started AltitudeX—a “100 percent Filipino-owned technology startup”—to provide fast, reliable, and cost-effective services using innovations in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drone technology.
AltitudeX envisions drone technology as offering services from aerial mapping to videography, as well as progressive solutions across mining, property, construction, agriculture and other industries.
Sia and Engr. Bea Gana from UP’s Geodetic Engineering department are at the helm of AltitudeX, along with a team of licensed drone pilots, geodetic engineers and computer scientists.
“With our technology, [the] government can instantly get data from mining companies that will otherwise be hard to collect,” Sia said.
The drones are flown over a specific area to take pictures that are geotagged, he explained. “This information is then supplemented with data from ground control points to create survey-grade maps,” Sia added.
The geometrics procedure offers promising applications in other industries, such as agriculture, because drone technology has the capacity to capture levels of vegetation and water in real time.
The technology also has social benefits, said this “Iskolar ng Bayan.”
“One of our first clients was interested in using drones to map the ancestral lands of a tribe to avoid encroachment,” Sia said.
He added, “We can potentially save companies and the government millions of pesos while ensuring that environmental standards are met—especially in mining.”
Given the chance, the team would be “more than happy” to work with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Sia said, adding that this was a response to Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s call to involve young Filipinos in solving the country’s environmental woes.
In the future, AltitudeX hopes to integrate drone technology into everyday life to help the Philippines catch up with more high-tech countries.
A 2015 study from UK-based Juniper Research estimates that 16 million consumer drones a year will be sold worldwide by 2020.
For more information on AltitudeX, visit www.altitudex.ph.
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