Central Michigan University now has a new scientific tool, an unmanned helicopter that is equipped with a high tech camera which will assist in the detection of invasive species and allow for advanced research of wetlands.
Benjamin W. Heumann, Ph.D, Director of CMU’s Graphic Information Science center and a member of CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research, will be in charge of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program and serve as the pilot in command.
The UAV and hyperspectral camera will allow for scientific research in tracking invasives and monitoring ecosystem health. It also allows them to collect the imagery at a much lower altitude then manned aircraft, so they can get a much higher resolutions in images, even receiving clear images of individual leaves.
The first project utilizing the UAV will take place this summer at the Wilderness State Park where they will map Pitcher’s thistle, a rare and threatened plant that only grows on the sand dunes of the Great Lakes and primarily on Lake Michigan (the Pitcher’s thistle also grows on Beaver Island).
Don Uzarski, Ph. D, Director of CMU’s Biological Station on Beaver Island and the Director of CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes Research is enthused over use of the UAV technology. “We will use the helicopter in the archipelago in the future,” he said, “and also just purchased about $20K in imagery just for the (Beaver) archipelago.”
Heumann says the helicopter will probably be used on Beaver Island in the summer of 2015.
For more on this new scientific tool, see the upcoming issue of NorthernIslander.