Beyond pretty pictures: real data, real information, real impact from drones

The third annual Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for Remote Sensing conference was on last month, and we were at the heart of the action discussing the latest technology and how best to continue providing world-leading remote sensing infrastructure and collaborative networks to support the use of UAS in characterising and monitoring environmental change.

TERN has been providing environmental data service infrastructure and collaborative networks to support UAS-based environmental research and management since our inception in 2009.

With increasing attention focussed on the role that UAS (or UAVs) can play in conducting and supporting environmental research, last month’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Remote Sensing (UAS4RS) conference was the perfect opportunity for TERN researchers and the UAS community in Australia to exchange ideas and better understand the role of these technologies for use in ecosystem science and natural resources management.

UAS4RS—an annual event that has grown out of the collaborative networks that TERN AusCover provides—draws people together from across research, private industry, defence, and government, and showcases cutting edge UAS technology, research and management applications of UAS. As a result, UAS4RS provides a unique forum to collaboratively progress the field.

This year’s conference included much discussion of the research infrastructure needed to support UAS research in environmental systems, as well as the ways UAS systems can become reliable and trusted sources of high-quality, quantitative data for environmental monitoring and management.

Such discussions are vital to future TERN planning, and the ongoing provision of remote sensing infrastructure in Australia to meet user needs and facilitate impactful science and management outcomes.

Our successes in delivering game-changing UAS (or UAV) research infrastructure in a short space of time is receiving increased national and international attention focussed on TERN AusCover’s collaborative networks, remote sensing data and well regarded expertise.

However, we are always looking to improve. We plan to use the ideas and outcomes from UAS4RS to further tailor TERN infrastructure and services to ensure that they continue meeting the evolving needs of Australia’s remote sensing community.

To this end, the conference also provided a collaborative platform to progress a TERN-lead series of workshops in 2017-18, that will explore these infrastructure requirements in more detail and develop custom sensor systems and pilot operating protocols for using UAS in Australian environmental monitoring.

We look forward to hosting these future workshops, and will report on their outcomes in upcoming editions of the TERN eNewsletter.

  • A full conference program and list of speakers can be found on the UAS4RS website
  • A small but spirited TERN delegation was at UAS4RS, including TERN’s Science Partnerships Manager Dr Bek Christensen and the Deputy Director of TERN AusCover, Professor Stuart Phinn of The University of Queensland. Bek and Stuart’s keynote presentation titled Research Infrastructure for Essential Environmental Information – what role for UAS?’ can be viewed here.
  • For more information on TERN’s remote sensing infrastructure and collaborative networks take a look at the TERN AusCover website or contact TERN.

Published in TERN newsletter June 2017

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