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  • The Use of Micro Drones in Geologic Field Work › gsa › 2014AM › webprogram...· Current, off-the-shelf drones with a basic camera package can stay airborne for be-tween 20

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The Use of Micro Drones in Geologic Field Work Abstract Drones are remotely-operated aerial vehicles that can be fixed-wing planes or helicopters. Micro drone helicopters are usually in the form of small (~ 40 cm x 40 cm x 25 cm) aerial platforms that have four or more rotating blades. This configuration gives them great maneuverability, stability, and control. In the field, micro drones provide a light-weight tool platform that are quick to setup and easy to launch, control, and transport to even the most remote areas. They require very little launch and recovery space. The cost of a basic micro drone is such that even the total loss of a vehicle is not significant. The low cost also means that multiple drones can be used, providing for redundancy if one is lost or damaged. A basic, off-the-shelf micro drone system can be set up for visual/camera sur- veys almost immediately. Drone aerial surveys, field mapping, and monitoring can be done in real-time, depending on the system. Most importantly, drones can provide access to areas that are hard to reach and/or dangerous, such as vertical or overhanging rock outcrops or gas-rich and un- stable volcanic areas. They can be used to survey disaster areas during and after events. Some examples of their uses are that they can quickly provide an overview of an area affected by flooding or mass wasting; give archaeological geologists an aerial perspective of a site; be used in coastal and reef surveys; and can even be flown inside caves for karst research. Micro drones can be potentially modified to collect other types of data as well, such as weather data, thermal imaging, sample collection, etc. High winds (>40 kph), for instance, can severely limit control or flight time, due to rapidly drained battery power as the drone uses energy to maintain its po- sition. Instrumentation weight is also limited. Current, off-the-shelf drones with a basic camera package can stay airborne for be- tween 20 and 30 minutes. Micro drones are also not water-resistant which limits their use in wet conditions. Ready availability of micro drones has led to them being used, intentionally or otherwise, by some individuals to aggravate wildlife and/or other people. Because of this, laws and regulations are being proposed and put into place to curtail their use. It is important for researchers who use them to do so responsibly. Jordan, Benjamin R., Department of Biochemistry and Physical Science, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, BYUH #1967, 55-220 Kulanui Street, Laie, Hawaii 96762, [emailprotected] Paper #243463 The last few years have seen the rapid development and availability of both commercial and private aerial drones, which are remote- ly-operated vehicles that can be fixed-wing planes or helicopters (e.g. Lowy, 2014; Fox News, 2014; KSL, 2014; NBC, 2014; Van Houtryve, 2014). Drones are being developed for use in everything from pizza and other product delivery (e.g. Albright, 2014; Ribeiro, 2014) to farming and movie making (e.g. BBC, 2014; KJTV/CNN, 2014; Mogg, 2014a), and from poaching and looting prevention (e.g. Howard, 2014; Salopek, 2014) to wildlife surveys (e.g. Bangen et al., 2011; WHT, 2014). In fact, the use of drones is becoming so widespread that the National Aero- nautics and Space Administration (NASA) is currently in the process of developing a traffic control system to manage drone flights (Mogg, 2014b). Especially popular are micro drone helicopters or “quadcopters,” which are usually in the form of small (~ 50 cm x 50 cm x 25 cm) aerial platforms that have four or more propellers (Figure 1). This configuration gives them great maneuverability, stability, and control. Newer drones have built-in GPS systems that provide even greater control and make it easy for even the most inexperienced person to quickly learn the basics of flying. In the field, micro drones provide a light-weight tool platform that is quick to set-up, launch, and control. Their size makes them easy and convenient to transport to even the most remote areas (Figure 2). A basic, off-the-shelf micro drone system can be set up for visual/camera surveys almost immediately. They require very little launch and recovery space and the cost of a basic unit is such that even the total loss of a vehicle is not financially catastrophic (Carrivick et al., 2013). Their low cost also means that multiple drones can be used, providing for redundancy if one is lost or damaged. Introduction Figure 1: An example of a micro drone, a DJI Phantom 2. The drone has a GoPro camera mounted between the landing gear. This photo was taken at a remote location on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, USA. Large drones are already being used for geologic research. For example, Johnson et al. (2012) have used drones to collect data that allows them to model flood events in Afghanistan (see also Goldade et al, 2013). Funaki et al. (2006) tested the use of drones to collect magnetic field data at Chokai Volcano, Japan. Eck and Stoll (2011) collected similar measurements at a slide in a coal mine in Turkey. In addition, other aerial tools are available to researchers in the field, such as kites and blimps (Carrivick et al, 2013). Although smaller, and limited in their instrumentation compared to larger drones, kites, or blimps, the potential use of micro drones in geologic research is great. Micro drone aerial surveys, field mapping, and monitoring can be done in real-time, depending on the system. Most importantly, drones can provide access to areas that are hard to reach and/or dangerous, such as vertical or overhanging rock outcrops or gas-rich and unstable volcanic areas (Figure 2a) (Curtis, 2012). They can be used to survey or map disaster areas during and after events, such as during flooding