Provide an Overview of Drone Technology
Environmental Applications of Drone Technology
Questions, Comments, Discussion
An aircraft with the capacity to fly
autonomously due to the support
of on board computers and
The US military has poured
billions of dollars of research into
these high tech tools, and now
provide a low-cost option to the
Anyone Can Afford Them
drones now reach
down to a price of
as little as $1,000
Drones can now
be a part of nearly
any enterprise that
can use them.
MAV (Micro Air Vehicles): These aircraft are very small and operate at very low altitudes.
VTOL (Vertical Take-Off & Landing): These aircraft require no vertical takeoff or
LASE (Low Altitude, Short-Endurance): Launched by hand or catapult.
LASE Close: Do require runways, larger size and weight confer increased capabilities.
LALE (Low Altitude, Long Endurance): These UAS may carry payloads at high
altitudes for extended periods.
MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance): Operating at high altitudes (9000m) for
long extended distances.
HALE (High Altitude, Long Endurance): These are the largest of the UAS. These UAVs
may fly at high altitudes (20,000 m) for distances that extend thousands of km.
The technology while best known for gathering
military intelligence now can perform
environmental work at a fraction of the cost.
Drones used for these purposes are known as
eco-drones or conservation drones. Their
agility and low cost quality imaging make them
the ideal tool for environmental monitoring.
Forest health monitoring:
Fire Mapping Applications
Forest inventory: Coarse-scale
Wildlife surveys: Terrestrial
flights for large-animal surveys
Air quality monitoring:
Plume tracking: For monitoring
of water pollution
Mine surveys: improve surveys
and operations in open-pit
Monitoring of crop health and
precision application of
Brazil has purchased 14 drones for US$350 million for the Sao
Paul Environmental Police to monitor deforestation in the Amazon,
track poachers and seek out illegal mining operations (Cohen,
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been using drones, to
monitor illicit trade in Africa by tracking poachers and the wildlife
they are pursuing in real time (WWF, 2012).
The use of drones for monitoring destructive activities such as
poaching and illegal logging have been notably applied in Africa,
Asia and South America.
Drones can be used to monitor highways vulnerable to
landslides, using high resolution cameras to detect cracks
that may indicate the onset of a landslide. Data collected from
the drone can be used by authorities to initiate early warning
allowing people to escape and those travelling to the area to
avoid the disaster event before it occurs (Hinkley and
Early Warning Applications
The use of drones for early warning of forest fires has been
tested by the US Forest Service. By collecting data on forest
fires, firefighters can better plan and manage fires. While
manned helicopters and planes could collect similar
information, the flight costs, and risks involved are high.
(Hinkley and Zajkowski, 2011)
Quick and easy deployment ability
Entering hazardous areas make drones a beneficial tool for
collecting real-time data, mapping disaster impacts as they
occur. Drones can provide real time information to
emergency planners, showing where environmental
conditions are worsening (i.e. flood spreading) and contribute
to rescue efforts. (Hinkley and Zajkowski, 2011).
A developed system, using multispectral and electro-
optical infrared cameras is now being used by the Italian
Coast Guard for detecting illegal and unauthorized sewer
and storm-drain environmental policy violations.
(Watts, Ambrosia, Hinkley, E.A., 2012)
Infrared thermography is an ideal tool to
detect environmental contamination.
Spatially Integrated Small-Format Aerial
Photography (SFAP) is being developed which is a
low-cost solution for bridge surface imaging and is
proposed as a remote bridge inspection technique. It
will Provide top-down views, drones flying at about
1000 feet can allow visualization of sub-inch (large)
cracks and joint openings on bridge decks or highway
pavements (Chen, S. E., Hauser, E. W., Boyle, C. G., &
Natarajan, M. 2013).
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln
and the University of California-
Berkeley were jointly awarded a
nearly $1 million grant from the US
Department of Agriculture for
developing drones that can take
water quality samples from lakes,
rivers and streams). The project is
still in the development stage, but
the helicopter-type drones can
already be deployed to collect small
volume water samples from remote(Abourezk, 2013)
Many state and federal fish and wildlife agencies include a
law enforcement arm. Some proposed legislation is loosely-
written, and severely limits the use of drones by “law
enforcement agencies” (The Pew Research Center 2014).
Politicians tend to follow public sentiment, thus increased
awareness of drones has resulted in numerous bills being
introduced in various state legislatures seeking to limit their
use. Between the 2013 and 2014 state legislative sessions,
over 40 states introduced bills addressing drones. Federal
regulations are already in place, with more under review (The
Pew Research Center 2014).
Americans were recently surveyed about drone use, and 63%
indicated that uninhibited personal and commercial drone use
would represent a change for the worse.
The ability of misuse and “mischief” with drones is real, and will
undoubtedly develop into a new field of law, regulation,
prohibited and permitted uses (The Pew Research Center 2014).
The uses of drones are as numerous as the types of technological sensing
and other uses that can be deployed on them. While concerns on human
privacy are legitimate, its use as a cost effective management tool are too
great to pass laws that would limit agencies from using them in
environmental management, and other beneficial uses for the public
I’m just going to point out to you, these are just some of the big ones that we have to deal with. And the list goes on…right here and over 100 others. There are so many environmental rules out there that it would be difficult for you to walk down the street on a given day and not inadvertently break some sort of law.
Once again, we’re going to be talking about things we deal with in the environmental arena throughout the entire project delivery process. While we do the bulk of the work, the environmental arena, during this feasibility phase, you still have certain responsibilities and activities throughout this entire process that you have to deal with. These next three slides or so just simply lays out a whole series of these kinds of laws. We’ve got a slide coming up for each one.
A developed system, using multispectral and electro-optical infrared cameras is now being used by the Italian Coast Guard for detecting illegal and unauthorized sewer and storm-drain environmental policy violations.(Watts, Ambrosia, Hinkley, E.A., 2012)