Poster Presentation C Thursday, 5:00 6:00 pm C Edmund Fitzgerald Exhibit Hall

Stream Mapping Using a Remote Control Model Helicopter

John Bonde
Natural Resources Research Institute
University of Minnesota Duluth
5013 Miller Trunk Highway
Duluth, MN  55811

Wetland and stream ecologists need a remote sensing device to map data at resolutions intermediate between satellite and ground-based measurements, because medium-resolution heterogeneity is important to ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, habitat structure, and plant distribution. To meet this need, we are developing a Model Helicopter Stream Imaging System (MHSIS). The system uses a remote control model helicopter, capable of carrying a 10 pound payload and flying at very low elevations. A gondola attached to the helicopter contains a small computer, 2-way radio, GPS, aerial survey laser, and infrared digital camera. The digital camera photographs the ecosystem, the laser measures helicopter height above the ground, the GPS measures x,y location, the 2-way radio transmits commands and data, and the computer controls operations and records data. The information collected by aerial surveillance is converted into an georeferenced ecosystem map using image analysis and GIS techniques.