MANNED OR UNMANNED – DOES THIS REALLY MATTER?
- 1METAIR AG, CH-8915 Hausen am Albis, Switzerland
- 2Airborne Research Australia / School of the Environment / Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
- 3Zurich University of Applied Sciences, CH-8401 Winterthur, Switzerland
Keywords: Aerial Observations, Small Infrastructure, Atmosphere, Remote Sensing, Hyper spectral, Laser scanning, Multisensor, UAS
Abstract. This paper is an attempt to compare, and possibly combine, the capabilities and technologies available for using either small UAS or small manned aircraft, or both, for environmental research applications including geomatics. The paper is emphasising the view that instead of making one or the other platform technology (manned or unmanned) the deciding factor for specific applications in an a priori sense, it would be a better approach to evaluate each technology's suitability and merits in terms of ease of use (instrumentation integration, operational aspects, potential restrictions, safety, etc.) and also cost-efficiency. As will be shown, in some cases, this might even mean that a combination of manned and unmanned aerial platforms could be the optimum choice for a specific set of tasks.
The paper introduces a number of manned and unmanned small aerial platforms and looks at their specific proven and envisaged capabilities for specific tasks. It also introduces the concept of using manned and unmanned aerial platform in tandem, maximising the usefulness of both technologies together for specific tasks. The authors' intent is to encourage a close look at all technologies available today, or in the near future, and to make that the basis for decisions about which ones are the most suitable ones for specific applications or projects.
Two field campaigns in which METAIR and ARA have operated their small manned aerial platforms are re-analysed to give an example of the considerations that should be evaluated to decide which platform technology might be the most suitable one for a specific project. One of the projects ("TIPPEX") was flown in 2008 in Northern Australia, while the other one ("MAIOLICA") had flight campaigns in 2009 and 2011 in Switzerland.