40 Using a Quadcopter as a Near-Surface Observing Platform

Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Aviary Ballroom (Catamaran Resort Hotel)
Christopher S. Foster, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; and A. A. Jacques, M. Lammers, and J. D. Horel

Obtaining vertical profiles of temperature, moisture, and trace gas concentrations in the planetary boundary layer is critical for many applications in complex terrain. As an instrumentation course project, we mounted a reusable Windsond instrument package with temperature, relative humidity, pressure, and GPS sensors on an advanced commercial quadcopter. The quadcopter is controlled by a handheld transceiver while sonde data are collected continuously via radio to a laptop computer. This setup allows for controlled ascent and horizontal displacements to place the sensors in locations of interest at near-surface elevations within the boundary layer, subject to present FAA flight regulations. The entire system is highly portable and can be deployed in less than ten minutes. We will show temperature and moisture profiles obtained during transition periods in early spring 2014 near Salt Lake City, UT, along with high-resolution imagery from a GoProTM camera. We will also discuss ongoing applications for this relatively inexpensive system, including deploying ozone and particulate sensors.
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