Melbourne Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration

Proximate remote sensing for research data acquisition


The development of relatively light-weight sensors and mobile technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has generated rapidly growing interest in proximate remote sensing for research data acquisition. UAV flight is controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a pilot. The effective deployment of UAVs and the subsequent image processing to calibrate and geo-correct imagery are critical for proximate remote sensing projects. As such, the capability requires a wide range of specialist technical expertise in flight platform design, optimized aviation control, imaging sensors as well as image and signal processing.


UAV-borne 3-D image of the Curly Flat Winery in Lancefield, Victoria
Credit: Dongryeol Ryu (University of Melbourne), Andrew Nolan (Digital Falcon) 

With experts in mechanical engineering, remote sensing, image/signal processing, precision agriculture, ecosystem and infrastructure monitoring, the University of Melbourne has a unique institutional capability to conduct leading edge Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) research. The Melbourne Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Platform (MUASIP) provides academic and professional services and training to internal University users as well as external partners, with the aim to facilitate collaborations and to trigger innovations in UAS development and its applications.

The platform is already providing services to industry in the areas of precision agriculture, disaster relief, search and rescue, and forest, wildfire and water management. Research equipment and services include:

  • Airtime Fabrication and Control Systems
  • Sensor Calibration, Integration and Field Flight Testing
  • Geo-processing and Image Analysis.

UAV-borne water stress map from thermal infrared imagery over a peach orchard in Tatura, Victoria

UAV-borne water stress map from thermal infrared imagery over a peach orchard in Tatura, Victoria
Credit: Dongryeol Ryu (University of Melbourne), Kate Park (University of Melbourne), Andrew Nolan (Digital Falcon), Mark O’Connell (DEDJTR), Sigfredo Fuentes (University of Melbourne)

The platform also provides training, including:

  • UAS configuration and operation, according to Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulations
  • UAV data acquisition and processing
  • Short courses on remote sensing targeting
  • Workshop programs to initiate UoM-industry collaborative research projects.

MUASIP offers both indoor (Parkville campus) and field (Dookie/Creswick campus) testing of UAVs.