Drones aid research in Rio Grande Valley
June 7, 2015
By FERNANDO DEL VALLE, Staff Writer
PORT MANSFIELD — Students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi last week launched a new round of drone test flights here as part of its landmark program. The university’s Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center fly the drones from Charles R. Johnson Airport, reaching altitudes up to 3,000 feet across an 18-mile span. The RS-16 aircraft — the university’s largest unmanned aircraft vehicle, or UAV, with a wingspan of nearly 13 feet — launch from a pneumatic catapult, landing on its belly.
Researchers planned flights over the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre to determine whether drone-collected imagery compares with shoreline surveys traditionally used to determine property lines. This research will try to further define a hot Texas topic — determining exact lines between private and state land in property disputes.
Paul Zimba, director of the university’s Center for Coastal Studies, and his crew are inspecting algae lines, taking biological samples to determine whether algae types can indicate high water lines — a key marker in figuring property lines. The drone is capturing images of the area to allow Zimba to see whether the data’s as accurate as a ground survey. Students plan to take measurements along the Gulf shoreline and the dune’s height to compare them with the drone’s aerial data.
“A&M-Corpus Christi is proud to be at the forefront of this new intersecting field of aerospace engineering and geospatial science,” said Luis Cifuentes, the interim director of the Lone Star Center. “Our researchers find great value in collecting aerial data with UAS. It will transform how we learn about erosion, changing shorelines and the impacts of sea level rise and severe weather.”
For more information: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/valley/article_6252644a-0d80-11e5-...