For decades aircraft and spacecraft technologies have been leveraged in agriculture. For aircraft applications, aerial crop dusting might come to mind, and I include spacecraft technologies for at least two roles that they play: for one they are used for remote sensing in a variety of applications, some of which collect information on environmental conditions that impact agriculture as well as collecting information on soil or vegetation health on farmland; secondly they are used indirectly to assist in navigation of other survey tools and automated fertilizer or pesticide application systems. With the proliferation of unpiloted aircraft systems (UASs), or “drones”, these technologies have been added to tools that can be leveraged in agriculture. While they have been adopted at different rates and in different ways for agriculture in different parts of the world in the past couple of decades, there seems to be a definitive niche for their use in some way or another in agriculture, though that niche varies depending on the geological region and what kind of agriculture they are being used to support.
Agricultural applications of drones are not my own focus area, but for some of my colleagues it is the primary focus of how they think about leveraging drones, and certainly I have not been entirely absent from using UAS and survey tools in support of agricultural applications. While I could talk in detail about any number of theses agriculture-related projects, in this article I want to give a brief overview of how different teams at UMass have leveraged more advanced survey tools like UAS and RTK GNSS in support of their work.Continue reading “UAS Agriculture Applications: Selected Agricultural Research Projects from the last 6 Years”
At the UMass Amherst campus we regularly use UAS to conduct surveys of key infrastructure; whether it be to monitor and document stages of new construction on campus or to survey and inspect existing infrastructure. One of our more recent additions to our array of capabilities is the capacity to develop thermal orthomosaics from long-wave infrared (LWIR) imagery. This can help us map heat sources and thermodynamic processes of buried infrastructure, or look at heat loss in structures.
City and regional planners have the daunting task of developing a vision for the future of both the physical, aesthetic and cultural feel of an area. This often involves engaging multiple parties that have a stake in that future, identifying convergent or divergent needs or desires of those stakeholders, identifying themes within those needs or desires, and developing not just one potential plan, but a multitude of plans that can be considered in comparison. Continue reading “Using the Trimble R10 with Drones to Develop City Models for Professional Planners”
Drone flights were in support of a project lead by a Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) research team in the UMass Amherst Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (http://www.casa.umass.edu/). The team, led by Krsztof Orzel and Apoorva Bajaj, wanted to test the ability of their weather radar system to track and identify UAS targets. The Trimble ZX5 hexacopter was flown in a variety of patterns and altitudes to test the limits at which the drone could be detected. The drone was also flown simultaneously with the a DJI Spreading Wings 900 (that had been modified with a PixHawk for its flight controller) which was flown by another independent pilot. The simultaneous flights allowed the opportunity to start to get a sense of how easily the weather radar could de-conflict the two signals from each of the drones. By comparing the radar signal log to the flight logs of the multirotor UAVs, the team aims to gain a sense of the accuracy and precision of their radar instrumentation, and in the future they aim to tweak the signal processing algorithms to yield better results. Continue reading “UMass researchers using radar to detect drones”
Enhancing UMass’ capabilities above ground, we recently added a Trimble ZX5 drone to our equipment. This will among others support the new UMass Air effort and allow students and faculty to explore air-based surveying and aerial imagery.