42 Photonics Spectra October 2017 www.photonics.com
Optics, Imaging Software on the
Ascent as Drone Use Expands
Nondefense applications such as agriculture inspection are placing new demands on optics
and image processing software.
BY JARED TALBOT, EDMUND OPTICS INC.
AND RYAN NELSON, SENTERA LLC
For decades, many of the most impact- ful commercial technologies to hit he market have had their development either started or aided by the military. Among the most notable examples
are personal computers, the internet and
wireless network communications. One
of the newer technologies making this
transition into the commercial arena is
that of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The use of UAVs in combat dates back all
the way to 1849 when Austria deployed
unmanned air balloons to deliver remotely triggered bombs in combat1. Many
of the earliest UAVs used in battle were
assault drones rather than reconnaissance
systems, as seen by the radio-controlled
warplanes used during World War I. It
was not until the mid-1950s that the use
of drones for reconnaissance really began
to develop, during the Cold War2.
While UAV technology is at the forefront of some of the most cutting-edge
military applications (for more details,
see “Defense Drones Take Sensing to
New Heights” in the April 2017 issue of
Photonics Spectra), UAVs are now relied
on for commercial applications such as
infrastructure assessment, agricultural
inspection, and land surveillance and
Minimizing distortion & motion blur
Most mapping and agricultural applications involve a UAV flying over a large
area and taking incremental photographs,
which are later combined together to view
the entire area. Many software tools allow
Sentera DJI Phantom 4 Pro performing a crop inspection.