Drone technology and data issues associated with it will come under the spotlight at a major conference at The University of Queensland (UQ) tomorrow, Thursday, February 17 and Friday, February 18.
Co-organiser Professor Stuart Phinn of UQ's School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management said drones, unmanned vehicles and remotely piloted vehicles had become globally ubiquitous in the past five years.
"Anyone can buy and fly them and stick a camera on them," he said.
"The media abounds with pictures of these systems from small hand held devices to light-aircraft style fixed wing and multi-rotor systems and the 'pictures' they deliver.
"In the majority of cases these pictures are not tied to geographic coordinates and have many distortions and errors in them that prevent mapping.
"There is a huge challenge and major lack of applications that deliver accurate and verifiable maps and spatial data from these systems, so they can be used with confidence by industry, government, military and communities to make decisions."
Professor Phinn, who is Director of UQ's Remote Sensing Research Centre and previously established Australia's Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, said the conference would bring together science, industry and government groups to deliver accurate, verifiable and repeatable maps of multiple features in the natural and built environment.
"Decisions will be able to be made with confidence from these data – enabling more effective and better use of resources, increasing production, reducing waste, providing a more sustainable and economically productive use of resources," he said.
"A critical message is the role these data now play in making the link between what have traditionally been field observations and measurements made by people, and similar measurements made from satellite imaging systems.
"Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) data provide the missing link between the ground and satellite view, a long standing challenge in the verification and acceptance of satellite imagery by industry and government for a range of applications."
The conference will have over 40 presentations from across Australia and the world, from industry, government, community groups and the scientific sector.
Telstra's Australian Businesswoman of the year for 2015 Dr Catherine Ball will deliver one of the keynote addresses on the status of UAS in Australia.
The workshop will focus on key issues facing the ongoing development of UAS. These include delivering and validating spatial data for critical spatial infrastructure, and how to work effectively within the regulatory framework of various civil aviation authorities in Australia and globally.
The conference, driven by Dr Arko Lucieer UTas, was organised from an initial workshop run by Australia's Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, a major national collaborative research infrastructure facility run by UQ, and its national remote sensing facility.
The organising committee has key partners at TERN Auscover, University of Tasmania, The University of Queensland, James Cook University and the Department of the Environment -Supervising Scientist.