Drones UAV’s and UVV’s All the Hype
Aerial and maritime unmanned systems, drones or UAV’s/UUV’s are growing in the number of applied uses commercially, industrial and in defence.
I have been very fortunate in my life to work with some of the most unique and innovative technologies and their applications, of all time. I would credit that to my interests and passions coupled with my formal education. Unmanned systems, optical systems, and infrared sensor systems are among my favorite, and are coming together to solve real problems.
Some aerial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAV’s, that I am extremely familiar with are 3D-surveying and geographical mapping, agricultural monitoring in crops and animals, law enforcement surveillance, thermal sensor drones used in rescue, as well as agricultural monitoring again, storm tracking, unmanned cargo transport, shipping and delivery, disaster relief, inspection, and of course aerial photography and videography. Did you know Google even has an internet boosting drone since the acquisition of Titan Aerospace? There are so many other applications and positive uses as well.
In maritime use, unmanned underwater vehicles or UUV’s are typically used in commercial diving, deep water monitoring, testing, surveillance and environmental uses such as coral reef restoration.
Real World Applications of the Future
I am particularly interested in amphibious drones or unmanned vehicles capable of both aerial and water for a very important reason. One of the most interesting applications today is that of pollution control. In China, there are drones that can release chemicals that in polluted areas will reduce PM2.5.
One issue locally to us here in Martin County, Florida, but received international attention, has been that of the polluted Indian River Lagoon due mostly to agricultural runoff. Runoff from agricultural land can carry large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus can cause algal blooms in waterways that can be toxic to humans, livestock, and fish. Sediment can clog fish gills, smother plants and can reduce light penetration in the water. Without light, aquatic plants on the river bed cannot survive. Aquatic plants are important for commercial and recreational fishing as they provide a habitat and food source for fish. In 2012 the Treasure coast experienced a wave of extremely uncommon shark attacks that were a direct cause of the algae blooms. The algae blooms impacted the seagrass, effecting the fish population, which resulted in irregular behavior in several different species of sharks. **See my full paper for further information**
So, as you can see reducing agricultural runoff is extremely important for many reasons. I am following research in autonomous drones that can be designed with autonomous biosensors as well as thermal, optical and video sensors. This will give researchers new ways of monitoring all of the many intertwined canals and waterways that make up South Florida’s East Coast. In addition, water testing kits can be fitted onto these special unmanned systems. The ability to be aerial or underwater will allow for more efficient means for monitoring and combating runoff all the way from the source to the coast.
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