Geospatial Round-up – July 2018

July 10th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Autonomous drones for fishing survey

NOAA Fisheries’ two West Coast Science laboratories have joined forces with Saildrone to test the use of autonomous, wind and solar-powered vehicles to gather data on West Coast fish populations. A fleet of five drones have been launched in June 2018 to undertake different missions, all related to improving the efficiency and accuracy of fisheries stock assessments which the Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries use in setting fishing rules and limits for the commercial fishing industry. The drones are able to operate independently in the field for up to a year. Scientists can adjust the drones’ assignments in real-time. Some data can be transmitted each day, but detailed will be downloaded at the end of the mission.

Space debris removal tech launched

The space debris removal technology mission RemoveDebris has been launched into orbit from the International Space Station. It will demonstrate a range of technologies to clean up space debris. The spacecraft features three Airbus technologies to perform active debris removal: a net and a harpoon to capture debris, and also a vision-based navigation (VBN) system to develop rendezvous techniques in orbit with space debris. The spacecraft also includes a drag sail to speed up deorbiting of the whole mission. The mission timelines will see the net deployed in October this year, followed by the VBN test in late December and then the harpoon in February 2019. The experiments will be carried out below the orbit of the ISS.

Accelerating machine learning for agriculture

To answer agricultural questions across the globe by using machine learning at scale, DigitalGlobe and CGIAR will leverage the company’s Geospatial Big Data platform (GBDX). CGIAR’s Platform for Big Data in Agriculture democratises data to digitally transform agriculture and address global challenges such as food security, health, environment, climate and prosperity to improve the lives of people in developing countries. CGIAR’s geospatial scientists will mine DigitalGlobe’s 100 petabyte imagery library using machine learning and the computational power of GBDX to create more sophisticated baseline datasets in agriculture, plan new projects and monitor crop health, crop yield and the environmental impacts of farming. In addition, GBDX will fuel CGIAR’s research and development efforts to improve agricultural information products and create new ones.

Free national mapping data

The UK government has announced in June that key parts of the Ordnance Survey (OS) MasterMap will be made openly available for the public and businesses to use. It is estimated that this will boost the UK economy by at least £130-million a year, as innovative companies and startups use the data. Small firms and entrepreneurs in particular is expected to benefit, as it allows them to compete with larger organisations. OS MasterMap data already supports emerging technologies such as driverless vehicles, 5G and connected cities. The mapping agency which was founded on 21 June 1791 also celebrate its 227th year of existence in June. Its database of Great Britain now incudes over 460 million features.

Shape-changing drone

Researchers at the JSK Lab at the University of Tokyo have developed a modular UAV which can change its shape mid-flight, allowing it to operate in complex environments, the IEEE Spectrum reported. Called “Dragon”, Dual-rotor embedded multilink Robot with the Ability of multi-deGree-of-freedom aerial transformation, the craft comprises a series of linked modules, each consisting of a pair of independent motors, with the modules connected by a powered, hinged joint to create a spine of sorts. The robot’s modularity allows it to change shape, allowing it to pass through small and narrow spaces and resemble itself on the other side. Besides flying in a straight line, box or an L-shape, it can also take on 3D shapes.

End-to-end geo-information system

The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency of Thailand has partnered with Airbus for its next-generation national geo-information system. The end-to-end system will enable Thailand to fully exploit geo-information for societal benefits as the platform will host and exploit multi-source data in an interoperable and integrated manner. In line with Thailand’s 4.0 policy, the THEOS-2 programme will constitute a milestone in the development of Space in the Eastern Economic Corridor and its Digital Park. A comprehensive capacity building programme will involve Thai engineers in the development of an integrated geo-information system, ground segment and two earth observation satellites: a very high-resolution and a small satellite system. The small satellite system will be assembled and tested in-country by Thai engineers.