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Tracking Airborne Pathogens with UAVs

Posted 13 Jun 2007 at 20:42 UTC by steve Share This

The Engineer Online describes a newly developed UAV that detects and tracks airborne pathogens above agricultural areas. The autonomous flying robot samples the air hundreds of meters above the ground, tracking pathogens such as the Fusarium genus of fungi, which can travel long distances at high altitudes. The autonomous robots have advantages over both manned flights and radio controlled drones. The UAV, developed by David Schmale and other researchers at the Virginia Tech Center for Autonomous Systems, can sample the air in precise patterns, often in coordinations with other UAVs working simulatneously at different altitudes. With just 75 flights, the researchers have already cataloged 500 colonies of Fusarium including 11 species not previously known to be transported this far above the Earth's surface. The research will expand to other types of pathogens, marking the begining of a field one scientist calls aerogenomics. For more details see the Virginia Tech news release or the VT Environment Innovations poster, Exploring atmospheric microbial communities with autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles.

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