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Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

(OP)
I posted this in the structural forum but I thought I'd put it here too.
Very cool video by a quad-copter flying over Napa, California after the earthquake - filming damage from beside and above the buildings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQhYbfIz0n4

Wondering what they cost and whether a typical engineering firm could afford these and make use of them for investigations, etc. in hard-to reach places.

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RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Boy, that was really enlightening. I agree that this would help in remote areas or similar situations where access to the damaged area is hazardous. Also help in the search for victims.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Kenat, the rules are rapidly changing so I might not have the full picture but last I heard the FAA has stated that commercial use of a drone is illegal but non-commercial use is considered under the same rules as a model aircraft. I think they recently put some harsher non-commercial rules into effect but am not sure. There is some legal debate on wither they can actually fine people for violating their commercial ban but I wouldn't test it as they have tried recently to fine a few people for $10,000, if I recall.

It's actually quite frustrating as my father is a retired commercial pilot (still has the full rating, just not a current medial license above the requirements for private pilot) and he's trying to start up a commercial video and photography service using a combination of drones and light aircraft but these rules are basically stopping him. It's stupid that we can get in an aircraft and take commercial video but if we do it with a high end drone we're breaking the law. He also has offered to let me use the drone for engineering work (site surveys, structural investigations, so on) but I've so far turned him down as it would technically be commercial use (and it's also a $1,300 drone I've never flown before).

Maine EIT, Civil/Structural.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

TehMightyEngineer, at first glance it does seem ridiculous how long it's taking FAA to properly address commercial use of drones.

Of course if they'd rushed things then the first time one causes an incident at an airport with an airliner or similar there'd be hell to pay.

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RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

In my mind all they have to do is limit commercial drones to less than 500 feet and 2 to 5 miles from airports (depending on size of the airport). 500 feet is the minimum altitude a pilot should be flying unless landing. There should also be some minimum distance from persons, vehicles and buildings and obvious stuff like don't try to fly anywhere unsafe and so on. Then, provide rules that a rated private pilot and above can operate a drone in visual contact to any altitude and with less restrictions. The crazy thing too is they really aren't that dangerous. As long as you don't get them into a turbine most planes can easily survive impact with a small UAV. You'll obviously do some damage and it wouldn't be fun for the plane but birds can do just as much damage if not more and planes aren't falling out of the sky from them and they have no rules at all.

Maine EIT, Civil/Structural.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Can the image be in real time or is it recorded?

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)


RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Both I think.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Both but the range of the video signal is less than the range of the quad copter.

Maine EIT, Civil/Structural.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Some of the visuals from that video were startling (as in "wow, I didn't know bricks could bend like that!"), until I realized the lens was distorting the image. Wonder if you could get a lens with less fish-eye effects?

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Since the advent of the 'Go-Pro' series of small cameras most everything like this are using extreme wide-angle lens, but they are technically not 'fish-eye' lens, but then all lens, particularly wide-angles, when placed that close or when items are at oblique angles to the lens, which by definition happens when any lens is placed close to some central object, those areas off to the sides tend to be distorted to one extent or another. That being said, despite the apparent distortion, for something like this, an extreme wide-angle lens is much more suitable than a so-called 'normal' and certainly better than any shot telephoto lens. Keep in mind, the human eye sees the world in a much wider field-of-view than some people first assume, which is why many people are often disappointed when they first start taking pictures of outdoor scenes if they're not using a wide-angle lens. For my DSLR, I have a 10mm-24mm zoom (about the same as was a 15mm-36mm on a 35mm camera) and it's often the only lens I use when shooting outdoors.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
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To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

I would think you'd want at least one lens that would not distort a straight line, like a wall or door frame, to do a decent structural survey. Damage like fallen bricks stands out well in the video (so does the pile of bricks on the ground, by the way), but a buckled wall or roof joist would be tougher to see in the video, or at least to see if it's really out of plumb, or just distorted by the camera lens (which all of the straight lines are in the video links).

The ability to reduce parallax and distortion in recorded video is (at least to my mind) hard to do reliably via image post-processing (it's hard to do even in a still image, and I know because I've tried, I too own a lot of cameras and a lot of lenses, and like to play with them). Whereas an undistorted (or less distorted) image from the start (even if its field of view is limited) would reduce the number of questions, and hopefully the number of repeat flights to determine the extent and type of damage. Having a seperate camera might be the way to go with this, if the operator wants the wide field of view to avoid running into stuff.

"...despite the apparent distortion, for something like this, an extreme wide-angle lens is much more suitable than a so-called 'normal' and certainly better than any shot telephoto lens"

You don't back this up with anything, so I assume you meant the reason I gave above, John.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Yes, I meant it in the sense that it would be hard to either fly a remote vehicle if you're able to receive the video in real-time, or if not, have any expectation that what you're interested in would even be in the view of the shot, if you weren't using some sort of wide-angle lens.

