WAYNOKA, Oklahoma. – Oklahoma State University researchers are making sure our state’s little piece of desert is here to stay.
OSU’s Unmanned Systems Research Institute (USRI) audits 1,600-acre Little Sahara State Park near Waynoka, Oklahoma. While you normally see people enjoying the dunes on ATVs and go-karts, the OSU team pulled out a drone.
They conduct photogrammetry research on sand dune migration. For those of us who aren’t scientists, that means tracking the movement of sand dunes using drones.
The team began their research almost four years ago using high-definition photogrammetry to build 3D models of the dunes.
“Due to the predominant southerly wind, the dunes migrate north,” said USRI director Dr Jamey Jacob. “Although the migration of these particular dunes may one day have an impact on the areas surrounding the park, this research provides proof of concept of technology and prediction method which we hope can be applied to similar places in the world. “
OSU researchers are taking a project initially intended to monitor weather and atmospheric changes and apply it to measure dune movement.
Jacob said this was just another example of how the USRI team and other OSU system aerospace researchers are leading the way in public impact research and finding new ways. to expand the potential of drone technology.
Whether it’s monitoring gas pipeline leaks, determining geological formation changes in different areas, or determining the viability of using different unmanned aerial systems on other planets, aerospace research conducted at the ‘OSU continues to advance many areas.
“USRI is one of several projects that may not be ‘typical’ applications for unmanned systems,” said Jacob. “However, we hope that being involved in these ‘unexpected’ areas will not only provide useful data and solutions, but may also lead to technological advancements that will be beneficial in a multitude of other applications. “
These kinds of research opportunities attracted Victoria Natalie, USRI’s Engineering Program Director, to study at OSU. In addition to building and operating high powered drones and driving an OSU dune buggy and rally car through the sands of western Oklahoma, Natalie said they knew they were doing the difference.
“USRI is poised for the start of an exciting expansion in the industry,” Natalie said. “I have worked with more than five different colleges outside of engineering, including agriculture, plant and soil sciences, geography, geology, architecture and meteorology, perfecting stand-alone technology to help to make discoveries and developments in different types of research. I feel like we are still barely scratching the surface … This technology is truly revolutionary and will affect many levels of people’s daily lives as we move into the future.
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