Higher tech: seeing more from the air

The science of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is really taking off at UBC. Increasingly autonomous, these flying devices are typically used today for surveillance and monitoring — carrying sensors such as optical daylight cameras or thermal cameras that detect heat. It’s an emerging high-tech field with tremendous potential just waiting to be explored.That’s where STAR comes in. Among the development projects currently underway, Dr. Homayoun Najjaran and his Advanced Control and Intelligent Systems Lab is working with Terrabella Wineries of Summerland, BC, and several local partners to develop control software for micro-UAVs, and new sensor payloads for applications such as crop inspection and targeted application of fertilizer in vineyards.

This research will lead to new products and services improving crop quality and yields in British Columbia’s thriving wine industry.

Other applications of UAVs include inspection of oil and gas pipelines, search and rescue, and detection of hot spots when fighting forest fires.