Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Crop health information

Though maybe not strictly automation we thought this an interesting application.

Agricultural Data Collection aboard UAVs!
Headwall Photonics' Micro-Hyperspec® imaging sensor is being successfully deployed aboard very small commercial UAVs to help agriculturalists and researchers monitor vegetation over wide areas. Accurate spectral scenes of farmlands and crop fields can now be quickly rendered using this technology. Detailed crop-health information can be gathered by placing these miniaturized hyperspectral imagers on long-duration commercial UAVs, which crisscross farmland to yield a mosaic of data-rich images.

Headwall worked collaboratively with Pablo Zarco-Tejada, a Principal Investigator at the Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (IAS) in Spain. "This is a critically useful deployment of our technology by a leading researcher in the remote sensing community," said David Bannon, CEO of Headwall Photonics. "Hyperspectral imaging allows agricultural experts across the globe to make crop and vegetation decisions that will enrich the lives of everyone." He noted the need for precision hyperspectral imaging solutions that are small, light, and rugged. "Size, weight and power requirements are important concerns when deploying this technology aboard airborne vehicles, so we developed and engineered the aberration-corrected Micro-Hyperspec sensor with that in mind."

With a small size and fully integrated payload weight of less than 1.5 lbs., the Micro-Hyperspec imaging sensor is an ideal sensor for very small UAV platforms. The Micro-Hyperspec is available in VNIR configurations (380-1000nm) and NIR configurations (900-1700nm). The Micro-Hyperspec is available as a complete airborne configuration consisting of a small, accurate GPS/INS unit, data processing engine with high capacity, solid state drive, and application software necessary to acquire and display hyperspectral datacubes with exceptional spectral and spatial resolution.

Pablo Zarco-Tejada commented on the success of the collaborative effort between IAS and Headwall: "We've pioneered this technology aboard unmanned airborne platforms and the data we're able to collect about agriculture and croplands helps us make life-enriching decisions for everyone." A mosaic of the flight patterns yields a tremendous amount of useful data about the vegetation below. The use of long-duration UAVs means better stability aloft, and larger data volumes stored during each flight. "Headwall's Micro-Hyperspec technology and their applications support have allowed us to achieve what matters most in our field of work: outstanding spectral/spatial resolution and high dynamic range in a rugged, small-form-factor package."

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