How do drones conduct environmental monitoring?

UAV participates in atmospheric environmental inspection

In response to air pollution control, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Min Qing, pointed out at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office that China is carrying out a scientific top-level design of air pollution prevention from the national macro-strategic level and proposing a “package” of environmental policies and economics. Policy, district policy, and phased promotion. In order to achieve this goal, from October 2013, the Ministry of Environmental Protection organized a law enforcement monitoring activity in key areas every month. In the meantime, drones were used to conduct large-scale and large-scale inspections. How do drones conduct environmental monitoring? What are its advantages?

What is a drone?

A drone is a non-manned aircraft that is controlled by radio remote control or by its own program. According to the system composition and flight characteristics, the drone can be divided into two categories: fixed-wing UAV and unmanned helicopter. The fixed-wing UAV realizes take-off and landing and flight through the sliding of the power system and the wing. Both remote control and program-controlled flight are easy to implement, and the wind resistance is also strong. There are many types, and multiple remote sensing sensors can be mounted at the same time. The take-off and landing of fixed-wing UAVs requires relatively empty space, and is mostly used in mine resource monitoring, forestry and grassland monitoring, marine environmental monitoring, pollution source and diffusion situation monitoring, land use monitoring, and water conservancy and electric power.

UAV is used for environmental monitoring mainly as remote sensing (UAVRS) technology as a means of aerial remote sensing. It has the advantages of long battery life, real-time image transmission, high-risk area detection, low cost, high resolution, flexibility and flexibility. The powerful complement of aircraft aerial remote sensing has been widely used abroad.

It uses high-resolution CCD camera system to acquire remote sensing images, and uses aerial and ground control systems to achieve automatic image capture and acquisition. At the same time, it can realize the planning and monitoring of track, the compression and automatic transmission of information data, and image pre-processing. Environmental monitoring departments at all levels and environmental information construction provide integrated solutions and meet the needs of environmental emergency response. Last year, the debut of China's first self-developed environmental emergency monitoring drone made the environmental protection system's aviation drone remote sensing capability a new level.

At present, China has enabled drones to conduct high-altitude investigations on some heavily polluted areas, and to expand the scope of inspections for problems such as excessive dispersion and incomplete discovery of polluting enterprises. According to reports, since the launch of drones at the end of last year, it has helped to urge more than 200 environmental violations.

Small encyclopedia

Integrated monitoring of “land, sky and air”

Atmospheric environmental governance must first know the current status of pollution sources, which is an important preliminary monitoring work. The traditional monitoring method is mainly based on ground monitoring stations. Now it has developed into online monitoring and monitoring system monitoring through the network. However, from traditional monitoring to network monitoring, it still cannot meet the requirements of environmental monitoring in the new era.

The successful launch of four major types of meteorological, terrestrial, oceanographic and mapping satellites in China, and the application of remote sensing technology in air quality monitoring have achieved important results. At present, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has comprehensively carried out the construction of environmental satellite system engineering, technical systems and business operation systems around the goal of forming an integrated monitoring capability of “Heaven and Earth”. The core advantage is to integrate data from air monitoring and ground monitoring. Data from satellites, aerospace and the ground are combined and finally presented through a platform to effectively avoid the unilateral limitations of ground monitoring and remote sensing.

The integrated monitoring of “Heaven and Earth” has the advantages of large-scale, dynamic, all-weather and all-weather, and real-time monitoring of weather phenomena such as dust storms and haze. Taking the environmental air monitoring of the urban agglomerations such as the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as examples, the application of environmental air remote sensing monitoring technology was demonstrated. At the same time, the remote sensing monitoring of straw burning in the country, remote sensing monitoring of dust storms in northern areas, and remote sensing monitoring of urban particulate matter were carried out. Great role.

What are the advantages of drone monitoring?

Fast and efficient

For emergency events, the drone can immediately monitor the monitoring area in a wide range. The daily monitoring capability of a single drone can reach 200-320 square kilometers. The monitoring results can generate high-definition image data, water transparency, eutrophication and other thematic data in a short time. After the pollution accident occurs, the 3D water pollution status change estimate can be quickly provided and released for decision-making.

Intuitive and comprehensive

High-definition images generated by drones can visually identify pollution sources, contaminated ports, visible floating objects, etc., and generate distribution maps to provide a basis for environmental assessment and environmental monitoring. The generated multi-spectral image can directly and comprehensively monitor the surface water environment quality status, the water quality eutrophication, water bloom, organic pollution degree and clear transparency degree, and the pollution degree of sewage outlet pollution degree, so as to achieve the water quality characteristics. The purpose of monitoring monitoring of pollutants. The results can visually and comprehensively demonstrate the environmental status of the waters, and monitor and warn the extent and extent of the pollutants, so as to provide support for the treatment and disposal of water pollution accidents.

Large scale, macroscopic

UAVs can realize high-space and large-area monitoring through different altitudes, and can also achieve accurate monitoring in low-space and small-scale areas. It can also monitor tens of thousands of square kilometers of multiple areas at the same time. Through multi-spectral analysis, the monitoring data of the large-area measurement area is obtained, and the surface information is combined with the traditional point information, thus providing a basis for the macro-environmental evaluation of the whole measurement area. Through a comprehensive display of the environmental conditions of the survey area, the extent and scope of the pollutants in the survey area, and provide demonstrations for decision-making by relevant departments.

High resolution, fast processing

The camera equipment carried on the drone can have an image resolution of 0.1~0.5 meters, and the resolution is better than some high-resolution satellite image data at home and abroad. The data acquisition and processing speed is fast, and its acquisition capability can reach daily collection and processing. 4000 square kilometers.

Low cost and strong integration

Both the price of satellite imagery and the rapid acquisition of aerial imagery, high-performance automatic processing technology can complete data pre-processing, finishing and inlay and elevation data generation, and the overall data cost is low. It can be easily integrated with GIS and remote sensing application systems, and can quickly build environmental protection applications, ensuring comprehensive and periodic services.


Drone application example

United States

The use of drones for environmental monitoring has been widely practiced throughout the United States. When NASA used drones to monitor hurricanes and tropical storm systems, other federal agencies and private agencies also used small drones to do everything from monitoring the number of birds in Colorado to monitoring Hawaii. Volcanic activity.


Japan's disaster reduction organization uses drones to carry high-precision digital cameras and radar scanners to investigate erupting volcanoes. UAVs can reach areas that are difficult for people to access, quickly obtain live conditions, and evaluate disasters. In addition, Japan also uses drones to map active volcanoes, using GPS measurements to create a map-like database, using GPS to position the measuring equipment to the vicinity of the crater, and to collect samples continuously. Bring back the complete volcano map. The equipment that collects the volcano samples uses solar energy to maintain operation and pass the data back.

United Kingdom

A new type of unmanned detector is available in Bristol, UK, which can operate in a radiation environment to monitor radiation conditions. Developed and manufactured by an R&D team of an advanced airborne radiation monitoring system, this unmanned probe is low cost and can be semi-automated. More importantly, the control personnel of the drone can be kept away from the radiation source and protected from the radiation. At present, researchers have cooperated with scientists at Kyoto University in Japan, hoping to use this new drone to assist in the cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

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