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DATA ON THE FLY

The use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for data acquisition provides the opportunity to monitor and evaluate events unfolding upon the surface of the earth at the finest scale. At the same time, operating costs are reduced significantly. Unmanned aircraft can be quickly deployed to map and survey nearly any terrain. The Rover Institute has extensively researched applications of unmanned aircraft in various natural resource disciplines.

ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF DATA ACQUISITION


High-resolution aerial photographs and videos reveal events and patterns of activity between features on the ground that may not be visisble with lower resolution data acquired from satellites and manned aircraft. sUAS can be precisely manuevered about a study site, utilizing mission planning software, waypoints, loiter functions, and manual flight assisted by onscreen tracking capabilities and first-person-view (FPV). These functions and characteristics make sUAS extremely versatile. TRI has several years of experience operating sUAS.

THE VALUE OF ULTRA-HIGH SPATIAL RESOLUTION DATA


A key process of geospatial science is the transformation of data from an original form into an alternate form that sheds light on critical characteristics of a scene. The higher the resolution of the data, the more detail can be extracted. This enhanced detail can be of significant value in a wide variety of applications, such as habitat suitability assessments, ecological restoration projects, vegetation mapping, topographic surveying, and crop analysis.

DETECTING CHANGE WITH HIGH TEMPORAL RESOLUTION


sUAS offer the highest temporal resolution. Researchers can feasibly monitor a small site in hourly intervals. While most projects do not require this level of temporal resolution, daily and weekly surveys can benefit many projects. Hourly and daily aerial surveys can greatly enhance wildlife rescue efforts in the event of an environmental disaster, such as an oil spill. Weekly and monthly surveys can be an effective method for monitoring the use of forest resources by humans and large mammals, or the development of new trails and roads.

MONITORING AND TRACKING WITH NO DISTURBANCE


Small unmanned aircraft systems are a rapidly developing technology that bring unpreceded opportunities for wildlife monitoring and tracking. While research is needed to assess critical distances for non-invasive data acquisition methods, the versatility of sUAS and the imaging systems they carry, ensure that wildife can be monitored without disturbance. This provides new methods for conducting population surveys, inter- and intraspecies communication and behavioral studies, habibat use assessments, and anti-poaching campaigns.