Following multiple successful flights in firefighting and damage assessments earlier this year, the Lockheed Martin Indago quadcopter unmanned aircraft system (UAS) recently flew along the Seabird coastline in Australia to collect imagery and survey coastal erosion in the region.
The vertical takeoff and landing Indago was operated by the Heliwest Group in a partnership with Total Earth Solutions, a geoscience company. The team conducted two surveys of the Seabird coastline: The first survey captured initial data on the terrain, and the second survey was conducted after several days of storms to help map erosion and changes to the terrain.
The aircraft captured imagery of coastal features from different angles, which allowed Total Earth Solutions to create a 3D terrain surface in a video. The team also created planametric maps.
After ground control points are placed, change detection processes will be run after subsequent captures to measure erosion, as well as any movement – especially at cliff areas.
“This new application of the Indago quadrotor demonstrates the breadth of use cases for small UAS across a range of civil and commercial interests,” says Jay McConville, director of business development for unmanned solutions at Lockheed Martin. “Because of its weather tolerance and endurance, users can field a stable, high-resolution mapping capability comparable to larger, fixed-wing systems.”
The five-pound Indago UAS features a swappable payload capability suitable for firefighting, first response, agriculture, surveying and military operations. In January, Heliwest used the aircraft to aid in wildfire containment efforts by identifying hot spots and areas where people and property were at risk. Heliwest also flew the Indago to conduct rapid damage assessments following Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.
The Indago is capable of providing 360-degree surveillance of an area. With an endurance of more than 45 minutes, it flies at a range up to three miles when the operator uses a handheld controller. It does not require large cases or specialized transport; rather, it can be carried in a backpack with everything required to operate the system, says Lockheed Martin.