MUASIP coordinates the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which are lightweight and mobile technologies that collect data from a vantage point in the sky.
The vehicles can be controlled autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a pilot. Carrying the latest cameras and sensors, these vehicles can collect a broad range of data including visible, near infrared and thermal infrared imagery.
Owing to their agility and data collection capabilities, UAVs are quickly becoming a standard tool for surveying small, detailed areas.
“We can view different types of terrain and vegetation, and visit difficult places such as heavily wooded areas or steep terrain,” says platform manager Rodger Young.
“A very large amount of data can be collected and presented quickly in a very graphic, easy-to-use form. We want to offer a flying camera platform which will allow a wide range of researchers the possibility of conducting new research without the hassle of having to develop the UAV capacity,” Mr Young says.
The vehicles can provide data essential to agriculture, disaster relief and water management, and have been used to monitor bushfire fuel, crop vigour, archaeological sites and predators in conservation areas.
Senior Lecturer in Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources Dr Dongryeol Ryu has used UAVs to monitor vegetation vigour and fire fuel conditions, and he says by examining the conditions of fuel and moisture content, UAVs can map changes and identify hazardous conditions.
The platform was launched from a collaboration between the Melbourne School of Engineering, the faculties of Science, and Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, and the Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety (CDMPS). Commercial operator XM2, licensed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, will provide assistance in organising and flying UAVs.
MUASIP will offer a series of training sessions in late 2016, targeting remote sensing with drones including both data acquisition and processing. To find out more about the University of Melbourne’s UAV capabilities, visit their website or contact Rodger Young.