How do research institutions use UAVs?

UAVs are changing the way many industries function. Read on to find out how they're influencing animal research and conservation. 


While unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are changing the way many businesses operate, they're also excelling beyond commercial applications. In fact, they have proven themselves to be valuable additions to research institutions. In comparison to other methods of surveying and filming from a bird's eye perspective, UAVs are often much more cost-effective without sacrificing functionality. 

The following examples provide further evidence of the way UAVs are affecting a range of industries, and illustrate how they're critical assets in many innovative practices. 

Go whale watching with UAVs

The Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) recently published the results of a conservation initiative that was only possible with the assistance of UAVs. 

Humpback whales were the subject of the institution's investigation, and aerial surveying was a key component conducting its assessments. According to the MUCRU, the researchers used a number of the attachments UAVs are capable of carrying. 

While regular video cameras allowed teams to view the survey area from the safety of the shore, they also trialled infrared cameras to achieve a unique view of the whales' behaviour. According to Researcher Amanda Hodgson, this was a non-invasive way to measure the animals' activity. 

"We were able to keep track of the whales from an altitude of over 2000 ft, meaning that our UAV was having no impact on the whale's behaviour," she explained. 

"This bodes well for assessing the availability of whales during UAV surveys in the future."
Farmers also embrace UAV technology

On top of their role in making animal research and conservation objectives easier, UAVs can also be used to monitor animals in commercial environments, such as in agricultural applications where farmers must manage the health and well being of thousands of animals at a time. 

According to Penn State University in the US, UAV use in the agricultural industry is still in its infancy, which means Australian farmers are in a prime position to be world leaders. Writing for the institution, J. Craig Williams stated that farmers will be able to send UAVs equipped with a thermal cameras out into the field to monitor which animals are in heat. 

A Lincoln Agritech presentation drew on a Scottish example to illustrate further uses. According to the institution, UAVs are able to search for wayward sheep when a flock is on the move, acting as a "Robot Shepherd-Dog" of sorts. 

Redstack provides a range of technology and its related services, from 3D printers to Autodesk software. To learn more about UAVs, contact the team or download our UAV operation infographic.


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