Aerial surveys are essential to many sectors—environment, agriculture, mining and transportation, to name just a few. They’re more cost effective, safer and less intrusive than teams of people on the ground, but even small unmanned vehicles are complex and require thoughtful design and operation.
Unmanned Systems Canada aims to foster Canadian expertise in the field by challenging university and college-level students to enter its annual Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) competition. And this year, two teams of engineers from the University of Toronto’s Aerospace Team (UTAT) took the top spots in design and flight operation using Teledyne DALSA Genie cameras in their systems.
The UAS competition challenges teams to develop solutions for real-world scenarios. For 2017, it was a two-part wildlife monitoring task that required the team to not only survey and quantify a population of wild geese, but to also retrieve and return with an unbroken egg for pesticide testing.
The UAV and Aerial Robotics Divisions from U of T were two of 13 student teams competing in the event. The UAV Division captured 2nd place in the design phase of competition, and a 1st in flight operation, while the Aerial Robotics Division took 1st in design and 4th in flight.
Putting Genie cameras to work
As a platinum sponsor of the teams, Teledyne DALSA provided Genie cameras for the project. Team UAV answered the challenge by creating two separate vehicles, each designed for its specific task. Its ‘Explorer UAS’ used a fixed-wing airframe for high speed survey area coverage. The craft carried the Genie TS-C4096, which offered the high resolution needed to identify specific goose species, conduct a census and geo-locate nests.
To manage the second part of the challenge—egg retrieval—the team built a multi-rotor vehicle that could take off and land vertically. A second and lighter weight Genie Nano C1940 model provided high-resolution color imaging, and a robotic arm with elastic mesh allowed the team to retrieve an egg.
With a few years’ experience using Teledyne Genie cameras and this recent success behind them, the UTAT teams are excited to take their work to the next level. “We are very excited to learn about the new cameras in the Genie Nano XL family, which offer an impressively high resolution in a lightweight package,” says team lead Erik Chau. “We strongly believe that the light weight, high resolution, and high frame rates of the Genie Nano cameras will be the perfect customized payload solution for our team.”
The team at Teledyne DALSA couldn’t agree more. We can’t wait to see what these innovative young engineers come up with next.