Last week, I attended the Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Summit and Expo (9th Annual) in Grand Forks, ND in order to find out how this upcoming technology will affect the GIS world. As most of us know, the quality of a GIS depends upon the integrity of the data, and the importance of avoiding the “Garbage In/Garbage Out” syndrome (GIGO).
The UAS industry is looking to take data to a new level by removing much of the human error commonly found in data. For example, let’s say that a corporation would like to detect leaks in a pipeline stretching over hundreds of miles. Is it more cost effective and thorough for a team of people to go out into the field, and hope that they find all of the leaks, or for a UAS to fly over the pipeline at a low altitude with an infrared camera that can detect exactly where those leaks are located?
How much better could our data be from areas where gathering data is simply too dangerous for humans, such as in wildfire mapping?
It is possible to obtain GIS data from these UAS such as aerial photography, LIDAR, thermal imagery, and much more.
Yet, as with most new technology, there are new sets of problems to discover and solve. UAS data could be compromised when collected in high winds, low temperatures, or other environmental conditions.
Manufacturers, providers, and inventors of the UAS who spoke at the summit promised that UAS technology is not something to fear, even though there is a lot of fear out there.
For instance, individuals fear that their privacy could be violated, and corporations fear massive lawsuits because of some unforeseen accident.
Because of this unchartered territory, there are challenges (e.g., FAA regulations) to making the operation of UAS commonplace. However, as manufacturers push the new technology and as corporations are eager to buy, it is only a matter of time before our relationship with the UAS becomes a part of daily life.
For more information and pictures, click here.
Hope Records AE2S GIS Specialist