NASA website NASA/Ames Research Center website

The UAV Collaborative is a unique partnership teaming academia, government and industry to further advance the scientific, commercial and civil use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating with leading-edge payloads in the National Airspace System with FAA approval. The specific public purposes for which this corporation is organized include:

 functioning as a test-bed for UAV technology development
 transferring new UAV technology from research to operational domain
 collaborating with private industry
 focusing exclusively on scientific, civil and commercial UAV applications
 integrating varied sensor payloads (e.g., high-resolution imaging systems)
 building public confidence in UAV technology

UAVs collecting hyperspectral and multispectral data in the Florida Keys

Seagrass/Coral Reef UAV Project

Led by Principal Investigator Dr. Stanley Herwitz (Director of the UAV Collaborative), the NASA-funded Project involved testing the use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to examine the dynamics of seagrass and coral reef biomes. Working with his team of co-investigators specializing in coastal biology, marine remote sensing and optical oceanography, extensive airborne and water-based datasets were collected from representative seagrass and coral reef sites in the Florida Keys in 2012 and 2013. The Project showcased 26 UAV flights involving three different low-flying UAVs equipped with different payloads operating with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in the National Airspace System.

The airborne data collection effort featured four UAV deployments to Florida. The first deployment in May 2012 featured MLB Company’s fixed-wing Bat-4 UAV equipped with a Tetracam multispectral imaging system. The second deployment in October 2012 featured NASA’s fixed-wing SIERRA UAV operating from the Key West Naval Air Station under an agreement with the U.S. Navy. The SIERRA acquired more than 320 gigabytes of data using a Galileo hyperspectral sensor. The third deployment in November 2012 featured the Bat-4 equipped with the Tetracam operating in the area of Cedar Key north of Tampa. These three deployments led to the completion of 14 UAV flights.