Topical Collection "Feature Papers of Drones"

Editors

Prof. Dr. Diego González-Aguilera
E-Mail Website
Collection Editor

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

As editors of Drones, we are glad to announce a topical collection entitled “Feature papers of Drones”. This topical collection will be a compilation of articles, communications, and review articles from top researchers describing novel or new cutting-edge designs, developments, and/or applications of unmanned vehicles (aerial, terrestrial, or water/underwater). We welcome the submission of manuscripts from editorial board members and outstanding scholars invited by the editorial board and the editorial office.

Prof. Dr. Diego González-Aguilera
Dr. Pablo Rodríguez-Gonzálvez
Collection Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Drones is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (54 papers)

2022

Jump to: 2021, 2020

Correction
Correction: Sibanda et al. Application of Drone Technologies in Surface Water Resources Monitoring and Assessment: A Systematic Review of Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Global South. Drones 2021, 5, 84
Drones 2022, 6(5), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6050131 - 20 May 2022
Viewed by 596
Abstract
In the original publication [...] Full article
Technical Note
Geo-Referenced Mapping through an Anti-Collision Radar Aboard an Unmanned Aerial System
Drones 2022, 6(3), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6030072 - 09 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 892
Abstract
Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have enormous potential in many fields of application, especially when used in combination with autonomous guidance. An open challenge for safe autonomous flight is to rely on a mapping system for local positioning and obstacle avoidance. In this article, [...] Read more.
Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) have enormous potential in many fields of application, especially when used in combination with autonomous guidance. An open challenge for safe autonomous flight is to rely on a mapping system for local positioning and obstacle avoidance. In this article, the authors propose a radar-based mapping system both for obstacle detection and for path planning. The radar equipment used is a single-chip device originally developed for automotive applications that has good resolution in azimuth, but poor resolution in elevation. This limitation can be critical for UAS application, and it must be considered for obstacle-avoidance maneuvers and for autonomous path-planning selection. However, the radar-mapping system proposed in this paper was successfully tested in the following different scenarios: a single metallic target in grass, a vegetated scenario, and in the close proximity of a ruined building. Full article
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Article
Long Distance Ground Target Tracking with Aerial Image-to-Position Conversion and Improved Track Association
Drones 2022, 6(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6030055 - 23 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1085
Abstract
A small drone is capable of capturing distant objects at a low cost. In this paper, long distance (up to 1 km) ground target tracking with a small drone is addressed for oblique aerial images, and two novel approaches are developed. First, the [...] Read more.
A small drone is capable of capturing distant objects at a low cost. In this paper, long distance (up to 1 km) ground target tracking with a small drone is addressed for oblique aerial images, and two novel approaches are developed. First, the coordinates of the image are converted to real-world based on the angular field of view, tilt angle, and altitude of the camera. Through the image-to-position conversion, the threshold of the actual object size and the center position of the detected object in real-world coordinates are obtained. Second, the track-to-track association is improved by adopting the nearest neighbor association rule to select the fittest track among multiple tracks in a dense track environment. Moving object detection consists of frame-to-frame subtraction and thresholding, morphological operation, and false alarm removal based on object size and shape properties. Tracks are initialized by differencing between the two nearest points in consecutive frames. The measurement statistically nearest to the state prediction updates the target’s state. With the improved track-to-track association, the fittest track is selected in the track validation region, and the direction of the displacement vector and velocity vectors of the two tracks are tested with an angular threshold. In the experiment, a drone hovered at an altitude of 400 m capturing video for about 10 s. The camera was tilted 30° downward from the horizontal. Total track life (TTL) and mean track life (MTL) were obtained for 86 targets within approximately 1 km of the drone. The interacting multiple mode (IMM)-CV and IMM-CA schemes were adopted with varying angular thresholds. The average TTL and MTL were obtained as 84.9–91.0% and 65.6–78.2%, respectively. The number of missing targets was 3–5; the average TTL and MTL were 89.2–94.3% and 69.7–81.0% excluding the missing targets. Full article
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Article
Drone Control in AR: An Intuitive System for Single-Handed Gesture Control, Drone Tracking, and Contextualized Camera Feed Visualization in Augmented Reality
Drones 2022, 6(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6020043 - 10 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1371
Abstract
Traditional drone handheld remote controllers, although well-established and widely used, are not a particularly intuitive control method. At the same time, drone pilots normally watch the drone video feed on a smartphone or another small screen attached to the remote. This forces them [...] Read more.
Traditional drone handheld remote controllers, although well-established and widely used, are not a particularly intuitive control method. At the same time, drone pilots normally watch the drone video feed on a smartphone or another small screen attached to the remote. This forces them to constantly shift their visual focus from the drone to the screen and vice-versa. This can be an eye-and-mind-tiring and stressful experience, as the eyes constantly change focus and the mind struggles to merge two different points of view. This paper presents a solution based on Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset that leverages augmented reality and gesture recognition to make drone piloting easier, more comfortable, and more intuitive. It describes a system for single-handed gesture control that can achieve all maneuvers possible with a traditional remote, including complex motions; a method for tracking a real drone in AR to improve flying beyond line of sight or at distances where the physical drone is hard to see; and the option to display the drone’s live video feed in AR, either in first-person-view mode or in context with the environment. Full article
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Article
Drones in B5G/6G Networks as Flying Base Stations
Drones 2022, 6(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6020039 - 05 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1273
Abstract
Advances in the fields of networking, broadband communications and demand for high-fidelity low-latency last-mile communications have rendered as-efficient-as-possible relaying methods more necessary than ever. This paper investigates the possibility of the utilization of cellular-enabled drones as aerial base stations in next-generation cellular networks. [...] Read more.
Advances in the fields of networking, broadband communications and demand for high-fidelity low-latency last-mile communications have rendered as-efficient-as-possible relaying methods more necessary than ever. This paper investigates the possibility of the utilization of cellular-enabled drones as aerial base stations in next-generation cellular networks. Flying ad hoc networks (FANETs) acting as clusters of deployable relays for the on-demand extension of broadband connectivity constitute a promising scenario in the domain of next-generation high-availability communications. Matters of mobility, handover efficiency, energy availability, optimal positioning and node localization as well as respective multi-objective optimizations are discussed in detail, with their core ideas defining the structure of the work at hand. This paper examines improvements to the existing cellular network core to support novel use-cases and lower the operation costs of diverse ad hoc deployments. Full article
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Article
Propeller Position Effects over the Pressure and Friction Coefficients over the Wing of an UAV with Distributed Electric Propulsion: A Proper Orthogonal Decomposition Analysis
Drones 2022, 6(2), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6020038 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1133
Abstract
New propulsive architectures, with high interactions with the aerodynamic performance of the platform, are an attractive option for reducing the power consumption, increasing the resilience, reducing the noise and improving the handling of fixed-wing unmanned air vehicles. Distributed electric propulsion with boundary layer [...] Read more.
New propulsive architectures, with high interactions with the aerodynamic performance of the platform, are an attractive option for reducing the power consumption, increasing the resilience, reducing the noise and improving the handling of fixed-wing unmanned air vehicles. Distributed electric propulsion with boundary layer ingestion over the wing introduces extra complexity to the design of these systems, and extensive simulation and experimental campaigns are needed to fully understand the flow behaviour around the aircraft. This work studies the effect of different combinations of propeller positions and angles of attack over the pressure coefficient and skin friction coefficient distributions over the wing of a 25 kg fixed-wing remotely piloted aircraft. To get more information about the main trends, a proper orthogonal decomposition of the coefficient distributions is performed, which may be even used to interpolate the results to non-simulated combinations, giving more information than an interpolation of the main aerodynamic coefficients such as the lift, drag or pitching moment coefficients. Full article
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Article
Implementing Mitigations for Improving Societal Acceptance of Urban Air Mobility
Drones 2022, 6(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6020028 - 18 Jan 2022
Viewed by 1829
Abstract
The continuous development of technical innovations provides the opportunity to create new economic markets and a wealth of new services. However, these innovations sometimes raise concerns, notably in terms of societal, safety, and environmental impacts. This is the case for services related to [...] Read more.
The continuous development of technical innovations provides the opportunity to create new economic markets and a wealth of new services. However, these innovations sometimes raise concerns, notably in terms of societal, safety, and environmental impacts. This is the case for services related to the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which are emerging rapidly. Unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones, date back to the first third of the twentieth century in aviation industry, when they were mostly used for military purposes. Nowadays, drones of various types and sizes are used for many purposes, such as precision agriculture, search and rescue missions, aerial photography, shipping and delivery, etc. Starting to operate in areas with low population density, drones are now looking for business in urban and suburban areas, in what is called urban air mobility (UAM). However, this rapid growth of the drone industry creates psychological fear of the unknown in some parts of society. Reducing this fear will play an important role in public acceptance of drone operations in urban areas. This paper presents the main concerns of society with regard to drone operations, as already captured in some public surveys, and proposes a list of mitigation measures to reduce these concerns. The proposed list is then analyzed, and its applicability to individual, urban, very large demonstration flights is explained, using the feedback from the CORUS-XUAM project. CORUS-XUAM will organize a set of very large drone flight demonstrations across seven European countries to investigate how to safely integrate drone operations into airspace with the support of the U-space. Full article
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Article
Demystifying the Differences between Structure-from-MotionSoftware Packages for Pre-Processing Drone Data
Drones 2022, 6(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6010024 - 14 Jan 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2631
Abstract
With the increased availability of low-cost, off-the-shelf drone platforms, drone data become easy to capture and are now a key component of environmental assessments and monitoring. Once the data are collected, there are many structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry software options available to pre-process the [...] Read more.
