ENV 704a Syllabus

2021 Syllabus

In this workshop, we will explore the current state and future outlook of remote sensing and photogrammetry with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) for environmental monitoring. UAV-based remote sensing is a rapidly developing field in environmental science and technology. Being versatile and inexpensive, it has the potential to offer solutions in a wide range of applications, such as forestry inventory, precision agriculture, flood hazard assessment, pollution monitoring, and land survey. The workshop will cover five aspects of drone application: (1) reviewing the state of the technology on UAV types, sensor configurations and data acquisition methods; (2) exploring GIS and remote sensing software tools for analyzing super high resolution spectral data acquired by fixed-wing drones; (3) cross-validating drone data against Lidar data and satellite imagery; (4) deriving useful data products from spectral and positional information; and (5) participating in drone flight missions.  

Course Requirements
Prior experience with spatial data and software is desirable. If you do not have such experience, remedial laboratory exercises are available to bring you up to levels necessary to complete the course. These exercises are completed outside the class meeting time. 

Your grade will consist of literature critique (20%), class participation (30%) and a course project (50%). For your course project, you can either explore the drone datasets in our archive or carry out your own drone flight mission. To enhance the value of your drone project, we encourage you to tailor your data product to the needs of a client. The client can be a student participating in Professor Ashton’s class on “Management Plans for Protected Areas”, the Yale Peabody Museum, or the investigator of an ongoing research project. Your project should include one or more of these elements: data analysis technique, mapping method, visualization, animation, derived science product, and precision and accuracy assessment. Students choosing the 1-credit option do not participate in drone mission or conduct a course project but are required to attend all classes. 

In the first half of the class, we will survey the literature, learn about key environmental applications, and get to know drone data and techniques. Class meetings will be divided between literature critique, invited presentation and course project discussion.