UAV Update

Dunsapie Loch in Holyrood Park

We have been making good use of our DJI Phantom UAV over the summer.  We took it out to Traprain Law in East Lothian in May as part of Sandy Avery’s MSc dissertation to test the capabilities of this device and flew for more than an hour over a marked set of ground control points. We had fitted a new camera – a Canon Powershot SX230 HS, which is 12.1 megapixels, has a 14-times optical zoom, but weighs just over 200 grams. This camera has some interesting features; firstly it has an internal GPS although we haven’t tried that yet. Secondly it can be controlled and customised by a scripting language, which allowed an intervalometer function to be installed which allows images to be taken regularly without ground control. The images we have taken were markedly better than those taken with the GoPro device we used previously. The GoPro suffered from a fish-eye lens, so wide-angle that it was of limited use for building an orthophoto – corrected to its exact position on the earth. The resolution of the images was notably better leading to a marked improvement in DEM and orthophoto quality. With further work there are many possible survey and visualization applications which the Phantom could be used for in the future.

We have also flown at Skinflats near Falkirk, recording the margin of the saltmarshes along the Firth of Forth as part of Jethro Gauld’s MSc dissertation in Ecosystem Services, and have also flown in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh, with permission from the Historic Scotland rangers. Our flight in Holyrood Park last week was in some of the best conditions possible, with virtually no wind and a beautiful sunny day.

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