University of Worcester researcher using ‘drone’ captures imagination of leading environmentalists

A Geographer at the University of Worcester has been invited to present her research at an event later this month after being commended by a national environmental organisation.

Dr Amy Woodget’s research centres on the use of an ‘unmanned aerial system’ (UAS), or drone, to monitor and map rivers.

Her research was highly commended by the judging panel of the Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES) John Rose Award for science communication and she has now been asked to present at an IES North West regional group meeting at Manchester Metropolitan University on June 22nd.

Dr Woodget said: “The use of drones has become one of the hot topics of late, with reports covering everything from their sometimes controversial military applications, to their position at the forefront of the latest Christmas toy craze. Less frequently publicised is the potential of these small flying platforms for environmental applications.

“Over the last few years, my PhD research at the University of Worcester has aimed to make some progress in this area, by exploring how UAS might be used in conjunction with novel developments in image processing techniques, for mapping the physical conditions within rivers.”

Dr Woodget’s work involves the use of a small, rotary-winged UAS (the Draganflyer X6) to collect very high resolution imagery of river channels, using a standard consumer-grade digital camera. Images collected from the Draganflyer X6 are then processed with powerful, specialist software which effectively stitches them together to create a single, continuous image.

“Compared to traditional field survey methods, the UAS data collection is much faster and less laborious, and provides a permanent record of conditions within the river which can be revisited later, or used to quantify change over time,” she said.

“Mapping these attributes allows us to understand the quality and availability of river habitats and permits an assessment of river health, which is important for meeting European habitat standards required by the EU’s Water Framework Directive. If a UAS-based approach can be shown to provide accurate data and/or significant time or cost savings over existing river habitat survey methods, it may have potential as a tool within river science and management.”

For more information about Dr Woodget’s research visit https://www.the-ies.org/analysis/drones-environmental-research

or

Read more on the University of Worcester’s website.