1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To develop a stable autonomous aerial vehicle system with capabilities to run multispectral and thermal imaging systems for imaging large crop fields; improve systems used to georeference imagery and provide automatic triggering of multispectral and other imaging cameras.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
A platform for unmanned aerial image acquisition will be developed, evaluated, and improved. The proposed system is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with capabilities of fail-safe landing and autonomous flight. The system will have unique mechanical features that allow stable flight under variable wind conditions and allow easy access and exchange of payloads. This system and will be evaluated with the Tetracam multispectral cameras and other-branded thermal imaging cameras. Automatic camera triggering has limitations with regard to accuracy and speed of image acquisition. This has been especially problematic at ground speeds encountered when using agricultural aircraft for image acquisition. This proposal includes development of new camera activation algorithms to meet speed requirements of both UAVs and agricultural aircraft.
Firmware upgrades applied to the Parafoil unmanned aerial vehicle were also tested in agricultural aircraft. It was found that if altitude of image acquisition was high enough, images could be obtained at the correct locations in the field by automatic triggering based on global positioning system (GPS). Field locations to image could not be very close together however, as a delay of at least two seconds between images was required. Although this system operated adequately, the desirability of using the camera in “burst” mode (automatic and rapid succession of image acquisition) is being investigated as a suitable alternative.