UI Researchers and Moscow Consulting Firm Work Together on NASA Drone Project
July 28, 2017
The data also will be used to develop curriculum on UAV technology for Lapwai High School students, with the goals of increasing interest and participation in STEM activities.
The UAV uses lidar (light detection and ranging) technology, which uses pulses of laser light to measure distance. The measurements are then used to create an extremely accurate topographic image. Lidar also has the ability to determine amounts and kinds of vegetation present and efficiently create large pictures that can be used to assess the health of forests, rangelands and streams. Industry partner Alta Science and Engineering, Inc. (Alta) is an environmental and civil engineering consulting firm headquartered in Moscow. They utilize UAV’s primarily for the purpose of land surveying.
“The unique dataset that we will collect using the drone will give us very high-resolution, three-dimensional data of the vegetation structure,” said Arjan Meddens, a postdoctoral researcher in CNR and the project’s lead investigator. “We can then work with our industry partner Alta to analyze the data and determine processes for future environmental monitoring.”
Alta’s Principal Restoration Engineer Susan Firor and her team will provide the UAV and flight services for the project.
“We are honored and excited to partner with CNR on this project,” Firor said. “We want to help discover what this technology can do in the advancement of natural resource sciences, and we’re hopeful the results of this small project will lead to a variety of research possibilities and commercial applications.”
The data gathered from the UAV will be used three ways:
- To determine the amount and type of potential fuel for wildland fires near homes with the potential to assess effectiveness of future fuel treatments (i.e. brush removal, controlled burns);
- To analyze forest structural qualities such as the number of trees and growth of trees and plants; and
- To create baseline information on stream habitat that can be used to monitor restoration progress.
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