Design and testing of a novel unoccupied aircraft system for the collection of forest canopy samples
Krisanski, S and Taskhiri, MS and Montgomery, J and Turner, P, Design and testing of a novel unoccupied aircraft system for the collection of forest canopy samples, Forests, 13, (2) pp. 153. ISSN 1999-4907 (2022) [Refereed Article]
Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS) are beginning to replace conventional forest plot mensuration through their use as low-cost and powerful remote sensing tools for monitoring growth, estimating biomass, evaluating carbon stocks and detecting weeds; however, physical samples remain mostly collected through time-consuming, expensive and potentially dangerous conventional techniques. Such conventional techniques include the use of arborists to climb the trees to retrieve samples, shooting branches with firearms from the ground, canopy cranes or the use of pole-mounted saws to access lower branches. UAS hold much potential to improve the safety, efficiency, and reduce the cost of acquiring canopy samples. In this work, we describe and demonstrate four iterations of 3D printed canopy sampling UAS. This work includes detailed explanations of designs and how each iteration informed the design decisions in the subsequent iteration. The fourth iteration of the aircraft was tested for the collection of 30 canopy samples from three tree species: eucalyptus pulchella, eucalyptus globulus and acacia dealbata trees. The collection times ranged from 1 min and 23 s, up to 3 min and 41 s for more distant and challenging to capture samples. A vision for the next iteration of this design is also provided. Future work may explore the integration of advanced remote sensing techniques with UAS-based canopy sampling to progress towards a fully-automated and holistic forest information capture system.