NOAA Chooses UAS for Coastal Management Across Ecosystems

Quantum Spatial Inc., an independent geospatial data firm, will be acquiring, processing and delivering high-resolution aerial LiDAR data and multispectral imagery data from an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management (OCM).

The project will focus on three National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERRs) across the country and aid OCM in evaluating the role of UAS in delivering imagery and elevation data required for research and monitoring in a flexible and cost-efficient manner, explains the firm.

Quantum Spatial is partnering with PrecisionHawk to acquire the NERR imagery. The research requires high-resolution LiDAR and five-band multispectral imagery collection from a UAS at three sites: Rush Ranch in the San Francisco Bay NERR in California, the Grand Bay NERR in Mississippi and the Jacque Cousteau NERR in New Jersey.

Covering a range of ecosystems, the collections will be conducted twice at Rush Ranch (once later this month and again in early spring 2017) and once in Grand Bay and Jacque Cousteau.

PrecisionHawk’s Lancaster 5 fixed-wing drone will be used to collect data. The aircraft can accommodate various sensors and enables users to swap sensors in the field. The company’s in-flight software will provide flight planning and management during data acquisition. In addition, data will be processed and analyzed using PrecisionHawk’s DataMapper post-processing and aerial analytics software, along with QSI’s in-house LiDAR data processing tools.

“We are very excited to work with NOAA on its mission to support the stewardship of the United States estuarine ecosystems and the research on invasive species, habitat restoration, source pollution and resilient communities,” says Robert Hickey, general manager for the public sector at Quantum Spatial. “NOAA is very forward-thinking in deploying UAS technology to study and analyze the seasonal changes of these three NERRs.”


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