What are unmanned aerial vehicles

Unmanned aerial vehicles in science

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs - unmanned aerial vehicles), commonly referred to as drones, are often associated with military operations. But they are particularly valuable in science. These independently operating flight systems can be equipped with sensors or cameras and serve research in various ways.

The German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam (GFZ) has several UAVs. Jens Wickert, professor for GNSS remote sensing, navigation and positioning, uses a quadrocopter for photo and video flights in the Geodetic Space Techniques section. In Ketzin, short films were made about the geological storage of CO with the help of the copter2 turned. In the location 40 km west of Berlin, under the coordination of the GFZ, the scientific understanding of the geological storage of CO2 further developed and the underground processes of CO2Researched injection and spread. The bird's eye view enabled the interested public to have a special view of the area and the research work there. More aerial photographs of the site are planned in the coming weeks in order to document the last change made, the closure of the Ktzi202 well last year. These aerial photos are also used in publications of all kinds and are used for lecture presentations for schools and conferences.

Wickert's employees Marcel Ludwig and Stefan Weisheit are currently testing a self-built octocopter. The rotary wing aircraft, which weighs around four kilograms and has eight rotors, reaches a maximum speed of 60 km / h and can remain in the air for up to 30 minutes depending on the payload. Such an octocopter would cost up to 20,000 euros in retail.

The aircraft, which is currently still in the test phase, will later be used as a platform for GPS measurements for remote sensing of water and land surfaces. Here, reflected signals from navigation satellites are to be used, e.g. to determine the altimetric height of water surfaces or the soil moisture. UAVs offer the possibility of expanding the observation area in comparison to the stationary ground stations previously used and of recording data on extensive and poorly accessible areas. The octocopter is also to be used for student projects at the Technical University of Berlin in the "GNSS remote sensing, navigation and positioning" department.

UAV missions on the Dead Sea and Cyprus