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Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) Project Support

UNAVCO provides Uncrewed Aerial Systems (UAS) support to Earth science researchers in the UNAVCO community. We maintain a pool of small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAV's), as well as supporting field equipment (e.g., GPS systems, ground control, communications equipment), software, and staff trained in best practices for operation of these systems. UNAVCO UAS staff maintain FAA certification for sUAV operation within the National Airspace. The combined expertise in GPS, TLS and UAS technology allows UNAVCO to support a wide range of geodetic imaging applications in Earth science research.

UNAVCO supports researchers with sUAV surveys from pole to pole. Ongoing research in Taylor Valley, Antarctica, is supported by UNAVCO with GPS and UAV equipment and data products. Scientists from CU, and Portland State University are studying microbial communities on glaciers in Antarctica in order to better understand how these isolated communities interact and respond to environmental changes. (Photo/Brendan Hodge, UNAVCO)

Structure from motion, also known as SfM, is a photogrammetric imaging technique that can produce very high resolution three-dimensional models of topography and other surfaces, including rock and ice outcrops, caves, buildings, and cultural objects. Structure from motion has been successful in a variety of environments for a wide range of geoscience applications including detailed mapping of fault scarps, geologic outcrops, feature characterization, thermokarst morphology, volcanoes, and glaciers. Moreover, repeat UAS SfM imaging permits measurement of surface changes through time. Concurrent GPS measurements are used to georeference the SfM data in absolute 3D coordinates. Coincident high-resolution digital orthorectified images can be used in photorealistic 3D surface models and various mapping applications.

UNAVCO field engineer Spencer Neibhur inspects an aerial sUAV registration target installed on lake ice in McMurdo Dry Valleys. The targets are georeferenced with differential GPS to calculate sub-centimeter precision locations for each target. A point cloud of the surface of the lake and ice cliffs is derived using Structure from motion (SfM) from aerial images collected with a small UAV. (Photo/Brendan Hodge, UNAVCO)

UAS are an emerging technology with applications in many facets of Earth science research and education. UNAVCO provides trained staff to make UAS technology more easily accessible to the Earth science community. UNAVCO is also a nexus for community activities such as workshops, short courses, and education and outreach efforts on multiple scales.

Over the past several years, UNAVCO has developed a growing program that involves bringing UAS systems to geology field camps throughout the West. UAS is an emerging technology useful for science communication, education, and demonstration for experts, students and the general public.

Researchers and educators interested in utilizing UNAVCO UAS resources are encouraged to contact UNAVCO for additional information. We support UAS project planning, proposal preparation (including budgets and letters of support), instrumentation and field data collection, data processing, and online archiving of data. Request Support for UAS to get more information about UAS resources available to the UNAVCO community.


Last modified: 2024-03-14  11:27:25  America/Denver