University, USDA Researchers Create Digital Log Tool for UAS Users in Ag


A Purdue University researcher has the led development of a free, Web-based application that allows unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operators in agriculture to easily log their flight-related data.

According to Purdue, the globally available logbook provides options to interactively record the date, time and location of a flight; the make, model and registration information of the device; the status of battery charge; the type of flight (autonomous or manual); the types of sensors used; the data collected; safety precautions taken; weather during the flight; and other related information.

Dharmendra Saraswat, an associate professor in Purdue’s Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, led the team that included researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, Washington State University and Texas A&M University. The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research provided funding support.

“We’ve lacked a system to provide UAS users in agriculture with a way to record information about their flights, sensors and maintenance issues,” Saraswat says. “Thus, creation of a common protocol for UAS operations for various research- and production-related applications is an effort to plug that gap and bring standardization to flight data collection.”

Users can access the UAS User Log application from any device that connects to the internet, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop and laptop computers. Once loaded, the app does not need an internet connection or mobile data to function because the information logged is stored on the user’s device. However, an internet connection is required for users to access weather data and to crowdsource sensor specifications among the community of users.

There is also a feedback option that allows users to make suggestions for improvements or elements that should be added.

“I’m certain that at some point in time, this ecosystem is going to grow, and we’ll also see many features added to this tool,” Saraswat says.

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