or mass wasting (Delacourt et al., 2007). They have already been used for such things as bathymetric and topographic mapping Example of river channels (Lejot et al., 2007), as well as post-earthquake land changes (Gong et el., 2012). They can be used in geoarchaeological surveys to give a broad, aerial perspective of a site (Figure 2b) (e.g. Gannon, 2014), can also be used in coastal and reef surveys (Figure 2c), and can even be flown inside caves for karst research (McFarlane et al, 2013). Challenges in Using Micro Drones Figure 2: Some examples of micro drone use. A. Volcanology - drones are able to collect data in dangerous environments, such as active volcanic centers (Inset: micro drone image of lava explosion from vent 2 - see figures 3 and 4). B. Geoarchaeology/Sedimenta- logy - drone footage of the remains of a 1890s boat pier (Inset: water level view of the same pier). C. Coastal geology - drone footage of the nearshore, reef environment (Inset: ground level view of the same area). One specific example of the benefits of using a micro drone in the field was done during the 2014 field season while collecting field samples and data at Mt. Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Mt. Yasur lies on a remote island in the South Pacific. Access to the volcano is usually limited to riding for two and a half hours in the back of a local pick-up truck on mostly undeveloped dirt roads from the island’s one small airport. In order to conserve space, the micro drone (a DJI Phantom 2) was simply packed into a backpack with its propellers and landing gear removed – no protective case was used. On arrival at the volcano, the propellers and landing gear were reattached and the drone was launched. It was night and the drone was flown using just the built-in lights as visual guides for the location of the drone, although newer models can be set up to send real-time video to a tablet or smart phone. The drone was flown directly over the active vents and within the gas plume of the volcano for five minutes. The flight time was short due to reduced battery storage caused by the drone having to maintain its position and path in the winds around the edge of the crater. This survey resulted in observations that were not apparent without using the drone. On arrival at the top of the volcano, followed by a hike along the rim of the main crater, it was observed that there were three active vents emitting lava (Figure 3). However, an analysis of the video and photographs collected from the drone indicated that, in fact, there were actually six active vents (Figure 4) – three large vents and three smaller ones. In addition, it was clear that the most active vent was partially obstructed. Figure 3: View of from crater edge of Mt. Yasur. In both night (A) and day (B) only three (1-3) lava vents are visible. Figure 4: Micro drone image taken directly over crater of Mt. Yasur. From this view, six vents (1-6) are appar- ent (vents 1-3 correlate with the same numbered vents in figure 3). It is also possible to see that vent 2 is ob- Field Uses Technologically, drone flight times are limited by their power source. Depending on the atmospheric conditions and/or weight of instrumentation attached to the drone, I have observed flight times to vary between 4 and 20 minutes. Another issue is determining the scale of view from the drone images. The simplest way to solve this is to have a ground-based scale (e.g. measuring tape or an object of known size), but it is also possible to install laser pointers to provide a reference scale no matter what the height of the drone (Figure 5). However, these work best in areas that provide a strong color-contrast to the laser light and/or during dusk, night, or early morning. Finally, the ready availability and proliferation of micro drones has led to a sort of legal gray area, in which governments are scrambling to try and regulate their use (Figure 6) (e.g. KSL, 2014; Lowy, 2014). Users of drones have been found, intentionally or otherwise, to aggravate wildlife (Robison, 2014), crash into hot springs in Yellowstone National Park (Forgione, 2014), almost collide with planes (Botelho, 2014), and/or cause privacy concerns or annoyance to other people (Flacy, 2014). Because of these and other ex- amples, the laws and regulations that are being proposed and put into place aim to curtail the use of micro drones. It is important for researchers who use them to do so responsibly, so that their use as research platforms will remain open. Figure 5: One way to scale images or video taken by micro drones - use bright laser pointers. The Future Micro drone use in geologic field work has enormous potential. Most of the work discussed here relates only to the collection of visual data. However, micro drones can be potentially modified to collect many other forms of data, such as ambient weather data, thermal imaging, gas measurements, mapping and surveying (e.g. Mick- lethwaite et al., 2012), long term aerial monitoring, sample collection, and countless other possibilities that have not been thought of yet. Earth scientists should embrace the use of drones or at least be open to their potential benefits, BUT they should do so wisely, and in consideration of the legal and private issues that are beginning to present themselves. Acknowledgements I am very grateful for the support of my department, college, and university. Jeff Burroughs, former dean of the BYUH College of Math and Sciences, and Mark Cannon, current dean of the College, who have been very encouraging of this work and generous in their support. References - Albright, M.B., 23 July 2014, “How Drones Will Change the Way You Eat,” The Plate, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014. - Bangen, S.G., Wheaton, J.M., and Bouwes, N., 2011, A methodological intercomparison of topographic and aerial photographic habitat survey techniques, American Geophysical Union Fall Meet- ing, Abstract EP41A-0573. - BBC, 9 January 2014, “Will Drones Become the Future of Farming?” BBC Future, bbc.com, Web, 7 October 2014. - Betelho, B., 