WSI (Watershed Sciences, Inc.) Acquires UltraCam Eagle

The team of roughly 100 at WSI (Watershed Sciences, Inc.) sits in a 12,5000 sq. foot state-of-the-art facility in downtown Portland, Oregon. When I visited them this past June, I was impressed with the facilities but even more so with the team that I presented to. Sharp folks. Not just because I think so … I have heard this sentiment echoed in the US aerial mapping community among flyers who are familiar with the Portland company and the work they do. Being R&D professionals, WSI had done their homework as to which digital aerial sensor they would incorporate into their offerings prior to even inviting me to visit. Being smart people, they chose UltraCam, specifically the UltraCam Eagle with its 20,010 across track image footprint. The acquisition also includes the UltraNav Direct Georeferencing and Flight Management system for GNSS-inertial capabilities in a light and compact package, directly integrated into the sensor head.

Matt Boyd, WSI co-CEO, shared the results of their research:

  1. In a 3-month test with an UltraCamX system, compared to WSI’s medium-format digital system, Matt estimated flying utility lines at 20 miles/day (old camera) compared to 171 miles per day with the UltraCamX and expects even better performance with the UltraCam Eagle.
  2. To complete a typical project, the UltraCamX collected in 7 days what the old system required 44 days to collect.
  3. Total operating costs (acquisition/processing/ground operations) were reduced by 2/3 with the UltraCamX and he expects even more savings with the UltraCam Eagle.

WSI has already been at work doing some pretty innovative things with UltraCam data, some of which Matt shared with me and is briefly referenced in the announcement included here. Keep an eye on WSI for good things to come from their UltraCam Eagle.

In the meantime, take a look at the announcement below about their acquisition.

– Jerry Skaw, Sales & Marketing, Microsoft UltraCam Team

WSI Purchases UltraCam Eagle With UltraNav
Graz, Austria — July 17, 2012 — WSI (Watershed Sciences, Inc.) has contracted with Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit and subsidiary, Vexcel Imaging GmbH, to purchase an UltraCam Eagle digital aerial camera system. The UltraCam Eagle delivered to WSI features the UltraNav GNSS-Inertial Direct Georeferencing + Flight Management System, an integrated unit that consolidates all navigation and flight planning components for simpler installation and more economical operations when compared to similar “standalone” systems. The UltraNav GNSS-Inertial technology results in further lower operating costs already afforded by the UltraCam Eagle by reducing the number of required GCP’s and flight lines, and increases the collection efficiency through precision flight planning and image overlap control.

“Purchasing the UltraCam Eagle and UltraNav systems was an easy investment decision to make after WSI ran a three-month test with an UltraCamX,” stated Mr. Matt Boyd, co-Owner and co-CEO, WSI. “We had no doubt that the UltraCam Eagle would drastically reduce our operating expenses, greatly increase the volume of data collected in a given time period, and improve the image quality that we could deliver. There was no downside.”

WSI intends to use the UltraCam Eagle in conjunction with a lidar sensor to produce a new product appropriate for a variety of applications, such as natural resource management, utility management, carbon sequestration, urban planning and forest management. By combining high-resolution lidar data (>30 pts/m2) with very high-resolution optical imagery (1-2” pixels), the resulting product has extended utility to many new users/consumers. WSI’s goal is to make geospatial information accessible to users who may not have the technical background required to interpret stand-alone lidar data.

“WSI has a reputation for solving real-world problems for its customers by developing unique spatial analysis techniques,” explained Mr. Matt Boyd, co-Owner and co-CEO, WSI. “The UltraCam Eagle plays a key role in our future plans, particularly in our vegetation management service to utilities required to comply with NERC standards.”

“Microsoft is pleased to provide WSI with the UltraCam Eagle and UltraNav systems to support its future growth and R&D efforts,” said Alexander Wiechert, Microsoft Business Director. “As an industry innovator, WSI is best served by having highly advanced digital imaging technology available.”

About the UltraCam Eagle
The UltraCam Eagle features a pan image footprint of 20,010 pixels across the flight strip. In addition to the ultra-large image footprint, the UltraCam Eagle includes enhanced electronics for improved frame rate and less noise (72 dB signal-to-noise ratio for high image dynamic) when compared to previous UltraCam systems, and innovative high-resolution, high-performance lenses and state-of-the art CCD technology (@ 5.2 µm pixel size) for sharp images with a high dynamic range. The UltraCam Eagle is the first multi-cone digital photogrammetric camera to offer an exchangeable lens system with 80mm (standard) and 210mm (tele for high altitude flights) and includes filters with curved characteristics to flatten out vignetting. Compared to previous UltraCam systems, the smaller physical form factor of the UltraCam system makes it quicker and easier to install, requires less aircraft space, and weighs less for more efficient aircraft fuel consumption.

About UltraNav
UltraNav is a Flight Management and Direct Georeferencing system designed to maximize the efficiency of aerial mapping. Based upon the widely adopted Applanix POSTrack solution, the UltraNav is comprised of embedded GNSS/inertial hardware, pilot and operator displays, and office software for flight planning and generation of exterior orientation.

About WSI (Watershed Sciences, Inc.)
WSI (Watershed Sciences, Inc.) was established in 1999 to provide water quality modeling services, using remote sensing data such as aerial imagery and thermal infrared data to map and model watersheds throughout Oregon. Since then, the company has grown to more than 100 full-time employees and owns and operates its own fleet of aircraft, two medium-format digital cameras, five lidar sensors, a thermal IR camera, and a new HD video system. While a significant number of projects are located in the Pacific Northwest, WSI now works throughout North America, including Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. Its commitment to the use of innovative technology has allowed the company to expand its core services considerably. Today, WSI is an industry leader in applied remote sensing and analysis, and continues to provide cutting edge solutions in the areas of vegetation mapping, thermal modeling and wide area lidar terrain mapping. For more information go to www.watershedsciences.com or contact Matt Boyd by telephone at (503) 505-5100 or email mboyd@watershedsciences.com.

About Microsoft’s UltraCam Business Unit
With its operations based in Graz, Austria, and sales and support teams in North America, Microsoft’s UltraCam business unit brings more than two decades of photogrammetry expertise to Microsoft’s Bing Maps business unit. The division is responsible for the highly successful line of UltraCam digital aerial mapping systems that include the UltraCamLp, UltraCamXp, UltraCamXp Wide Angle and UltraCam Eagle digital photogrammetric sensors. Rounding out the UltraCam mapping systems offering is the UltraMap workflow software system for processing UltraCam imagery to Level 02 and Level 03 quality data, and with features that include distributed processing with automated load balancing, automated project-based color balancing, and additional quality control tools.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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About UltraCam Team

Vexcel Imaging is a leading provider of digital aerial cameras. Its family of UltraCam aerial sensor products includes the UltraCam Condor, UltraCam Osprey, UltraCam Eagle/EaglePrime, UltraCam Falcon/FalconPrime and and end-to-end processing with UltraMap photogrammetric workflow software. Terrestrial products include the UltraCam Mustang mobile sensor system and the UltraCam Panther portable sensor system.
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