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The Calm Before the Storm

Rebecca Lasica

What do quad-copters, software, and slot machine have in common? That’s right, it’s the Commercial UAS Show in Las Vegas and I am so excited to be here! The energy in the room is palpable and at the one hour mixer on the showroom floor last night I had the fortunate opportunity to learn about projects both here in the US and abroad that will certainly change the world. Some companies are planning to help growers achieve higher crop yields while saving water. Others are helping with infrastructure inspection to increase public safety and maintenance efficiency. Some are using UAS technology to collect terrain information in areas where it is dangerous to send ground crew.

These and many other applications are utilizing multispectral imagery and LiDAR point clouds to extract actionable information from UAS data. There are even some early adopters of lightweight hyperspectral and SAR sensors. It seems as though the possibilities are endless when I think about applications that could be improved or enhanced when these new data are introduced to the analysis stack. Why? Because there are some major differences in these collection platforms vs. satellite or airborne imagery that fill the data with different information that one can get from traditional platforms. 

For example, the very high spatial resolution enables pure pixel analyses as well as very accurate edge detection – both are keys to success when working with only a few wavelengths. Also, UAS can fly low to the ground and collect information on cloudy days, and also change some of the atmospheric issues one must address when working with satellite imagery . In addition, the unique ability to interchange payloads and collect different data modalities, like multispectral and LiDAR, of the same area of interest enables data fusion techniques for richer analyses.

If you’re here at the show stop by booth 503, I’d love to hear about your projects! Now off to the show!

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