Unmanned Aerial System for Abundance and Size of Antarctic Predators

AERD has successfully employed Unmanned Aerial Systems, specifically the APH-22 hexacopter from Aerial Imaging Solutions (AIS), to obtain accurate and non-invasive survey data on seal and penguin census counts, and seal body size estimation. During the 2016-17 field season we flew pre-programmed mapping missions in order to obtain three dimensional orthographic projections of penguin breeding colonies to improve census work, and improve our abilities to track penguin populations over time. Joel Stocker from AIS has produced a video illustrating the orthographic projection creation process and the level of detail that can be obtained from systematically collected two dimensional photographs. leopard seal image taken with the hexacopterImage of leopard seal taken with the hexacopter; markers (with red Xs) provide a control reference for estimates of seal length and mass.
This project brings AMLR researchers Jefferson Hinke (penguins) and Mike Goebel (pinnipeds) together with Doug Krause (UAS/photogrammetry operations), creating a powerful team dedicated to advancing our understanding of key predators in the Antarctic ecosystem.

You can read more about this study in this published paper and interviews with the researchers here.
Jefferson Hinke with hexacopterTesting hexacopter US AMLR hexacopter gearUS AMLR hexacopter gear