Drone Tree Inspection: Doodle Labs Flies General Sherman Tree

Pioneering Use of Industrial-Grade Drone Provides Comprehensive Health Assessment of World’s Largest Known Living Tree

In May, a collaborative effort by the US National Park Service, Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition, and other groups led to a pioneering health check-up for the General Sherman tree in Sequoia National Park. This monumental project marked the first time an industrial-grade drone was used to inspect the world’s largest known living tree.

Volunteers began by scaling the tree with ropes and using satellite imagery to assess its condition. However, the highlight of the inspection was the deployment of Freefly’s Astro Prime drone, a state-of-the-art, NDAA-compliant, and Blue UAS-approved platform. This drone performed a detailed examination of the tree, which stands at an impressive 275 feet and is over 2,200 years old.

The Astro Prime drone was equipped with various swappable payloads, including a Lidar scanner and an HD video camera. These tools allowed the team to quickly and safely inspect the tree for damage, particularly from a native bark beetle. This beetle has been a significant threat to trees in the area, exacerbated by climate change and extended drought conditions.

One of the key features of the Astro Prime is its use of Doodle Labs mesh rider radios. These radios establish a resilient datalink, ensuring the drone remains connected and fully controlled even in off-grid environments. This technology also allows for the reliable transmission of high-bandwidth data back to the ground.

The success of this project demonstrates the potential for drones in environmental monitoring and land management. The Astro Prime’s capabilities and NDAA-compliant status will enable the US Forest Service and other Department of Interior groups to adopt this technology for future land mapping and inspection tasks. This method promises to be faster, safer, more efficient, and scalable compared to traditional manual processes.

For more information about the commercial use of drones, visit Doodle Labs.

Watch the drone inspection in action:


This flight was performed with express permissions from the appropriate agencies, ensuring that the operation adhered to all necessary regulations and safety protocols.

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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