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Design Considerations for Remote Sensing Payloads on Inexpensive Unmanned Autonomous Aerial Vehicles

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This paper describes the latest version of the University of Florida (UF)'s unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV), named the MAKO MAKO. The MAKO MAKO can operate in fully autonomous waypoint navigation mode, including autonomous takeoff and landing, allowing for repeatable, predictable ground coverage. Other features essential for the mission profile include hand-launch ability for takeoff, as well as a waterproof fuselage for aquatic landing. Low-altitude, high-resolution imaging is facilitated by a cruise speed of 15 m/s. The sensor payload on the MAKO is a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera operated at the shortest exposure to minimize the effect of motion blurring. The resulting images are capable of resolving objects on the ground as small as six cm. The MAKO has been used for a number of applications, including mapping wading bird nests in the Florida Everglades and elsewhere, monitoring the efficacy of defoliant spray programs in Lake Okeechobee, identification of invasive exotic vegetation, and mapping of bison.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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