11 May 2014, “FAA Official: Drone, Jetliner Nearly Collided Over Florida,” CNN Travel, CNN, 6 October 2014. - Carrivick, J.L., Smith, M.W., Quincey, D.J., and Carver, S.J., 2013, Developments in budget remote sensing for the geosciences, Geology Today, v. 29.4, p. 138-143. - Curtis, A., 6 March 2012, “Flight Test of Cindi the Volcanocopter,” YouTube, Web, 6 October 2014. - Delacourt, C., Allemand, P., Berthier, E., Raucoules, D., and Casson, B., 2007, Remote-sensing techniques for analysing landslide kinematics; a review, Bulletin de la Societe Geologique de France, v. 178,.2, p. 89-100. - Eck, C., and Stoll, J.B., 2011, Der Einsatz einer Helikopterdrohne fuer geomagnetische Messungen; Planung und Durchfuehrung aeromagnetischer Messungen nach einem Boeschungsbruch in einem tuerkischen Braunkohletagebau, Das Markscheidewesen, v. 118.3, p. 3-7. - Flacy, M., 1 October 2014, “Man Allegedely Shoots Down Neighbor’s Drone with Shotgun,” Digital Trends, Web, 6 October 2014. - Forgione, M., 8 August 2014, “Did Camera-equipped Drone Crash into Yellowstone’s Largest Hot Spring?” Los Angeles Times, Web, 6 October 2014. - Fox News, 1 July 2014, “FAA Will Miss 2015 Drone Deadline, Audit Says,” Fox News, Web, 7 October 2014. - Funaki, M., Hirasawa, N., Imura, S., Moriwaki, K., and Nogi, Yoshifumi, 2006, Development of small drones "Ant-Plane" for Antarctic research; its possibility and difficulty, Nankyoku Shiryo = Antarctic Record, v. 50.2, p. 212-230. - Gannon, M., 11 April 2014, “Drones Reveal Hidden Ancient Village Buried in New Mexico,” The Huffington Post, Web, 7 October 2014. - Goldade, M.M., Lee, E., Kastens, J., Johnson, W.C., and Mcpherson, G.L., 2013, Modeling past and present flood water inundation in the Middle East, Abstracts with Programs – Geological Soci- ety of America, v. 45.7, p. 682. - Gong, J., Yue, Y., Zhu, J., Wen, Y., and Li, Y., 2012, Impacts of the Wenchuan Earthquake on the Chaping River upstream channel change, International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 33.12, p. 3907-3929. - Howard, B.C., 18 July 2014, “Can Drones Fight Illegal ‘Pirate’ Fishing?” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014. - Johnson, W.C., Kastens, J., Lee, E., Dobbs, K.E., and Macpherson, G.L., 2012, Modeling extreme flood events in Afghanistan, Abstracts with Programs – Geological Society of America, v. 44.7, p. 118. - KJTV/CNN, 27 August 2014, “Drones Becoming Popular with Texas Farmers.” khon2.com, Web, 7 October 2014. - KSL, 30 August 2014, “FAA Looks at the Future of Drones,” ksl.com, Web, 7 October 2014. - Lejot, J., Delacourt, C., Piegay, H., Fournier, T., and Tremelo, M.L., 2007, Very high spatial resolution imagery for channel bathymetry and topography from an unmanned mapping controlled platform, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 32.11, p. 1705-1725. - Lowy, J., 20 June 2014, “Government Moves to Ban Drones in 400 National Parks,” Associated Press (AP), Web, 8 October 2014. - McFarlene, D.A., Buchroithner, M., Lundberg, J., Petters, C., and Roberts, W., 2013, Integrated three-dimensional laser scanning and autonomous drone surface-hotogrammetry at Gomantong Caves, Sebah, Malaysia, Proceedings of the International Congress of Speleology 16, v. 2, p. 317. - Micklethwaite, S., Vasuki, Y., Turner, D., Kovesi, P., and Holden, E., 2012, High-resolution, semi-automatic fault mapping using umanned aerial vehicles and computer vision; mapping from an armchair, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Abstract T14C-08. - Mogg, T., 2 September 2014, “NASA Developing Automatic Traffic Management System for Drones,” Fox News, Web, 7 October 2014. - Mogg, T., 26 September 2014, “FAA Green Lights Commercial Drone Use For Movie and TV Companies,” Digital Trends, Web, 7 October 2014. - NBC, 16 May 2014, “Safety Concerns Rise as Drone Industry Takes Off,” today.com, Web, 7 October 2014. - O’Callaghan, S., 27 January 2014, “DJI Phantom Flites into Volcano,” YouTube, Web, 6 October 2014. - Ribeiro, J., 12 July 2014, “Amazon Asks FAA for Permission to Test Prime Air Delivery Drones,” Associated Press (AP), Web, 6 October 2014. - Robison, K., 5 May 2014, “Drone Harasses Bighorn Sheep at Zion National Park,” St. George News, Web, 6 October 2014. - Salopek, P., 11 April 2014, “Drones: Archaeology’s Newest Tool to Combat Looting,” news.nationalgeographic.com, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014. - Van Houtryve, T., 15 August 2014, “A Sky Full of Cameras,” Proof, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014. - West Hawaii Today (WHT), 8 July 2014, “Scientists Use Drones to Survey Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Wildlife,” West Hawaii Today, Web, 7 October 2014. Finally, the drone performed in a way that allowed for the collection, in real-time, of these observations during the active ex- plosion and ejection of lava bombs – an extremely hazardous environment (see also O’Callaghan, 2014). Twice, due to wind or loss of battery-power, the drone crash-landed at high speed. In neither case did the drone sustain any damage other than a few minor scratches to the propeller blades. However, a set of spare blades is recommended. The challenges or difficulties in using micro drones can be dividing into three categories: 1. Natural 2. Technological 3. Legal In the first case, the biggest challenge to the use of micro drones concerns the weather. High winds (>30 km/h), for instance, can severely limit control or flight time, due to rapidly drained battery power as the drone uses energy to maintain its position. In addition, strong winds or wind gusts can blow the drone off course, into obstacles, and/or beyond areas of recovery. They also can reduce the fine control of the drone. Current micro drones are also not water-proof, which limits their use in rainy conditions or over water, should the drone fall into the water. That being said, I have used my micro drone extensively over water – it is just important to monitor the charge of the battery to prevent loss of power to the drone in such circ*mstances.

