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Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) FAQs - 9 Found

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Why is USGS using unmanned aircraft systems?

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) provide an affordable solution to those agencies that need "eyes in the sky" but don't have the budget to maintain a fleet of aircraft, obtain commercial satellite imagery or supplement their current aviation units with more cost effective aircraft for specific research projects.

The DOI relies on a variety of remotely sensed data. Manned aircraft flights are often not feasible due to safety concerns associated with long flights, the need for low altitude flights, hazardous weather, and other risky conditions. Satellite-based observations are not applicable to every need due to image resolution and sensor characteristics, atmospheric conditions, and the timing of satellite overflights above the region of interest. UAS can provide a range of remote sensing data types, from aerial images to hyperspectral or Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data at resolutions down to a few centimeters. UAS are most useful for data collection at local scales such as a wildlife refuge or national park, and augment the data provided by manned aircraft or satellites. For many situations, UAS technology provides a safe, cost-effective, and flexible approach for collecting timely data.

UAS technology can enable DOI agencies to minimize the exposure of personnel to risk because personnel are not onboard the data collection platforms themselves and do not have to physically access dangerous areas (such as cliff faces or treetops) that would expose them to possible injury. The number one work-related cause of death among wildlife workers is wildlife survey flights. 

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USGS UAS Program Does More with Less