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Looking through the clouds or fly below? Developing a flexible drone platform for detection, monitoring and mapping at KU Leuven

Satellite remote sensing has revolutionized research on spatio-temporal phenomena in many fields of science (ecology, geography, agriculture, engineering, …). The low spatial resolution of these images, however, hampers its use to study small-scale processes and clouds often obscure the view from space. By flying below the clouds, drones offer a promising alternative with an unparalleled spatial resolution (cm level) at a regional scale. Recent innovations in drone technology have been accompanied by improvements in navigation, advances in measurement equipment and a reduction in costs. Despite this enormous progress, the scientific applications are lagging behind. We aim to develop two extendable and flexible drone platforms, available for KU Leuven research, by applying for modular multirotor drones and accompanying sensors. As myriad sensors can be deployed (e.g. thermal, LiDAR, hyperspectral), the potential research applications of this infrastructure are countless.
Date:1 Jan 2021  →  Today
Keywords:unmanned aerial vehicle, remotely-piloted aircraft systems, remote sensing, structure from motion, 3D modelling, spectral signature, thermal images, LiDAR, hyperspectral sensor
Disciplines:Landscape ecology, Invasion biology, Forestry management and modelling, Conservation and biodiversity, Geomorphology and landscape evolution, Glaciology, Natural hazards, Remote sensing, Field and service robotics, Agricultural plant protection, Structural design, Energy in buildings and built environments, Construction materials, Archaeology of the built environment, Photogrammetry and remote sensing, River engineering, Urban drainage, Water resources management, Environmental and sustainable planning