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The Use of Micro Drones in Geologic Field Work › gsa › 2014AM › webprogram...· Current, off-the-shelf drones with a basic camera package can stay airborne for be-tween 20 - [PDF Document] (3)

The Use of Micro Drones in Geologic Field Work

Abstract Drones are remotely-operated aerial vehicles that can be fixed-wing planes or helicopters. Micro drone helicopters are usually in the form of small (~ 40 cm x 40 cm x 25 cm) aerial platforms that have four or more rotating blades. This configuration gives them great maneuverability, stability, and control. In the field, micro drones provide a light-weight tool platform that are quick to setup and easy to launch, control, and transport to even the most remote areas. They require very little launch and recovery space. The cost of a basic micro drone is such that even the total loss of a vehicle is not significant. The low cost also means that multiple drones can be used, providing for redundancy if one is lost or damaged. A basic, off-the-shelf micro drone system can be set up for visual/camera sur-veys almost immediately. Drone aerial surveys, field mapping, and monitoring can be done in real-time, depending on the system. Most importantly, drones can provide access to areas that are hard to reach and/or dangerous, such as vertical or overhanging rock outcrops or gas-rich and un-stable volcanic areas. They can be used to survey disaster areas during and after events. Some examples of their uses are that they can quickly provide an overview of an area affected by flooding or mass wasting; give archaeological geologists an aerial perspective of a site; be used in coastal and reef surveys; and can even be flown inside caves for karst research. Micro drones can be potentially modified to collect other types of data as well, such as weather data, thermal imaging, sample collection, etc. High winds (>40 kph), for instance, can severely limit control or flight time, due to rapidly drained battery power as the drone uses energy to maintain its po-sition. Instrumentation weight is also limited. Current, off-the-shelf drones with a basic camera package can stay airborne for be-tween 20 and 30 minutes. Micro drones are also not water-resistant which limits their use in wet conditions. Ready availability of micro drones has led to them being used, intentionally or otherwise, by some individuals to aggravate wildlife and/or other people. Because of this, laws and regulations are being proposed and put into place to curtail their use. It is important for researchers who use them to do so responsibly.

