APM supports conservation researchers around the globe

ResearchDrones Training in Congo

Training Cambodian researcher and wildlife workers near Pu Trom

We have been busy developing and building ArduPilot Mega based UAV's for conservation and economical research the last couple of months together with our friends from ConservationDrones.org.

The goal is to provide an easy to use, durable, field fixable and affordable solution that can be operated in nearly any environment. Currently our UAV has been deployed to many locations around the globe. This have been interesting times traveling around the globe helping out with research projects and training researchers to use a UAV for their mapping and surveying missions.

This has created quite some media attention, for example in the New York Time, BBC News and local news papers. It is nice to read about the positive, non-military used of UAV's now and then.

Finally I got around to put a web site together. There might be a couple of interesting videos of our trips. If you are interested, hop over to www.researchdrones.com.

Views: 898

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on June 2, 2013 at 11:59pm

Great stuff!

Please let me know if you need any new features or assistance with this. This is exactly the sort of thing I'd like to see ArduPlane used for more.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on June 3, 2013 at 12:07am

Thank you tridge for the offer, there might be indeed some feature requests in the future. One of the things I can think of is integrating a buzzer into APM. There have been some hacks but non that are maintained ATM as far as I know. 

For these researchers, a UAV is "just" one tool of many. It should be as simple as possible. Having a BEEP when the UAV is initialized and ready would certainly help.



Comment by Andrew Tridgell on June 3, 2013 at 12:22am

Hi Simon,

Yes, a buzzer is useful.

One option is the PX4 which already has a buzzer - have you considered switching to PX4?

One of the other advantages would be that the PX4 is a lot more expandable. For example, I'm planning on integrating automatic terrain following for ArduPlane on PX4, taking advantage of the fact that the microSD card has enough storage space to store terrain data for a large area. That would make it easier to operate in hilly terrain, as you'd just set the mission points to "above ground level" and ArduPlane would work out how to maintain that altitude.

If you want to have a general chat about future features of ArduPlane that may help your work then maybe we should have a G+ hangout sometime?

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Michael Johnston on June 3, 2013 at 12:36am

How about a lightweight radio tracking receiver for animals fitted with VHF (150-154 or 171-173Mhz) or UHF transmitting collars.

Something along these lines .....


Extra points for switching to loiter mode above the strongest signal (indicated by RSSI??) during a grid search for photo or other task (remotely accessing data from GPS datalogger collar).

Check Mortimers' group for other biological applications.


Comment by Michael Johnston on June 3, 2013 at 12:37am

and congrats to Research Drones.


Comment by Simon Wunderlin on June 3, 2013 at 12:53am

@Tridge: the terrain following feature sounds extremely exiting! PX4 is on the radar, my goal ATM is to have something stable/reliable to deploy. How reliable is the APM firmware on the PX4 currently?

We should definitely have a chat on G+ hangout. I'll discuss this with our Team.

Comment by Simon Wunderlin on June 3, 2013 at 12:57am

@Michael: we are currently looking into adding tracking receivers to UAVs. There are a couple of other projects which need our full attention at the moment however.

Comment by Andrew Tridgell on June 3, 2013 at 2:39am


APM runs very nicely on PX4. Most of my test flights are on PX4 now. It has been fully supported for ArduPlane for a few releases now.

Cheers, Tridge

Comment by Mark Harrison on June 3, 2013 at 2:48am

@Tridge, I get a bit confused looking at the PX4 products.  Can you tell me exactly which board(s) I would need to get to replicated using APM and of course 3DR telemetry air module?

Much Appreciated!!

Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 3, 2013 at 6:34am

@MJ I am working on some legacy collar stuff, the collars we use can revert to one if the GPS fails so we are working on triangulating them in that case. As for orbiting the collar we could but seeing the animal, that would be another thing. As I am sure you know the difficulty with collars is keeping them running and if you ping it too much it will run out of power fast. This study I am helping with lasts for a year so. There is much BS out there for tracking collars we are taking a while to create a system that is both simple to use and effective at task.

In the past we took images of eggs in nests and that worked, but the nest was floating and obvious. I think FLIR will be the best for animal work ultimately.


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