Drones for sharks!

With already over 15 missions under our belt, we have mapped just about any landscape with our drones. But the one thing we haven’t done yet is to give marine conservation a hand. Mapping St-Joseph atoll in the Seychelles and acquiring high-resolution aerial images to identify shark and ray pups seemed like the perfect challenge to introduce our drones to the salty and wet air of marine conservation.

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Namibia 2.0: Nature conservation revisited

Exactly one year after our first mission to Namibia for the SAVMAP project, a team made up of Drone Adventures, EPFL’s LASIG lab and Kuzikus Wildlife Reserve came together again in the Southern African savanna from May 16 to 23, 2015 to apply last year’s findings and push the limits of civilian drone use for nature conservation applications one step further.

Protecting endangered animals like the Black Rhino and plants like the endemic and fascinating Welwitschia mirabilis, proposing new ways of managing land sustainably in semi-arid savannas and finding new approaches to counting wildlife were all important topics on our agenda this year.

The mission in numbers:

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Classifying Namibia’s savanna: Turning drone imagery into vegetation base maps

Timothée Produit of EPFL’s LASIG lab was part of our Namibian mission in May 2014. During the mission, Tim gave lectures both at the Polytechnic of Namibia as well as at the Gobabeb Research & Training Center on how to use the acquired drone imagery to classify terrain. Once all the imagery of the mission had been processed back home in Switzerland, Tim went on to use our data for classification purposes.

In this blog, Tim and his colleague Matthew Parkan show us how to use multi-spectral imagery acquired by the eBee and converted to NIR and RGB orthomosaics with Pix4Dmapper to create vegetation base maps.

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Preserving peat bogs in Switzerland

Most Drone Adventures missions to date have involved using eBee mapping drones to assist humanitarian projects. However in recent months we have taken part in an increasing number of environmental conservation projects too, such as our recent Namibia mission.

Here in Switzerland we were contacted by Pro Natura, a non-profit conservation organization with over 100,000 members, to help with a unique biodiversity project – using drones to create orthomosaics and terrain models of an ancient peat bog in need of regeneration.

Following the redevelopment work of site one, the presence of so much surface water and tufts of new dark green vegetation now indicate a healthy site.

The mission in numbers:

  • Project performed in: 2014
  • Sites mapped: 2 (1 for immediate redevelopment, 1 for future redevelopment)
  • Days: 0.5
  • Drone Adventures staff: 3
  • Pro Natura staff: 1
  • Total flights: 4 (2 covering site 1, with 2 further flights over site 2)
  • Flight coverage:
    • Flights 1 & 2 (site 1): 0.23km2
    • Flights 3 & 4 (site 2): 0.35 km2
  • Camera payload: RGB
  • Total images acquired: 1,061
  • Orthomosaic accuracy: 3.4 cm (1.3 in) per pixel
  • Digital surface model accuracy: 4.4 cm (1.7 in) per pixel

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Aircheology in Turkey

It isn’t every day that we get to fly drones over one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Thanks to our intrepid partners and hosts, the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University (NYU) and the Austrian Archaeological Institute, we’ve just returned from an amazing week in Southern Turkey where we flew over ancient theatres and temples dating as far back as the 10th Century BC.

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Setting up Ground Control Points (GCPs) to improve the precision of the imagery. In the background, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, Turkey.

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Nature conservation in Namibia

In May 2014, four members of Drone Adventures spent two weeks in the wild Namibian bush drone-mapping savanna, sand and rock for land and wildlife conservation.

As a picture speaks a thousand words, here’s a gallery of images from our flights at Kuzikus Wildlife Reserve and the Gobabeb Research and Training Center.

The mission in numbers:

  • Project performed in: 2014
  • UAS platform: senseFly eBee
  • Camera payload: RGB
  • Total flights: 91
  • Total images acquired: 15,000

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Fukushima – a drones eye view

It’s been three years since a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami destroyed large parts of the eastern coast of Japan and incapacitated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Life for many of the displaced families, however, has far from returned to normal; around 150,000 residents of the prefecture are still living as evacuees in temporary accommodations, and many villages are still too contaminated for people to return.

What is the current state of the cleanup and reconstruction effort? Drone Adventures teamed up with Taichi Furuhashi, researcher at the Center for Spatial Information Science at the University of Tokyo, to try to answer this question. Over the course of several days, we mapped three unique towns in Fukushima district: Iidate village, Hisanohama, and Tomioka.

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