NASA and University researchers recently used an uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) to monitor a coffee plantation from the air—even though the sky was 80% covered by clouds. The Pathfinder Plus UAV cruised over the Hawaiian plantation for four hours, collecting over 300 images. Controllers directed the UAV to areas with breaks in the clouds, which allowed the researchers to create a nearly cloud-free composite image (shown above).
“The mission demonstrated the capability of this type of aircraft, with downsized digital imaging systems, to collect and quickly deliver high-resolution imagery over localized regions, overcoming the challenging conditions of tropical cloud dynamics.” said Dr. Stan Herwitz, professor of Earth Sciences at Clark University, Worcester, Mass. Herwitz is the principal investigator for the UAV Coffee Project.
Differences in the color of coffee beans observed by the UAV’s instruments indicate ripeness. Using this data, the harvest manager directed machines to harvest only those fields with the highest percentage of ripe coffee cherries.
For more information and images, visit:
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UAV Coffee Project images
Image courtesy professor Stanley Herwitz, Clark University, Worcester, Mass.