Jordan, Benjamin R., Department of Biochemistry and Physical Science, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, BYUH #1967, 55-220 Kulanui Street, Laie, Hawaii 96762, [emailprotected]

Paper #243463

The last few years have seen the rapid development and availability of both commercial and private aerial drones, which are remote-ly-operated vehicles that can be fixed-wing planes or helicopters (e.g. Lowy, 2014; Fox News, 2014; KSL, 2014; NBC, 2014; Van Houtryve, 2014). Drones are being developed for use in everything from pizza and other product delivery (e.g. Albright, 2014; Ribeiro, 2014) to farming and movie making (e.g. BBC, 2014; KJTV/CNN, 2014; Mogg, 2014a), and from poaching and looting prevention (e.g. Howard, 2014; Salopek, 2014) to wildlife surveys (e.g. Bangen et al., 2011; WHT, 2014). In fact, the use of drones is becoming so widespread that the National Aero-nautics and Space Administration (NASA) is currently in the process of developing a traffic control system to manage drone flights (Mogg, 2014b). Especially popular are micro drone helicopters or “quadcopters,” which are usually in the form of small (~ 50 cm x 50 cm x 25 cm) aerial platforms that have four or more propellers (Figure 1). This configuration gives them great maneuverability, stability, and control. Newer drones have built-in GPS systems that provide even greater control and make it easy for even the most inexperienced person to quickly learn the basics of flying. In the field, micro drones provide a light-weight tool platform that is quick to set-up, launch, and control. Their size makes them easy and convenient to transport to even the most remote areas (Figure 2). A basic, off-the-shelf micro drone system can be set up for visual/camera surveys almost immediately. They require very little launch and recovery space and the cost of a basic unit is such that even the total loss of a vehicle is not financially catastrophic (Carrivick et al., 2013). Their low cost also means that multiple drones can be used, providing for redundancy if one is lost or damaged.

Introduction

Figure 1: An example of a micro drone, a DJI Phantom 2. The drone has a GoPro camera mounted between the landing gear. This photo was taken at a remote location on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, USA.

Large drones are already being used for geologic research. For example, Johnson et al. (2012) have used drones to collect data that allows them to model flood events in Afghanistan (see also Goldade et al, 2013). Funaki et al. (2006) tested the use of drones to collect magnetic field data at Chokai Volcano, Japan. Eck and Stoll (2011) collected similar measurements at a slide in a coal mine in Turkey. In addition, other aerial tools are available to researchers in the field, such as kites and blimps (Carrivick et al, 2013). Although smaller, and limited in their instrumentation compared to larger drones, kites, or blimps, the potential use of micro drones in geologic research is great. Micro drone aerial surveys, field mapping, and monitoring can be done in real-time, depending on the system. Most importantly, drones can provide access to areas that are hard to reach and/or dangerous, such as vertical or overhanging rock outcrops or gas-rich and unstable volcanic areas (Figure 2a) (Curtis, 2012). They can be used to survey or map disaster areas during and after events, such as during flooding or mass wasting (Delacourt et al., 2007). They have already been used for such things as bathymetric and topographic mapping Example of river channels (Lejot et al., 2007), as well as post-earthquake land changes (Gong et el., 2012). They can be used in geoarchaeological surveys to give a broad, aerial perspective of a site (Figure 2b) (e.g. Gannon, 2014), can also be used in coastal and reef surveys (Figure 2c), and can even be flown inside caves for karst research (McFarlane et al, 2013). Challenges in Using Micro Drones

Figure 2: Some examples of micro drone use. A. Volcanology - drones are able to collect data in dangerous environments, such as active volcanic centers (Inset: micro drone image of lava explosion from vent 2 - see figures 3 and 4). B. Geoarchaeology/Sedimenta-logy - drone footage of the remains of a 1890s boat pier (Inset: water level view of the same pier). C. Coastal geology - drone footage of the nearshore, reef environment (Inset: ground level view of the same area).

One specific example of the benefits of using a micro drone in the field was done during the 2014 field season while collecting field samples and data at Mt. Yasur Volcano on Tanna Island, Vanuatu. Mt. Yasur lies on a remote island in the South Pacific. Access to the volcano is usually limited to riding for two and a half hours in the back of a local pick-up truck on mostly undeveloped dirt roads from the island’s one small airport. In order to conserve space, the micro drone (a DJI Phantom 2) was simply packed into a backpack with its propellers and landing gear removed – no protective case was used. On arrival at the volcano, the propellers and landing gear were reattached and the drone was launched. It was night and the drone was flown using just the built-in lights as visual guides for the location of the drone, although newer models can be set up to send real-time video to a tablet or smart phone. The drone was flown directly over the active vents and within the gas plume of the volcano for five minutes. The flight time was short due to reduced battery storage caused by the drone having to maintain its position and path in the winds around the edge of the crater. This survey resulted in observations that were not apparent without using the drone. On arrival at the top of the volcano, followed by a hike along the rim of the main crater, it was observed that there were three active vents emitting lava (Figure 3). However, an analysis of the video and photographs collected from the drone indicated that, in fact, there were actually six active vents (Figure 4) – three large vents and three smaller ones. In addition, it was clear that the most active vent was partially obstructed.

