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UAV advancements for forest inventory

28 August 2019

Every year, over 250 resource managers, remote sensing, GIS and mapping specialists, inventory foresters and technology providers from throughout Australasia (and more recently SE Asia) meet up at the annual ForestTECH technology series. Since 2007, it’s the one event every year that’s run in both Australia and New Zealand focussing on this particular part of the forestry industry.

In a recent issue of Friday Offcuts, we outlined how one of the presenters at the November technology series, US company, DroneSeed, are employing swarms of UAV’s (or drones) to automate tree planting and spraying operations for a number of major North American forest management companies. A number of other significant technology advances have been made over the last 12 months with an array of new UAV platforms, data collection capabilities and operational applications.

New technology, Hovermap, is now allowing collision avoidance for drones, advanced autonomy and SLAM-based LiDAR mapping in challenging GPS-denied environments.

Work is also currently underway in both Australia and New Zealand to develop autonomous, unmanned aerial systems for mapping the forest from beneath the canopy. The purpose here is to develop a system to provide a mapping solution for areas of dense undergrowth and dense canopy, where ground-based methods are difficult or hazardous and above canopy methods struggle to penetrate to the stems.

These presentations along with recent work on beyond visual line of sight for UAV’s, using machine learning for tree counting and tree detection from UAV collected data and recent operational trials to evaluate post planting seedling survival with UAV’s form part of the ForestTECH 2019 series this year.

The ForestTECH 2019 series this year runs in Melbourne, Australia on 13-14 November and then again in Rotorua, New Zealand on 19-20 November 2019. Details can be found on the event website; www.foresttech.events.

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