In the last decade the prevalence of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has exploded; however, the presence of UAVs in research situations is still a relatively new and untested field. The autonomous flight lab (AFL) at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is a new lab site that is dedicated to using UAVs to benefit research for all backgrounds. Before AFL was able to fly missions we first needed to actually receive our vehicles, create a lab space that would provide all of the necessary resources and equipment necessary to fly, and to be granted permission by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly. AFL’s first contract was with the Cal Poly Agricultural Department to photograph their vineyards and analyze the health of the grape crops using a hyperspectral camera. The camera used was the Selectable Hyperspectral Airborne Remote sensing Kit (SHARK) that uses a Visible/Near Infra-Red (visNIR) scanning spectrometer to image the grape crops. Throughout the 9-week STAR placement the SHARK was obtained and a lab station was created to test, troubleshoot, and train new operators in the use of the SHARK. The SHARK has been used to take preliminary pictures to ensure that it will operate correctly on its first aerial helikite mission. Work still needs to be done to determine a safe and user-friendly way of mounting the SHARK to the helikite and powering the SHARK while airborne. The work done during the 9-week placement will allow for AFL to begin field-testing of the SHARK and to begin collecting data in the months to come.


Aeronautical Vehicles | Agronomy and Crop Sciences


Dr. Aaron Drake

Lab site

California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly SLO)

Funding Acknowledgement

This material is based upon work supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HHMI. This work was administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESAME) and the Fresno State Science and Mathematics Education Center (SMEC) on behalf of the California State University.



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/star/360


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