Live Broadcast Using Unmanned Aerial Systems

Live Broadcast Using Unmanned Aerial Systems

So what are we up to at present? Heliguy are working with Live Broadcast companies including RaceTech, the company behind the footage for Channel 4 Racing.

Last updated: Mar 11, 2021

4 minute read

Unmanned Aerial Sytems and Live Broadcast have come on leaps and bounds in recent times and heliguy™ are fortunate to be involved with some of the best producers and UAS operators. So what are we up to at present?

heliguy™ are working with Live Broadcast companies

The DJI Inspire 1 and the DJI Phantom 3 are both catalysts for the new flying market anticipating the use of live broadcast. You can now broadcast a live event from your Phantom to YouTube, that makes you a one person TV broadcast unit. Who could have foreseen a utility like this even just a couple of years ago? The use of Cobham, Paralinx and Teradek is proliferated within the movie industry. heliguy™ have also been testing the Amimon Connex for both movie and live broadcast too. Lightness of the solution is the winner when using the UAS effectively. The ability to send a live feed to ground is restricted by the distance and also the level of resolution you require. To be relatively cost effective in solution, gaining no more than 1080p resolution is about as good as it gets at present. So that means a flying latency so you can gain your useable 4k footage, once the drone lands and the memory card is removed from the vehicle. At heliguy™ we have been working with a number of broadcast companies to add UAS platforms to their work tools. RaceTech Clive Matthews, Commercial UAV pilot and Broadcast Engineer at RachTech backs this up with ''Currently, technology allows live streaming at HD resolution at low latency, whilst still allowing the recording of higher resolutions such as 4k". Scott Henderson, Sales manager at heliguy™, “We have worked with RaceTech to get a rig working for sending live broadcast feed from the racecourses throughout the UK and Ireland. They have worked with each member of the heliguy™ team from sales to technical to make the project work, with also making sure that the rig they use will be suitable a year down the line too”. Ikarus at Hexham Racecourse, to be used for Live Broadcast Ikarus at Hexham Racecourse, to be used for Live Broadcast RaceTech will be using a UAS to supplement pre-race build up to create the mood by offering same day panoramic shots. The UAS can also offer the ease of access to locations that a crane restricts. Races are undertaken in a relatively short period of time, so a UAS can offer a timeline of coverage appropriate to the ability of existing batteries. heliguy™ have built a heavy lift UAS to carry various styles of camera. RaceTech has needed to be completely committed to this project to steer it through the approvals processes, get CAA approval and also sign off from the British Horseracing Authority to fly on racecourses. They have put two pilots through certification and needed to produce an Operations Manual and Flight Reference Cards. The former outlines how the operator will ensure safety and legality, the other lists the flight procedures for the aircraft and what to do in an emergency. Both documents must be approved by the CAA before permission to operate, PFAW, can be granted. These then become legal documents which must be adhered to. The CAA also require £2 million of public liability insurance, RaceTech has been able to obtain £10 million. RaceTech has satisfied the CAA and have been granted permission to operate in the UK. This would include all Racecourses in the UK provided they have permission from the Racecourse. There are occasionally further permissions to be obtained when, for example, a Racecourse is within controlled airspace. RaceTech have recently undertaken this step for Ayr and Haydock. Other courses such as Thirsk may be within an Airfield Traffic Zone, in which case permission is required from their ATC before take off. RaceTech have decided that in order to operate on racecourses, there must always be an observer as well as a pilot. The main duty is to observe people and horses as well as other air users and inform the pilot accordingly. For example, at Redcar when approaching horses, the observer was looking for any signs of distress or disturbance amongst them. Clive was delighted to report that after more than a dozen flights with horses, they have shown little interest and absolutely no concern. RaceTech have also decided to take the unusual step of operating with a longer focal length lens. Whilst this means that pictures may be less steady, they do mean that the aircraft need get no closer than 100ft. Articles 166 and 167 require the UAS to maintain 150 metres distance from large gatherings of more than 1000. There is an opportunity to put forward a safety case to reduce this distance. To achieve this, the CAA must be satisfied that there is sufficient mitigation of any risk. RaceTech intend on applying for this in due course. Catherine Pullan, spokesperson for RaceTech spoke to heliguy™ about technical concerns, "Tech issues are fortunately few. Current maximum duration is 30 minutes per battery set. Our FRCs outline that we will operate for a maximum of 15 minutes in order to leave a safe margin. The system has to include a Return To Home function in case of control link loss. We are currently developing a live video link so that the system can deliver live pictures."

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