AggieAir, a service of the Utah Water Research Lab, recently helped Utah State University facilities leaders identify energy waste by flying a drone over the campus to collect imagery showing which buildings had above average losses of hot or cold air.
AggieAir Service Center Manager Ian Gowing said to get the most accurate readings, two flights over campus were required, at different times of the day.
“To start with, we flew the thermal imagery early in the morning so that there is less contrast between hot and cold. So we flew that originally at 7 o’clock in the morning,” Gowing explained. “Then, to create a mosaic we have to fly a visual payload as well, which we flew at half past one in the afternoon. To create a thermal mosaic we needed both the visual imagery and also the thermal imagery.”
USU Facilities has done heat mapping before, using a small manned aircraft that had to be flown at a higher altitude and came with a bigger price tag and took more time.
The thermal imaging generated by the AggieAir team is much higher in quality and clarity than data gathered in the past, which gives USU Facilities greater knowledge of exact locations that may be losing heat.
For the campus mapping, AggieAir used their smallest UAV, the Matrice 600 Pro.
“We have a number of Matrices,” said Gowing. “We have fixed winged UAVs which were all developed on campus. We have a series of Minion Aircraft and we have developed a Blue Jay UAV which will hopefully allow us to fly for approximately three hours fully autonomously.”