With the increased availability of low-cost, off-the-shelf drone platforms, drone data become easy to capture and are now a key component of environmental assessments and monitoring. Once the data are collected, there are many structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry software options available to pre-process the data into digital elevation models (DEMs) and orthomosaics for further environmental analysis. However, not all software packages are created equal, nor are their outputs. Here, we evaluated the workflows and output products of four desktop SfM packages (AgiSoft Metashape, Correlator3D, Pix4Dmapper, WebODM), across five input datasets representing various ecosystems. We considered the processing times, output file characteristics, colour representation of orthomosaics, geographic shift, visual artefacts, and digital surface model (DSM) elevation values. No single software package was determined the “winner” across all metrics, but we hope our results help others demystify the differences between the options, allowing users to make an informed decision about which software and parameters to select for their specific application. Our comparisons highlight some of the challenges that may arise when comparing datasets that have been processed using different parameters and different software packages, thus demonstrating a need to provide metadata associated with processing workflows. Full article
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Article
SuSy-EnGaD: Surveillance System Enhanced by Games of Drones
Drones 2022, 6(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6010013 - 06 Jan 2022
Viewed by 588
Abstract
In this article, we propose SuSy-EnGaD, a surveillance system enhanced by games of drones. We propose three different approaches to optimise a swarm of UAVs for improving intruder detection, two of them featuring a multi-objective optimisation approach, while the third approach relates to [...] Read more.
In this article, we propose SuSy-EnGaD, a surveillance system enhanced by games of drones. We propose three different approaches to optimise a swarm of UAVs for improving intruder detection, two of them featuring a multi-objective optimisation approach, while the third approach relates to the evolutionary game theory where three different strategies based on games are proposed. We test our system on four different case studies, analyse the results presented as Pareto fronts in terms of flying time and area coverage, and compare them with the single-objective optimisation results from games. Finally, an analysis of the UAVs trajectories is performed to help understand the results achieved. Full article
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Review
A Review of Unmanned System Technologies with Its Application to Aquaculture Farm Monitoring and Management
Drones 2022, 6(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6010012 - 06 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1371
Abstract
This paper aims to provide an overview of the capabilities of unmanned systems to monitor and manage aquaculture farms that support precision aquaculture using the Internet of Things. The locations of aquaculture farms are diverse, which is a big challenge on accessibility. For [...] Read more.
This paper aims to provide an overview of the capabilities of unmanned systems to monitor and manage aquaculture farms that support precision aquaculture using the Internet of Things. The locations of aquaculture farms are diverse, which is a big challenge on accessibility. For offshore fish cages, there is a difficulty and risk in the continuous monitoring considering the presence of waves, water currents, and other underwater environmental factors. Aquaculture farm management and surveillance operations require collecting data on water quality, water pollutants, water temperature, fish behavior, and current/wave velocity, which requires tremendous labor cost, and effort. Unmanned vehicle technologies provide greater efficiency and accuracy to execute these functions. They are even capable of cage detection and illegal fishing surveillance when equipped with sensors and other technologies. Additionally, to provide a more large-scale scope, this document explores the capacity of unmanned vehicles as a communication gateway to facilitate offshore cages equipped with robust, low-cost sensors capable of underwater and in-air wireless connectivity. The capabilities of existing commercial systems, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence combined with drones are also presented to provide a precise aquaculture framework. Full article
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2021

Jump to: 2022, 2020

Article
The Relationship between Drone Speed and the Number of Flights in RFID Tag Reading for Plant Inventory
Drones 2022, 6(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6010002 - 22 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1030
Abstract
Accurate inventory allows for more precise forecasting, including profit projections, easier monitoring, shorter outages, and fewer delivery interruptions. Moreover, the long hours of physical labor involved over such a broad area and the effect of inefficiencies could lead to less accurate inventory. Unreliable [...] Read more.
Accurate inventory allows for more precise forecasting, including profit projections, easier monitoring, shorter outages, and fewer delivery interruptions. Moreover, the long hours of physical labor involved over such a broad area and the effect of inefficiencies could lead to less accurate inventory. Unreliable data and predictions, unannounced stoppages in operations, production delays and delivery, and a considerable loss of profit can all arise from inaccurate inventory. This paper extends our previous work with drones and RFID by evaluating: the number of flights needed to read all tags deployed in the field, the number of scans per pass, and the optimum drone speed for reading tags. The drone flight plan was divided into eight passes from southwest to northwest and back at a horizontal speed of 2.2, 1.7, and 1.1 m per second (m/s) at a vertically fixed altitude. The results showed that speed did not affect the number of new tags scanned (p-value > 0.05). Results showed that 90% of the tags were scanned in less than four trips (eight passes) at 1.7 m/s. Based on these results, the system can be used for large-scale nursery inventory and other industries that use RFID tags in outdoor environments. We presented two novel measurements on evaluating RFID reader efficiency by measuring how fast the reader can read and the shortest distance traveled by the RFID reader over tag. Full article
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Article
Drone Magnetometry in Mining Research. An Application in the Study of Triassic Cu–Co–Ni Mineralizations in the Estancias Mountain Range, Almería (Spain)
Drones 2021, 5(4), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040151 - 18 Dec 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 983
Abstract
The use of drones in mining and geological exploration is under rapid development, especially in the field of magnetic field prospection. In part, this is related to the advantages presented for over ground surveys, allowing for high-density data acquisition with low loss of [...] Read more.
The use of drones in mining and geological exploration is under rapid development, especially in the field of magnetic field prospection. In part, this is related to the advantages presented for over ground surveys, allowing for high-density data acquisition with low loss of resolution, while being particularly useful in scenarios where vegetation, topography, and access are limiting factors. This work analyzes results of a drone magnetic survey acquired across the old mines of Don Jacobo, where Copper-Cobalt-Nickel stratabound mineralizations were exploited in the Estancias mountain range of the Betic Cordillera, Spain. The survey carried out used a vapor magnetometer installed on a Matrice 600 Pro Hexacopter. Twenty-four parallel survey lines were flown with a speed of 5 m/s, orthogonal to the regional strike of the geological structure, and mineralization with 50 m line separation and 20 m flight height over the ground was studied. The interpretation of the magnetic data allows us to reveal and model two high magnetic susceptibility bodies with residual magnetization, close to the old mines and surface mineral shows. These bodies could be related to potential unexploited mineralized areas whose formation may be related to a normal fault placed to the south of the survey area. Our geophysical survey provides essential data to improve the geological and mining potential of the area, allowing to design future research activities. Full article
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Article
Convolutional Neural Networks for Classification of Drones Using Radars
Drones 2021, 5(4), 149; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040149 - 15 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1063
Abstract
The ability to classify drones using radar signals is a problem of great interest. In this paper, we apply convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to the Short-Time Fourier Transform (STFT) spectrograms of the simulated radar signals reflected from the drones. The drones vary in [...] Read more.
The ability to classify drones using radar signals is a problem of great interest. In this paper, we apply convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to the Short-Time Fourier Transform (STFT) spectrograms of the simulated radar signals reflected from the drones. The drones vary in many ways that impact the STFT spectrograms, including blade length and blade rotation rates. Some of these physical parameters are captured in the Martin and Mulgrew model which was used to produce the datasets. We examine the data under X-band and W-band radar simulation scenarios and show that a CNN approach leads to an F1 score of 0.816±0.011 when trained on data with a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 10 dB. The neural network which was trained on data from an X-band radar with 2 kHz pulse repetition frequency was shown to perform better than the CNN trained on the aforementioned W-band radar. It remained robust to the drone blade pitch and its performance varied directly in a linear fashion with the SNR. Full article
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Article
Acceleration-Aware Path Planning with Waypoints
Drones 2021, 5(4), 143; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040143 - 27 Nov 2021
Viewed by 1175
Abstract
In this article we demonstrate that acceleration and deceleration of direction-turning drones at waypoints have a significant influence to path planning which is important to be considered for time-critical applications, such as drone-supported search and rescue. We present a new path planning approach [...] Read more.
