Getting 65 thousand fans in and out of the Canadian Motor Speedway complex quickly and efficiently requires a highly detailed traffic management plan that’s a vital component of the overall CMS site plan.
So following the ideal of a sport-changing, world class speedway and entertainment facility, CMS Project Manager, Professional Engineer Ken DePodesta jumped to the phone recently, and told me to get to the intersection of Garrison and Ridgemount roads, adjacent to the CMS site in Fort Erie.
Ken, who like me, tends to lean to the excitable side, told me to bring a camera and my Raceline Radio recording equipment, and to hurry up to witness a new cutting-edge land survey system I just had to see!
We’ve all seen land survey crews, those small scurrying battalions of hard-hatted florescent-vested workers looking through telescope-like attachments atop tripods, writing down readings and numbers.
And while collecting survey data for the 15 kilometer network of local and municipal roads that will carry customers to and from CMS will still require some ground work, a majority of the data collected will come from an eye in the sky.
DePodesta, in consultation with CMS Executive Director Azhar Mohammad, contracted Strata Aerial Surveys who fly The senseFly eBee UAS ( Unmanned Aerial System ) drone, to take a very different, high-tech approach to the task.
It’s a compact, light weight, camera-carrying, computer guided fixed wing, single prop-driven drone that’s flown and controlled via a lap top computer on the ground.
On a typical job, it takes approximately four thousand Google Earth-like photographs of the average site to compile a topographic rendering of the area being surveyed for a fraction of the cost of an all-ground survey in less than half the time with the same accuracy.
While a typical ground-based land survey can take up to two to three weeks to complete, at a cost of around $ 8,000 a meter for a total of $ 40,000, the aerial survey takes only two days of flying and just two more days to process the photographs into one seamless rendering with pinpoint accuracy, at approximately half the price tag.
David Brubacher runs it all from a lap top computer in the field. Showing me how the drone works, flies and takes photographs was utterly fascinating and if you want to use common vernacular, extremely cool!
And this is a one-man operation, working from one vehicle on the side of the road with a non-polluting battery-powered aircraft. No need for multiple idling vehicles, conforming to the Canadian Motor Speedway’s Green and Carbon-Neutral commitment.
And this is a local Niagara-centric initiative as well, satisfying another CMS mandate to utilize local manpower, skills and resources.
David and Strata hail from Kitchener, but the effort is in collaboration with Chambers and Associates out of nearby Welland.
Ken DePodesta has been working closely with both companies to bring them together for this surveying job, and for potential work on the CMS site down the schedule.
And because the drone is an airplane that has to confirm to Department of Transport regulations, I was also pressed into service as an observer, making sure the device didn’t interfere with low flying ultra-light aircraft, or mother nature’s masters of the skies, birds, didn’t “fowl” up the works!
Brubacher told me flights he’s taken have been intercepted by flocks of inquisitive starlings, murders of crows, or their larger raptor cousins, red tail hawks.
One red tail force him to abort a landing three times, as the hawk mistook the drone for dinner!
But the plane landed safely, photographs and data intact, as it did when I witnessed first-hand, this dazzling example of the advanced technology being used to put The CMS plan to paper that will eventually become brick and steel reality.
My old love for radio controlled aircraft, and just aircraft in general made this a fabulous day in the field from the aspect of Media Consultant for Canadian Motor Speedway, and for exclusive coverage across The Raceline Radio Network.
Tale Pipes: The CMS aerial survey story, complete with a full length interview with CMS Project Manager Ken DePodesta, will air across The Raceline Radio Network the week of May 15th. A list of Network affiliates and broadcast times is featured on The Raceline Radio Network Facebook page. It will also be available via podcast via this link: