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The design and the development of a hyperspectral unmanned aircraft mapping system for the detection of invasive plants

Cost-effective tools for rapidly identifying the spatial distribution of invasive plants in natural and managed landscapes are needed by land managers across the world to identify and monitor the spread of weeds. This paper describes a low-cost unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed for the rapid acquisition of hyperspectral image data. The system integrates a Headwall Hyperspectral Visible Near-Infrared (VNIR) sensor covering 400–1000 nm range, a PCO Edge CMOS camera, a Cyber Technology autopilot and Inertial Navigation System (INS) including Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS, a data acquisition computer and custom software for operating the sensor.

The imaging and autopilot systems are mounted on lowcost fixed wing and helicopter platforms. The Zealous 2 helicopter kit was developed by RC Helicopters and built by Cyber Technology in Western Australia. The Zealous 2 consists of a jet turbine engine powering main rotors spanning 2.1 m and is capable of lifting 15 kg. The fixed wing plane known as a ‘Super Hauler’ is made from balsa wood, has a wing span of 3.6 m and is 3 m long. The plane was designed and built by BTE Engineering in the USA and is capable of lifting 20 kg. The GPS/INS system provides aircraft position, pitch, roll and yaw information allowing for rapid geo-registration of the imagery.

This paper will discuss the challenges associated with development and integration of the components for mapping invasive plants using unmanned aircrafts and the spectral characteristics of a number of target invasive species.

Authors:

Remy L. Dehaan, Leslie A. Weston, Rod Rumbachs

Published in:

Eighteenth Australasian Weeds Conference, 8-11 October 2012, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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