UAV Systems and Applications Taking Off
RSL is ramping up its efforts with Unmanned Aerial Systems, having acquired a variety of new octocopter and fixed wing platforms and initiating a number of activities to provide drone-based services to local partners and collaborators. Payloads for these vehicles include a high resolution visible camera (for aerial mapping), a near-IR camera (for vegetation monitoring), and a FLIR IR camera (for thermal monitoring); through a partnership with Intel, the Lab acquired a multispectral imager for enhanced vegetation monitoring.
Applications being prototyped include aerial mapping (to include recent work done in Lake Tahoe for conservation biologists), solar panel inspection and vegetation monitoring (for SCU's own facilities department), and vegetation and irrigation monitoring for local wineries.
The Lab also has developed the ability to use drone-based imagery to create photorealistic three-dimensional models of large scale objects, like buildings (SCU's solar house), and landforms (like Fannette Island, the island in the middle of Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe).
RSL is leading a university group focused on UAV education, services and research. Member institutions include Bucknell University, Ohio Northern University, St. Louis University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Union College, and Mercer University. These schools jointly develop curricula and project-based opportunities for students to engage in both real world engineering and real world entrepreneurial enterprise operations. This activity is being conducted through the auspices of the KEEN network, a foundation-sponsored program focused on instilling the entrepreneurial mindset in undergraduate engineers.