Drones Listen in on Bats to Reveal their In-Flight Secrets

2017-04-28

Drones Listen in on Bats to Reveal their In-Flight Secrets
Bat-detecting drones could help us find out what the animals get up to when flying. Ultrasonic detectors on drones in the air and on the water are listening in on bat calls, in the hope of discovering more about the mammals’ lives beyond the reach of ground-based monitoring devices.

Drone-builder Tom Moore and bat enthusiast Tom August have developed three different drones to listen for bat calls while patrolling a pre-planned route. Since launching the scheme, known as Project Erebus, in 2014, they have experimented with two flying drones and one motorised boat, all equipped with ultrasonic detectors.

The pairs latest tests have demonstrated the detection capabilities of the two airborne drone models: a quadcopter and a fixed-wing drone. Last month, the quadcopter successfully followed a predetermined course and picked up simulated bat calls produced by an ultrasonic transmitter.

The bat signal

Moore says one of the major hurdles is detecting the call of bats over the noise of the drones propellers, which emit loud ultrasonic frequencies. They overcame this with the quadcopter by dangling the detector underneath the body and rotors of the drone.

This is not such a problem for the water-based drone. Last year, Moore and August tested a remote-controlled boat in Oxfordshire, UK, and picked up bat calls thought to belong to common pipistrelle and Daubentons bats. The different species often emit different ultrasonic frequencies.

“The amount of noise coming from the boat is almost zero – that turned out to be a really fantastic platform for recording bats on the water,” says August.

Since starting the project, the duo has experimented with a range of ultrasonic detection technologies. One lightweight detector from Peersonic produced exciting results early on. We stuck it on the plane, test-flew it and thats when we think we picked up our first bat call in flight, says Moore. They are currently also using a detector by AudioMoth.

The drones can hear the bats from around 20 metres away, so they arent thought to pose any danger to the animals.

Nightly commute

Little is known about what bats get up to high in the air, says ecologist Kate Jones at University College London, who studies bats.

Were monitoring on the ground and thinking thats representative of the entire air column but I dont think thats true, she says.

Its quite possible bats are commuting from site to site at higher altitudes. Using drones like this could give a more detailed picture of how bats move around than a handheld or ground-based sensor, says Jones. The bats are likely to just fly off if the drone got too close, she says.

Drones like those developed by Moore and August could also be useful for environmental surveys. For example, to determine whether placing wind turbines in a certain area could interfere with bats that are active far above the ground or tree canopy.


Category:  UAV


US Air Force Research Lab to Extend Aircraft ISR Range

2017-05-23
US Air Force Research Lab to Extend Aircraft ISR Range
The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is developing a tube-launched unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that can be deployed from an AC-130 gunship, or similar aircraft, and provide video that will rival that provided by its own sensors.

Firefighting Drone Debuts in Summer in USA

2017-05-15
Firefighting Drone Debuts in Summer in USA
Spain-based start-up DRONE HOPPER has designed a heavy-duty firefighting drone that the company says offers “safety, flexibility and efficiency over traditional fire suppression technology.”

AeroVironment Unveils Snipe  New, Stealthy Nano Quadrotor UAS

2017-05-11
AeroVironment Unveils Snipe New, Stealthy Nano Quadrotor UAS
AeroVironment, Inc. has officially unveiled the new Snipe Nano Quad, a miniature (“Class 0”) and field-rugged unmanned aircraft system designed to support close-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The first U.S. government customer delivery of 20 Snipe systems took place in April.

NASA Selects Black Swift for Volcano Ash Monitoring

2017-05-11
NASA Selects Black Swift for Volcano Ash Monitoring
NASA has awarded Black Swift Technologies, a specialized engineering firm, a contract to develop and deliver a purpose-built scientific platform to explore volcanoes in order to improve air traffic management systems and the accuracy of ashfall measurements.

More Cloud Based Drone Management Software

2017-05-05
More Cloud Based Drone Management Software
HAZON Solutions, a provider of drone inspection services, has announced the launch of the HAZON Drone Management System (HAZON DMS). HAZON DMS is a secure, web-based management tool providing every drone operator, whether a hobbyist with a single drone or a large corporation with hundreds of drones, a way to safely and efficiently track and manage their drone fleet, pilots and workflow.

AT&T Combines UAS Footage with Artificial Intelligence

2017-05-05
AT&T Combines UAS Footage with Artificial Intelligence
The research unit at AT&T is working to combine two of what are perhaps the hottest buzzwords in the tech industry: drones and artificial intelligence. Specifically, AT&T Labs is researching ways to take video footage from a drone flying around an AT&T cell tower and use AI to analyze that footage for signs of rust, corrosion or other defects on the tower.

FAA Evaluates Drone Detection Systems at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport

2017-05-02
FAA Evaluates Drone Detection Systems at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport
Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its partners are conducting detection research on unmanned aircraft (UAS) – popularly called drones at Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport.The DFW evaluation is the latest in a series of detection system evaluations that began in February 2016. Previous evaluations took place at Atlantic City International Airport; John F. Kennedy International Airport; Eglin Air Force Base; Helsinki, Finland Airport; and Denver International Airport.

US Army to Hold Flight Demo to Develop Next-Gen UAS

2017-05-02
US Army to Hold Flight Demo to Develop Next-Gen UAS
Nearly mirroring its approach to examine the art of the possible for a Future Vertical Lift aircraft, the U.S. Army plans to conduct a science and technology-level demonstration of a next-generation tactical unmanned aircraft system that would replace the Shadow and the Gray Eagle.

Virginia Tech Aviation Partnership Test BVLOS Flights

2017-04-27
Virginia Tech Aviation Partnership Test BVLOS Flights
Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, Ligado Networks, AeroVironment, Inc., and Dominion Virginia Power evaluated communications strategies and other parameters to help build a safety case for unmanned aircraft flights beyond the visual line of sight of a pilot or observer.

Lockheed Martin Continues Successful Fury Flight Tests

2017-04-27
Lockheed Martin Continues Successful Fury Flight Tests
Lockheed Martin‘s advanced tactical Group 3 unmanned aerial system (UAS), Fury, is regularly flying long-range endurance test missions as the company prepares it for low-rate production.


Back to the list