Category Archives: Commercial UAS Application

Civil Drones Improve Humanitarian Response in the Philippines

As Direct Relief’s relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan continue, civil drones are helping our organization and others respond more efficiently to the most pressing needs of people affected by the super storm.

About a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck, an assessment group from Direct Relief’s partner, veterans’ response organization Team Rubicon, sought to determine the operational status of the Carigara District Hospital, located northwest of the city of Tacloban.

Travel along damaged roads was difficult and slow. Rumors of an uncertain security situation were circulating. Comprehensive structural assessment seemed highly challenging at best.

Yet, the assessment group was able to provide local officials and aid groups with a rapid and highly accurate visual analysis of damage to the Carigara District Hospital – at minimal risk to the people conducting the assessment – by deploying the latest in close proximity aerial imaging technology with a Huginn X1 civil drone.

The assessment provided enough information to allow Team Rubicon to proceed with setting up a medical relief station there to help survivors access emergency care. Direct Relief has been supporting Team Rubicon’s medical responders on the ground with critical medicines and supplies.

A civil drone is the peacetime and humanitarian cousin of the aerial robotic units which have been discussed extensively in the press throughout several recent US-led military conflicts. The Huginn X1, manufactured by Anthea Technologies and distributed by DanOfficeIT, is a ruggedized quadcopter drone adapted primarily for search and rescue support. It comes equipped with high definition digital cameras as well as thermal imaging to detect the heat signatures of people on the ground who may be in need of help.

DanOfficeIT contributed the drone technology and manpower free of charge to nongovernmental organizations working on the front lines of the typhoon response to help organizations learn where to focus their work.

Civil drones have had an immediate and substantial impact on the ability of groups like Direct Relief and Team Rubicon to gain high-speed visual awareness of complex situations that threaten to put humanitarian responders at significant personal risk.

Likewise, civil drones allow for detailed aerial mapping in support of operational planning. The Huginn X1 was not only valuable in terms of structural assessment but also as a way to scout locations in advance to determine the best possible routes of approach and assistance.

Read more: Reliefweb

LIDAR Applications

This webinar include a useful guide to many of the LIDAR application that can be undertaken.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9–fjPBut-U[/youtube]

 

Here is another recent application with a small UAV and LIDAR

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA6RV0K2taQ[/youtube]

 

Using Drones in the Fight Against Apple Scab

By Rachel Rohr on October 28, 2013

Photography by Rachel Rohr

For apple growers in the eastern United States, the biggest problem – the most relentless, pervasive, unavoidable issue, which can ruin a whole crop if not managed aggressively – is apple scab. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire are working on a new tool to combat the apple scourge: A drone.

 The fungal infection causes dark scabby lesions on the leaves and skin of the apple, which leaves the flavour unaffected, but does effectively make it unsaleable.

“It’s a huge issue,” says Peter Wagner, owner of Applecrest Farm Orchards, a 110-acre orchard in south east New Hampshire. “Thirty years ago, you were allowed to have a scab on your apple that was probably 10 millimetres, or half the size of a dime, without a problem at all. Now you can’t put any of that in the apple pack, so it renders the apple unmarketable.”

Apple scab is less of an issue in drier regions, such as Washington state. But in places like New York, New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts, apple scab is the number one pathogen and apple farmers’ primary concern.

In recent decades, researchers have made strides in understanding the fungus’s life cycle, so farmers are spraying less than they used to, with better results. Some farmers even use predictive models, such as the Dutch program RIMpro to forecast the best spraying times. But apple scab is still a persistent battle, and it’s especially difficult – if not nearly impossible – for organic farmers to grow a scab-free crop.

So researchers at the University of New Hampshire are working on a new tool for fighting apple scab: Drones.

“When you think about apple production now, a grower needs to walk through his orchard every day to make sure he sees any new insect pests or any new disease pests that come into an orchard,” says plant pathologist Kirk D. Broders, an assistant professor at UNH. “But when you’re talking about a 10, 20, 100-acre orchard, your ability to do that on a daily basis is almost impossible.”

But it is possible with a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, carrying an infra-red camera that takes multi spectral images of the orchard. A computer program crunches the wavelengths in each pixel, making it possible to hone in on colours and temperatures – and locate apple scab.

