Drones Take Off in Idaho
By Michael Fitzgerald
March 25, 2012
Research into unmanned drones is on the rise in Idaho, and the technology is being used in a number of ways.
Idaho researchers are working with drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) by providing information for gathering and developing map data for landscape habitats, and working with entities such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Defense in addressing safety concerns in the national airspace.
In 2011, Boise State and Washington State University worked in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey on a project that took to the sky in utilizing UAVs to track environmental threats to Idaho wildlife.
The project re-purposed unmanned aircraft from the U.S. Army that was originally slated for destruction. These ex-military Ravens measured the cover of sagebrush habitat in an effort to determine population densities for the pygmy rabbit.
“It’s great,” says Jennifer Forbey, assistant professor of biology at Boise State University. “The aircraft gives us the missing spatial scale. It gives us a great picture of the land that we could never get from the ground.”
Forbey says future research plans involve the use of infrared cameras.