Wheatland lab initiatives included in Mainebiz article on commercial drone use

University of Maine initiatives were included in the Mainebiz article, “Commercial drone use is taking off, as more Maine companies use them on the job.” The Barbara Wheatland Geospatial Analysis Laboratory in UMaine’s School of Forest Resources is introducing drone technology to various industry professionals, according to the article. “We’ve worked with Verso at their Androscoggin mill, using imagery recorded with our UAV to produce 3-D models of chip and log stockpiles to quickly get estimates of volume, with little to no interruption of the mill’s operation,” said aerial survey pilot Dave Sandilands. Another project had a forestry undergraduate working with Seven Islands Land Co. on forest stand reconnaissance to see if that work could be done more efficiently, comprehensively and safely versus walk-throughs. The lab deployed a UAV from the roadside, flew it over the stand, and could judge factors like terrain, proximity to wetlands and harvest operations, the article states. Other projects will use the lab’s UAS-flown imagery and processing techniques to develop habitat maps for wildlife conservation. “We’re seeing a surge of interest in forestry and natural resources,” Sandilands said. “People are taking notice and saying UAVs will make things easier.”