There is much demand for the use of sUAS to monitor, conserve and protect wildlife. Our work combines the animal biometic search engine (Sloop) with Cooperative Autonomous Observing System research (CAOS) to produce SloopFlyer, a realtime biometric tracking system for conservation. Based on the several requests we have received, it appears that Biologists, Systems Biologists, Ecologists and Population Biologists are all very excited; so are we. Read on.
A brief informal survey among biologists indicates that the Quad rotor (or hex and octal variants) is a common platform. Quads are readily available, and easy to transport, launch and recover. In other ways, however, they appear to not be suitable. Their noise levels scare animals away, and range and endurance can be factors. Then, there are winds to always worry about.
The SloopFlyer platform is used for glider photography; a winged aircraft silently glides into the domain taking pictures of a herd or an individual and exits with minimal fuss. Planning, control, imaging, image processing and pattern identification are embodied in SloopFlyer research, which is exciting to us.
For the curious, here is what a glide looks like with the adapted X8:
Additional updates on the Glider Photography project for Animal Biometrics and Conservation can be found on our sloop site; sloop.mit.edu