Development of autonomous magnetometer rotorcraft for wide area assessment

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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 assessment 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. Subsequent to this wide area assessment targeted ... continued below

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Versteeg, Roelof; Anderson, Matt; Beard, Les; Corban, Eric; Curley, Darryl; Gamey, Jeff et al. April 1, 2010.

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Description

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 assessment 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. Subsequent to this wide area assessment targeted surface investigations are performed using either towed geophysical sensor arrays or man portable sensors. In order to be an effective tool for small UXO detection, the sensing altitude for magnetic site investigations needs to be on the order of 1 – 3 meters. These altitude requirements mean 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). In addition, due to the low altitude there are substantial risks to pilots and equipment. Surface towed arrays provide high resolution maps but have other limitations, e.g. in their ability to navigate rough terrain effectively. There is thus a need for other systems which can be used for effective data collection. An UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) magnetometer platform is an obvious alternative. The motivation behind such a system is that it reduces risk to operators, is lower in initial and Operational and Maintenance (O&M) costs (and can thus potentially be applied to smaller sites) and has the potential of being more effective in terms of detection and possibly characterization (through the use of dynamic acquisition, i.e. survey mission inflight reprioritization). We describe and report on a one year effort with as primary goal to provide a recommendation to SERDP for a path forward in the implementation of one or more autonomous unmanned magnetometer rotorcraft platforms. This recommendation (which is provided in chapter 6) is based on the following three elements a) An assessment on the applicability of autonomous rotorcraft magnetometer systems to the current DoD site inventory, and an initial assessment of which type(s) of autonomous unmanned magnetometer rotorcraft platforms (in terms of performance characteristics such as payload, altitude, obstacle avoidance, production rate and flight time) would be most relevant to this inventory (chapter 3); b) An evaluation of the feasibility of assembling such platforms from commercial components (unmanned rotorcraft, control systems and sensors – both magnetometer sensors and supporting sensors). This evaluation included several highly successful field tests (chapter 4 and 5); c) A recommendation of the path forward, which includes a detailed outline of the efforts required in the design, assembly and testing of different modular platforms (chapter 6)

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  • Report No.: INL/EXT-10-18291
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • DOI: 10.2172/978361 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 978361
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc929422

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • April 1, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Nov. 23, 2016, 3:33 p.m.

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Versteeg, Roelof; Anderson, Matt; Beard, Les; Corban, Eric; Curley, Darryl; Gamey, Jeff et al. Development of autonomous magnetometer rotorcraft for wide area assessment, report, April 1, 2010; [Idaho]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc929422/: accessed August 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.