Gatoreye unpiloted flying laboratory
The GatorEye Unpiloted Flying Laboratory (GE-UFL) is a new sensor suite with dual flight platforms being built with funding from co-directors Drs. Broadbent (pilot and flight ops) and Almeyda Zambrano (applications and flight ops). The GatorEye is of scientific interest to many faculty and students across campus, with a core team of: Drs. Barnes (SFRC), Binford (Geog.), Bohlman (SFRC), Southworth (Geog.), and Wilkinson (SFRC); graduate students Kelsi Davis (MS UA), Beatriz Lopez (PhD UFL), and undergraduate student Clare Ols (BS UA). The sensor package includes a Headwall Photonics VNIR 270 spectral band hyperspectral sensor with Hyperspec III software to control polygon acquisition areas and which can be manually triggered from within Phoenix software, a Phoenix Aerial VLP-16 dual-return LiDAR sensor capable of 600,000 returns per second with Phoenix live and post-processing software, and a global shutter gige RGB camera bore-sighted to all sensors to RGB colorize LiDAR point clouds. All sensors are bore-sighted to enable immediate live 3D LiDAR data feed and a live visual feed via visual cameras on the flight platforms. Upcoming improvements include adding a Gobi radiometric thermal sensor. This sensor suite is geolocated to < 5 cm using a dual frequency GNSS and post-processed kinematic algorithms relative to a base station, and with orientation obtained from a high-resolution tactical grade Inertial Movement Unit (IMU) (STIM 300) post-processed against a dual-frequency base station using Inertial Explorer software. The location of the base station itself is determined using the online Trimble CenterPoint RTX post-processing platform. The flight platforms include both a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) DJI Matrice 600 Pro hexacopter capable of 22 minute flight times for smaller areas (<100 acres per flight, and with 6 sets of batteries currently available for multiple flights per day) and with a 5 km telemetry / control range, and an Applied Aeronautics Albatross fixed-wing platform capable of 3+ hour flights with live video and telemetry feeds of up to 100 km via a UAV antenna tracking system at the ground station, and which features redundant satellite based tracking systems. Mission planning and ground station software is UGCS for the hexacopter and Mission Planner / UGCS for the fixed-wing. Photogrammetric processing of RGB images to 3D surfaces and orthomosaics is conducted using Pix4Dmapper Pro and Agisoft software on a customized workstation at the Spatial Ecology & Conservation (SPEC) Lab, and LiDAR data is processed using ENVI LiDAR, QT Modeler, and LASTools. Sensor fusion is conducted in ENVI + IDL geospatial analysis software linked with ESRI ArcGIS software. Data collection campaigns are currently being planned in the US (Florida, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire), Panama, Costa Rica, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Malaysia. If you have an collaboration you would like to discuss please contact the directors directly via email. Thanks for your interest!