In this article we demonstrate that acceleration and deceleration of direction-turning drones at waypoints have a significant influence to path planning which is important to be considered for time-critical applications, such as drone-supported search and rescue. We present a new path planning approach that takes acceleration and deceleration into account. It follows a local gradient ascend strategy which locally minimizes turns while maximizing search probability accumulation. Our approach outperforms classic coverage-based path planning algorithms, such as spiral- and grid-search, as well as potential field methods that consider search probability distributions. We apply this method in the context of autonomous search and rescue drones and in combination with a novel synthetic aperture imaging technique, called Airborne Optical Sectioning (AOS), which removes occlusion of vegetation and forest in real-time. Full article
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Article
Optimum Sizing of Photovoltaic-Battery Power Supply for Drone-Based Cellular Networks
Drones 2021, 5(4), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040138 - 22 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1005
Abstract
In order to provide Internet access to rural areas and places without a reliable economic electricity grid, self-sustainable drone-based cellular networks have recently been presented. However, the difficulties of power consumption and mission planning lead to the challenge of optimal sizing of the [...] Read more.
In order to provide Internet access to rural areas and places without a reliable economic electricity grid, self-sustainable drone-based cellular networks have recently been presented. However, the difficulties of power consumption and mission planning lead to the challenge of optimal sizing of the power supply for future cellular telecommunication networks. In order to deal with this challenge, this paper presents an optimal approach for sizing the photovoltaic (PV)-battery power supply for drone-based cellular networks in remote areas. The main objective of the suggested approach is to minimize the total cost, including the capital and operational expenditures. The suggested framework is applied to an off-grid cellular telecommunication network with drone-based base stations that are powered by PV-battery systems-based recharging sites in a rural location. The PV-battery system is optimally designed for three recharging sites with three different power consumption profiles with different peak and cumulative loads. Results show that the optimal design of the PV-battery system is dependent on geographical data, solar irradiation, and ambient temperature, which affect the output power of the PV system, as well as the power consumption profile, which affects the required number of PV panels and battery capacity. Full article
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Article
A Practical Validation of Uncooled Thermal Imagers for Small RPAS
Drones 2021, 5(4), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040132 - 06 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1322
Abstract
Uncooled thermal imaging sensors in the LWIR (7.5 μm to 14 μm) have recently been developed for use with small RPAS. This study derives a new thermal imaging validation methodology via the use of a blackbody source (indoors) and real-world field conditions (outdoors). [...] Read more.
Uncooled thermal imaging sensors in the LWIR (7.5 μm to 14 μm) have recently been developed for use with small RPAS. This study derives a new thermal imaging validation methodology via the use of a blackbody source (indoors) and real-world field conditions (outdoors). We have demonstrated this method with three popular LWIR cameras by DJI (Zenmuse XT-R, Zenmuse XT2 and, the M2EA) operated by three different popular DJI RPAS platforms (Matrice 600 Pro, M300 RTK and, the Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced). Results from the blackbody work show that each camera has a highly linearized response (R2 > 0.99) in the temperature range 5–40 °C as well as a small (<2 °C) temperature bias that is less than the stated accuracy of the cameras. Field validation was accomplished by imaging vegetation and concrete targets (outdoors and at night), that were instrumented with surface temperature sensors. Environmental parameters (air temperature, humidity, pressure and, wind and gusting) were measured for several hours prior to imaging data collection and found to either not be a factor, or were constant, during the ~30 min data collection period. In-field results from imagery at five heights between 10 m and 50 m show absolute temperature retrievals of the concrete and two vegetation sites were within the specifications of the cameras. The methodology has been developed with consideration of active RPAS operational requirements. Full article
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Article
Designing a User-Centered Interaction Interface for Human–Swarm Teaming
Drones 2021, 5(4), 131; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040131 - 05 Nov 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1424
Abstract
A key challenge in human–swarm interaction is to design a usable interface that allows the human operators to monitor and control a scalable swarm. In our study, we restrict the interactions to only one-to-one communications in local neighborhoods between UAV-UAV and operator-UAV. This [...] Read more.
A key challenge in human–swarm interaction is to design a usable interface that allows the human operators to monitor and control a scalable swarm. In our study, we restrict the interactions to only one-to-one communications in local neighborhoods between UAV-UAV and operator-UAV. This type of proximal interactions will decrease the cognitive complexity of the human–swarm interaction to O(1). In this paper, a user study with 100 participants provides evidence that visualizing a swarm as a heat map is more effective in addressing usability and acceptance in human–swarm interaction. We designed an interactive interface based on the users’ preference and proposed a controlling mechanism that allows a human operator to control a large swarm of UAVs. We evaluated the proposed interaction interface with a complementary user study. Our testbed and results establish a benchmark to study human–swarm interaction where a scalable swarm can be managed by a single operator. Full article
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Review
Advanced Leak Detection and Quantification of Methane Emissions Using sUAS
Drones 2021, 5(4), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040117 - 14 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1449
Abstract
Detecting and quantifying methane emissions is gaining an increasingly vital role in mitigating emissions for the oil and gas industry through early detection and repair and will aide our understanding of how emissions in natural ecosystems are playing a role in the global [...] Read more.
Detecting and quantifying methane emissions is gaining an increasingly vital role in mitigating emissions for the oil and gas industry through early detection and repair and will aide our understanding of how emissions in natural ecosystems are playing a role in the global carbon cycle and its impact on the climate. Traditional methods of measuring and quantifying emissions utilize chamber methods, bagging individual equipment, or require the release of a tracer gas. Advanced leak detection techniques have been developed over the past few years, utilizing technologies, such as optical gas imaging, mobile surveyors equipped with sensitive cavity ring down spectroscopy (CRDS), and manned aircraft and satellite approaches. More recently, sUAS-based approaches have been developed to provide, in some ways, cheaper alternatives that also offer sensing advantages to traditional methods, including not being constrained to roadways and being able to access class G airspace (0–400 ft) where manned aviation cannot travel. This work looks at reviewing methods of quantifying methane emissions that can be, or are, carried out using small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) as well as traditional methods to provide a clear comparison for future practitioners. This includes the current limitations, capabilities, assumptions, and survey details. The suggested technique for LDAQ depends on the desired accuracy and is a function of the survey time and survey distance. Based on the complexity and precision, the most promising sUAS methods are the near-field Gaussian plume inversion (NGI) and the vertical flux plane (VFP), which have comparable accuracy to those found in conventional state-of-the-art methods. Full article
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Concept Paper
The Use of Drones in the Spatial Social Sciences
Drones 2021, 5(4), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5040112 - 06 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1170
Abstract
Drones are increasingly becoming a ubiquitous feature of society. They are being used for a multiplicity of applications for military, leisure, economic, and academic purposes. Their application in academia, especially as social science research tools, has seen a sharp uptake in the last [...] Read more.
Drones are increasingly becoming a ubiquitous feature of society. They are being used for a multiplicity of applications for military, leisure, economic, and academic purposes. Their application in academia, especially as social science research tools, has seen a sharp uptake in the last decade. This has been possible due, largely, to significant developments in computerization and miniaturization, which have culminated in safer, cheaper, lighter, and thus more accessible drones for social scientists. Despite their increasingly widespread use, there has not been an adequate reflection on their use in the spatial social sciences. There is need for a deeper reflection on their application in these fields of study. Should the drone even be considered a tool in the toolbox of the social scientist? In which fields is it most relevant? Should it be taught as a course in the social sciences much in the same way that spatially-oriented software packages have become mainstream in institutions of higher learning? What are the ethical implications of its application in spatial social science? This paper is a brief reflection on these questions. We contend that drones are a neutral tool which can be good and evil. They have actual and potentially wide applicability in academia but can be a tool through which breaches in ethics can be occasioned given their unique abilities to capture data from vantage perspectives. Researchers therefore need to be circumspect in how they deploy this powerful tool which is increasingly becoming mainstream in the social sciences. Full article
Article
Comparison of RGB and Multispectral Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for Monitoring Vegetation Coverage Changes on a Landslide Area
Drones 2021, 5(3), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030097 - 13 Sep 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1473
Abstract
The development of UAV technologies offers practical methods to create landcover maps for monitoring and management of areas affected by natural disasters such as landslides. The present study aims at comparing the capability of two different types of UAV to deliver precise information, [...] Read more.
The development of UAV technologies offers practical methods to create landcover maps for monitoring and management of areas affected by natural disasters such as landslides. The present study aims at comparing the capability of two different types of UAV to deliver precise information, in order to characterize vegetation at landslide areas over a period of months. For the comparison, an RGB UAV and a Multispectral UAV were used to identify three different classes: vegetation, bare soil, and dead matter, from April to July 2021. The results showed high overall accuracy values (>95%) for the Multispectral UAV, as compared to the RGB UAV, which had lower overall accuracies. Although having lower overall accuracies, the vegetation class of the RGB UAV presented high producer’s and user’s accuracy over time, comparable to the Multispectral UAV results. Image quality played an important role in this study, where higher accuracy values were found on cloudy days. Both RGB and Multispectral UAVs presented similar patterns of vegetation, bare soil, and dead matter classes, where the increase in vegetation class was consistent with the decrease in bare soil and dead matter class. The present study suggests that the Multispectral UAV is more suitable in characterizing vegetation, bare soil, and dead matter classes on landslide areas while the RGB UAV can deliver reliable information for vegetation monitoring. Full article
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Article
On the Performance of a UAV-Aided Wireless Network Based on NB-IoT
Drones 2021, 5(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030094 - 09 Sep 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1209
Abstract
In recent years, interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as a means to provide wireless connectivity has substantially increased thanks to their easy, fast and flexible deployment. Among the several possible applications of UAV networks explored by the current literature, they can be [...] Read more.
