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Feasibility Study for an Autonomous UAV - Magnetometer System

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Large areas across the United States are potentially contaminated with UXO, with some ranges encompassing tens to hundreds of thousands of acres. Technologies are needed which will allow for cost effective wide area scanning with 1 near 100 coverage and 2 near 100 detection of subsurface ordnance or features indicative of subsurface ordnance. The current approach to wide area scanning is a multi-level one, in which medium altitude fixed wing optical imaging is used for an initial site assessment. This assessment is followed with low altitude manned helicopter based magnetometry followed by surface investigations using either towed geophysical sensor arrays or man portable sensors. In order to be effective for small UXO detection, the sensing altitude for magnetic site investigations needs to be on the order of 1 3 meters. These altitude requirements means that manned helicopter surveys will generally only be feasible in large, open and relatively flat terrains. While such surveys are effective in mapping large areas relatively fast there are substantial mobilizationdemobilization, staffing and equipment costs associated with these surveys resulting in costs of approximately 100-150acre. Surface towed arrays provide high resolution maps but have other limitations, e.g. in their ability to navigate rough terrain effectively. Thus, other systems are needed allowing for effective data collection. An UAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle magnetometer platform is an obvious alternative. The motivation behind such a system is that it would be safer for the operators, cheaper in initial and OM costs, and more effective in terms of site characterization. However, while UAV data acquisition from fixed wing platforms for large 200 feet stand off distances is relatively straight forward, a host of challenges exist for low standoff distance 6 feet UAV geophysical data acquisition.

Subject Categories:

  • Pilotless Aircraft
  • Test Facilities, Equipment and Methods
  • Ammunition and Explosives

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