Under cloudless skies in Ontario recently, Headwall achieved a very notable milestone: we became the first to fly both hyperspectral and LiDAR aboard a small, fully integrated handheld UAS. The test flights not only verified the reliable airworthiness of the system but also the ability to collect valuable hyperspectral and LiDAR data in real time.
Headwall Photonics Blog
One of the things we’re seeing at Headwall is the proliferation of airborne applications. Multispectral suffers a bit with respect to hyperspectral (a handful of bands versus hundreds), which is why hyperspectral is winning the day.
The scientific research community is beginning to understand and embrace hyperspectral imaging as a useful tool for a few primary reasons. First, sensors are more affordable than ever. Originally conceived as multi-million-dollar ISR platforms for defense applications, hyperspectral imagers have been successfully ‘commercialized’ over the past few years. Scientists typically embracing RGB or multispectral technology before can now acquire hyperspectral sensors at affordable price points.
This past week, Headwall remote sensing team finished a productive week Down Under at the International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) in Melbourne, Australia. The conference, organized by the IEEE, comprises a ‘Who’s Who’ across the global remote sensing community. But curiously absent were representatives from the United States, probably reflecting the topic du jour: sequestration. Imagine holding a geo-spatial and remote sensing conference and no one from NASA was able to attend?
Headwall's exhibition schedule kicks into high gear this month. First up is our appearance at the 8th Imaging Spectrometry Workshop, sponsored by The European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL). This event gives visitors the opportunity to understand how hyperspectral imaging can be a valuable scientific tool for the research community. Precision agriculture, mining & minerals, petroleum pipeline surveillance, and disaster mitigation are just a few application areas and more are uncovered all the time as the technology becomes more affordable and easier to use.
Headwall utilizes hyperspectral sensing technology as an essential industrial inspection platform and has made this technology increasingly valuable across a wider spectrum of commercial applications and most notably in the oil & gas industry. Companies in the petro-chemical industry focus much of their financial capital and effort on efficient pipeline distribution, refinery operations, and environmental monitoring. Not only for exploration, but also to keep to keep their refining and distribution infrastructure safe.
The IEEE is an esteemed organization with top-notch events held worldwide. These events draw experts from across industry, government and education.
Last week, I participated in the bi-annual Earth Observation Business Network 2012 (EOBN) conference, a small group of industry leaders brought together in Vancouver, British Columbia and sponsored by MDA of Canada. A tip of the hat to John Hornsby, MDA VP of GeoSpatial Strategies and his team, who hosted a very informative and interactive conference.
Offering improvements in agricultural yields and precision farming, hyperspectral sensors allow producers and processors to make the foods we eat safer along with providing the advantages of higher quality and hopefully, better taste. Based in Massachusetts, Headwall Photonics, designs and manufactures small, lightweight sensors that are deployed aboard airborne platforms ranging from piloted aircraft to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). With experience developed within the military sector, the company has established quite a business enabling the commercial use of very small, cost-effective UAVs for remote sensing and agriculture applications.
Headwall’s experience is that it often takes approximately 10 years for technology to roll out of the military/defense markets and be ready for commercial applications. One particular market note is the use of Headwall’s hyperspectral sensors for commercial remote sensing applications. This is proving to be a very large and significant market. For example, one of Headwall’s customers is VineView, a commercial airborne company located in California with a focus on providing precision agriculture information and aerial imagery to more than 800 vineyards in the western United States. Dr. Matthew Staid, President of VineView Scientific Aerial Imaging, is a leader in the utilization of hyperspectral imaging for the management of 'high-value crops.' His company provides airborne remote sensing services to the winegrape industry consisting of hyperspectral, thermal, and infrared sensing data for precision farming and profitable agricultural management of vineyards.
VineView’s sensor needs are focused in two key areas – very high spatial resolution coupled with extremely fast data processing. One key attribute of hyperspectral imaging is the amount of spectral and spatial data collected. To capitalize on the inherent value of hyperspectral data requires an ability to rapidly process all this data into a geo-rectified data set. Airborne hyperspectral solutions require high performance, aberration-corrected sensors as well as hyperspectral data-processing units to collect and 'package' this data. These rapid data-acquisition capabilities allow VineView to expand aerial services beyond the winegrape industry and into areas such as citrus production, tree nuts, and cotton.
With the ability to 'see' beyond the visible spectrum of 380nm to 780nm, Headwall’s hyperspectral imagers are readily available and optimized for many different spectral regions to a base of worldwide customers. One common configuration deployed by a number of remote sensing customers is the use of a Hyperspec VNIR sensor and a Hyperspec SWIR sensor to cover the broad spectrum of 380 to 2500 nm.