Posts Tagged: UAV
Recently I was fortunate to work with the IGIS team in Santa Rosa and Sonoma to explore why so many homes and buildings were lost in the October Tubbs and Nuns Fires. With the IGIS's Shane Feirer we collected drone-based video to record how the fires burned through the vegetation near and around the lost structures.
We observed several sites where there was little fire activity in the forests or woodlands, yet the homes burned. This type of video helps us document how devastating a wind-driven ember fire can be and of the important lessons we can learn to be better prepared for wildfire.
From this experience I came away with a painful reminder that we all need to do a better job at focusing on fuels near our homes (e.g. combustible wood mulches used in landscaping, lawn furniture, leaf accumulations, dry landscape plants, etc.), especially in the 5 feet immediately adjacent to our homes. While the Tubbs Fire originated in grassy area in Calistoga it easily picked up embers from the burning vegetation which were moved by the 40-70 mph winds and created spot fires ahead of the flaming front. In short time these embers were blasted into homes via attic or soffit vents (critical to let moisture out of a building) or they ignited combustible materials close to buildings; these types of exposures are the primary way the Tubbs Fire started to consume homes. Eventually the Tubbs Fire moved to the more densely populated areas of the Fountain Grove subdivision in Santa Rosa and with each new home that was ignited a new source of embers were created. The embers that came from the burning buildings included 2 x 4s, chunks of wood the size of a frisbee, and other materials. These materials were blasted over Highway 101 on to homes and businesses in the urban center of Santa Rosa- a place most thought could not be impacted by wildfire. The winds persisted till mid-morning on October 9th providing considerable time for an ember to find a weakness in the home. All of us hope we never have a fire like this again, but as history shows us, California's most damaging fires typically occur in the September and October and are often wind-driven.
For many years UC has worked in educating homeowners about fire preparedness in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). These fires have resulted in the largest number of structure losses to date in California and we all need tools to better understand how to learn from these experiences. I greatly appreciate IGIS's willingness to help me collect some critical data in a time sensitive manner.
UC ANR's IGIS program hosted 36 drone enthusiasts for a three day DroneCamp in Davis California. DroneCamp was designed for participants with little to no experience in drone technology, but who are interested in using drones for a variety of real world mapping applications. The goals of DroneCamp were to:
- Gain an broader understanding of the drone mapping workflow: including
- Goal setting, mission planning, data collection, data analysis, and communication & visualization
- Learn about the different types of UAV platforms and sensors, and match them to specific mission objectives;
- Get hands-on experience with flight operations, data processing, and data analysis; and
- Network with other drone-enthusiasts and build the California drone ecosystem.
The IGIS crew, including Sean Hogan, Andy Lyons, Maggi Kelly, Robert Johnson, Kelly Easterday, and Shane Feirer were on hand to help run the show. We also had three corporate sponsors: GreenValley Intl, Esri, and Pix4D. Each of these companies had a rep on hand to give presentations and interact with the participants.
Day 1 of #DroneCamp2017 covered some of the basics - why drone are an increasingly important part of our mapping and field equipment portfolio; different platforms and sensors (and there are so many!); software options; and examples. Brandon Stark gave a great overview of the Univ of California UAV Center of Excellence and regulations, and Andy Lyons got us all ready to take the 107 license test. We hope everyone here gets their license! We closed with an interactive panel of experienced drone users (Kelly Easterday, Jacob Flanagan, Brandon Stark, and Sean Hogan) who shared experiences planning missions, flying and traveling with drones, and project results. A quick evaluation of the day showed the the vast majority of people had learned something specific that they could use at work, which is great. Plus we had a cool flight simulator station for people to practice flying (and crashing).
Day 2 was a field day - we spent most of the day at the Davis hobbycraft airfield where we practiced taking off, landing, mission planning, and emergency maneuvers. We had an excellent lunch provided by the Street Cravings food truck. What a day! It was hot hot hot, but there was lots of shade, and a nice breeze. Anyway, we had a great day, with everyone getting their hands on the commands. Our Esri rep Mark Romero gave us a demo on Esri's Drone2Map software, and some of the lidar functionality in ArcGIS Pro.
