Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lightweight hyperspectral imagers bring sophisticated imaging capability to drones

02.03.2018

Low-cost, 3-D printed hyperspectral imagers useful for drone-based land and ocean mapping

In a new study, researchers used 3D printing and low-cost parts to create an inexpensive hyperspectral imager that is light enough to use onboard drones. They offer a recipe for creating these imagers, which could make the traditionally expensive analytical technique more widely accessible.


Researchers used 3-D printing to create hyperspectral imagers that are light enough to use on a drone. The imager is the small protrusion on the bottom of the drone's body.

Credit: João Fortuna, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Hyperspectral imagers produce images like a traditional color camera but detect several hundred colors instead of the three detected by normal cameras. Each pixel of a hyperspectral image contains information covering the entire visible spectrum, providing data that can be used, for example, to automatically detect and sort objects or measure ocean color to map harmful algae blooms. Traditional hyperspectral imagers can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are very bulky and heavy.

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Express, the researchers detail how to make visible-wavelength hyperspectral imagers weighing less than half a pound for as little $700 (USD). They also demonstrate that these imagers can acquire spectral data from aboard a drone.

"The instruments we made can be used very effectively on a drone or unmanned vehicle to acquire spectral images," said research team leader Fred Sigernes of University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Norway. "This means that hyperspectral imaging could be used to map large areas of terrain, for example, without the need to hire a plane or helicopter to carry an expensive and large instrument."

Printing the right parts

A desktop 3D printer greatly eased the process of making the custom optics holders needed for the imagers. "Making items in metal is time consuming and can be very expensive," said Sigernes. "However, 3D printing with plastic is inexpensive and very effective for making even complex parts, such as the piece needed to hold the grating that disperses the light. I was able to print several versions and try them out."

The hyperspectral imagers created by the researchers employ what is known as the push-broom technique, which uses precise line-scanning to build up a spectral image. The researchers added a stabilization system to the setup so that a drone's movement would not distort the image as it was being generated.

"Push-broom hyperspectral imagers typically require expensive orientation stabilization," explained Sigernes. "However, you can now buy very inexpensive gyroscope-based, electronically stabilizing systems. The advent of these new systems made is possible for us to make inexpensive hyperspectral imagers."

In-flight testing

The researchers made several prototypes by using 3D printing to create plastic holders that precisely position small, lightweight commercially available cameras and optical components. They tested one of the instruments onboard an octocopter drone equipped with a two-axis electronic stabilizing system. The hyperspectral imager performed well and was able to detect landscape features such as vegetation and bodies of water.

The researchers also performed handheld tests with the hyperspectral imagers and three-axis electronic stabilizing systems. For one experiment, they swept the imager across a computer screen displaying a fruit collection, acquiring 571 spectrograms in 22 seconds.

These feasibility tests showed that 3D printing is accurate enough to produce prototype parts for optical systems. The printed plastic parts were light weight and strong enough to keep the overall system light and small, which is important for use with drones. After testing, metal versions of 3D printed parts could be ordered if desired to create imagers that would be more durable.

Improving sensitivity

Although the new imagers don't provide the sensitivity of traditional hyperspectral imagers, their performance is sufficient for mapping terrain or detecting ocean color in daylight. The researchers are now working to improve sensitivity by making slightly larger versions of the instruments that would still be small and light enough for use on drones. Improving the sensitivity of the imagers will provide higher quality data.

"There are many ways to use data acquired by hyperspectral imagers," said Sigernes. "By lowering the cost of these instruments, we hope that more people will be able to use this analytical technique and develop it further."

###

Paper: F. Sigernes, M. Syrjäsuo, R. Storvold, J. Fortuna, M. E. Grøtte, T. A Johansen, "Do it yourself hyperspectral imager for handheld to airborne operations," Opt. Express, Volume 26, Issue 5, 6021-6035 (2018).

DOI: 10.1364/OE.26.006021.

About Optics Express

Optics Express reports on new developments in all fields of optical science and technology every two weeks. The journal provides rapid publication of original, peer-reviewed papers. It is published by The Optical Society and edited by Andrew M. Weiner of Purdue University. Optics Express is an open-access journal and is available at no cost to readers online at: OSA Publishing.

About The Optical Society

Founded in 1916, The Optical Society (OSA) is the leading professional organization for scientists, engineers, students and business leaders who fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications and accelerate achievements in the science of light. Through world-renowned publications, meetings and membership initiatives, OSA provides quality research, inspired interactions and dedicated resources for its extensive global network of optics and photonics experts. For more information, visit osa.org.

Media Contacts:

Rebecca B. Andersen
The Optical Society
randersen@osa.org
+1 202.416.1443

Joshua Miller
The Optical Society
jmiller@osa.org
+1 202.416.1435

Joshua Miller | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: 3D analytical technique computer screen drone hyperspectral optics plastic

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Energy-saving new LED phosphor
24.04.2019 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht Neuron and synapse-mimetic spintronics devices developed
17.04.2019 | Tohoku University

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Energy-saving new LED phosphor

The human eye is particularly sensitive to green, but less sensitive to blue and red. Chemists led by Hubert Huppertz at the University of Innsbruck have now developed a new red phosphor whose light is well perceived by the eye. This increases the light yield of white LEDs by around one sixth, which can significantly improve the energy efficiency of lighting systems.

Light emitting diodes or LEDs are only able to produce light of a certain colour. However, white light can be created using different colour mixing processes.

Im Focus: Quantum gas turns supersolid

Researchers led by Francesca Ferlaino from the University of Innsbruck and the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in Physical Review X on the observation of supersolid behavior in dipolar quantum gases of erbium and dysprosium. In the dysprosium gas these properties are unprecedentedly long-lived. This sets the stage for future investigations into the nature of this exotic phase of matter.

Supersolidity is a paradoxical state where the matter is both crystallized and superfluid. Predicted 50 years ago, such a counter-intuitive phase, featuring...

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Proteins stand up to nerve cell regression

24.04.2019 | Life Sciences

New sensor detects rare metals used in smartphones

24.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Controlling instabilities gives closer look at chemistry from hypersonic vehicles

24.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>