DroneCamp2019 was a blast!

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DroneCamp2019 has wrapped, and it was a lot of fun. We held DroneCamp2019 (the 3rd annual event) in Monterey in collaboration between us (IGIS) and Monterey DART. As usual, DroneCamp was a multi-day affair with one day focused on the technology, regulations and research, one day focused on the drone data workflow, and one day focusing on flying skills: takeoffs and landings, automated flying, and watching eBee barrel rolls. We held the meeting sessions at CSUMB and flew out at the gorgeous UCSC NRS Fort Ord Reserve. Lots of fun. Here are some pics (flight pics are more fun than classroom photos I guess!).

Clockwise from left: the group; Fort Ord Reserve; Fort Ord Reserve; the lovely matrice; data workshop.

Clockwise from left: the group; Fort Ord Reserve; Fort Ord Reserve; the lovely matrice; data workshop.

Flight practice at fort ord reserve. Plus some wildflowers.

Flight practice at fort ord reserve. Plus some wildflowers.

campers posing with uavs.

campers posing with uavs.


DroneCamp 2019 Student Scholarships

We are very pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 student scholarship awards for DroneCamp 2019. We were able to leverage seed support from the open access journal Drones (dedicated to research on the design and applications of drones) to support three wonderful young scholars to attend DroneCamp 2019 in Monterey CA in June. Here is a little bit about each of them.

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Melinda Reyes is the recipient of the Drones scholarship. A computer science student at Northeastern University, Melinda aims to improve precision agriculture tools that measure and advance soil health and soil-based carbon capture via data collected by UAVs. Her ultimate goal is to ensure food security in a changing climate. She is passionate about UAVs and their applications in agriculture, and is a future leader in agricultural innovation.  She comes to DroneCamp to learn to fly drones, to learn more about current applications in the field, and to meet others interested in UAVs' agricultural applications and applications for good.

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Zack Dinh is the recipient of the IGIS student scholarship. He is a M.S. student in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the University of California, Berkeley. He is working with Professor Iryna Dronova at UC Berkeley on wetland restoration monitoring in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Together, they are interested in using UAV-captured optical imagery and point clouds to detect vegetation patch heterogeneity, and plant growth. He comes to DroneCamp to learn about best practices for using UAVs for field research as well as networking with others who are engaged in this type of research. He has some experience flying UAV surveys and processing imagery, and is interested in learning more about fixed-wing vehicles, sensors, and data processing techniques.

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Anish Sapkota is the recipient of the IGIS student scholarship. He is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. He is working in the Irrigation and Water Management Lab under the supervision of Dr. Haghverdi. His research focuses on the effect of water-stress conditions in landscape and agricultural crop species, and he seeks to develop irrigation management strategies to save water while increasing production, and soil and plant health. His research involves collection of data from a range of handheld sensors that measure stomatal conductance, biomass growth, and soil moisture. These data will be combined with NDVI and NDRE data from field and UAV-based sensors to determine the stress level in plants and their response to varying rates of irrigation. He comes to DroneCamp to continue to gather skills in the geospatial domain, and to learn how to fly drones, and process UAV data.

Congratulations to each of you!

Sabbatical in China in the spring...

Sabbatical report April 2019

I’ve been on sabbatical now for a few months, and it’s time to report. I’ve been working on updating all my course materials: slides, reading and labs, for the fall. This has been a blast, and a lot of work! Especially the labs. We are finally moving to ArcGIS Pro, people! It’s been scary, but thanks to some excellent on-line resources, including this list of excellent tutorials from Jarlath O’Neil-Dunne and from ESRI (Getting started with Pro) we are making progress. Shane Feirer and Robert Johnson from #IGIS are helping here too, and we’ll likely be using some of the new material in IGIS workshops soon. 

