Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) applications in the Department of the Interior
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology is quickly evolving and will have a significant impact on Earth science research. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting an operational test and evaluation of UAS to see how this technology supports the mission of the USGS and the Department of the Interior (DOI). Over the last 5 years, the USGS, working with many partners, has been actively conducting proof of concept UAS missions which are designed to evaluate the potential of UAS technology to support the mandated DOI scientific, resource and land management missions.
UAS are being used to monitor environmental conditions, analyze the impacts of climate change, respond to natural hazards, conduct wildlife inventories and support related land management activities. UAS technology is providing a mechanism to collect timely remote sensing data at a low cost and at low risk over DOI lands that can be difficult to monitor and consequently enhances our ability to provide unbiased scientific information. This presentation describes the UAS technology and infrastructure being employed, pilot application projects already accomplished, lessons learned and the future of UAS within the DOI.