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The fleet of UAVs have different capabilities, and can be used to carry digital cameras and other imaging equipment

First scientific UAV facility in the UK launched in Cornwall

Cornwall is home to the UK’s first scientific facility dedicated to research involving Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), with a series of talks taking place on July 10-11 to mark the exciting launch.

UAVs – often referred to as drones – have the potential to transform the way that researchers capture data about the Earth and are emerging as a major scientific opportunity.

The facility is based at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) on the Penryn Campus and has a fleet of aircraft, sensors, controllers, pilots and processing systems.

A two day event, ‘UAVs in Environmental Research’, is taking place at the ESI featuring a high quality programme of scientific talks, including three keynote speakers who will share their perspectives on the use of UAVs for conservation, wildlife, and land use monitoring.

Dr Karen Anderson of the ESI, the facility’s lead academic, said: “UAVs or drones are emerging as valuable tools for scientific research because they can provide data at an unprecedented fine spatial and temporal resolution, and at low cost.

“UAVs offer a self-service mode for environmental data collection and place the end-user in control of their own data. There has been an explosion of interest in their use within the environmental sector and the time is ripe to explore the range of interdisciplinary connections between the sensor and platform developers, data processing experts and end users.

“This scientific UAV facility is the first of its kind in the UK and we’re looking forward to collaborating with a wide range of organisations and individuals to explore the opportunities offered in this cutting-edge field.”

The fleet of UAVs have different capabilities, and can be used to carry digital cameras and other imaging equipment such as thermal cameras, meteorological sensors and other forms of surveying equipment.

The UAVs in Environmental Research meeting is hosted by the ESI and enabled by funding from the Bridging the Gaps initiative. Although the event is now fully booked, further information can be found at

The ESI is working with businesses and enterprises across all sectors of the economy in Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly and beyond to translate research and expertise into innovative business practices, products and services in order to respond to the challenges of environmental change. It has been funded by the European Regional Development Fund Convergence Programme (£22.9M) and the South West Regional Development Agency (£6.6M), with significant support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Date: 8 July 2014