Events - 02/12/2017

Flying Drone for Science (Newsletter no. 2)

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The third TRuStEE technical course focused on drone operation was recently (30 October to 3 November) held at the Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI), Penryn campus, University of Exeter. The course provided a unique opportunity for the ESRs to learn how drones can be used for ecosystem monitoring. This four-day course was organized by Dr. Karen Anderson and her colleagues from the ESI, giving a theoretical and practical knowledge of handling drones for research purposes. The course covered different aspects of drone operations, such as principles of drone flying, electronic components of drone, sensors for research purpose, flight planning, drone data processing etc. During the training, the usage of drones was explained through case studies by Dr. David Luscombe (Thermal imaging using drone), Davis Walker (Study of Ocean glitter), Dr. Karen Anderson (‘Structure from motion’ models using drone images for Beaver impact assessment). Dr. Alasdair Mac Arthur (Theory of spectral sensor calibration and characterization).

After two days of theory, finally, a day of practice followed! Course participants were taken to the Woodland Valley Farm, where beavers have been introduced to control natural floods. Here, Mr. Chris Jones, the owner of the farm, explained the role of beavers in flood control and impact of the beaver introduction on the ecosystem. The goal of that day was to collect UAV-based data for Structure from Motion analysis to monitor beavers’ impacts on the vegetation. Taking turns, the researchers played roles of pilot and co-pilot and surveyed the ground control points that would be used for the post-processing of the obtained data.

Mr. Chris Jones (right) explaining to the ESRs the effects that beavers introduction has on the ecosystem. Beavers were introduced in this ecosystem after some serious floods affecting the nearest residential areas. After some weeks, the effect they had on controlling water flows was already seen. Using UAVs, the ESRs were able to study changes in the vegetation brought about by beavers.




Not everything during that week was about drones. On the final day of the course the ESRs had a chance to learn about the specific features of dissemination  to specialists and general public.

The ESRs discussed with Dr. Stephan Harrison and Dr. Jon Bennie (both from the University of Exeter) about getting published in academic journals. They had some inspiring words for them! One of the ESRs, Dominic Fawcett, shared experience of dealing with reviewers comments during preparation of his first academic paper, published some weeks ago (congratulations, Dominic!). Finally, Kerra Maddern, from the Press office of the University of Exeter told the researchers how to deal with the press and radio interviews and take part in various non-academic communications.

The ESRs and some of the people involved in the training course.



  • We are proud to introduce to you three new ESRs: Vicente Burchard-Levine, Anton Evdokimov and Hafiz Ali Imran. All the 12 ESRs have been hired and the project is gaining momentum.
  • Three new partner organisations have also joined us since June: Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA, Spain), University of Trento (Italy) and non-academic partner – SAL engineering (Italy).
  • Do you remember Orfeo ToolBox – the image processing tool which we were using during the training courses in Milan? The new version 6.2.0 is now released.




Next training course will be held in Majadas del Tietar, Spain, during next 11-18th March 2018. The ESRs will have a whole week of fieldwork to collect data of every kind, from leaf measurements to a hyperspectral aerial overpass.






The ESRs creating the name of the project, TRuStEE, during the UAV survey in the field. Where they successful?


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