Data Fusion

Robotics Above, On, and Underwater

This entry is part of 73 in the series Pangaea

Demo-ing Drones at UAS Colorado’s “Robotics on the Rez” Event

In the September 10th issue of Pangaea we talked about Future Prepping: getting ready for the next generation of geospatial technology. I’d like to add another educational resource to that list: product demos.

Product demonstrations are a great way to get a hands-on look at products you’re interested in and get your questions answered straight from the source. Demos can range from quickie trade show product presentations to onsite sales demos to group demos where geospatial products are demonstrated in a larger event format.

In that last category I was lucky to be invited to UAS Colorado’s “Robotics on the Rez,” a day full of unmanned vehicle demonstrations at the Rueter-Hess Reservoir in Parker, Colorado (note this took place at a reservoir, not a Native American reservation). UAS Colorado is a non-profit business league, committed to promoting and improving the UAS industry in Colorado. I want to thank them for hosting this demo day and including me in the program.

Over the Water

First up was Leptron Unmanned Aircraft Systems showing off its Remo-M fixed-wing UAS. Leptron is a Denver, Colorado-based designer, manufacturer, and distributor of UAS. The firm got its start in helicopter and multicopter platforms. Recently it has branched out in fixed-wing UAS including the Remo-M.

The craft is a pusher-prop-style UAS that breaks down into its component parts for ease of transport. Flight time under ideal conditions at sea level is 90 minutes with an average cruising speed of 34 mph. In our area, approximately one mile above sea level, flight time is around 60 minutes, still plenty of time to run healthy-sized missions with its 20mp Sony camera in a quick-detach sensor pod. The craft is hand-launched and has a unique airbag landing system that deploys upon impact.

Under the Water

YSI was on hand to show off its i3XO EcoMapper, an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). The i3XO is a torpedo-style AUV that takes a swappable/modular approach for maximum application adaptability. For example, one module offered is an INS unit for enhanced navigation and increased geo-referenced data accuracy. Standard surface navigation is GPS with subsurface navigation handled either by the INS solution or a combination of RDI doppler velocity log (DVL), depth sensor, and corrected compass.

The unit can operate from between 8 and 14 hours depending on the configuration at a speed of between 1 and 4 knots. As the EcoMapper name suggests, the AUV is configurable for a host of water quality monitoring and bathymetric survey applications. For the former, packages can include a variety of sensors including O2, algae, pH, turbidity, among others. For mapping missions, a depth sensor and acoustic sounder are standard with side scan sonar as an option.

On the Water

YSI also demoed its HYCAT Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV). With the obvious exception of being a surface vehicle, the HYCAT offers a similar range of plug-and-play sensor packages to accommodate a wide range of oceanographic, estuarine, or surface water missions. For water quality, the EXO2 Multiparameter Sonde is offered with 7 sensor ports. For hydrographic surveying, the 5-beam Hydrosurveyor is available as an option along with side scan sonar.

The unit can operate from between 2.7 hours to a full 8 hours depending on the selected vessel speed. Missions are accomplished autonomously or manually via joystick controller. Navigation and positioning is facilitated via RTK GNSS.

I’m barely touching the surface of the capabilities of these craft, but you can click through the provided links to learn more.

As cool as it was to watch these marvels of geospatial technology in action, it was also cool to watch the teams as they walked us through the mission planning and to see the final data. The image above shows a data fusion set combined from all the unmanned systems demoed that day. Pretty awesome!


Pangaea newsletter banner: unifying converging geospatial technologiesThis article appeared in xyHt‘s e-newsletter, Pangaea. We email it twice a month, and it covers a variety of unusual geospatial topics in a conversational tone. You’re welcome to subscribe to the e-newsletter here. (You’ll also receive the once-monthly Field Notes newsletter with your subscription.)

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