Visible, SWIR, and LWIR Drone Wide Area Coverage Sensor Systems


Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) provide a versatile platform for covering large areas quickly. By adding sensors to these drones, imagery of large areas can be taken for a variety of applications. Traditionally, a fixed staring system or a gimballed sensor is used to take this imagery. Both options require a compromise between field of view (FOV), resolution, scanning speed and flight path to properly perform the task at hand. With more than one type of sensing, additional information can be collected about imaged environments. If more than one sensor is integrated onto the drone, a wide FOV can still be covered without a scanning gimbal and with higher resolution than a traditional wide FOV system. Presented is a multi-camera, multi-wavelength design approach based on a constraining ground sample distance (GSD) for a wide area coverage (WAC) system. A figure of merit (FoM) is created to quantify and compare the performance of the WAC systems in the visible (0.4-0.7um), short wave infrared (1.0-1.7um) and longwave infrared (8-14um) in both good and bad visibility conditions. The performance of three optimized and fabricated WAC systems are compared and tested. The testing results of the flown fabricated systems show that the design approach described delivers the expected results.

Publication Title

Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering