Science Target Conference Systems, Ajman 4th International Environment Conference 2016

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Drone applications for environmental monitoring in urban spaces
David James Gallacher

Last modified: 2016-01-04


Options for environmental monitoring have improved dramatically over recent years.  Sensors for air and water pollutants, and subsets of the electromagnetic spectrum, have become smaller, cheaper, and more bundled into comprehensive units.  Aerial sensor platforms have also expanded in the form of low-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (micro-drones), but their use in populated spaces is increasingly restricted for safety and privacy reasons.  This article defines the types of applications for which benefits of aerial surveillance by micro-drone have the potential to outweigh the risks.  These include monitoring (1) the efficiency of temperature control and irrigation systems at the scale of urban blocks and above, (2) evaluation of air and water quality that is supplementary to fixed sensors, and (3) compliance of industry to municipal regulations.  They do not include applications that require repeated measurements from locations proximal to fixed or publicly owned mobile infrastructure, whether terrestrial or marine.