News about Atmos integrating Topcon products to create an all-in-one surveying solution caught our attention for several reasons. Given their reputation as a leader in equipment technology and their history in the drone space, the sorts of companies that Topcon enters into agreements are always notable. Topcon doesn’t work with just anyone, making the integration of Topcon high-end GNSS boards with the Atmos Marlyn Cobalt drone a major development for anyone using drones for surveying.

This integration positions the Atmos Marlyn Cobalt as an all-in-one surveying solution, which is something we’ve heard before, but the difference with this solution is how Atmos specifically focuses on creating tools for the surveying market. Their systems have been specifically tailored to the survey market, providing users with quality data to get repeatable and accurate systems.

However, what ultimately matters is the practicalities of such systems and how they can create efficiencies. Surveyors are using orthophotos and individual pictures to identify and eliminate safety hazards on-site but does the Marlyn allow surveyors to perform any of these tasks in a faster, cheaper or safe way to define an ROI that they can quantify? According to Atmos CEO Ruud Knoops, they already can and do, highlighting how many more efficiencies can be opened up thanks to this new integration with Topcon.

“One of our customers was able to scale back from eight people performing survey tasks in the field to only two equipped with one Marlyn,” Knoops told Commercial UAV News. “It resulted in our customer being able to assign those other six surveyors to different projects. At the time of writing, an additional three Marlyns have been purchased to create an additional three teams, resulting in eight surveyors equipped with four Marlyns to perform the same amount of work for which previously thirty-two surveyors were needed.”

That bottom-line efficiency will be further enabled with this integration, as the Atmos Marlyn Cobalt will remove the need of base stations thanks to the use of Topnet Live. This subscription-based solution offers high-accuracy positioning and survey-grade results to professionals through a 24/7 cross-border, consistent, and reliable access. The online correction services allows data to be automatically georeferenced without collecting and combining various data sources. For areas not covered by these correction services, a base station can be the only way to achieve highly accurate and repeatable results.

Those intricacies highlight questions about what it means to get up and running with the technology and what sort of learning curve is there for the Atmos Marlyn Cobalt drone. It’s an especially short and simple process, broken up into distinct parts that help users both get the drone into the air and then work out what it needs to be doing from the sky.

“Learning to operate Marlyn is split up into two sections,” Knoops continued. “In the first part, we focus on operating Marlyn in the outdoor environment. This is where we’ll show our customers how to react in case of an emergency, i.e. a paramedic helicopter that enters your flight zone. The second part is on getting highly accurate and repeatable results. Depending on the customer's background, it can take a full day to help them understand the steps and procedures involved, or in the case of a solid background only a couple of hours.

In general, we can get our customers up and running in two or less days of training.”

That sort of learning curve for what is being positioned as an all-in-one surveying solution is ideal but Knoops mentioned that their drone is only a part of a bigger process and workflow. What makes it a true all-in-one survey solution is just as much about the drone as it is the easy integration with correction services and software solutions that will support a specific need.

The GNSS boards for highly precise positioning applications from Topcon are an essential part of this solution, which is set to provide surveyors with options that are more powerful and easier to use than ever. With so many solutions being positioned as “complete” though, sorting through any new opportunities that the Atmos Marlyn Cobalt drone represents should be carefully considered. Support with doing so is readily available.

“It’s easy to get lost in the wilderness of all the suppliers of drones and software related to drone surveying,” Knoops said. “That’s why we’re more than happy to help you understand how drones can support your operations. For anyone looking for advice on what this can look like, get in touch and let us help you.”