Currently, I am in China, visiting former PhD student Dr Qinghua Guo and my “grandstudent” Dr Yanjun Su at their lab set in the bucolic Institute of Botany northwest of Beijing (just outside the 5th ring, for those of you in the know). It has been a blast. I came to catch up on all the excellent UAV, lidar, remote sensing, and modeling work going on in the Digital Ecosystem Lab at the Institute of Botany (part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences). These students are serious Data Scientists: they are working on key spatial problems and remote sensing data problems using ML, classification, spatio-temporal algorithms, data fusion tools. They routinely work with lidar, hyperspectral, multispectral and field data, and focus on leaf-scale to landscape-scale processes. One of the big experiments they are working on uses a new instrument, dubbed “Crop3D”. It is a huge frame installed over an ag field with a movable sensor dock. The field is about 30m x 15m, and the sensor can move to cover the entire field. Here is my summary in graphic form:

CROP3D. Very cool.

CROP3D. Very cool.

This season’s experiment focuses on mapping corn plant phenotypes using hyperspectral, RGB, and lidar data by classifying leaf-scale metrics such as leaf angle and branching angles, along with spectral indices. VERY COOL STUFF. I am eager to hear more about the results of the experiment and see what is yet to come. 

I gave a couple of talks, one on “big” (serious air quotes here) data and ecology (to the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academy of Sciences) and one on UAVs (to the Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS). In both I highlighted all the excellent work done by students and staff in my various research and outreach groups. In the first I focused on our Lidar work in the Sierra Nevada (with Qinghua Guo, Yanjun Su, Marek Jakubowski); the VTM work and FAIR data (with Kelly Easterday); and UAV/water stress (with Kelly again plus Sean Hogan and Jacob Flanagan). In the second talk I got to gush about all the IGIS work we are doing across our “Living Laboratories” in California. We have flown ~30 missions (total 25 km2) on and around the network of research properties in California (see the panel below for some examples). I talked about the recent CNN work with Ovidiu Csillik; the BORR water stress experiment with Kelly, Sean and Jacob; the fire recovery work at Hopland with Shane Feirer and the rest of the IGIS crew; and the outreach we do like DroneCamps. I also talked about UAV Grand Challenges: Scaling, Sampling, and Synergies. Those ideas are for another post. 

IGIS UAV Missions in California

IGIS UAV Missions in California

My hosts took great care of me: Showing me the sites, making sure I tried all the regional delicacies, and indulging me in my usual blather. Below are some pics of us on our adventures, including in the bus on our way to a distant portion of the Great Wall. Walking the Wall was: 1) awesome (in the real sense of the word – it really is mind-blowing); 2) STEEP (calves were screaming at the end of the day); and 3) windy. Plus there are snakes. I was told that there are other sections of the Wall that are called “Wild Wall” which I think is extremely cool. And speaking of walls, GOT starts again this weekend. China in springtime is BURSTING with flowers. And being housed at the Institute of Botany means all of them are on show in a concentrated area. Finally, you can get all over this huge country on trains. Trains that go really fast (220 MPH), and are on time, and are comfortable! I went to Shanghai (800+ miles away) for the weekend by train! My current joke: “In China, it takes 4 hours to get from Beijing to Shanghai. In California, it takes 4 hours to get from Berkeley to Sacramento.” (Thanks Dad!).   

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Off to Tokyo. But not before a final panel of pics that remind me of this trip: Technology, Art, Food, Flowers, Shopping, History. Here in China, Red = Happiness + GoodLuck, not the Cardinal.

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GIS Day 2014!

Discovering the World Through GIS

November 19, 2014, 5PM-8:30PM

UC Berkeley, Mulford Hall

GIS Day took place in Mulford Hall Wednesday Nov 19th from 5-8:30pm. We had about 200 attendees who participated in workshops, listened to talks, saw posters, and networked with other like-minded GIS-enthusiasts.

Some of the activity at 2014 GIS Day in Mulford Hall

See the agenda here: http://gif.berkeley.edu/gisday.html.

DigitalGlobe Crowdsourcing effort to find missing Malaysian Airlines plane

Digital Globe is enlisitng a crowdsourcing effort to scan through thousands of satellite images and tag potential sitings of the Malaysian Aircraft that went missing this weekend.

The crowdsourcing platform Tomnod, was launched on Monday afternoon and recieved 60,000 page views in the first hour depolying arguably one of the most responsive and comprehensive search missions aided by crowdsourcing and satellite imagery. 

Read more about this here and here and join the effort here