Figure 3: View of from crater edge of Mt. Yasur. In both night (A) and day (B) only three (1-3) lava vents are visible.

Figure 4: Micro drone image taken directly over crater of Mt. Yasur. From this view, six vents (1-6) are appar-ent (vents 1-3 correlate with the same numbered vents in figure 3). It is also possible to see that vent 2 is ob-

Field Uses

Technologically, drone flight times are limited by their power source. Depending on the atmospheric conditions and/or weight of instrumentation attached to the drone, I have observed flight times to vary between 4 and 20 minutes. Another issue is determining the scale of view from the drone images. The simplest way to solve this is to have a ground-based scale (e.g. measuring tape or an object of known size), but it is also possible to install laser pointers to provide a reference scale no matter what the height of the drone (Figure 5). However, these work best in areas that provide a strong color-contrast to the laser light and/or during dusk, night, or early morning. Finally, the ready availability and proliferation of micro drones has led to a sort of legal gray area, in which governments are scrambling to try and regulate their use (Figure 6) (e.g. KSL, 2014; Lowy, 2014). Users of drones have been found, intentionally or otherwise, to aggravate wildlife (Robison, 2014), crash into hot springs in Yellowstone National Park (Forgione, 2014), almost collide with planes (Botelho, 2014), and/or cause privacy concerns or annoyance to other people (Flacy, 2014). Because of these and other ex-amples, the laws and regulations that are being proposed and put into place aim to curtail the use of micro drones. It is important for researchers who use them to do so responsibly, so that their use as research platforms will remain open.

Figure 5: One way to scale images or video taken by micro drones - use bright laser pointers.

The Future Micro drone use in geologic field work has enormous potential. Most of the work discussed here relates only to the collection of visual data. However, micro drones can be potentially modified to collect many other forms of data, such as ambient weather data, thermal imaging, gas measurements, mapping and surveying (e.g. Mick-lethwaite et al., 2012), long term aerial monitoring, sample collection, and countless other possibilities that have not been thought of yet. Earth scientists should embrace the use of drones or at least be open to their potential benefits, BUT they should do so wisely, and in consideration of the legal and private issues that are beginning to present themselves.

Acknowledgements I am very grateful for the support of my department, college, and university. Jeff Burroughs, former dean of the BYUH College of Math and Sciences, and Mark Cannon, current dean of the College, who have been very encouraging of this work and generous in their support.

