Feasibility Study for an Autonomous UAV -Magnetometer System -- Final Report on SERDP SEED 1509:2206

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Large areas across the United States are potentially contaminated with UXO, with some ranges encompassing tens to hundreds of thousands of acres. Technologies are needed which will allow for cost effective wide area scanning with 1) near 100 % coverage and 2) near 100 % detection of subsurface ordnance or features indicative of subsurface ordnance. The current approach to wide area scanning is a multi-level one, in which medium altitude fixed wing optical imaging is used for an initial site assessment. This assessment is followed with low altitude manned helicopter based magnetometry followed by surface investigations using either towed geophysical ... continued below

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Versteeg, Roelof; McKay, Mark; Anderson, Matt; Johnson, Ross; Selfridge, Bob & Bennett, Jay September 1, 2007.

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Large areas across the United States are potentially contaminated with UXO, with some ranges encompassing tens to hundreds of thousands of acres. Technologies are needed which will allow for cost effective wide area scanning with 1) near 100 % coverage and 2) near 100 % detection of subsurface ordnance or features indicative of subsurface ordnance. The current approach to wide area scanning is a multi-level one, in which medium altitude fixed wing optical imaging is used for an initial site assessment. This assessment is followed with low altitude manned helicopter based magnetometry followed by surface investigations using either towed geophysical sensor arrays or man portable sensors. In order to be effective for small UXO detection, the sensing altitude for magnetic site investigations needs to be on the order of 1 – 3 meters. These altitude requirements means that manned helicopter surveys will generally only be feasible in large, open and relatively flat terrains. While such surveys are effective in mapping large areas relatively fast there are substantial mobilization/demobilization, staffing and equipment costs associated with these surveys (resulting in costs of approximately $100-$150/acre). Surface towed arrays provide high resolution maps but have other limitations, e.g. in their ability to navigate rough terrain effectively. Thus, other systems are needed allowing for effective data collection. An UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) magnetometer platform is an obvious alternative. The motivation behind such a system is that it would be safer for the operators, cheaper in initial and O&M costs, and more effective in terms of site characterization. However, while UAV data acquisition from fixed wing platforms for large (> 200 feet) stand off distances is relatively straight forward, a host of challenges exist for low stand-off distance (~ 6 feet) UAV geophysical data acquisition. The objective of SERDP SEED 1509:2006 was to identify the primary challenges associated with a low stand off distance autonomous UAV magnetometer platform and to investigate whether these challenges can be resolved successfully such that a successful UAV magnetometer platform can be constructed. The primary challenges which were identified and investigated include: 1. The feasibility of assembling a payload package which integrates magnetometers, accurate positioning systems (DGPS, height above ground measurement), obstacle avoidance systems, power infrastructure, communications and data storage as well as auxiliary flight controls 2. The availability of commercial UAV platforms with autonomous flight capability which can accommodate this payload package 3. The feasibility of integrating obstacle avoidance controls in UAV platform control 4. The feasibility of collecting high quality magnetic data in the vicinity of an UAV.

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  • Report No.: INL/EXT-07-13386
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-99ID-13727
  • DOI: 10.2172/923485 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 923485
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc894344

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  • September 1, 2007

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Dec. 7, 2016, 11:35 a.m.

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Versteeg, Roelof; McKay, Mark; Anderson, Matt; Johnson, Ross; Selfridge, Bob & Bennett, Jay. Feasibility Study for an Autonomous UAV -Magnetometer System -- Final Report on SERDP SEED 1509:2206, report, September 1, 2007; [Idaho Falls, Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894344/: accessed October 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.