Day 3 focused on data analysis. We had three workshops ready for the group to chose from, from forestry, agriculture, and rangelands. Prior to the workshops we had great talks from Jacob Flanagan and GreenValley Intl, and Ali Pourreza from Kearney Research and Extension Center. Ali is developing a drone-imagery-based database of the individual trees and vines at Kearney - he calls it the "Virtual Orchard". Jacob talked about the overall mission of GVI and how the company is moving into more comprehensive field and drone-based lidar mapping and software. Angad Singh from Pix4D gave us a master class in mapping from drones, covering georeferencing, the Pix4D workflow, and some of the checks produced for you a the end of processing.
One of our key goals of the DroneCamp was to jump start our California Drone Ecosystem concept. I talk about this in my CalAg Editorial. We are still in the early days of this emerging field, and we can learn a lot from each other as we develop best practices for workflows, platforms and sensors, software, outreach, etc. Our research and decision-making teams have become larger, more distributed, and multi-disciplinary; with experts and citizens working together, and these kinds of collaboratives are increasingly important. We need to collaborate on data collection, storage, & sharing; innovation, analysis, and solutions. If any of you out there want to join us in our California drone ecosystem, drop me a line.
Thanks to ANR for hosting us, thanks to the wonderful participants, and thanks especially to our sponsors (GreenValley Intl, Esri, and Pix4D). Specifically, thanks for:
- Mark Romero and Esri for showing us Drone2Map, and the ArcGIS Image repository and tools, and the trial licenses for ArcGIS;
- Angad Singh from Pix4D for explaining Pix4D, for providing licenses to the group; and
- Jacob Flanagan from GreenValley Intl for your insights into lidar collection and processing, and for all your help showcasing your amazing drones.
IGIS is thrilled to have a fantastic relationships with Parrot S.A. (one of the largest consumer drone corporations in the world), and Parrot's subsidiary company, Pix4D (the leading developer of drone data processing applications in the world), who together have been have been extremely generous and supportive of the IGIS drone program, and the UC System at large.
Please check out Parrot's Educational Blog, which recently featured an outstanding short article on IGIS's research into rangeland applications of drone technology, including the use of Parrot's Sequoia multispectral camera, by clicking here:
Also - Please stay tuned for the upcoming February 2017 issue of California Agriculture, which features an article on unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for agriculture and natural resources (co-authored by myself, Dr. Maggi Kelly, Brandon Stark, and Dr. YangQuan Chen), which will also be accompanied by an editorial written by Dr. Kelly on the need for a coordinated approach to scale up drone research and teaching across the UC system.
IGIS is excited to be working with 3D Robotics (3DR) to explore new applications of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) for monitoring agriculture and natural resources. This technology has never been more practical for scientific exploration; however, there is still much to be learned about how to best utilize sUAS in this way.
IGIS is now developing protocols for safe and efficient deployment of a 3DR Solo sUAS. Equipped with a common 12 megapixel GoPro Hero camera, this platform can survey up to 75 acres, at 3 inches of spatial resolution in less than 20 minutes, while flying a pre-defined flight path at 23 miles per hour, at 300 feet above ground level. Then thanks to Pix4D mapping software, which is used to combine the pictures collected by the sUAS's GoPro into a single image mosaic, automated photogrammetric processes can render a digital terrain model from the images with a vertical accuracy close to the same 3 inches spatial resolution found in the original image collection.
IGIS has introduced sUAS and remote sensing training into our workshop schedule for this year. Please check out our IGIS training calendar by Clicking Here for more information./span>
The GIF began in November 2015 on a wave of excitement around geospatial technology. In the months leading up to our first GIS Day in 2005, Google Maps launched, then went mobile; Google Earth launched in the summer; and NASA Blue Marble arrived. Hurricane Katrina changed the way we map disasters in real time. The opening up of the Landsat archive at no-cost by the USGS revolutionized how we can monitor the Earth's surface by allowing dense time-series analysis. These and other developments made viewing our world with detail, ease, and beauty commonplace, but these were nothing short of revolutionary - spurring new developments in science, governance and business. The decade since then has been one of intense innovation, and we have seen a rush in geospatial technologies that have enriched our lives immeasurably. In November 2015 we can recognize a similar wave of excitement around geospatial technology as we experienced a decade ago, one that is more diverse and far reaching than in 2005. This GIS Day we would like to highlight the societal benefit derived from innovators across academia, non-profits, government, and industry. Our panel discussion on the 18th has representatives from several local innovators in the field, including: Stamen Designs, Geowing, PlanetLabs, 3D Robotics, NASA, iNaturalist.org, and Google, who will discuss their perspectives on the boom in Bay Area mapping.
Please think about joining us at GIS Day!