UAV thermal imaging is being used in increasing number of fields – inspecting of buildings and structures, agriculture, surveillance, tracking objects in dark and many more. Generally speaking, it can be used to measure or observe in areas inaccessible or hazardous for other methods Combination of infrared camera and a drone can be also very useful for environmentalists, especially for monitoring in difficult conditions, such as thick vegetation in an impervious jungle. Researchers from Queensland in Australia currently aim to use unmanned aerial vehicles with thermographic sensors in order to monitor koalas and other species. Counting of koalas is traditionally performed by people on the ground, which is often slow, strenous and inefficient, but tracking them with aerial robots can definitely open new possibilities for the environmentalists.
UAV thermal imaging for better detecting of rare species
The researchers deployed smart multicopters equipped with infrared cameras such as Workswell Therma Imager for better detecting of these creatures. They were reportedly a bit sceptical about the contribution of uav thermal imaging, but the were totally filled with confidence when the thermographic images came through. Compared to the trees and the environment, the spotted koalas were very distinct and easy to track, so this was undisputable a proof of this approach. The drones are able to hover in lower altitudes above the trees, so the infrared camera can detect the animal´s body heat and transmit pictures directly back to the ground base. Moreover, the researchers are using computer software which helps to distinguish koalas from other species in the environment. Earlier this month, they choosed a bushland surrounding Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for the first test flights.
UAV thermal imaging opens new possibilities in environmental monitoring
Using of UAV thermal imaging for environmental monitoring will significantly reduce the manpower and greatly increase the possibly covered area. In addition, it will help researchers in areas where is not possible to walk through because of dense undergrowth or other obstacles. In case of decreasing number of koalas in Qeensland and New South Wales the researchers are hoping that the drone mission will help them to better understand this problem. It can bring answers to the questions like why a few koalas are dying after relocation and what can we do to stop this. The koala population in the country amounts to low as 45.000 individuals because of severe problems, aerial monitoring with UAS technology can hopefully open new possibilities in dealing with this matter. Using of UAV thermal imaging is expected to expand on other wildlife and help to reveal new environment trouble that are possibly not known in these days. The next step should be reportedly moving to Fraser Island in order to monitor the dingo population, but there are many other possibilities such as monitoring invasive species, e.g. feral pigs, wild dogs or feral cats.