Our Agenda

Precision Agriculture

Precision agriculture is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring, and responding to inter- and intra-field variability in crops. The farmer's and/or researcher's ability to locate a precise position in a field lets him create maps of the spatial variability of as many variables as can be measured (e.g. crop yield, terrain features/topography, organic matter content, moisture levels, nitrogen levels, pH, etc.). These variables are at the heart of precision agriculture and are key to defining amendment strategies, or 'recipe maps.'

Precision agriculture has been enabled by technologies like:

- crop yield monitors mounted on GPS-equipped combines;
- variable rate technology (VRT) like seeders, sprayers, etc.;
- an array of real-time vehicle mountable sensors that measure everything from chlorophyll levels to plant water status;
- and multi- and hyperspectral aerial and satellite imagery, from which products like Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) maps can be made.

With the total value of our nation’s crop estimated at $140 billion per year, even a modest improvement in yield would have a substantial aggregate economic impact. However, it’s not yet clear how a UAS can deliver more usable data to a farmer or provides a cost benefit over the existing image solutions available to them today. Our ongoing research digs into the critical questions underlying the use of UAS in agriculture and shows the rationale supporting massive, rapid adoption; this despite the massive bets – in terms of time and capital investment – that are already being placed.

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Inspection and Monitoring

There are significant economic and environmental requirements to keeping facilities operational and safe. With sUAS’s ability to perform functions like perch-and-stare, video capture, and laser scanning, they are poised to replace many of the dull, dirty, and dangerous functions of inspection and surveillance.

The main beneficiaries are civil and public entities that perform enterprise asset management (EAM) and facilities/infrastructure management. However, we are only beginning to understand successful business models. Our research focuses on the critical success factors that produce operational efficiency and macroeconomic benefit.

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Mapping and Surveying

Digital photogrammetry, terrain modeling, change detection, and feature extraction are transforming the way we understand and manage natural and man-made assets. UAS are changing this science by putting the ability to shoot high-quality geotagged images into more hands. UAS can be deployed quickly, easily and often, collecting imagery which can be imported into geographic information system (GIS) databases, stitched together and used to generate ortho-mosaic maps and 3D reconstructions. Images can also be used to perform volumetric estimation of stockpiles.

Business cases show UAS to be a flexible alternative to manned aircraft and ground survey crews for mapping and surveying - sometimes at a lower cost. Our research looks at these business cases and extracts the salient knowledge needed to structure your business service and operational model.

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Film, Photography, and Video

Drone cinematography has been around for several years now but is rapidly become the darling of Hollywood. Cameras mounted on drones can deliver shots that were impossible to get before, or could only be captured using expensive cranes, stabilizing equipment, and a manned helicopter. They give filmmakers a definitive edge over traditional methods. Camera drones allow directors to pull off mind-boggling, acrobatic camera stunts that would otherwise have been possible only through CGI or maybe not at all. This incredible sense of power and cost savings are the reasons many filmmakers lead the use of commercial drones and one of the reasons why our research finds this market the largest.

Besides film and TV, here are some other camera drone, aerial photography, and aerial video-related applications:

  • Marketing - websites, email promotions, print, and social media
  • Real Estate - exclusive homes, marquee properties, commercial buildings, and structures
  • Events - outdoors, indoors, venues, and games
  • Film - video production, independent movies, commercials, and music videos
  • Legal - forensic investigations, insurance claims, and property assessments
  • Land - landscape architecture, land development, and research
  • Tourism - attractions, recreation, and events

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Public Safety and First Responders

Drones armed with cameras and sensor payloads have been used by military and border control agencies for decades to improve situational awareness. Commercialization now has brought more UAVs to market — making the technology more accessible to police, fire, EMS, emergency departments, and search-and-rescue operations.

These eyes in the sky can be used across public-safety services, from transmitting birds-eye video of a forest fire to incident commanders to mapping out hard-hit areas after a natural disaster. Our research looks at the drone technologies worth watching for public safety and first response operations.

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Ecosystem and Regulations

The UAS / UAV economic community is still emerging and is supported by a large foundation of interacting organizations and individuals. The economic community includes component suppliers, drone aircraft producers, technology integrators, service providers, regulators, civil authorities, and other stakeholders. We see this evolution increasingly common to the evolution of information technology (IT). Over time, we expect the community to evolve their capabilities and roles, and align themselves with those companies holding leadership roles.

So you can keep up with the changes our research regularly looks at the following topics:

  • Technology
    • Autonomy
    • Cameras and Sensors
    • C-UAS - Detection and Deterrence
    • Flight Controllers
    • Flight Readiness Apps
    • Insurance
    • LiDAR
    • Mission Planners and Ground Stations
    • Propulsion
    • Radio Spectrum
    • Sense and Avoid (SAA)
  • Regulation
    • FAA UAS Roadmap
    • Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)
    • FAA Test Facilities and Centers of Excellence
    • Foreign Civil Air Authorities
  • Training
    • Flight Schools
    • University Programs

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