ISRO drones help map disasters in north-east

Published - November 30, 2016 12:54 am IST - BENGALURU:

Drones, generally associated with security agencies, are now being used to collect land details and add to data from remote sensing satellites.

The Shillong-based North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation has tested unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to assess several regional problems, ranging from measuring diseased paddy fields to damage caused by frequent landslides, according to the space agency. A fixed wing aircraft was test flown on November 1.

Supplement ground data

Data from ISRO’s remote sensing satellites are generally combined with ground-based details. Use of drones cuts much leg work that ground surveyors must take up, an official said.

Drone-based studies are new and currently confined to the north-eastern States. Depending on demand from other States, they could be extended to other places, he said.

“NE-SAC has taken the initiative for design and assembling of UAVs for various applications. UAVs can perform efficient surveys for disaster-prone or physically inaccessible areas, quick damage assessment of landslides, floods and earthquakes” and enable timely relief measures, ISRO said.

Among various services provided on request to the north-eastern States using the drones, NE-SAC mapped the area affected by landslides along Meghalaya's life line, NH40. It gave the extent of damage caused to pest-infested paddy fields in Naramari village of Assam.

Based on the images given by the drones, NE-SAC has created a land use map of Meghalaya's Nongpoh town and a 3D terrain model.

Data quantity

However, the area studied by a drone will be smaller compared to the area assessed from space by satellites. The processing and storage of large amounts of data given by a drone are a problem, ISRO said.

The NE centre was started in the year 2000 to provide Space technology-based communication and technology support to the region.

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