In recent years, interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as a means to provide wireless connectivity has substantially increased thanks to their easy, fast and flexible deployment. Among the several possible applications of UAV networks explored by the current literature, they can be efficiently employed to collect Internet-of-Things (IoT) data because the non-stringent latency and small-size traffic type is particularly suited for UAVs’ inherent characteristics. However, the implications coming from the implementation of existing technology in such kinds of nodes are not straightforward. In this article, we consider a Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) network served by a UAV base station. Because of the many configurations possible within the NB-IoT standard, such as the access structure and numerology, we thoroughly review the technical aspects that have to be implemented and may be affected by the proposed UAV-aided IoT network. For proper remarks, we investigate the network performance jointly in terms of the number of successful transmissions, access rate, latency, throughput and energy consumption. Then, we compare the obtained results on different and known trajectories in the research community and study the impact of varying UAV parameters such as speed and height. Moreover, the numerical assessment allows us to extend the discussion to the potential implications of this model in different scenarios. Thus, this article summarizes all the main aspects that must be considered in planning NB-IoT networks with UAVs. Full article
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Article
Quantifying the Spatial Variability of Annual and Seasonal Changes in Riverscape Vegetation Using Drone Laser Scanning
Drones 2021, 5(3), 91; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030091 - 07 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1782
Abstract
Riverscapes are complex ecosystems consisting of dynamic processes influenced by spatially heterogeneous physical features. A critical component of riverscapes is vegetation in the stream channel and floodplain, which influences flooding and provides habitat. Riverscape vegetation can be highly variable in size and structure, [...] Read more.
Riverscapes are complex ecosystems consisting of dynamic processes influenced by spatially heterogeneous physical features. A critical component of riverscapes is vegetation in the stream channel and floodplain, which influences flooding and provides habitat. Riverscape vegetation can be highly variable in size and structure, including wetland plants, grasses, shrubs, and trees. This vegetation variability is difficult to precisely measure over large extents with traditional surveying tools. Drone laser scanning (DLS), or UAV-based lidar, has shown potential for measuring topography and vegetation over large extents at a high resolution but has yet to be used to quantify both the temporal and spatial variability of riverscape vegetation. Scans were performed on a reach of Stroubles Creek in Blacksburg, VA, USA six times between 2017 and 2019. Change was calculated both annually and seasonally over the two-year period. Metrics were derived from the lidar scans to represent different aspects of riverscape vegetation: height, roughness, and density. Vegetation was classified as scrub or tree based on the height above ground and 604 trees were manually identified in the riverscape, which grew on average by 0.74 m annually. Trees had greater annual growth and scrub had greater seasonal variability. Height and roughness were better measures of annual growth and density was a better measure of seasonal variability. The results demonstrate the advantage of repeat surveys with high-resolution DLS for detecting seasonal variability in the riverscape environment, including the growth and decay of floodplain vegetation, which is critical information for various hydraulic and ecological applications. Full article
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Article
A Single-Copter UWB-Ranging-Based Localization System Extendable to a Swarm of Drones
Drones 2021, 5(3), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030085 - 30 Aug 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1356
Abstract
This paper presents a single-copter localization system as a first step towards a scalable multihop drone swarm localization system. The drone was equipped with ultrawideband (UWB) transceiver modules, which can be used for communication, as well as distance measurement. The location of the [...] Read more.
This paper presents a single-copter localization system as a first step towards a scalable multihop drone swarm localization system. The drone was equipped with ultrawideband (UWB) transceiver modules, which can be used for communication, as well as distance measurement. The location of the drone was detected based on fixed anchor points using a single type of UWB transceiver. Our aim is to create a swarm localization system that enables drones to switch their role between an active swarm member and an anchor node to enhance the localization of the whole swarm. To this end, this paper presents our current baseline localization system and its performance regarding single-drone localization with fixed anchors and its integration into our current modular quadcopters, which was designed to be easily extendable to a swarm localization system. The distance between each drone and the anchors was measured periodically, and a specially tailored gradient descent algorithm was used to solve the resulting nonlinear optimization problem. Additional copter and wireless-specific adaptations were performed to enhance the robustness. The system was tested with a Vicon system as a position reference and showed a high precision of 0.2 m with an update rate of <10 Hz. Additionally, the system was integrated into the FINken copters of the SwarmLab and evaluated in multiple outdoor scenarios. These scenarios showed the generic usability of the approach, even though no accurate precision measurement was possible. Full article
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Review
Application of Drone Technologies in Surface Water Resources Monitoring and Assessment: A Systematic Review of Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities in the Global South
Drones 2021, 5(3), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030084 - 28 Aug 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2522 | Correction
Abstract
Accurate and timely information on surface water quality and quantity is critical for various applications, including irrigation agriculture. In-field water quality and quantity data from unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVs) could be useful in closing spatial data gaps through the generation of near-real-time, [...] Read more.
Accurate and timely information on surface water quality and quantity is critical for various applications, including irrigation agriculture. In-field water quality and quantity data from unmanned aerial vehicle systems (UAVs) could be useful in closing spatial data gaps through the generation of near-real-time, fine resolution, spatially explicit information required for water resources accounting. This study assessed the progress, opportunities, and challenges in mapping and modelling water quality and quantity using data from UAVs. To achieve this research objective, a systematic review was adopted. The results show modest progress in the utility of UAVs, especially in the global south. This could be attributed, in part, to high costs, a lack of relevant skills, and the regulations associated with drone procurement and operational costs. The progress is further compounded by a general lack of research focusing on UAV application in water resources monitoring and assessment. More importantly, the lack of robust and reliable water quantity and quality data needed to parameterise models remains challenging. However, there are opportunities to advance scientific inquiry for water quality and quantity accounting by integrating UAV data and machine learning. Full article
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Article
Numerical Fluid Dynamics Simulation for Drones’ Chemical Detection
Drones 2021, 5(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030069 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1175
Abstract
The risk associated with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNe) threats in the last two decades has grown as a result of easier access to hazardous materials and agents, potentially increasing the chance for dangerous events. Consequently, early detection of a threat [...] Read more.
The risk associated with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNe) threats in the last two decades has grown as a result of easier access to hazardous materials and agents, potentially increasing the chance for dangerous events. Consequently, early detection of a threat following a CBRNe event is a mandatory requirement for the safety and security of human operators involved in the management of the emergency. Drones are nowadays one of the most advanced and versatile tools available, and they have proven to be successfully used in many different application fields. The use of drones equipped with inexpensive and selective detectors could be both a solution to improve the early detection of threats and, at the same time, a solution for human operators to prevent dangerous situations. To maximize the drone’s capability of detecting dangerous volatile substances, fluid dynamics numerical simulations may be used to understand the optimal configuration of the detectors positioned on the drone. This study serves as a first step to investigate how the fluid dynamics of the drone propeller flow and the different sensors position on-board could affect the conditioning and acquisition of data. The first consequence of this approach may lead to optimizing the position of the detectors on the drone based not only on the specific technology of the sensor, but also on the type of chemical agent dispersed in the environment, eventually allowing to define a technological solution to enhance the detection process and ensure the safety and security of first responders. Full article
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Article
Simulation and Characterization of Wind Impacts on sUAS Flight Performance for Crash Scene Reconstruction
Drones 2021, 5(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030067 - 23 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1121
Abstract
Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) have emerged as promising platforms for the purpose of crash scene reconstruction through structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry. However, auto crashes tend to occur under adverse weather conditions that usually pose increased risks of sUAS operation in the sky. Wind [...] Read more.
Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) have emerged as promising platforms for the purpose of crash scene reconstruction through structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry. However, auto crashes tend to occur under adverse weather conditions that usually pose increased risks of sUAS operation in the sky. Wind is a typical environmental factor that can cause adverse weather, and sUAS responses to various wind conditions have been understudied in the past. To bridge this gap, commercial and open source sUAS flight simulation software is employed in this study to analyze the impacts of wind speed, direction, and turbulence on the ability of sUAS to track the pre-planned path and endurance of the flight mission. This simulation uses typical flight capabilities of quadcopter sUAS platforms that have been increasingly used for traffic incident management. Incremental increases in wind speed, direction, and turbulence are conducted. Average 3D error, standard deviation, battery use, and flight time are used as statistical metrics to characterize the wind impacts on flight stability and endurance. Both statistical and visual analytics are performed. Simulation results suggest operating the simulated quadcopter type when wind speed is less than 11 m/s under light to moderate turbulence levels for optimal flight performance in crash scene reconstruction missions, measured in terms of positional accuracy, required flight time, and battery use. Major lessons learned for real-world quadcopter sUAS flight design in windy conditions for crash scene mapping are also documented. Full article
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Article
A Hybrid Approach for Autonomous Collision-Free UAV Navigation in 3D Partially Unknown Dynamic Environments
Drones 2021, 5(3), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030057 - 08 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1308
Abstract
In the past decades, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have emerged in a wide range of applications. Owing to the advances in UAV technologies related to sensing, computing, power, etc., it has become possible to carry out missions autonomously. A key component to achieving [...] Read more.
