TerraSmart Launches Autonomous, High Precision Aerial Drone Site Mapping Service

TerraSmart recently introduced the latest in its expanding portfolio of autonomous, cloud-connected solar PV technology services. The Florida company’s new High Precision Aerial Site Mapping (HPASM) service highlights the way innovative, high-tech-driven industry participants are capitalizing on the latest advances in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and drone technology.

TerraSmart’s UAVs can fly over 50-80 acres in an hour at altitudes from 200-400 feet while snapping and processing high-resolution digital images. With cloud network connectivity, TerraSmart can produce a detailed, dynamic 3D topographical map for a 5-MW solar project in just 48 hours.

The Estero, Fla.-based company’s HPASM service cuts the time and cost of solar site mapping down to a fraction of the industry norm and produces significantly better results. The latter includes production of orthomosaics and 3D models with absolute accuracy down to 1 inch. That speeds up project development and reduces operations and maintenance, as well as project development costs, management touts.

Use of Autonomous Connected Devices Continues to Grow


“Our drones and rovers are not for sale, but are proprietary tools we’ve developed to increase project velocity, precision and to deliver a high-level of data so our team can identify any trouble spots in the terrain in advance and deliver solutions for these challenges before they become a problem. This keeps projects moving forward so we can bring sites online faster,” TerraSmart Director of Marketing Jennifer Degtjarewsky told Renewable Energy World in an email.

All TerraSmart drones are operated by in-house, FAA-Certified pilots.

“We do not sub-contract and this service is carried out by TerraSmart staffers from start to finish,” she said. “Our company is vertical, so we have the ability to do any project from start to finish. We are one of the very few, if not the only company, that is true turnkey, meaning we don’t sub out any of our work. Everything is done by TerraSmart staff, with TerraSmart products.”

Given the diversity of site and project types, TerraSmart charges customers on a project-by-project basis for its HPASM service and works with customers to determine optimal project size, specs and requirements in order to map out a custom-tailored plan and solution set for each circumstance, Degtjarewsky said.

On Land and Overhead

The HPASM service isn’t TerraSmart’s first foray into development of drone and cloud technology for the solar energy industry. The company has been working to bring autonomous technology, including its aerial drone site mapping service, into the field at solar energy sites for the past year.


Leveraging technology developed for NASA’s space program, TerraSmart introduced its autonomous precision survey rover (APSR) at the 2016 Solar Power International conference in September. The unmanned, autonomous, all-terrain survey vehicle raises the number of site “stake outs” from an average 200-300 to 1,300 per day.

TerraSmart expects to launch APSR Version 2 in 1Q17. Among its enhancements, ASPR v.2 will be able to survey and drill two-inch diameter holes to a depth of 20 feet within a half-inch tolerance, according to the company.

“All of these services have been field-tested and are all out working successfully on live sites,” Degtjarewsky said. “For example: we have aerial drones mapping a very large site in Oregon today to provide topography to assist with pre-engineering.”

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Andrew reports on renewable energy, clean technology and other issues and topics from posts abroad and here in the US.

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