Use of sUAS/UAS to Cost Effectively Monitor Eagle Nesting
Samantha Phillips | Select Engineering Services
Currently it takes approximately 960 hours to conduct on-the-ground monitoring of eagle nests for approximately six months (based upon actual numbers provided by DPG and SES experience). Much of this time is spent traveling to and from remote sites either by foot or truck. The primary objective is to reduce the total hours required to monitor the nests and validate the cost effectiveness of using sUAS/UAS over in-person ground based monitoring. SES (Select Engineering Services), in coordination with Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) and Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center have developed this technology demonstration that intends to demonstrate the use of Small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS)/Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) as a cost-effective way to monitor golden eagles on military installations.
SES proposes using the DJI Matrice commercial enterprise platform equipped with a Z30 Enterprise camera. This Small Unmanned Aerial System has the necessary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 333 exemption with a blanket certificate of authorization (COA) of 400 feet anywhere in the U.S. The DJI Matrice has a flight time of 26-32 minutes with payload and a range of up to 4.3 miles. In addition, the sUAS has full flight telemetry during and after to monitor courses, altitude, speed and duration. The Z30 camera includes a 32x optical, 6x digital total combined 180x zoom ability, is full brushless stabilized, resolution of 1080p/18mp at 32x optical and has a field of view of 63.7 degrees (wide) and 2.3 degrees (Tele). In addition, DPG is home to the Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center which was established by the Project Manager Unmanned Aircraft Systems to create a single location where unmanned and manned aircraft could complete end-to-end testing and integration. SES has coordinated with Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center (RIAC) to conduct monitoring flights when they are not conducting mission flights. RIAC has identified three military UAS platforms that would be most suitable for this demonstration which are the RQ-7B Shadow, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and Sky Warrior A.
The mission of DPG is to conduct biological and chemical weapon testing. This testing must be conducted in such a way that does not negatively affect migratory birds such as the golden eagle which is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Lacey Act. The use of sUAS/UAS to monitor and capture still photos and videos of eagle nests will significantly streamline the onground monitoring process and the overall costs associated with on-ground monitoring. Using sUAS/UAS will reduce labor costs of people being sent into the field to locate and monitor the eagles. This will also reduce the environmental impact of vehicles to drive across the landscape to gather data. Understanding the nesting habits of the eagles will provide the necessary data to protect the eagle while still being able to perform mission critical testing.