In the past decades, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have emerged in a wide range of applications. Owing to the advances in UAV technologies related to sensing, computing, power, etc., it has become possible to carry out missions autonomously. A key component to achieving this goal is the development of safe navigation methods, which is the main focus of this work. A hybrid navigation approach is proposed to allow safe autonomous operations in three-dimensional (3D) partially unknown and dynamic environments. This method combines a global path planning algorithm, namely RRT-Connect, with a reactive control law based on sliding mode control to provide quick reflex-like reactions to newly detected obstacles. The performance of the suggested approach is validated using simulations. Full article
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Article
Computational Study of the Propeller Position Effects in Wing-Mounted, Distributed Electric Propulsion with Boundary Layer Ingestion in a 25 kg Remotely Piloted Aircraft
Drones 2021, 5(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030056 - 30 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1155
Abstract
Distributed electric propulsion and boundary layer ingestion are two attractive technologies to reduce the power consumption of fixed wing aircraft. Through careful distribution of the propulsive system elements, higher aerodynamic and propulsive efficiency can be achieved, as well as a lower risk of [...] Read more.
Distributed electric propulsion and boundary layer ingestion are two attractive technologies to reduce the power consumption of fixed wing aircraft. Through careful distribution of the propulsive system elements, higher aerodynamic and propulsive efficiency can be achieved, as well as a lower risk of total loss of aircraft due to foreign object damage. When used on the wing, further reductions of the bending moment on the wing root can even lead to reductions of its structural weight, thus mitigating the expected increase of operating empty weight due to the extra components needed. While coupling these technologies in fixed-wing aircraft is being actively studied in the big aircraft segment, it is also an interesting approach for increasing the efficiency even for aircraft with maximum take-off masses as low as 25 kg, such as the A3 open subcategory for civil drones from EASA. This paper studies the effect of changing the propellers’ position in the aerodynamic performance parameters of a distributed electric propulsion with boundary layer ingestion system in a 25 kg fixed-wing aircraft, as well as in the performance of the propellers. The computational results show the trade-offs between the aerodynamic efficiency and the propeller efficiency when the vertical position is varied. Full article
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Article
A Multilevel Architecture for Autonomous UAVs
Drones 2021, 5(3), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5030055 - 30 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1215
Abstract
In this paper, a multilevel architecture able to interface an on-board computer with a generic UAV flight controller and its radio receiver is proposed. The computer board exploits the same standard communication protocol of UAV flight controllers and can easily access additional data, [...] Read more.
In this paper, a multilevel architecture able to interface an on-board computer with a generic UAV flight controller and its radio receiver is proposed. The computer board exploits the same standard communication protocol of UAV flight controllers and can easily access additional data, such as: (i) inertial sensor measurements coming from a multi-sensor board; (ii) global navigation satellite system (GNSS) coordinates; (iii) streaming video from one or more cameras; and (iv) operator commands from the remote control. In specific operating scenarios, the proposed platform is able to act as a “cyber pilot” which replaces the role of a human UAV operator, thus simplifying the development of complex tasks such as those based on computer vision and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms which are typically employed in autonomous flight operations. Full article
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Concept Paper
Unmanned Autogyro for Mars Exploration: A Preliminary Study
Drones 2021, 5(2), 53; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020053 - 18 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1068
Abstract
Starting from the Martian environment, we examine all the necessary requirements for a UAV and outline the architecture of a gyroplane optimized for scientific research and support for (future) Mars explorers, highlighting its advantages and criticalities. After a careful trade-off between different vehicles [...] Read more.
Starting from the Martian environment, we examine all the necessary requirements for a UAV and outline the architecture of a gyroplane optimized for scientific research and support for (future) Mars explorers, highlighting its advantages and criticalities. After a careful trade-off between different vehicles suitable for a typical mission, some parameters are established to optimize the size and performance. In the second part, the project of the Spider gyroplane and the methodology used to balance the longitudinal masses are presented; in the third part, the parameters of the aerodynamic forces acting on the aircraft are highlighted to be able to focus them during the fluid dynamics simulations. Full article
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Article
Efficient Reactive Obstacle Avoidance Using Spirals for Escape
Drones 2021, 5(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020051 - 07 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1435
Abstract
The usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has increased in recent years and new application scenarios have emerged. Some of them involve tasks that require a high degree of autonomy, leading to increasingly complex systems. In order for a robot to be autonomous, [...] Read more.
The usage of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has increased in recent years and new application scenarios have emerged. Some of them involve tasks that require a high degree of autonomy, leading to increasingly complex systems. In order for a robot to be autonomous, it requires appropriate perception sensors that interpret the environment and enable the correct execution of the main task of mobile robotics: navigation. In the case of UAVs, flying at low altitude greatly increases the probability of encountering obstacles, so they need a fast, simple, and robust method of collision avoidance. This work covers the problem of navigation in unknown scenarios by implementing a simple, yet robust, environment-reactive approach. The implementation is done with both CPU and GPU map representations to allow wider coverage of possible applications. This method searches for obstacles that cross a cylindrical safety volume, and selects an escape point from a spiral for avoiding the obstacle. The algorithm is able to successfully navigate in complex scenarios, using both a high and low-power computer, typically found aboard UAVs, relying only on a depth camera with a limited FOV and range. Depending on the configuration, the algorithm can process point clouds at nearly 40 Hz in Jetson Nano, while checking for threats at 10 kHz. Some preliminary tests were conducted with real-world scenarios, showing both the advantages and limitations of CPU and GPU-based methodologies. Full article
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Article
On the Dominant Factors of Civilian-Use Drones: A Thorough Study and Analysis of Cross-Group Opinions Using a Triple Helix Model (THM) with the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP)
Drones 2021, 5(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020046 - 26 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1608
Abstract
This study explores the experts’ opinions during the consultation stage before law-making for civilian drones. A thorough literature study is first undertaken to have the set of influencing factors that should be suitable for the investigation from the perspective of designing and selecting [...] Read more.
This study explores the experts’ opinions during the consultation stage before law-making for civilian drones. A thorough literature study is first undertaken to have the set of influencing factors that should be suitable for the investigation from the perspective of designing and selecting civilian drones. Several rounds of surveys using the Delphi method, followed by an analytic hierarchy process (AHP), are performed to conform to the organized tree structure of constructs and factors and to obtain the knowledge about the opinions of the expert groups, with the expert sample being intentionally partitioned into three opinion groups at the beginning: academia (A), industry (I), and research institutes (R). Doing so facilitates a “mind-mining” process using the triple helix model (THM), while the opinions across the groups can also be visualized and compared. This exploits a new set of knowledge for the design and selection of civilian drones on a scientific yet empirical basis, and the observed differences and similarities among the groups may benefit their future negotiations to propose the drafts for regulating the design, manufacturing, and uses of civilian drones. As several significant implications and insights are also drawn and gained from the abovementioned results eventually, some possible research directions are worthwhile. The proposed hybrid methodological flow is another novelty. Full article
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Article
Monitoring Dynamic Braided River Habitats: Applicability and Efficacy of Aerial Photogrammetry from Manned Aircraft versus Unmanned Aerial Systems
Drones 2021, 5(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020039 - 17 May 2021
Viewed by 1496
Abstract
Despite growing interest in using lightweight unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for ecological research and conservation, review of the operational aspects of these evolving technologies is limited in the scientific literature. To derive an objective framework for choosing among technologies we calculated efficiency measures [...] Read more.
Despite growing interest in using lightweight unmanned aerial systems (UASs) for ecological research and conservation, review of the operational aspects of these evolving technologies is limited in the scientific literature. To derive an objective framework for choosing among technologies we calculated efficiency measures and conducted a data envelopment productivity frontier analysis (DEA) to compare the efficacy of using manned aircraft (Cessna with Aviatrix triggered image capture using a 50 mm lens) and UAS (Mavic Pro 2) for photogrammetric monitoring of restoration efforts in dynamic braided rivers in Southern New Zealand. Efficacy assessment was based on the technological, logistical, administrative, and economic requirements of pre (planning), peri (image acquiring) and post (image processing) phases. The results reveal that the technological and logistic aspects of UASs were more efficient than manned aircraft flights. Administratively, the first deployment of UASs is less efficient but was very flexible for subsequent deployment. Manned aircraft flights were more productive in terms of the number of acquired images, but the ground resolution of those images was lower compared with those from UASs. Frontier analysis confirmed that UASs would be economical for regular monitoring of habitats—and even more so if research personnel are trained to fly the UASs. Full article
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Article
Comparing UAS LiDAR and Structure-from-Motion Photogrammetry for Peatland Mapping and Virtual Reality (VR) Visualization
Drones 2021, 5(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020036 - 09 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2335
Abstract
The mapping of peatland microtopography (e.g., hummocks and hollows) is key for understanding and modeling complex hydrological and biochemical processes. Here we compare unmanned aerial system (UAS) derived structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry and LiDAR point clouds and digital surface models of an ombrotrophic bog, [...] Read more.
