Geospatial Research Laboratory conducts unmanned aerial systems collection in Nevada

Published Jan. 11, 2019

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (December 10, 2018) - The Unmanned Aerial Systems team at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Geospatial Research Laboratory conducted a drone collection near Sutcliffe, Nevada, using the SenseFly eBee Plus fixed-wing aircraft. The campaign was performed over a three-day period in November and included over 30 flights covering challenging terrain with drastic elevation changes. Over 20,500 images were collected with post-processed kinematic capability to increase geospatial accuracy to one to five centimeters.

 “The Global Positioning System on the aircraft essentially acts as a rover for the base station,” said Jarrod Edwards, a research biologist with GRL. “The GPS log file from the base station is used to remove most of the error in the image locations in the post-processing of the data.”

The SenseFly eBee Plus platform can map up to 540 acres per flight and provides options for RGB light color, Thermal Infrared Radiation or Multispectral sensors. The system is expected to reduce cost of projects by decreasing the current amount of time needed in the field to accurately collect data and by increasing the amount of data collected.

 “The potential applications for UAS are expanding at an incredibly rapid pace and will continue to be developed and shaped by our scientists and engineers,” Edwards said. He has been flying UAS platforms for almost five years and currently holds Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 certification.

 “At this point, I am probably preaching to the choir, but UAS technology has the potential to significantly advance the mission of ERDC in the future and now,” Edwards said. “Due to the ever-increasing variety of lift mechanics, imager technology, orientation and arrays of those imagers, UAS can be utilized to map and 3-dimensionally model terrain at incredibly high resolutions and accuracies as well as inspect infrastructure of all types.”

 The Nevada project was conducted as part of the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory’s UAS support to Coastal and Flood Risk Management and will also serve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Nation municipality by providing geospatially accurate, high-resolution 3-D models of a large area of interest and will be the basis for hydraulic assessments and flood management planning.