Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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63 unmanned systems inside October/November 2016 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. extinction because the totoaba's swim bladder is valued as a delicacy in China. The nonprofit Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been doing night patrols in the northern waters of the Gulf of California, the only place on Earth the Vaquita live. They are using a Predator quadcopter drone equipped with a FLIR thermal night vision camera to locate the poachers' small boats. "They detect them," McGillivary said, "and they send the coordinates to the Mexican Navy and the Mexican Navy is busting them." Though the Shepherds are not necessarily using a drone/automated surface vessel (ASV) combination, the monitoring power of a UAS, especially one with its range boosted by an ASV, could also be useful for protecting fisheries. In a paper before the Oceans '16 conference in September presenting author Trent Lukac- zyk of FlightWave Aerospace Systems, exam- ined a variety of marine-focused applications for unmanned aircraft including dynamic fish- eries management. The problem with the current approach to restricted fishing areas, he pointed out, is that the fish don't respect the borders. "Today, MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) are established using static boundaries," wrote Lukaczyk and four other authors including McGillivary. "A significant amount of effort goes into designing these boundaries because there are many stakeholders. For example, it is common for fishermen to argue that the boundaries are not appropriate because the fish population can migrate to a new area." By tagging fish and then using drones to moni- tor their movements, resource managers could match no-catch boundaries to the actual loca- tion of the fish in near real time, he suggested. NOA A already tags and tracks marine mammals, Hood said, an activity it is looking to improve with UAS. "We have marine biologists who want to be able to count seals on a shoreline," she said. "The way they do it now is to walk among the seals and count them—but it spooks the ani- mals and they go back into the water." The scientists want to be able to f ly a small drone over the seals they can see in the distance. They want a small rotary craft because they want to maintain control and know exactly where it is and over which animal they're placing it. The researchers hope to use UAS like ex- tended cameras, Hood said, cameras with some top-of-the-line capabilities "They are interested in (resolutions at) the cen- timeter level—1 to 2 cm," Hood said. "There are certain tags on wildlife, they want to be able to read the tags. They want to be able to have crisp enough imagery so that they can actually tell the difference between say one seal versus another seal and actually start collecting enough infor- mation so they can monitor the health and the lifecycle of that particular animal." NOAA Priorities Finding better ways to protect fish and marine mammals falls under marine observation—the first of three key research realms for which Hood's team is assessing UAS. "When we were first building up the program we looked at the different categories of UAS to see how they would fit and then we looked at the requirements," she said. "We came up with three main science focus areas that we try to bundle all of our in work within." The second is polar research. "Whether it's climate studies in the polar re- gions or weather observations or sea ice mapping, because we just feel that—because of the harsh- ness of the polar regions, it's just really hard to collect good observations there," said Hood. UAS might be able to help, she told Inside Unmanned Systems, especially when it comes to filling data gaps. There may be observations in the Arctic that either our ships or our aircraft can't get, she said. The third, Hood said, is high impact weather. NOAA has been researching ways to use un- manned systems to improve the forecasts made possible by its constellation of weather satel- "THERE ARE CERTAIN TAGS on wildlife, they want to be able to read the tags. They want to be able to have crisp enough imagery so that they can actually tell the difference between say one seal versus another seal." Robbie Hood, program director, NOAA's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program

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