2013 ASPRS Conference: UAVs for Remote Sensing applications

It’s incredible how fast the Photogrammetry/Remote sensing industry is embracing UAV technology. In past ASPRS meetings there was almost no mention of UAVs, while in the 2013 Conference there were four presentations involving the use of small UAVs as platforms for Remote Sensing, and a few vendors were also displaying small UAVs and sensors light enough to be carried by unmanned systems. Some of these companies are already working with universities and government agencies while preparing for the upcoming 2015 regulations, which will open the market for commercial UAV applications and have the potential to put 30,000 drones in the nation’s skies by 2020 [1]

Below a quick review of the presentations involving UAVs:
MichiganTech Research Institute showed how they used an SLR camera attached to a small helicopter UAV which took aerial photos of unpaved roads and then analyzed the data to automatically classify road conditions and detect pot holes.
The University of Aegean (Greece) presented an open source Ardupilot based fixed wing UAV used for precision agriculture and related mapping applications.
Princeton and Rutgers University used multicopters and fixed wing UAVs for Ecosystem monitoring using multispectral cameras.

The UAV related vendors at the 2013 ASPRS Conference:
SenseFly: A company from Switzerland was showing the amazing eBee fixed wing UAV.
American Aerospace displayed a medium size, gas powered UAV they are currently using in aerial photography projects.
Trimble was showing off a small UAV from Gatewing, a Belgium company they acquired last year. It can complete a mission even with 40 mph winds!
Pix4d from Switzerland and MosaicMill from Finland where showing their automatic stitching software from imagery captured by small UAVs.

Most vendors involved in small UAV technology where from Europe, which prove that although the US is the indisputable leader in military drone technology, it is far behind in civilian applications. The industry hopes that could change with the regulations to be introduced in 2015.

Submitted by Gustavo Zastrow

References:

[1] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/feb/7/coming-to-a-sky-near-you/?page=all

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