Aerial SkyCam’s ERI AgScout and other lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles commonly referred to as drones or UAV’s can be equipped to carry various sensors ranging from NDVI crop sensors to multispectral cameras to sensors for detecting VOC’s and VCSEL sensors for green house gas detection along with other environmental sensors. These aerial robots like an electronic skin are able to cover and survey large areas of land without the inherent safety risks and high costs involved with the use of manned aircraft. This UAV digital skin can go to places unsuitable for manned aircraft like volcanoes and nuclear disaster sites where manned aircraft would fear to tread.
They can quickly provide real time imagery and sensor data in a nondestructive manner, regardless of terrain. Advancements in guidance systems, batteries, and control systems along with IoT connectivity have made UAV’s both a plausible and practical tool for the collection of data remotely in order to facilitate informed decision making across multiple sectors from agriculture to industry and government along with all points in between.
Real time management and situational awareness across all sectors requires real time data. The ability of UAV’s to fly over diverse areas and quickly gather data makes them a solution to this need. Advancements in guidance systems, batteries, and control systems along with the Internet of Things and the IoT connectivity it has brought has made these drones both plausible and practical as tools for advanced remote sensing, data capture, and project management. Research has proven their effectiveness and these remote sensing UAV systems and UAV swarms will quickly become an important part of the Earth’s new Digital Skin (Charles Malveaux, ERI), a network of sensors that will connect us in ways that past generations could only dream of. These smart IoT connected UAV systems and swarms hold great promise for agricultural, environmental, governmental services, and industrial applications. Drones and the new digital skin they represent defines the new field of Environmental Robotics which defines the work of the Environmental Robotics Institute.