I’m excited to share that the Earlham field science program is now sharing the core of our Terrestrial Mapping Platform (TMP)! This is very much a work-in-progress, but we’re excited about it and wanted to share it as soon as we could.
We had to delay the 2020 Iceland trip because of COVID-19. That of course pushed back the implementation and case study component of this project, which was Iceland-centric. But we are moving forward at full speed with everything else. As Earlham has now started the new academic year, we have also resumed work on the TMP.
The project is a UAV hardware-software platform for scientists. It consists of:
- a consumer-grade drone for capturing images
- flight plan generation software and application to automate drone flights
- data analysis workflows for the images – visible light and NIR, assembled into 2D and 3D models
All of this goes toward making science more accessible to a broader range of domain scientists. Archaeologists and glaciologists are our current target cohort, but many more could find use for this work if it’s successful.
We will make all of this accessible in repositories with open licenses on our GitLab instance. Some are already available. Others we will share once we review them for (e.g.) accidentally-committed credentials.
That was all planned, if delayed. We’re also using our extra year of preparation time to make the project better in a few ways:
- Reevaluating our choice of UAV make and model
- Prettifying our web presence, which very much includes blog posts like this
- Reducing the friction and pain points in our current workflow
- Making our code and infrastructure better in general (I’ve covered my growing emphasis on quality here before)
The team mostly comprises students and faculty (of whom I’m the junior-most). Additionally, there are a few on-site partners in Iceland and innumerable personal supporters who make this possible. We’ll be sharing more at the Earlham Field Science blog as we go. I will undoubtedly share more here as well.
COVID is bad, but we want to make the best of this era. This is one way we’re doing that.
(Disclosure: We received funding for this from a National Geographic grant. None of the views in this blog post or our online presence represents, or is endorsed by, Nat Geo.)