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Sensors 2016, 16(7), 1072;

An Overview of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Air Quality Measurements: Present Applications and Future Prospectives

International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (ILAQH), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), 2 George St, Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia
Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), 2 George St, Brisbane QLD 4000, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Assefa M. Melesse
Received: 21 April 2016 / Revised: 1 July 2016 / Accepted: 5 July 2016 / Published: 12 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue UAV-Based Remote Sensing)
Full-Text   |   PDF [647 KB, uploaded 12 July 2016]   |  


Assessment of air quality has been traditionally conducted by ground based monitoring, and more recently by manned aircrafts and satellites. However, performing fast, comprehensive data collection near pollution sources is not always feasible due to the complexity of sites, moving sources or physical barriers. Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with different sensors have been introduced for in-situ air quality monitoring, as they can offer new approaches and research opportunities in air pollution and emission monitoring, as well as for studying atmospheric trends, such as climate change, while ensuring urban and industrial air safety. The aims of this review were to: (1) compile information on the use of UAVs for air quality studies; and (2) assess their benefits and range of applications. An extensive literature review was conducted using three bibliographic databases (Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar) and a total of 60 papers was found. This relatively small number of papers implies that the field is still in its early stages of development. We concluded that, while the potential of UAVs for air quality research has been established, several challenges still need to be addressed, including: the flight endurance, payload capacity, sensor dimensions/accuracy, and sensitivity. However, the challenges are not simply technological, in fact, policy and regulations, which differ between countries, represent the greatest challenge to facilitating the wider use of UAVs in atmospheric research. View Full-Text
Keywords: air quality; UAVs; sensors; atmosphere; pollution; aerosols air quality; UAVs; sensors; atmosphere; pollution; aerosols

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Villa, T.F.; Gonzalez, F.; Miljievic, B.; Ristovski, Z.D.; Morawska, L. An Overview of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Air Quality Measurements: Present Applications and Future Prospectives. Sensors 2016, 16, 1072.

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