References- Albright, M.B., 23 July 2014, “How Drones Will Change the Way You Eat,” The Plate, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014.- Bangen, S.G., Wheaton, J.M., and Bouwes, N., 2011, A methodological intercomparison of topographic and aerial photographic habitat survey techniques, American Geophysical Union Fall Meet-ing, Abstract EP41A-0573.- BBC, 9 January 2014, “Will Drones Become the Future of Farming?” BBC Future, bbc.com, Web, 7 October 2014.- Betelho, B., 11 May 2014, “FAA Official: Drone, Jetliner Nearly Collided Over Florida,” CNN Travel, CNN, 6 October 2014.- Carrivick, J.L., Smith, M.W., Quincey, D.J., and Carver, S.J., 2013, Developments in budget remote sensing for the geosciences, Geology Today, v. 29.4, p. 138-143.- Curtis, A., 6 March 2012, “Flight Test of Cindi the Volcanocopter,” YouTube, Web, 6 October 2014.- Delacourt, C., Allemand, P., Berthier, E., Raucoules, D., and Casson, B., 2007, Remote-sensing techniques for analysing landslide kinematics; a review, Bulletin de la Societe Geologique de France, v. 178,.2, p. 89-100.- Eck, C., and Stoll, J.B., 2011, Der Einsatz einer Helikopterdrohne fuer geomagnetische Messungen; Planung und Durchfuehrung aeromagnetischer Messungen nach einem Boeschungsbruch in einem tuerkischen Braunkohletagebau, Das Markscheidewesen, v. 118.3, p. 3-7.- Flacy, M., 1 October 2014, “Man Allegedely Shoots Down Neighbor’s Drone with Shotgun,” Digital Trends, Web, 6 October 2014.- Forgione, M., 8 August 2014, “Did Camera-equipped Drone Crash into Yellowstone’s Largest Hot Spring?” Los Angeles Times, Web, 6 October 2014.- Fox News, 1 July 2014, “FAA Will Miss 2015 Drone Deadline, Audit Says,” Fox News, Web, 7 October 2014.- Funaki, M., Hirasawa, N., Imura, S., Moriwaki, K., and Nogi, Yoshifumi, 2006, Development of small drones "Ant-Plane" for Antarctic research; its possibility and difficulty, Nankyoku Shiryo = Antarctic Record, v. 50.2, p. 212-230.- Gannon, M., 11 April 2014, “Drones Reveal Hidden Ancient Village Buried in New Mexico,” The Huffington Post, Web, 7 October 2014.- Goldade, M.M., Lee, E., Kastens, J., Johnson, W.C., and Mcpherson, G.L., 2013, Modeling past and present flood water inundation in the Middle East, Abstracts with Programs – Geological Soci-ety of America, v. 45.7, p. 682.- Gong, J., Yue, Y., Zhu, J., Wen, Y., and Li, Y., 2012, Impacts of the Wenchuan Earthquake on the Chaping River upstream channel change, International Journal of Remote Sensing, v. 33.12, p. 3907-3929.- Howard, B.C., 18 July 2014, “Can Drones Fight Illegal ‘Pirate’ Fishing?” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014.- Johnson, W.C., Kastens, J., Lee, E., Dobbs, K.E., and Macpherson, G.L., 2012, Modeling extreme flood events in Afghanistan, Abstracts with Programs – Geological Society of America, v. 44.7, p. 118.- KJTV/CNN, 27 August 2014, “Drones Becoming Popular with Texas Farmers.” khon2.com, Web, 7 October 2014.- KSL, 30 August 2014, “FAA Looks at the Future of Drones,” ksl.com, Web, 7 October 2014.- Lejot, J., Delacourt, C., Piegay, H., Fournier, T., and Tremelo, M.L., 2007, Very high spatial resolution imagery for channel bathymetry and topography from an unmanned mapping controlled platform, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, v. 32.11, p. 1705-1725.- Lowy, J., 20 June 2014, “Government Moves to Ban Drones in 400 National Parks,” Associated Press (AP), Web, 8 October 2014.- McFarlene, D.A., Buchroithner, M., Lundberg, J., Petters, C., and Roberts, W., 2013, Integrated three-dimensional laser scanning and autonomous drone surface-hotogrammetry at Gomantong Caves, Sebah, Malaysia, Proceedings of the International Congress of Speleology 16, v. 2, p. 317.- Micklethwaite, S., Vasuki, Y., Turner, D., Kovesi, P., and Holden, E., 2012, High-resolution, semi-automatic fault mapping using umanned aerial vehicles and computer vision; mapping from an armchair, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Abstract T14C-08.- Mogg, T., 2 September 2014, “NASA Developing Automatic Traffic Management System for Drones,” Fox News, Web, 7 October 2014.- Mogg, T., 26 September 2014, “FAA Green Lights Commercial Drone Use For Movie and TV Companies,” Digital Trends, Web, 7 October 2014.- NBC, 16 May 2014, “Safety Concerns Rise as Drone Industry Takes Off,” today.com, Web, 7 October 2014.- O’Callaghan, S., 27 January 2014, “DJI Phantom Flites into Volcano,” YouTube, Web, 6 October 2014.- Ribeiro, J., 12 July 2014, “Amazon Asks FAA for Permission to Test Prime Air Delivery Drones,” Associated Press (AP), Web, 6 October 2014.- Robison, K., 5 May 2014, “Drone Harasses Bighorn Sheep at Zion National Park,” St. George News, Web, 6 October 2014.- Salopek, P., 11 April 2014, “Drones: Archaeology’s Newest Tool to Combat Looting,” news.nationalgeographic.com, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014.- Van Houtryve, T., 15 August 2014, “A Sky Full of Cameras,” Proof, National Geographic Society, Web, 7 October 2014.- West Hawaii Today (WHT), 8 July 2014, “Scientists Use Drones to Survey Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Wildlife,” West Hawaii Today, Web, 7 October 2014.

Finally, the drone performed in a way that allowed for the collection, in real-time, of these observations during the active ex-plosion and ejection of lava bombs – an extremely hazardous environment (see also O’Callaghan, 2014). Twice, due to wind or loss of battery-power, the drone crash-landed at high speed. In neither case did the drone sustain any damage other than a few minor scratches to the propeller blades. However, a set of spare blades is recommended.

The challenges or difficulties in using micro drones can be dividing into three categories:

1. Natural 2. Technological 3. Legal

In the first case, the biggest challenge to the use of micro drones concerns the weather. High winds (>30 km/h), for instance, can severely limit control or flight time, due to rapidly drained battery power as the drone uses energy to maintain its position. In addition, strong winds or wind gusts can blow the drone off course, into obstacles, and/or beyond areas of recovery. They also can reduce the fine control of the drone. Current micro drones are also not water-proof, which limits their use in rainy conditions or over water, should the drone fall into the water. That being said, I have used my micro drone extensively over water – it is just important to monitor the charge of the battery to prevent loss of power to the drone in such circ*mstances.

