Drone beams ‘mind-blowing’ coastal views of Warrnambool

A COASTAL landscape mapping project using aerial drones is adding a new dimension of insight to Deakin University research.

Director Mathew Herbert (left) and flight controller Leon Dwyer set the drone for a flight over Lady Bay.

Director Mathew Herbert (left) and flight controller Leon Dwyer set the drone for a flight over Lady Bay.

Ballarat venture Victorian UAS Training has spent the week at Warrnambool’s foreshore with its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), surveying coastal areas from 100 metres above to create high resolution 3D maps.

The joint partnership with Deakin University aims to provide in-depth detail of Warrnambool’s coastal environments and habitat, including shoreline erosion and wildlife behaviours at Middle Island, Lady Bay, Merri River, Hopkins River and Logans Beach.

Victorian UAS Training director Mathew Herbert said the auto-piloted, fully autonomous device had a two-metre wingspan and stitched together multiple three-dimensional images to create the mapping data.

“People probably recognise the concept from Google Earth,” he told The Standard.

“It’s a little different to Google Maps because the resolution is much, much higher.

Daniel Ierodiaconou, Deakin University Warrnambool’s school of life and environmental science senior lecturer, said the project’s results added to useful data from previous local projects, such as sea floor mapping using sonar technology.

“This is adding to our arsenal of tools to better understand coastal environments,” Mr Ierodiaconou said. “It’s not only high-resolution pictures but it can generate 3D models.

“The preliminary results we have are mind-blowing. 

“Even in the first couple of days the data is quite amazing.”

He said the new technology had the potential to assist in a wide range of environmental programs.

“We’re already talking about collaborating with a number of organisations around Australia (with the data). We want to see this applied to real world problems, which requires us to partner with councils that have issues that need to be addressed.

“I think this technology has the potential to really give us high-resolution data and chart a time series of shoreline change and how our coastal areas are eroding over time.

“With the hooded plover it will give us a better understanding of beach slopes and how it might change things like their breeding process.”


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