Digital eye in the sky

The Duke University Marine Lab is the first to win Federal Aviation Administration certification to operate scientific drones and provide training. Their biggest drone is an amphibious plane with a 9-foot wingspan that can fly for 90 minutes at a time. Like several of their other drones, this one can fly itself back and forth within a predefined area, like “mowing the lawn” for data. David Johnston, assistant professor of the practice of marine conservation ecology at Duke University, has found that drone technology allows his research team to collect huge volumes of data from remote or extreme locations. He believes this is transforming how people study and learn about marine ecosystems. This work was carried out under National Marine Fisheries Service Permit #14809-03.

Provided by National Science Foundation

Runtime: 1:00

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