What do the Green Bay Packers and forest scanning drones have in common? Cheese heads.
While Packer fans proudly identify with the dairy-infused nickname, a University of Wisconsin-Madison research project adapted the name for a groundbreaking UAV project to improve weather forecasting by understanding how vegetation and forests affect the atmosphere .
CHEESEHEAD (Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors) aims to study interactions and feedback between the land surface and the atmosphere and how these results can be used to optimize climate models. The result? Better policy making to reduce carbon emissions.
Researchers use Routescene’s UAV LiDAR system to collect high-density 3D point cloud data from prominent tree species in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The LiDAR system from Routescene, mounted on a drone, can capture the entire tree structure from the treetop to the vegetation on the ground.
Cover of the canopy
LiDAR mounted on drones can quickly and efficiently measure and display the type, shape, and composition of entire treetops, surveying 11 100-foot river towers in areas ranging from 61 to 247 hectares. Six forest types have been identified, including aspen, pine, poplar, larch, cedar and hardwood.
“The high canopy of 20 to 30 meters in height created difficult flight conditions,” said researcher Christian Andresen. “It was difficult to keep line of sight, so we decided to do smaller 500 x 500 meter flights to keep an eye on the drone.”
“The Routescene system worked perfectly, we achieved everything we set out to do. In the 3 days our crew of two covered a total of 4.2 km². We were particularly impressed by the density of the overlapping airways and the mapping of the forest structure. “
The Routescene LiDAR system includes a 32-laser LiDAR sensor with a scan rate of up to 1.4 million points per second. The point cloud density averaged 600 points per square meter with a vertical accuracy of 2-5 cm.
Routescene branches out
For Routescene, tree-related research is becoming a growing part of the European drone company’s business model.
In June, the company worked with the University of Toledo to investigate a forest fire site in the Spanish province of Albacete to better understand the severity and distribution of the fire.
“The project demonstrated the potential of using UAV LiDAR data to differentiate system structures in detail after a fire. In combination with satellite-based metrics on fire severity, the high-resolution results enable researchers to estimate the effects of fires on individual trees and not just on entire forest areas.
Skyfront, based in California, is currently working with Routescene to investigate the effects of increased flight time with Skyfront’s Perimeter 8 gasoline-electric hybrid multicopter.
Jason is a longtime DroneLife employee with a passionate interest in anything technology related. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; Police, fire brigade, search and rescue services.
Jason began his career as a journalist in 1996 and has since written and edited thousands of exciting news articles, blog posts, press releases, and online content.
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