Unoccupied Aircraft Systems in Marine Science and Conservation
Advancing Applications, Platforms, & Sensors | Duke Marine Lab
Fixed-Wing Platforms

Aerial mapping, wildlife surveys and emergency response using fixed-wing UAVs

Learn More

Multirotor Platforms

Mapping, behavioral sampling and photogrammetry using multirotor UAVs

Learn More

Coastal and Ocean Research

Experience working with UAVs in marine and extreme environments

Systems Engineering

Developing platforms for coastal and marine missions

Data Visualization

Making UAS data accessible

Drones and Debris: East Carteret High School AP Environmental Science Class

As part of the outreach program at the Duke Marine Lab Unoccupied Systems Facility, Rett Newton and Julian Dale developed and implemented a project-based addition to the East Carteret High School Advanced Placement Environmental Science class. This class of 8 students participated with the UAS facility to detect and identify marine debris on the Rachel Carson Reserve in Beaufort, NC using drones and multi-spectral sensors. The class was introduced to emerging drone technologies, analyzed high resolution aerial images and orthomosaics of marine debris and conducted on-site “ground-truthing” assessments and removal of marine debris from the Reserve. Finally, the student’s presented their analyses to Town and County Commissioners, scientists from the Rachel Carson Reserve and Duke University, and the Assistant Director of the Onslow County Solid Waste Department (who is also the Coordinator of the NC Marine Debris Symposium).

Mapping vulnerable coastal terrain with drones and lasers

Our research group teamed up with coastal geologists from Antonio Rodriguez’ lab at UNC Institute of Marine Sciences to map out the terrain of Bird Shoals using drones and lasers (ah, sweet, sweet science!). This thin spit of land is part of the barrier island complex that protects downtown Beaufort (and the Duke Marine Lab!) from storms coming through the rapidly widening Beaufort Inlet. The data collected establish an accurate modern baseline for the west end of the island.

See the maps

Unoccupied Aircraft Systems (UAS) in Scientific Research | Summer 2016

Course Description

Comprehensive exploration of current UAS technologies in coastal and marine research, including aeronautical concepts, rules and regulations, safety, mission planning, aircraft design, payload selection, operational procedures, maintenance, data management and data analysis. Includes a full overview of current and emerging remote sensing applications for monitoring marine species and habitats. Lab component includes building, operating and maintenance of fixed wing and/or rotary wing aircraft, programming for manual and autonomous flight, active participation in scientific research and data analysis, and in-depth discussion on future of UAS in science.

Registration open – space is limited, scholarships available

Enroll Now!

Mapping the largest gray seal colony in the US

Duke researchers Julian Dale and Everette Newton joined a team of scientists from NOAA and MIT to study the distribution and density of adult gray seals and their pups on Muskeget Island near Nantucket, Massachusetts. Below are two preliminary uncorrected visualizations from the surveys – a 3D mesh model of the terrain and a high-resolution orthomosaic of the entire island.

The surveys were conducted with a senseFly eBee fixed-wing UAS and the images collected were processed with Pix4D software to generate these synthetic products. These data are being used in ongoing studies of the population biology of Western North Atlantic gray seals.

See the maps!

Unmanned Aerial Systems in Marine Science and Conservation 2015:
 A Facilities Scoping Workshop

The executive summary – Unmanned Aerial Systems in Marine Science and Conservation:
 A Facilities Scoping Workshop

The Full Report – Unmanned Aerial Systems in Marine Science and Conservation:
 A Facilities Scoping Workshop

The flyer and agendas for the two-day workshop