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WFU-designed aircraft used for ecological monitoring

Drones to add flying eye on our ecosystem: Wake Forest biology graduate student Max Messinger and biology professor Miles Silman are featured in the News & Observer. Their remote controlled helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft are used to create photo mosaics for ecological monitoring. Messinger and Marcus Wright, a Wake Forest chemistry lab manager, received funding from CEES and the National Science Foundation to assemble and test two different drones for use in the Peruvian cloud forest. The first, a copter drone, relies on eight small propeller units and is capable of flying at 15 mph for up to 20 minutes at a time. It can be equipped with either a conventional visible light or thermal imaging camera to gather data on everything from leaf and flower characteristics to temperature readings and animal behavior. Their second robot resembles a small airplane. Launched like a javelin, it uses a single electric motor and propeller to fly up to 50 mph for over an hour.

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