“If you had a UAV that had the capacity to go up once a day, take a digital image or multiple digital images – both in infra-red and then in normal spectrum — you could actually monitor your orchard”

Broders says the ultimate goal is to develop an orchard-monitoring UAV system that could be sold to growers.

It’s not the first time that multi spectral imaging has been used in agriculture. Researchers have analysed plants using lab equipment, and large farming operations can hire air planes to fly over and take multi spectral images of large swaths of corn or soy beans to monitor crop health.

“What we are trying to do is develop a system that allows us to do things in-between – so not at the single-plant lab scale, and not at the air plane several-fields-at-a-time scale,” Broders said. “We’re trying to develop a low-cost system that could actually be used by either individual researchers or individual growers.”

At Applecrest Farm, Peter Wagner calls the prospect of an affordable infra-red imaging system that could be used daily, “pretty awesome.”

“I think that’s a great endeavour – no question – particularly the fact that most scab that we don’t eradicate usually occurs at the top of the tree,” Wagner said. “In the old days with big trees, you could climb up and look around – which is time consuming – but now with the new plantings, the trees are younger, smaller, and it’s harder to climb because the limbs aren’t as strong.”

Wallhead and Broders envision apple growers using the drone-camera system in conjunction with the predictive models for apple scab – the real-time data that tell farmers when to spray.

“The UAV is really only one tool we’re using to manage apple scab, because apple scab is so difficult to control,” Broders said. “We’re using our predictive model to improve application of organically-certified compounds. We’re using the UAV for early detection. And then whenever possible, we’re utilizing resistant varieties to also help us reduce fungicide inputs and provide better control.”

One scab-resistant variety growing in the experimental research orchard at UNH’s Woodman Farm is Crimson Crisp, the product of collaboration among Purdue University, Rutgers and University of Illinois.

While apple scab is the main concern in the eastern U.S., the multi spectral data can also be used to detect other problems – from insect damage to nitrogen deficiency. Pinpointed applications of fertilizer, pesticides and fungicides mean growers are using less, which is better for the environment and consumers – as well as the farmer’s bottom line.

The drones could even be used to monitor forest health, scanning for disease or invasive beetles.

“I think it has applications even beyond agriculture,” Broders said. “And I think there are a number of people that are just now beginning to understand what these unmanned aerial vehicles are capable of doing.”

Courtesy: Modern farmer.

CAMCOPTER® S-100 – SUCCESSFUL SERIES OF DEMONSTRATIONS IN AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND WITH A FLIR CORONA 350 SENSOR

 

CAMCOPTER S-100_FLIR_Transpower_03

Vienna, 24 September 2013 – Schiebel, FLIR and Transpower are proud to announce the successful demonstration of the Schiebel CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) with the integrated FLIR Corona 350 Sensor being used to inspect high voltage power-lines and supporting structures. This event marked the first time that this new capability was demonstrated using a UAS.

Transpower with the support of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority hosted a series of demonstrations at the Drury substation in Auckland, New Zealand, where the outstanding combination of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 and the FLIR sensor confirmed the system’s ability to identify encroaching vegetation and activity associated with under building, corrosion and wear and tear damage on power-line conductors as well as ‘hot spots’ in conductors and connection points. The system also demonstrated the clear benefits of its rapid response time, and the ability to subsequently use the collected information to quickly prioritise and target maintenance, which are particularity important in the rapid rectification of fault events causing line outages.

CAMCOPTER S-100_FLIR_Transpower_01

With a network which comprises some 12,000 kms of transmission lines and 40,000 supporting structures throughout New Zealand and a requirement to regularly assess the condition of these lines and structures to ensure continued safety and integrity of the National Grid. By operating in close proximity to the power lines the S-100 was able to conduct the inspections without infringing existing airspace regulations and clearly demonstrated the value of this new, innovative and cost effective solution for accomplishing airborne power line inspection.

 Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, commented, “This successful demonstration of the CAMCOPTER® S-100 has clearly shown how it provides a swift, accurate and cost effective capability for reducing the costs associated with conducting power-line inspections and maintenance”.