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Unoccupied Aerial Vehicle LiDAR and Thermal Remote Sensing Package for Student Geospatial Research

UW Geospatial Club








Unoccupied aerial vehicle (UAV, aka drone) data collection and photography are core techniques in remote sensing: the precise measurement of environmental data to inform management decisions. However, amid growing industry demand for UAV operators, academic interest in applications of UAV data and photography, and growing enrollment in remote sensing courses at UW, most students cannot access professional UAVs. UAVs are generally cost-prohibitive for personal ownership, and the few labs at UW that own UAVs are reluctant to loan highly mobile instruments. There are two UAVs available for student use housed in Earth & Space Sciences, but they are at least five years old and lack precise positioning and camera systems. Likewise, the Husky Flying Club provides racing drones, but these are unsuitable for research applications. The current state is undesirable for three reasons: students are unable to pursue projects that utilize UAV data and photography, instructors cannot demonstrate state-of-the-art UAV techniques in coursework, and students lose an opportunity to gain training in piloting UAVs, as well as analysis of self-acquired data, before entering the workforce. The equipment we outline in this proposal has been selected to address each of the above disadvantages. We include a heavy-lift enterprise UAV, the DJI Matrice 300, as well as a lightweight, operator-friendly UAV, the DJI Mavic 3E. We also include two specialized cameras: the FLIR Vue TZ20-R thermal camera, and the Zenmuse L1 LiDAR/RGB unit. This equipment serves a variety of users, from senior researchers with UAV experience to undergraduate students exploring UAV applications.


The UW Geospatial Club will maintain a calendar for the equipment, including check-in/check-out dates for scheduled flights. Users will be able to view this calendar on the Geospatial Club website and email club officers with a request to check out their desired equipment for a given period.

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