ENP Newswire -
Release date- 30072014 - The work of a computer scientist at
In June, six new UAVs were sent to
Dr Snooke explains, 'The mission was a great success. We were able to capture thousands of high quality digital images that can be processed to produce high resolution 3D models of the glacier. The images showed and monitored the movement and calving of the glacier on a frequent basis.
'The idea came in the spring of 2013 when talking to Professor
'In the future, the UAV technology should allow investigation of the effects of large calving events, sub-glacial lake drainage or ice melange breakup on the Store and
The aim was to create an autonomous UAV that could fly 7 kilometres along a glacier front and a couple of kilometres from the launch site. Typical missions cover a distance of around 60km at 55kph carrying 700g worth of camera equipment, and are in the air for about an hour.
Two prototype UAVs were built and taken to
Called the Skywalker X8, the airframe is a flying wing design, large enough to allow a high quality camera to be fitted inside and to accommodate the electronics and batteries. It has a 2 meter wingspan, weighs around than 2.5Kg, and is constructed from expanded polypropylene foam, making the frame quite robust and easy to repair.
Improvements were made to the new UAVs which went to
Software improvements allow the camera to be triggered directly from the autopilot allowing capture of the GPS position and flight attitude data associated with every photograph.
Dr Snooke and his team are currently integrating additional sensors such as a pyranometer to enhance the scientific value of the data captured. In the future, they would like to increase mission endurance as this will provide a number of opportunities to routinely collect data from more inaccessible areas.
The team is also working to make the system more adaptable, for example by allowing the UAV to automatically shorten its pre-programmed mission if strong crosswinds are encountered to avoid any danger of running out of power.
He adds, 'Johnny Ryan, a PhD student at the Department is currently undertaking the day-to-day flying and research work in
'This work is another excellent example of good collaboration work between the
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