Drones take flight to gather river intelligence
Bobcat Magazine Staff | On 01, Sep 2012
Local conspiracy theorists can forget about black helicopters. For the past year, researchers with the River Systems Institute at Texas State University have been flying an unmanned aerial vehicle — in other words, a drone — in the sky as high as half a mile above the San Marcos River. Unlike its military counterparts, Texas State’s drone doesn’t strike al-Qaida militants or spy on top-secret locales. Rather, the eight-pound device captures high-resolution images that have been used to map ecosystems, track bird habitats and monitor nonnative bass for removal from the Blanco River, among other things. And drones are far more affordable and safer than a helicopter or small airplane, according to researchers. “If something goes wrong, it’s usually a cheap, easy fix,” says Kristy Kollaus, a fish biologist. “And nobody died,” adds drone pilot James Tennant.