The mapping of peatland microtopography (e.g., hummocks and hollows) is key for understanding and modeling complex hydrological and biochemical processes. Here we compare unmanned aerial system (UAS) derived structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry and LiDAR point clouds and digital surface models of an ombrotrophic bog, and we assess the utility of these technologies in terms of payload, efficiency, and end product quality (e.g., point density, microform representation, etc.). In addition, given their generally poor accessibility and fragility, peatlands provide an ideal model to test the usability of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) visualizations. As an integrated system, the LiDAR implementation was found to be more straightforward, with fewer points of potential failure (e.g., hardware interactions). It was also more efficient for data collection (10 vs. 18 min for 1.17 ha) and produced considerably smaller file sizes (e.g., 51 MB vs. 1 GB). However, SfM provided higher spatial detail of the microforms due to its greater point density (570.4 vs. 19.4 pts/m2). Our VR/AR assessment revealed that the most immersive user experience was achieved from the Oculus Quest 2 compared to Google Cardboard VR viewers or mobile AR, showcasing the potential of VR for natural sciences in different environments. We expect VR implementations in environmental sciences to become more popular, as evaluations such as the one shown in our study are carried out for different ecosystems. Full article
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Article
UAV-Based Classification of Cercospora Leaf Spot Using RGB Images
Drones 2021, 5(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020034 - 05 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2084
Abstract
Plant diseases can impact crop yield. Thus, the detection of plant diseases using sensors that can be mounted on aerial vehicles is in the interest of farmers to support decision-making in integrated pest management and to breeders for selecting tolerant or resistant genotypes. [...] Read more.
Plant diseases can impact crop yield. Thus, the detection of plant diseases using sensors that can be mounted on aerial vehicles is in the interest of farmers to support decision-making in integrated pest management and to breeders for selecting tolerant or resistant genotypes. This paper investigated the detection of Cercospora leaf spot (CLS), caused by Cercospora beticola in sugar beet using RGB imagery. We proposed an approach to tackle the CLS detection problem using fully convolutional neural networks, which operate directly on RGB images captured by a UAV. This efficient approach does not require complex multi- or hyper-spectral sensors, but provides reliable results and high sensitivity. We provided a detection pipeline for pixel-wise semantic segmentation of CLS symptoms, healthy vegetation, and background so that our approach can automatically quantify the grade of infestation. We thoroughly evaluated our system using multiple UAV datasets recorded from different sugar beet trial fields. The dataset consisted of a training and a test dataset and originated from different fields. We used it to evaluate our approach under realistic conditions and analyzed its generalization capabilities to unseen environments. The obtained results correlated to visual estimation by human experts significantly. The presented study underlined the potential of high-resolution RGB imaging and convolutional neural networks for plant disease detection under field conditions. The demonstrated procedure is particularly interesting for applications under practical conditions, as no complex and cost-intensive measuring system is required. Full article
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Article
Communication Aware UAV Swarm Surveillance Based on Hierarchical Architecture
Drones 2021, 5(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020033 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2251
Abstract
Multi-agent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) teaming becomes an essential part in science mission, modern warfare surveillance, and disaster rescuing. This paper proposes a decentralized UAV swarm persistent monitoring strategy in realizing continuous sensing coverage and network service. A two-layer (high altitude and low [...] Read more.
Multi-agent unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) teaming becomes an essential part in science mission, modern warfare surveillance, and disaster rescuing. This paper proposes a decentralized UAV swarm persistent monitoring strategy in realizing continuous sensing coverage and network service. A two-layer (high altitude and low altitude) UAV teaming hierarchical structure is adopted in realizing the accurate object tracking in the area of interest (AOI). By introducing the UAV communication channel model in its path planning, both centralized and decentralized control schemes would be evaluated in the waypoint tracking simulation. The UAV swarm network service and object tracking are measured by metrics of communication link quality and waypoints tracking accuracy. UAV swarm network connectivity are evaluated over different aspects, such as stability and volatility. The comparison of proposed algorithms is presented with simulations. The result shows that the decentralized scheme outperforms the centralized scheme in the mission of persistent surveillance, especially on maintaining the stability of inner UAV swarm network while tracking moving objects. Full article
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Article
Assessing the Potential of Remotely-Sensed Drone Spectroscopy to Determine Live Coral Cover on Heron Reef
Drones 2021, 5(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020029 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1700
Abstract
Coral reefs, as biologically diverse ecosystems, hold significant ecological and economic value. With increased threats imposed on them, it is increasingly important to monitor reef health by developing accessible methods to quantify coral cover. Discriminating between substrate types has previously been achieved with [...] Read more.
Coral reefs, as biologically diverse ecosystems, hold significant ecological and economic value. With increased threats imposed on them, it is increasingly important to monitor reef health by developing accessible methods to quantify coral cover. Discriminating between substrate types has previously been achieved with in situ spectroscopy but has not been tested using drones. In this study, we test the ability of using point-based drone spectroscopy to determine substrate cover through spectral unmixing on a portion of Heron Reef, Australia. A spectral mixture analysis was conducted to separate the components contributing to spectral signatures obtained across the reef. The pure spectra used to unmix measured data include live coral, algae, sand, and rock, obtained from a public spectral library. These were able to account for over 82% of the spectral mixing captured in each spectroscopy measurement, highlighting the benefits of using a public database. The unmixing results were then compared to a categorical classification on an overlapping mosaicked drone image but yielded inconclusive results due to challenges in co-registration. This study uniquely showcases the potential of using commercial-grade drones and point spectroscopy in mapping complex environments. This can pave the way for future research, by increasing access to repeatable, effective, and affordable technology. Full article
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Article
Biomimetic Drones Inspired by Dragonflies Will Require a Systems Based Approach and Insights from Biology
Drones 2021, 5(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5020024 - 27 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3703
Abstract
Many drone platforms have matured to become nearly optimal flying machines with only modest improvements in efficiency possible. “Chimera” craft combine fixed wing and rotary wing characteristics while being substantially less efficient than both. The increasing presence of chimeras suggests that their mix [...] Read more.
Many drone platforms have matured to become nearly optimal flying machines with only modest improvements in efficiency possible. “Chimera” craft combine fixed wing and rotary wing characteristics while being substantially less efficient than both. The increasing presence of chimeras suggests that their mix of vertical takeoff, hover, and more efficient cruise is invaluable to many end users. We discuss the opportunity for flapping wing drones inspired by large insects to perform these mixed missions. Dragonflies particularly are capable of efficiency in all modes of flight. We will explore the fundamental principles of dragonfly flight to allow for a comparison between proposed flapping wing technological solutions and a flapping wing organism. We chart one approach to achieving the next step in drone technology through systems theory and an appreciation of how biomimetics can be applied. New findings in dynamics of flapping, practical actuation technology, wing design, and flight control are presented and connected. We show that a theoretical understanding of flight systems and an appreciation of the detail of biological implementations may be key to achieving an outcome that matches the performance of natural systems. We assert that an optimal flapping wing drone, capable of efficiency in all modes of flight with high performance upon demand, might look somewhat like an abstract dragonfly. Full article
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Technical Note
The Use of UAVs for the Characterization and Analysis of Rocky Coasts
Drones 2021, 5(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5010023 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1570
Abstract
Rocky coasts represent three quarters of all coastlines worldwide. These areas are part of ecosystems of great ecological value, but their steep configuration and their elevation make field surveys difficult. This fact, together with their lower variation rates, explains the lower numbers of [...] Read more.
Rocky coasts represent three quarters of all coastlines worldwide. These areas are part of ecosystems of great ecological value, but their steep configuration and their elevation make field surveys difficult. This fact, together with their lower variation rates, explains the lower numbers of publications about cliffs and rocky coasts in general compared with those about beach-dune systems. The introduction of UAVs in research, has enormously expanded the possibilities for the study of rocky coasts. Their relative low costs allow for the generation of information with a high level of detail. This information, combined with GIS tools, enables coastal analysis based on Digital Models and high spatial resolution images. This investigation summarizes the main results obtained with the help of UAVs between 2012 and the present day in rocky coastline sections in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. These investigations have particularly focused on monitoring the dynamics of boulder beaches, cliffs, and shore platforms, as well as the structure and function of ecosystems. This work demonstrates the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for coastal studies and their usefulness for improving coastal management. The Galician case was used to explain their importance and the advances in the UAVs’ techniques. Full article
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Article
Modeling Streamflow and Sediment Loads with a Photogrammetrically Derived UAS Digital Terrain Model: Empirical Evaluation from a Fluvial Aggregate Excavation Operation
Drones 2021, 5(1), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5010020 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1254
Abstract
Soil erosion monitoring is a pivotal exercise at macro through micro landscape levels, which directly informs environmental management at diverse spatial and temporal scales. The monitoring of soil erosion can be an arduous task when completed through ground-based surveys and there are uncertainties [...] Read more.
