The first objective is to build a mature prototype of a novel tandem terrestrial-aerial mapping system based on a terrestrial vehicle (TV) and on an unmanned aircraft (UA), both equipped with remote sensing payloads. The UA will follow the TV at a constant flying height above ground while geodata are acquired simultaneously from the TV and the UA. The final product is high resolution, oriented, calibrated and integrated images of a corridor and its environment. The second objective is to demonstrate services; i.e., the technical/commercial feasibility of the concept. The third objective is to develop the market: at the end of the project, contracts or negotiations shall be in place so the prototype can be used in operational conditions. MapKITE targets corridor mapping. It is a terrestrial-aerial surveying system that combines the advantages of the terrestrial and airborne (manned or unmanned) ones. It responds to corridor mapping market needs only fulfilled by much more expensive separate terrestrial and aerial missions. An enabling component is the navigation payload based on EGNOS and the E5 AltBOC Galileo signal, superior to existing/planned GPS signals and of particular interest for robustness/integrity. An octocopter of UAVision will be modified and equipped with the avoidance collision system of CATUAV. Due to the low weight of the UA (less than 5 kg), to its low flying altitude (range between 30 m and maximum allowed height) and to its inbuilt line of sight [TV to UA] keeping feature, mapKITE does not suffer from the regulations affecting UAS civilian use. Its design is dominated by safety and abidance to current and foreseeable rules for small UA. Unrestricted testing will be conducted in a segregated airspace area that has been recently awarded by the Spanish aviation authorities. MapKITE is highly innovative: new surveying paradigms, new mathematical models, new ways of fusing sensors and a new “map” product. It is protected by the Spanish patent 2012312
Biomass mapping has gained increased interest for bioenergy, climate research and mitigation activities, such as reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (e.g. REDD initiative). However, continuous deforestation activity and forest management requires frequent and accurate monitoring which can be expensive and difficult to attain. In Brazil, optical satellite data is typically used by government but even such does not allow accurate enough mapping due cloud coverage, requiring combination of other sources such as in-situ and air-borne measurements. Furthermore, satellite radar signals can penetrate clouds but still today the spatial resolution is not sufficient. In COREGAL, a low cost unmanned fixed-plane Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and service for biomass mapping will allow wide scale mapping in the Brazilian context of forest management. A first of a kind combined Position-Reflectometry Galileo receiver will be developed as main sensor for platform positioning and biomass estimation, the latter using reflected GNSS signals (also called GNSS-R) on tree canopies. High positioning accuracy (centimetre level) is required for surface point reflection determination, which is challenging for remote areas where no GNSS infrastructure is available as in the case of many forests in Brazil. However, Galileo AltBOC E5 signals offer unprecedented pseudorange measurement quality which can be used for novel high accuracy positioning. The UAV will be equipped and tested with a COREGAL receiver and optical cameras for aerial mapping and biomass estimation, enabling wide scale low cost mapping: UAV mapping is at least one order of magnitude lower cost than manned air-borne missions while GNSS-R can be seen as bi-static radar replacing expensive, heavy and power consuming radars. The consortium includes universities and companies for successful services and technology exploitation.