Dirk Gorissen's Posts (5)

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Marine Litter Mapping


Marine litter is a huge problem with lots of statistics that boggle the mind. Most people will also have heard of the North Pacific Gyre, or rather, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It occupies a relatively stationary area that is twice the size of Texas. What we are trying to do with The Plastic Drive is raise awareness about the problem and record data on beach litter in a scientifically useful way such that it can be fed into the relevant models (current understanding of how litter moves around at sea is still rather crude).


To help put some method into the madness we are supported by Kayleigh Wyles from Plymouth Marine Laboratory and, from Imperial College, Michael Lange (HPC), Erik Van Sebille (Ocean Circulation), and Stefan Leutenegger (Dyson lab).

To increase coverage and efficiency we figured we could use drones to map beaches & strandlines and process the imagery with some of the fancy deep nets that are all the rage these days. Hence a plan was formed and a UK version of the drive planned late summer. To test the basic data collection workflow we bought a second hand Canon SX260 on eBay, installed CHDK, strapped it to a quad and started doing some flights. Data is processed with DroneDeploy. Every area we fly we also survey manually and that way build up some data and experience as to the kind of things you find and would want to detect from the imagery. We know the camera is not great but its cheap and good enough for a baseline.


We've only just started with two outings so far, a third one planned. But as we are trying to raise awareness and get people involved I thought it useful to post here in case anybody has done similar things or wants to help out.

Full writeup can be found at: https://dirkgorissen.com/2016/07/12/marine-litter-mapping/ and you can follow progress @ThePlasticDrive.

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You are faced with a few thousand hectares of rainforest that you know harbours one or more orangutans that you need to track down. All you have is a 2 second VHF ping from an implant that you can pickup from 100-400m.

Where, how, and why do you start looking? One way is to use a drone with a suitable radio payload..

Too long to paste the full background, but the source blog post can be found here:


Clip from one of the flights:

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Deep Drone v2

In a last post I discussed my little flying object detector project that I’ve been doing for fun. While it worked it relied on communication with an external laptop in order to work (the on board odroid was not powerful enough to run the convnet model).

Hence, what better excuse to buy an NVIDIA Jetson TK1 dev board which should have more than enough juice to run everything on board the drone itself. I then added websocket support to track detections in real time.

It took some fiddling to get the wifi to work with the Jetson and Im still surprised at how quickly the wifi degrades (even though Im using the 5GHz band to avoid collisions with the Tx/Rx). But it did work in the end.

Still lots to do and too little time, but we keep chipping away. In particular the awesome folk from ErleBotics were kind enough to send me a Brain2, looking forward to try that out as well.

Original post: http://dirkgorissen.com/2015/12/24/deep-drone-v2


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About a year and a half ago I saw Jetpac’s video of their Spotter app and I remember thinking at the time that it would be so cool to get this flying on a drone. Some poking got me a little towards that goal but its not until the past week that I sat down and rewrote the code, integrated it with a quad, and did a little demo. The result can be seen in the video.

Unfortunately, it being autumn and this being the UK there was pretty much no window of decent weather to do a nice flight. Instead I had to make do with muddy boots, blustery winds, and frantic umbrella breaks due to rain showers. It was hard to keep the quad under control in the wind and hence the video is not as smooth as I’d like. Once the weather improves and I add a gimbal, things should be much better.


Full blog post here.

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Drone Based Metal Detector: Proof of concept

As an extension of a drone based Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) project the idea arose if it were possible to have a drone based metal detector.

I thought the idea silly at first but the initial numbers did not rule it out and extensive handheld testing with military grade detectors on real ordnance showed the idea may have some legs after all. If not for minimum metal AP mines, at least for the bigger stuff.

We settled on some standard detection electronics & coil which were customised and integrated with a H500 quadcopter testbed.  The first test flight showed we were definitely able to pick up the detections from relatively small (tennis ball size) metal objects.

Though this proves the core concept it is of course a long way away from being something that can be operationalised (if that makes sense at all), many challenges remain. In any case given the time and budget constraints it has definitely exceeded my expectations and has been a fun project so far,

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