Soil erosion monitoring is a pivotal exercise at macro through micro landscape levels, which directly informs environmental management at diverse spatial and temporal scales. The monitoring of soil erosion can be an arduous task when completed through ground-based surveys and there are uncertainties associated with the use of large-scale medium resolution image-based digital elevation models for estimating erosion rates. LiDAR derived elevation models have proven effective in modeling erosion, but such data proves costly to obtain, process, and analyze. The proliferation of images and other geospatial datasets generated by unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is increasingly able to reveal additional nuances that traditional geospatial datasets were not able to obtain due to the former’s higher spatial resolution. This study evaluated the efficacy of a UAS derived digital terrain model (DTM) to estimate surface flow and sediment loading in a fluvial aggregate excavation operation in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. A nested scale distributed hydrologic flow and sediment loading model was constructed for the UAS point cloud derived DTM. To evaluate the effectiveness of flow and sediment loading generated by the UAS point cloud derived DTM, a LiDAR derived DTM was used for comparison in consonance with several statistical measures of model efficiency. Results demonstrate that the UAS derived DTM can be used in modeling flow and sediment erosion estimation across space in the absence of a LiDAR-based derived DTM. Full article
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Article
Safety Enhancement of UAVs from the Signal Processing’s Perspectives: A Bird’s Eye View
Drones 2021, 5(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5010016 - 26 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1268
Abstract
Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) or drones have gained popularity in recent years. However, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still hesitant to open up the national air space (NAS) to UAVs due to safety concerns because UAVs have several orders of magnitude [...] Read more.
Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) or drones have gained popularity in recent years. However, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is still hesitant to open up the national air space (NAS) to UAVs due to safety concerns because UAVs have several orders of magnitude of more accidents than manned aircraft. To limit the scope in this paper, we focus on large, heavy, and expensive UAVs that can be used for cargo transfer and search and rescue operations, not small radio-controlled toy drones. We first present a general architecture for enhancing the safety of UAVs. We then illustrate how signal processing technologies can help enhance the safety of UAVs. In particular, we provide a bird’s eye view of the application of signal processing algorithms on condition-based maintenance, structural health monitoring, fault diagnostics, and fault mitigation, which all play critical roles in UAV safety. Some practical applications are used to illustrate the importance of the various algorithms. Full article
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Article
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Wildland Fires: Sensing, Perception, Cooperation and Assistance
Drones 2021, 5(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5010015 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 2947
Abstract
Wildfires represent a significant natural risk causing economic losses, human death and environmental damage. In recent years, the world has seen an increase in fire intensity and frequency. Research has been conducted towards the development of dedicated solutions for wildland fire assistance and [...] Read more.
Wildfires represent a significant natural risk causing economic losses, human death and environmental damage. In recent years, the world has seen an increase in fire intensity and frequency. Research has been conducted towards the development of dedicated solutions for wildland fire assistance and fighting. Systems were proposed for the remote detection and tracking of fires. These systems have shown improvements in the area of efficient data collection and fire characterization within small-scale environments. However, wildland fires cover large areas making some of the proposed ground-based systems unsuitable for optimal coverage. To tackle this limitation, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were proposed. UAVs have proven to be useful due to their maneuverability, allowing for the implementation of remote sensing, allocation strategies and task planning. They can provide a low-cost alternative for the prevention, detection and real-time support of firefighting. In this paper, previous works related to the use of UAV in wildland fires are reviewed. Onboard sensor instruments, fire perception algorithms and coordination strategies are considered. In addition, some of the recent frameworks proposing the use of both aerial vehicles and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) for a more efficient wildland firefighting strategy at a larger scale are presented. Full article
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Article
StratoTrans: Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) 4G Communication Framework Applied on the Monitoring of Road Traffic and Linear Infrastructure
Drones 2021, 5(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5010010 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2203
Abstract
This study provides an operational solution to directly connect drones to internet by means of 4G telecommunications and exploit drone acquired data, including telemetry and imagery but focusing on video transmission. The novelty of this work is the application of 4G connection to [...] Read more.
This study provides an operational solution to directly connect drones to internet by means of 4G telecommunications and exploit drone acquired data, including telemetry and imagery but focusing on video transmission. The novelty of this work is the application of 4G connection to link the drone directly to a data server where video (in this case to monitor road traffic) and imagery (in the case of linear infrastructures) are processed. However, this framework is appliable to any other monitoring purpose where the goal is to send real-time video or imagery to the headquarters where the drone data is processed, analyzed, and exploited. We describe a general framework and analyze some key points, such as the hardware to use, the data stream, and the network coverage, but also the complete resulting implementation of the applied unmanned aerial system (UAS) communication system through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) featuring a long-range telemetry high-capacity video link (up to 15 Mbps, 720 p video at 30 fps with 250 ms of latency). The application results in the real-time exploitation of the video, obtaining key information for traffic managers such as vehicle tracking, vehicle classification, speed estimation, and roundabout in-out matrices. The imagery downloads and storage is also performed thorough internet, although the Structure from Motion postprocessing is not real-time due to photogrammetric workflows. In conclusion, we describe a real-case application of drone connection to internet thorough 4G network, but it can be adapted to other applications. Although 5G will -in time- surpass 4G capacities, the described framework can enhance drone performance and facilitate paths for upgrading the connection of on-board devices to the 5G network. Full article
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2020

Jump to: 2022, 2021

Article
Inter-UAV Routing Scheme Testbeds
Drones 2021, 5(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones5010002 - 28 Dec 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2430
Abstract
With the development of more advanced and efficient control algorithms and communication architectures, UAVs and networks thereof (swarms) now find applications in nearly all possible environments and scenarios. There exist numerous schemes which accommodate routing for such networks, many of which are specifically [...] Read more.
With the development of more advanced and efficient control algorithms and communication architectures, UAVs and networks thereof (swarms) now find applications in nearly all possible environments and scenarios. There exist numerous schemes which accommodate routing for such networks, many of which are specifically designed for distinct use-cases. Validation and evaluation of routing schemes is implemented for the most part using simulation software. This approach is however incapable of considering real-life noise, radio propagation models, channel bit error rate and signal-to-noise ratio. Most importantly, existing frameworks or simulation software cannot sense physical-layer related information regarding power consumption which an increasing number of routing protocols utilize as a metric. The work presented in this paper contributes to the analysis of already existing routing scheme evaluation frameworks and testbeds and proposes an efficient, universal and standardized hardware testbed. Additionally, three interface modes aimed at evaluation under different scenarios are provided. Full article
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Article
Suitability of the Reforming-Controlled Compression Ignition Concept for UAV Applications
Drones 2020, 4(3), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030060 - 22 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1807
Abstract
Reforming-controlled compression ignition (RefCCI) is a novel approach combining two methods to improve the internal combustion engine’s efficiency and mitigate emissions: low-temperature combustion (LTC) and thermochemical recuperation (TCR). Frequently, the combustion controllability challenge is resolved by simultaneous injection into the cylinder of two [...] Read more.
Reforming-controlled compression ignition (RefCCI) is a novel approach combining two methods to improve the internal combustion engine’s efficiency and mitigate emissions: low-temperature combustion (LTC) and thermochemical recuperation (TCR). Frequently, the combustion controllability challenge is resolved by simultaneous injection into the cylinder of two fuel types, each on the other edge of the reactivity scale. By changing the low-to-high-reactivity fuel ratio, ignition timing and combustion phasing control can be achieved. The RefCCI principles, benefits, and possible challenges are described in previous publications. However, the suitability of the RefCCI approach for aerial, mainly unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms has not been studied yet. The main goal of this paper is to examine whether the RefCCI approach can be beneficial for UAV, especially HALE (high-altitude long-endurance) applications. The thermodynamic first-law and the second-law analysis is numerically performed to investigate the RefCCI approach suitability for UAV applications and to assess possible efficiency gains. A comparison with the conventional diesel engine and the previously developed technology of spark ignition (SI) engine with high-pressure TCR is performed in view of UAV peculiarities. The results indicate that the RefCCI system can be beneficial for UAV applications. The RefCCI higher efficiency compared to existing commercial engines compensates the lower heating value of the primary fuel, so the fuel consumption remains almost the same. By optimizing the compression pressure ratio, the RefCCI system efficiency can be improved. Full article
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Article
Spray Deposition on Weeds (Palmer Amaranth and Morningglory) from a Remotely Piloted Aerial Application System and Backpack Sprayer
Drones 2020, 4(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030059 - 19 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2601
Abstract
This study was designed to determine whether a remotely piloted aerial application system (RPAAS) could be used in lieu of a backpack sprayer for post-emergence herbicide application. Consequent to this objective, a spray mixture of tap water and fluorescent dye was applied on [...] Read more.
