Exploring UAV technology and thermal imagery to aid in tracking animal prints in the winter
Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management
DisciplineNatural Resources Management
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This study was done to test the ability for Unmanned Aerial System (UAV) equipped with thermal imagery cameras to detect thermal decay of footprints within the snow left by people, in hopes to apply thermal imagery and drones into wildlife surveying. The UAV DGI Inspire that was used and had a colour visual (RGB) ZENMUSE camera attached with an electronically stabilizing gimbal and the FLIR Vue Pro camera which is able to record and take images in thermal. The scope of the trial was for students to walk into a snow-covered McClusky airfield, fly multiple flights after and during the time that the tracks were being left and to analyze the images. It was found that the pixel resolution and quality of the FLIR Vue Pro camera was not able to detect footprints left within the airfield. It is suggested to fly in a better suited area at colder temperatures and deeper snow, use a higher quality of camera, and fly at a lower altitude in future hopes of applying thermal imagery to detection of wildlife and their tracks.