Kevin Principato, 2016, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The goal of my project this summer was to develop a workflow for ecological observation with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). UAVs offer advantages over other remote sensing technologies like satellites or manned aircraft because of their spatial and temporal resolution. The resolution collected from UAVs is comparable to that of satellites, but because UAVs are much cheaper to fly and can be flown on demand, they can be a smart alternative to other techniques. I developed workflow for extracting data from collected images; this included performing field work and developing flight checklists as well as developing programs to create and align large “orthomosaics” of the area of interest. This involved surveying available programs to perform the ortho creation, and writing computer vision programs in Matlab and Python to rectify and process that imagery. I enjoyed this project because as a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student, I was able to contribute to an ecological project in the Department of Civil and Engineering. I think there are a lot of opportunities for different fields of study to contribute to each other, and I enjoyed the opportunity to do just that this summer. I’m continuing to work with Dr. Estes this year, and I see it potentially developing into a possible topic for independent work.