This study was designed to determine whether a remotely piloted aerial application system (RPAAS) could be used in lieu of a backpack sprayer for post-emergence herbicide application. Consequent to this objective, a spray mixture of tap water and fluorescent dye was applied on Palmer amaranth and ivyleaf morningglory using an RPAAS at 18.7 and 37.4 L·ha−1 and a CO2-pressurized backpack sprayer at a 140 L·ha−1 spray application rate. Spray efficiency (the proportion of applied spray collected on an artificial sampler) for the RPAAS treatments was comparable to that for the backpack sprayer. Fluorescent spray droplet density was significantly higher on the adaxial surface for the backpack sprayer treatment than that for the RPAAS platforms. The percent of spray droplets on the abaxial surface for the RPAAS aircraft at 37.4 L·ha−1 was 4-fold greater than that for the backpack sprayer at 140 L·ha−1. The increased spray deposition on the abaxial leaf surfaces was likely caused by rotor downwash and wind turbulence generated by the RPAAS which caused leaf fluttering. This improved spray deposition may help increase the efficacy of contact herbicides. Test results indicated that RPAASs may be used for herbicide application in lieu of conventional backpack sprayers. Full article
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Article
An Approach for Route Optimization in Applications of Precision Agriculture Using UAVs
Drones 2020, 4(3), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030058 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3046
Abstract
This research paper focuses on providing an algorithm by which (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) UAVs can be used to provide optimal routes for agricultural applications such as, fertilizers and pesticide spray, in crop fields. To utilize a minimum amount of inputs and complete the [...] Read more.
This research paper focuses on providing an algorithm by which (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) UAVs can be used to provide optimal routes for agricultural applications such as, fertilizers and pesticide spray, in crop fields. To utilize a minimum amount of inputs and complete the task without a revisit, one needs to employ optimized routes and optimal points of delivering the inputs required in precision agriculture (PA). First, stressed regions are identified using VegNet (Vegetative Network) software. Then, methods are applied for obtaining optimal routes and points for the spraying of inputs with an autonomous UAV for PA. This paper reports a unique and innovative technique to calculate the optimum location of spray points required for a particular stressed region. In this technique, the stressed regions are divided into many circular divisions with its center being a spray point of the stressed region. These circular divisions would ensure a more effective dispersion of the spray. Then an optimal path is found out which connects all the stressed regions and their spray points. The paper also describes the use of methods and algorithms including travelling salesman problem (TSP)-based route planning and a Voronoi diagram which allows applying precision agriculture techniques. Full article
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Article
High Resolution Geospatial Evapotranspiration Mapping of Irrigated Field Crops Using Multispectral and Thermal Infrared Imagery with METRIC Energy Balance Model
Drones 2020, 4(3), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030052 - 01 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2296
Abstract
Geospatial crop water use mapping is critical for field-scale site-specific irrigation management. Landsat 7/8 satellite imagery with a widely adopted METRIC (Mapping Evapotranspiration at high Resolution with Internalized Calibration) energy balance model (LM approach) estimates accurate evapotranspiration (ET) but limits field-scale spatiotemporal (30 [...] Read more.
Geospatial crop water use mapping is critical for field-scale site-specific irrigation management. Landsat 7/8 satellite imagery with a widely adopted METRIC (Mapping Evapotranspiration at high Resolution with Internalized Calibration) energy balance model (LM approach) estimates accurate evapotranspiration (ET) but limits field-scale spatiotemporal (30 m pixel−1, ~16 days) mapping. A study was therefore conducted to map actual ET of commercially grown irrigated-field crops (spearmint, potato, and alfalfa) at very high-resolution (7 cm pixel−1). Six small unmanned aerial system (UAS)-based multispectral and thermal infrared imagery campaigns were conducted (two for each crop) at the same time as the Landsat 7/8 overpass. Three variants of METRIC model were used to process the UAS imagery; UAS-METRIC-1, -2, and -3 (UASM-1, -2, and -3) and outputs were compared with the standard LM approach. ET root mean square differences (RMSD) between LM-UASM-1, LM-UASM-2, and LM-UASM-3 were in the ranges of 0.2–2.9, 0.5–0.9, and 0.5–2.7 mm day−1, respectively. Internal calibrations and sensible heat fluxes majorly resulted in such differences. UASM-2 had the highest similarity with the LM approach (RMSD: 0.5–0.9, ETdep,abs (daily ET departures): 2–14%, r (Pearson correlation coefficient) = 0.91). Strong ET correlations between UASM and LM approaches (0.7–0.8, 0.7–0.8, and 0.8–0.9 for spearmint, potato, and alfalfa crops) suggest equal suitability of UASM approaches as LM to map ET for a range of similar crops. UASM approaches (Coefficient of variation, CV: 6.7–24.3%) however outperformed the LM approach (CV: 2.1–11.2%) in mapping spatial ET variations due to large number of pixels. On-demand UAS imagery may thus help in deriving high resolution site-specific ET maps, for growers to aid in timely crop water management. Full article
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Article
Determining the Optimal Number of Ground Control Points for Varying Study Sites through Accuracy Evaluation of Unmanned Aerial System-Based 3D Point Clouds and Digital Surface Models
Drones 2020, 4(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030049 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2181
Abstract
The rapid development of drone technologies, such as unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), has led to the widespread application of three-dimensional (3D) point clouds and digital surface models (DSMs). Due to the number of UAS technology applications across many [...] Read more.
The rapid development of drone technologies, such as unmanned aerial systems (UASs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), has led to the widespread application of three-dimensional (3D) point clouds and digital surface models (DSMs). Due to the number of UAS technology applications across many fields, studies on the verification of the accuracy of image processing results have increased. In previous studies, the optimal number of ground control points (GCPs) was determined for a specific area of a study site by increasing or decreasing the amount of GCPs. However, these studies were mainly conducted in a single study site, and the results were not compared with those from various study sites. In this study, to determine the optimal number of GCPs for modeling multiple areas, the accuracy of 3D point clouds and DSMs were analyzed in three study sites with different areas according to the number of GCPs. The results showed that the optimal number of GCPs was 12 for small and medium sites (7 and 39 ha) and 18 for the large sites (342 ha) based on the overall accuracy. If these results are used for UAV image processing in the future, accurate modeling will be possible with minimal effort in GCPs. Full article
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Article
Ice Detection on Aircraft Surface Using Machine Learning Approaches Based on Hyperspectral and Multispectral Images
Drones 2020, 4(3), 45; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030045 - 18 Aug 2020
Viewed by 2065
Abstract
Aircraft ground de-icing operations play a critical role in flight safety. However, to handle the aircraft de-icing, a considerable quantity of de-icing fluids is commonly employed. Moreover, some pre-flight inspections are carried out with engines running; thus, a large amount of fuel is [...] Read more.
Aircraft ground de-icing operations play a critical role in flight safety. However, to handle the aircraft de-icing, a considerable quantity of de-icing fluids is commonly employed. Moreover, some pre-flight inspections are carried out with engines running; thus, a large amount of fuel is wasted, and CO2 is emitted. This implies substantial economic and environmental impacts. In this context, the European project (reference call: MANUNET III 2018, project code: MNET18/ICT-3438) called SEI (Spectral Evidence of Ice) aims to provide innovative tools to identify the ice on aircraft and improve the efficiency of the de-icing process. The project includes the design of a low-cost UAV (uncrewed aerial vehicle) platform and the development of a quasi-real-time ice detection methodology to ensure a faster and semi-automatic activity with a reduction of applied operating time and de-icing fluids. The purpose of this work, developed within the activities of the project, is defining and testing the most suitable sensor using a radiometric approach and machine learning algorithms. The adopted methodology consists of classifying ice through spectral imagery collected by two different sensors: multispectral and hyperspectral camera. Since the UAV prototype is under construction, the experimental analysis was performed with a simulation dataset acquired on the ground. The comparison among the two approaches, and their related algorithms (random forest and support vector machine) for image processing, was presented: practical results show that it is possible to identify the ice in both cases. Nonetheless, the hyperspectral camera guarantees a more reliable solution reaching a higher level of accuracy of classified iced surfaces. Full article
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Article
Modeling and Investigations on Surface Colors of Wings on the Performance of Albatross-Inspired Mars Drones and Thermoelectric Generation Capabilities
Drones 2020, 4(3), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/drones4030043 - 16 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1398
Abstract
Thermal effects of wing color for Albatross-inspired drones performing in the Martian atmosphere are investigated during the summer and winter seasons. This study focuses on two useful consequences of the thermal effects of wing color: the drag reduction and the thermoelectric generation of [...] Read more.
Thermal effects of wing color for Albatross-inspired drones performing in the Martian atmosphere are investigated during the summer and winter seasons. This study focuses on two useful consequences of the thermal effects of wing color: the drag reduction and the thermoelectric generation of power. According to its color, each wing side has a certain temperature affecting the drag. Investigations of various configurations have shown that the thermal effect on the wing boundary layer skin drag is insignificant because of the low atmospheric pressure. However, the total drag varies as much as 12.8% between the highest performing wing color configuration and the lowest performing configuration. Additionally, the large temperature differences between the top and the bottom wing surfaces show great potential for thermoelectric power generation. The maximum temperature differences between the top and bottom surfaces for the summer and winter seasons are, respectively, 65 K and 30 K. The drag reduction and the power generation via thermoelectric generators both contribute to enhancing the endurance of drones. Future drone designs will benefit from increased endurance through optimizing the wing color configuration. Full article
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