Vegetation management (VM) is an important and costly part of utility and infrastructure operations. Shrubs, invasive species, and unhealthy or overgrown trees can imperil power lines, towers, roads, and block or damage bridges as a result of weather events.
Compared with manned aircraft, lightweight unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with hyperspectral imaging (HSI) & light detection and ranging (LiDAR) payloads are less expensive to operate, can produce images and data of higher spatial resolution, and can economically provide more up-to-date information about vegetation growth rates and speciation.
See the results of a series of low-altitude UAV flights over railways (courtesy Deutsche Bahn rail) with adjacent vegetation. The HSI & LiDAR payload enabled spectral classification and height measurements of the vegetation, as well measured proximity to man-made structures. We also show early work with data fusion of spectrally classified images and 3D terrain with extremely precise positioning that could greatly aid vegetation clearing operations.