Emerging and Innovative Technologies

Oral

397395 - In Situ Measurement of Soil-Water Parameters using a Micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Tuesday, June 5
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: Lakeshore C
Co-Authors: Joshua Peschel, Ames, IA – Iowa State University

This work investigates the deployment of a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and custom payload for remote, physical sensing of soil moisture content, temperature, and pH. Soil moisture affects many biophysical processes such as plant transpiration and growth, and hydrologic processes such as infiltration and evaporation. Current methods for measurement of physical soil properties (e.g., the manual deployment of cylindrical probes) are inefficient in obtaining large numbers of sampling sites to achieve statistical significance. The deployment of soil sensors by UAVs presents one option for improving measurement efficiency and sampling site access. This work presents the design and prototyping of a custom UAV payload that enters the soil and obtains temperature, moisture, and pH measurements at depths of 10-15 centimeters below the surface. Additionally, a framework for UAV cyclic path planning is applied that considers sampling durations and correlations in spatially continuous networks to maximize the utility of a soil sampling tour. The results are expected to serve as groundwork for future design and refinement of UAVs for physical sensing and sampling that can be applied to agricultural and environmental domains.

Sierra N. Young

Visiting Scholar
Iowa State University

Sierra Young is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She currently holds a position as a Visiting Scholar in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department at Iowa State University. She received the B.S. in Civil Engineering from Cornell University (2014) and her M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UIUC (2015).

Young was awarded both the Department of Defense NDSEG Fellowship and the FMC Fellowship to support her research on the human-robot interaction for physical object manipulation by small unmanned aerial systems. Her current research interests focus around the use of robotics, sensors, and automation for sensing and sense-making in agricultural and natural systems, with an emphasis on unmanned aerial vehicle applications.

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