By: Marissa Yee, Jacob Cody, Teddy Daniel, Maria Baig
The Values of Vapor 35
Drones have become a vital component of the agriculture field of study, primarily because they have such a wide variety of applications. In agricultural research, drones help measure fields for numerous useful qualities: canopy height, leaf area index, and the size and shape of streams over time. Today, Virginia Tech is using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), called Vapor 35, to map floodplains and inundation (floods) using the LiDAR imaging system. The LiDAR system has many functioning components: a yellow scan core system, multi-echo system, calibrated IMU, an embedded computer, data pre-processing system, ground control station software, onboard avionics, and heat sensors. The complexity of the LiDAR system allows for consistent data collection, simple navigation and flights, and in depth photographing of the region.
In order to experiment with the abilities of drones, Virginia Tech has implemented new experimental techniques. One such experiment is the pseudo-drone; the drone is attached to a pole on a John Deere tractor, allowing factors like height, nozzle type, nozzle position, and more to be altered in a controlled manner. This eliminates the need for expensive and time intensive test flights. Researchers have used information collected to optimize the drones’ ability to spray fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and more on fields, reducing negative effects of pollution like algae blooms and increasing yields.