I didn’t crash it!!

This week had a lot going on. While continuing to work on the acoustic research paper, work began on the population counts of grey seals on Hay and Saddle Island. I am utilizing a program called iTag to count the adult grey seals and the pups. This program allows me to place a marker on both the adult and pups. Once I have finished, iTag will summarize the results, providing a total count of both adults and pups. These photos will be analyzed by multiply readers to ensure the final count is as precise as it can be. By doing this we can determine whether or not the eBee disturbs the grey seals as it flies over doing a survey. I will compare the photographs and population counts for each flight the eBee did over Hay and Saddle Island to determine if the seals have changed their distribution by simple moving to new location or moving into the water.

I also had the opportunity to learn how to program the eBee and launch it. Down at Open Ground Farms in Beaufort we are allowed to fly the eBee safely for recreation over a plot of the farm, so we use this opportunity to practice using the software and to become more familiar with it. The eBee is very portable and fits into a small carrying case. It weighs only 700g due to its flexible foam construction. To start the eBee, I had to shake it three times and the rear-mounted propeller started automatically. When I had the go ahead and had the proper launch angle, all I had to do was take a couple of steps forward and toss the eBee into the air and it flew! I was a little worried that I was going to crash it, but I did not!

We were able to monitor the eBee during its flight by using the eMotion ground station software, which allowed us to see the flight parameters, wind speed, altitude, battery level among other things to ensure proper operation. As the eBee flew over the farm plot it was taking a photographs of the ground that would be stitched together later on. The eBee lands very smoothly by starting and stoping the propellor until it finally glides to the ground.
Once back at the COVE, the flight path and photographs taken by the eBee are stitched together and inputted to Postflight Terra 3D, a professional photogrammetry software. This software will create one image from the photographs taken to allow for an overall assessment to be done on the area.

This week I was able to see how unmanned aerial systems (UAS) can be used in other areas such as farming to help monitor the health of crops. Using a UAS to take photographs and measurements will allow farmers to keep an eye on their large fields. This project is fascinating to me as I learn about the almost infinite applications UAS can have, such as enhancing public safety, monitoring migrating disasters (natural and manmade), protecting the environment, and enhancing and enabling scientific research in a variety of fields.

Until next week!

Lauren Arona

Wittenberg University ’16