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FAQs

What are drones used for in geology? ›

Drones play an important role in our research, allowing our scientists to rapidly capture data that we can use to understand and monitor geological processes. For example, we can: repeatedly survey rapidly eroding cliffs on the east coast, to monitor erosion rates.

What do micro drones do? ›

The small craft allow remote observation of hazardous environments or of areas inaccessible to ground vehicles. Hobbyists have designed MAVs for applications such as aerial robotics contests and aerial photography. MAVs can offer autonomous modes of flight.

What are the applications of micro drones? ›

Microdrones are small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carrying payloads such as cameras and sensors. Such microdrones enable us to obtain a bird's eye view of the environment which is helpful in many applications such as environmental monitoring, surveillance or disaster management.

How are micro drones used by the military? ›

The military micro drone is comparable to the Black Hornet and can be used for close-in reconnaissance, public domain security surveillance and hazardous chemical warehouses and pipelines.

How are drones used in geographic mapping? ›

Land surveying

Surveyors and GIS professionals use drones because they make the process of creating accurate, three-dimensional topographic maps easier, safer, and more efficient. Drones can fly over dangerous or difficult terrain and return easy-to-visualize topographic data after a mere ten-minute flight.

How does NASA use drones? ›

NASA is using drone technology for a variety of reasons, such as aerial imagery, inspections, and mapping. At Stennis, drone flights recently recorded imagery of the RS-25's latest test on Feb. 24. The drone captured live stream video of the test event and the liquid oxygen ground disbursem*nt.

What can a spy drone do? ›

Can drones be used for spying? Yes, but only for the police. Drones are often used by law enforcement to track down suspects and terrorists using aerial bird watch views.

How small can spy drones be? ›

It's called the Black Hornet. It weighs less than 1.2 ounces, takes off from its operator's hand, and streams back video to a screen so people can see what the drone sees and make decisions before approaching a structure that might have hostile forces or other hazards inside it.

Do Microdrones have cameras? ›

Camera. As with the rest of UAVs, there are mini drones with cameras that are characterized by having cameras as accessories. As is known, these provide the user with the possibility of capturing quality images and videos, especially in places they do not have access to.

What is the limit of micro drone? ›

A micro drone may not fly higher than 60 meters above ground level (AGL) or faster than 25 meters per second. A small drone may not fly higher than 120 meters above ground level or faster than 25 meters per second.

What is considered a micro drone? ›

Micro drones (under 250 grams) and drones that weigh more than 25 kilograms do not fall into the basic or advanced operations categories. If you have a micro drone, you must fly it away from aircraft and airports.

What can tiny drones do? ›

People may buy a mini drone because it is affordable, portable, easy to fly, and can capture unique aerial perspectives. Mini drones are a budget-friendly option for beginners exploring aerial photography and videography. Due to its high portability, you can take a mini drone flying in various locations.

What is a weaponized drone? ›

An unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), also known as a combat drone, fighter drone or battlefield UAV, is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that is used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance and carries aircraft ordnance such as missiles, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), and/or ...

What is a black hornet spy drone? ›

The drone measures around 16 × 2.5 cm (6 × 1 in) and provides troops on the ground with local situational awareness. It is small enough to fit in one hand and weighs 18 g (0.7 oz) with its battery. The UAV is equipped with a camera which transmits video and still images to the operator.

What is the purpose of drones in mining? ›

Drones can be used for repeatable and precise stockpile surveys, capturing large numbers of data points at a distance. As a result, mine operators benefit from significantly enhanced accuracy, giving them a true picture of stock levels and enabling them to plan effectively.

What are the main purposes of drones? ›

The application of drones is far from these, such as digital city, urban planning, land, and resources investigation, land investigation and law enforcement, mineral resources development, forest fire-prevention monitoring, flood and drought resistance, environmental monitoring, border monitoring, surveillance, and ...

What are drones used for in archeology? ›

In the field of archaeology, drones have revolutionized the way researchers gather information and explore ancient sites. Equipped with cameras and sensors, drones can capture high-resolution aerial imagery, collect data, and generate three-dimensional models of archaeological sites.

What is the use of drones in geotechnical engineering? ›

Geophysical Investigations: Drones can transport and operate geophysical sensors to map subsurface anomalies, assisting in mineral prospecting, geological fault identification, assessment of subsurface cavities, and characterization of areas with potential geotechnical hazards.

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