GEOG 892
Geospatial Applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Missions of the UAVs

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In this section, we will discuss the different missions of the UAS.

Naming the different missions for UAVs is a difficult task, as there are so many possibilities and there have never been enough systems in use to explore all the possibilities. However, the two main classifications for UAS missions are the following:

  1. The military mission: Military applications focus on weapons delivery and guided missile support as well as directing artillery and spotting enemy positions.
  2. The civilian mission: Civilian applications of UAS are open to the imagination, and only time will tell of the future missions of UAVs for civilian applications. As of today, civilian missions include various applications such as:
  • security awareness;
  • disaster response, including search and support to rescuers;
  • communications and broadcast, including news/sporting event coverage;
  • cargo transport;
  • spectral and thermal analysis;
  • critical infrastructure monitoring and inspection, including power facilities, ports, bridges, and pipelines;
  • commercial photography, aerial mapping and charting, and advertising.

On the geospatial and mapping applications side, the UAS can be used for the following activities:

  • aerial photography
  • mapping
  • LIDAR
  • volumetric surveys
  • digital mapping
  • contour mapping
  • topographic mapping    
  • digital terrain modeling
  • aerial surveys
  • photogrammetry
  • temporal/spatial correlation for terrain reconstruction
  • geophysical survey

Military and civilian missions of UAS overlap in many areas. They both use UAS for reconnaissance and surveillance. In addition, they both use UAS as a stationary platform over a point on the ground from which to perform many of the communications or remote sensing satellite functionalities with a fraction of the cost.

To Read

  1. Section 2.5 of chapter 2 of textbook 2 Introduction to UAV Systems, 4th edition