Helping the Environment

Unmanned systems continue to revolutionize how we protect and monitor the global environment. Environmental organizations and governments utilize unmanned systems to monitor forests for illegal logging, protect green space, monitor wildlife and prevent erosion. These systems provide early warning of environmental problems so informed decisions can be made regarding further action. They do so by:

• Conducting environmental impact assessments
• Gathering information from protected reserves and sensitive environmental landscapes
• Observing and monitoring wildlife, migration patterns and changes within animal populations
• Covering large areas of land, particularly when ground operations are difficult or dangerous, such as in the Everglades
• Detecting invasive species in grasslands and crops

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has also used UAS to study wildlife on the Pacific coast of Washington

]In 2010, teams from the U.S. Navy, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and iRobot used unmanned underwater sea gliders to track the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.[/tab] [tab]Since the 1970s, the population of Steller sea lions has declined dramatically and the Western Aleutian Islands stock is currently listed as an endangered species. Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, in conjunction with the North Pacific Fisheries Foundation, are evaluating a small unmanned aircraft to assist in research and monitoring of the current Steller sea lion population.