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Practical Applications of Drones in Natural Resources: Where We Are and Where We're Going Public Deposited

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  • Recent advancements in unmanned aerial vehicle (drone*) technology, sensors, and software applications have increased efficiency in data collection, reduced human error, and increased safety while managing a wide range of projects. No longer relegated solely to military use, drones have become synonymous with picturesque views of natural wonders and resources on scales once difficult for the human mind to comprehend from man’s earthbound perspective. These new perspectives and modern telemetry offer natural resource managers opportunities limited only by their imaginations. However, it is unlikely that even the most creative and tech savvy natural resource managers are knowledgeable of the ever-changing gamut of FAA regulations, safety rules, privacy concerns, or even the most recent drone tech, all of which present barriers to entry for the average natural resource manager. This paper serves to bridge the gap between current drone capabilities and natural resource manager needs while looking ahead to understand the future of drones in natural resources and outline which aspects of natural resource management are best suited for drone use. Sections 1 and 2 review the current state of drone technology, regulations, and current uses. Section 3 offers first-hand accounts from natural resource managers and drone industry experts to provide the reader valuable real-world insights. Finally, section 4 will provide the reader with a look ahead to where drones could be used in the future. The goal of this paper and literature review is to get current natural resource managers “up to speed” with emerging drone technology and combine the information into one comprehensive document for their use should they choose to employ drone technology in their specific line of work.
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