Testing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

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Testing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles_1Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have been in the news lately, from military service to retail delivery, but the technology has environmental uses as well. We have been testing a UAV to determine whether or not the quality of video and still photography will be useful for assessing the health of wetlands created as part of a full-service delivery approach that involves property identification and purchase, restoration design and construction. To date, the images have proven to be more than adequate in regards to still shots up to 400 feet in elevation, and the video quality is also excellent. Images are easily retrieved from the unit via SD card or Wi-Fi connectivity and are uploaded and geo-referenced in a short turnaround period.

Through the testing process, flight times and performance of the vehicle in addition to the storage capacity and image quality generated by the unit were established. The main UAV that we have been testing to date is the 3DRobotics IRIS unit. This unit comes with a GoPro Hero 3 camera, Autopilot software and the ability to fly the unit from a tablet computer. Current FAA rules and regulations prevent the use of a UAV in many jurisdictions for a fee and KCI is careful to respect the laws regarding the use of UAVs for clients. The team has learned a lot from the exploration of this new and exciting technology and looks forward to the day when we are able to use the unit to collect data rapidly in the field.

To see the UAV in action, check out our video below.