The Woolsey wildfire ignited on November 18th and burned over 96,949 acres in the Los Angeles and Ventura Counties of California. The destructive Woolsey fire destroyed more than 616 park structures and consumed approximately 88% of National Park Service land within the recreation area. Considered one of Los Angeles’ most cherished open spaces featuring hiking trails and historic structures, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is also home to a wide variety of indigenous plants and animals, including multiple protected and endangered species.
Working in close collaboration with National Park Service park rangers and scientists, AeroVironment Commercial Information Solutions Unmanned Aircraft Systems flight operations and Geographic Information Science teams initiated a comprehensive drone-based aerial imaging and environmental impact study to assess fire damage in key areas of the park. Within hours of receiving National Park Service clearance, our flight operations team began flying Quantix over the affected burn area, collecting invaluable aerial imagery data – and providing support needed to help the park’s disaster assessment and recovery efforts. All drone operations were conducted under a special permit since flying drones over National Park Service lands is prohibited. Aerial imagery data collected will be used to quantify oak tree mortality and vegetation stress, in addition to documenting the dramatic changes in park visitor experience.
Utilizing AeroVironment’s Quantix™ hybrid drone and Decision Support System (AV DSS™) advanced data analytics platform, the team captured and analyzed high-resolution drone-based aerial imagery to quickly map the affected burn area, and gain actionable insights into the scope and scale of the damage. Below illustrates a before and after the Woolsey fire comparison using True Color (RGB) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) images.
Purpose-built for commercial applications including precision agriculture, infrastructure and mining operations, the Quantix hybrid drone innovative VTOL technology allows it to operate effectively in a variety of conditions and can survey up to 400 acres in just 45 minutes. During flight, Quantix integrated sensors capture high-resolution RGB color and multispectral imagery via dual 18MP cameras. On-board processing delivers true color and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) maps on the Quantix control tablet as soon as the drone lands, allowing teams to ground-truth potential issues immediately. For more detailed analysis, the AeroVironment Decision Support System (AV DSS) performs advanced image processing and data analytics including True Color, NDVI, GNDVI, and anomaly detection to gain deeper insights into environmental damage and vegetation health.
In addition to immediate disaster response and damage assessment, data collected will facilitate the development of a long-term environmental recovery and park rebuilding strategy.
Article Originally Appeared: Aerovironment Blog