Recently we try the Iris equip with Gopro Hero 3 in front to monitor the progress of forest restoration in North Sumatra National Park.
The beauty of this system is its full automatic capability. Pilot or the forest restoration manager just need to program a series of waypoints and the desire altitude according to the resolution require. Then the Iris will take off by itself once it was commanded, slowly accents to altitude and fly in a constant forward speed. It also navigate the grid line well.
This system also provide a very important and essential properties because of it's capability of vertical takeoff and landing. In tropical rain forest, one almost impossible to find a good landing spot for plane base UAV. Parachute recovery may end up hanging the drone on top of tree canopy because of changing winds direction.
The only drawback of this system currently is the flight duration. With a Gopro on board, we can only program for a 7 to 8 minutes flight which travel a distance of about 2 KM. It will be great if 3D robotic will upgrade it to fly for at least 20 minutes. With a longer arm, low kv dish type motor and a big propeller and battery, I think it is not too difficult to get there.
But even with the current set up, one can easily monitor 20 to 30 hectares of forest in less than 10 minutes. 5 fully charge battery will enable the forest manager to cover more than 100 hectare in less than 2 hours. Compare to ground survey, a few forest ranger may take weeks to complete the same task.
As the Iris is relatively new to me and the fact that I am also new to arducopter firmware, I will need to accumulate more flying hours with it and explore different functions the powerful Mission Planner can offer. I already had a very good start thanks to the Ready to Fly Iris. I do hope to discover more ways to use the system for various conservation, research and agriculture work.