As for your comment about the need for distortion-free videos for doing inspections of structural damage, I agree 100%, but the current state-of-the-art, at least with respect to what I suspect was used to shoot the videos that we're seeing from Napa, that these are still basically 'hobby' type devices with nothing more sophisticated then something like a Go-Pro camera on board. However, I'm sure that if there is sufficient interest in remote inspection of either inaccessible or hazardous areas via these small drones, that someone will decide to invest in more appropriate video gear suitable of professional operations.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Distortion can be reliably removed, IF you have knowledge of the distance, so a small laser rangefinder could make that work.

One REALLY noticeable thing is that Napa seems to be much more 21st century than I would have expected; there were almost no overhead wires in the video. Had there been the typical rat's nest of overhead wires, telephone poles, etc,. the video would have be 10 times harder successfully execute. Additionally, that particular quad-rotor was probably flown by direct line of sight, i.e., the operator probably had eyes on the craft at all times. A pure remote flying is another layer of complexity to come.

TTFN
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Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

As for the overhead line issues, being from the midwest (Northern Michigan originally), that was one of the things we noticed when we first moved to SoCal in 1980, very few overhead wires of any sort. Oh you still have the high-tension lines out in the country, but once you get into urban areas, most power and telephone lines are underground. I suspect that this makes our power delivery more reliable, but of course we don't get as many heavy thunder and lighting storms and certainly no ice storms or blizzards (we do get high winds, Santa Ana's, in the early Spring and late Fall, which can be destructive). However, the city where we live, I suspect that the real reason for the underground service is purely for the aesthetic appeal. It just looks cleaner and nicer.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

The other reason, I suspect, is ease of access for maintenance for keeping lines above ground elsewhere. Freeze/thaw/rain etc. all contribute to line damage. If the lines were underground, the cost to repair would be quite high, while here, at least in Cali, we're in a coastal desert, so water damage is pretty rare and there's no reason not to bury the lines.

TTFN
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RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

I am not familiar with the details of the seismic codes in CA, so the striking thing to me was the intact red tile roofs. Even on pretty severely damaged buildings, not a single tile lost? I can imagine that tiles shucking off onto pedestrians would be a major risk. Are the tiles required to be lightweight fiberglass? How are they fastened that they can survive a shake like this? My house has 30-yr-old tile in one section, that appear to be held on with two nails per tile.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

The nails are enough. Pulling out a nail requires some amount of brute strength, and the shear strength of typical roofing nails is also pretty good. I think that for most earthquakes, the tiles will crack before the nails get pulled out.

TTFN
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Need help writing a question or understanding a reply? forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

We have an old fashion terra cotta clay tile roof on our house in SoCal. The tiles are heavy and considered permanent in that they never wear out and only need to be replaced when cracked or broken. They are so heavy in fact that the ceiling joists in our house are on closer centers than they would have been if we'd had a woooden shake roof or traditional shingles. Also, terra cotta tile roofs are considered fully fireproof which helps with out homeowner's insurance.

Our house was built in 1979 and we've lived here since 1987 and during that time, we've had the roof worked on only once about 8 or 9 years ago when we had some dry-rot in the underlying plywood sheeting and they had to lift all of the tiles off the roof to replace the 10 or 12 sheets of plywood that were affected. They then relaid the original tiles having to replace maybe 50 or 60 broken and cracked ones. Over the years I suspect that more tiles have been cracked/broken due to high winds than earthquakes. When there's an 80 mph Santa Ana blowing it's amazing to watch it lift even those heavy clay tiles.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

BTW, most lightweight fiberglass "shakes" are AWFUL. They leach and discolor. Ex-neighbor used something like CalShake, and within a year, one, and only one, pallet discolored; I'm saying only one, since it was about 3 lines of tiles that changed, while all the others simply faded over time. Another used a different product, but was fortunate in that he got the variegated colors and positions, and when certain tiles changed color, it was not detectable unless you had seen the original colors.

TTFN
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

Need help writing a question or understanding a reply? forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers

Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Sobering to note that almost every one of the damaged buildings was government-owned, government-used, or government-maintained..... The old churches were the exception - and they require "historic" protocols.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

I'm not sure that that's an accurate statement.

At least from what I've read and heard, and know from personal experience (our #2 son lived in Napa for several years and we had visited the town on numerous occasions), the two buildings which seem to have sustained the most damage were one that was used for commercial and professional offices (that view of the top floor where it looked like a corner of the building completely collapsed onto the street) had recently been vacated by a private attorney, and the other building (on a corner with all the windows broken and most of the facade missing) was a sort of wine seller's co-op which allowed smaller wineries, that didn't have retail operations of their own, to sell their wines directly to the public.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

RE: Quad-copter video of Napa CA EQ damage - very cool

Along the lines of using these sorts of 'drones' for scientific and engineering tasks, here a brief item from my alma mater on the subject:

http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2014/september/mtr...

And here's the link to the video mentioned in the article:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xnTP4ZA1Nk

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

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