Australia: A coastal landscape mapping project using aerial drones is adding a new dimension of insight to Deakin University research in Australia. Victorian UAS Training is surveying coastal areas from 100 metres above to create high resolution 3D maps in Ballarat, Australia. The joint partnership with Deakin University aims to provide in-depth detail of Warrnambool’s coastal environments and habitat, including shoreline erosion and wildlife behaviors at Middle Island, Lady Bay, Merri River, Hopkins River and Logans Beach. “The auto-piloted, fully autonomous device had a two-metre wingspan and stitched together multiple three-dimensional images to create the mapping data. People probably recognise the concept from Google Earth. It’s a little different to Google Maps because the resolution is much, much higher,” said Mathew Herbert, Victorian UAS Training Director.
“The project’s results are added to useful data from previous local projects, such as sea floor mapping using sonar technology. This is adding to our arsenal of tools to better understand coastal environments. It’s not only high-resolution pictures but it can generate 3D models. The new technology had the potential to assist in a wide range of environmental programme,” said Daniel Ierodiaconou, Deakin University Warrnambool’s school of life and environmental science. “We’re already talking about collaborating with a number of organisations around Australia. We want to see this applied to real world problems, which requires us to partner with councils that have issues that need to be addressed. I think this technology has the potential to really give us high-resolution data and chart a time series of shoreline change and how our coastal areas are eroding over time. With the hooded plover it will give us a better understanding of beach slopes and how it might change things like their breeding process,” added Ierodiaconou.