Eyes in the Sky: Remote Sensing Technology Development Using Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

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Remote sensing has been an integral and growing technology for managing natural resources. One of the chief impediments to land managers has been the relatively high cost that is associated with high-resolution imagery acquired by aircraft and satellites. Legislation and other new developments in the United States will substantially increase the use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) as remote sensing platforms. There are also recent technological developments that have made platforms and sensors available at more reasonable prices. These changes will probably reduce the cost of high-resolution imagery and promote remote sensing applications for natural resource management. We describe current developments in the operation and potential technology of UASs within the United States, present a recent UAS flight in which real-time video imagery of a forested area was captured, and discuss the potential for future UAS applications.

Keywords: UAS; imagery; remote sensing; unmanned aerial system

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5849/jof.12-117

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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