Towards the Development of a Smart Flying Sensor: Illustration in the Field of Precision Agriculture

Sensors (Basel). 2015 Jul 10;15(7):16688-709. doi: 10.3390/s150716688.


Sensing is an important element to quantify productivity, product quality and to make decisions. Applications, such as mapping, surveillance, exploration and precision agriculture, require a reliable platform for remote sensing. This paper presents the first steps towards the development of a smart flying sensor based on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The concept of smart remote sensing is illustrated and its performance tested for the task of mapping the volume of grain inside a trailer during forage harvesting. Novelty lies in: (1) the development of a position-estimation method with time delay compensation based on inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors and image processing; (2) a method to build a 3D map using information obtained from a regular camera; and (3) the design and implementation of a path-following control algorithm using model predictive control (MPC). Experimental results on a lab-scale system validate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology.

Keywords: UAV; precision agriculture; remote sensor.