y6After the 2010 BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Gliders were used to skim the water and detect oil, but at the time aerial drones were just beginning to take off in the hobby world. Fast forward 5 years and anyone can buy a “drone” for under $1,000.00.   Now researchers are using off shelf drones in interesting ways. Of course you have the misuse of drones, but researchers and citizens are using them for the good too. In a recent project, University of Miami is using subsurface and aerial drones to study the patterns of oil moving in ocean currents.  One issue with some drones (multi-rotor) is the time in which one can stay aloft, typically 10 to 15 minutes. The researchers developed a method of playing “tag”…when one drone ran low on power, the other would jump in the air.  This method combined with changing batteries every flight, enabled the research team to fly all day long.

playing tag with drones, researchers are able to study the movement of oil in offshore environments. They also give a crash course in the basics of photogrammetry and how the data was processed.

More about the SCOPE experiment here: CARTHE

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