Collaboration soars with UH drone project

April 2, 2013  |   |  8 Comments
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Two University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students from two completely different disciplines are collaborating on a project that involves an unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a UAV or drone.

Chuck Devaney, a graduate student in geography, is engaged on high resolution, aerial photography.

“To look at vegetation conditions in and around the island and also have a look at some of the archeological features,” said Devaney.

David Hummer is a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering and his focus in on building things.

“Being an engineer, if it’s not broken, then it doesn’t have enough features,” said Hummer.

High-resolution aerial imagery is expensive, especially for a graduate student. Before Devaney met Hummer, he had already taken to the skies in an attempt to make his life’s work more economical.

“Well, first we thought we were going to launch a rocket and tape a phone to it and that turned into the whole kite effort,” said Devaney.

But kites need wind, which isn’t always guaranteed. Eventually, a mutual colleague introduced Hummer to Devaney and the geography drone project took off and there is no telling where it may land.

“The UAV has given us a lot more flexibility in terms of the types of environments that we can fly in,” said Devaney. “The amount of area that we can cover, the stability and it is just lots of fun.”

They spent about $2,000 on materials—a frame, electronics and cameras. It would have been a lot more expensive if they did not build it themselves.

“The closest one we found was $50,000 for the package,” said Hummer. “So if we can fill that part of the market and make it cheaper then it seems like it would be a pretty good idea.”

It remains a work in progress. Both students continue to learn from their successes and failures while making advancements in their individual fields.

“You know all the mapping and stitching and analyzing the photos, if I took years of school I could do it but I would rather build the airplane and work on that, and Chuck focused on that part,” said Hummer. “And together we could so something that neither of us could do without each other,”

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Comments (8)

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  1. elaine says:

    Also called ʻenemy withinʻ to be mapping our places for the government to make it easier for them to call drone strikes on americans.

    And doing it under the guise of education and UH.
    BUT it is actually a cheap route for the military because they can use UH monies, grants, private funds, etc.

    The Superferry was exactly that. PNAC decided they needed to be resourceful in ways to use the private sector to finance their projects.

    Not impressed. Actually disgusted.

  2. USGSUAV says:

    Sorry elaine, but us students need every help we can get paying for our tuition. If the US Government is willing to help us out, so be it. We are all working towards the common goal of national security. We are here to protect YOU from terrorists! If that disgusts you, then so be it. I will rather have you safe and disgusted, than dead and impressed.

  3. elaine says:

    Iʻm afraid you are unenlightend and to say ʻusʻ (should be ʻweʻ) students need to find any way for tuition is pitiful. I am a student and would never resort to the lack of principles you demonstrate.

    Please – do not – spill your tired old rhetoric on me about keeping us ʻsafeʻ. You know nothing of my back ground or family; my father was with the Pentagon, my brother a SEAL and mother a WAVE and my grandfather a judge.

    It is the pathetic american psyche such as your comments that have endangered people ALL OVER THE WORLD.

    Try doing something good for your tuition and not taking the first hand-out that comes along, that is if you are talented enough. Tired of my tax dollars subsidizing dimwits.

  4. Bruce says:

    I second Elaine’s comments; And as to the “protecting us from the terrorists”, there is a mountain of evidence that indicates the US Government and Military were the ones who attacked the WTC towers and Building 7 on 9/11/2001 so you are in fact aiding and abetting those same perpetrators.

    As Morpheus says to Neo:
    You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.

  5. Lee says:

    Wow Elaine, that’s so cool! The fact that your brother was a seal, your mother a wave, your father worked for the pentagram, and your grandfather a judge is really impressive. I bet that you are a really impressive lady as well!

    I totally share your concern because a few month ago, I saw suspicious men in suits go into the Truman Hall on campus. They looked like they worked for the CIA or something! I later found out that Truman is name of the guy that created the CIA!

    Public University = funded by the government = government influence!

    We should all be careful

  6. Chuck says:

    I would like to thank all of you for your feedback and concern after the release of this news feature. To clarify some of the assumptions that some individuals have made about this particular project, I would first like to say that this project was funded entirely by me and my colleagues with some assistance from my professors (out of theirs and our pockets). We started by flying kites over coastal environments to document and classify land features. That project now is being used in fishpond conservation efforts. So we have moved on to “drones”. An evil word I know but this platform is to be used to map archeological features, vegetation, hydrology, and coastal environments. We are using it as a tool for education not as a privacy invader or a bomb dropper. In an effort to monitor the climate change driven environment, high resolution aerial imagery is very useful and this is an inexpensive means to acquire it. Another useful application of this particular “drone” is disaster response and humanitarian relief. I cannot promise it will protect anyone from terrorists. In conclusion, I would like to say eat both the blue pill and the red pill and enjoy!

  7. UH News staff says:

    Hi Everyone,

    We are pleased you have taken an interest in our story about the resourcefulness of a couple UH Manoa graduate students (Hi, Chuck!). However, these comments are going way off topic and we will not be publishing any more conspiracy theorizing or sarcastic rebuttals.

    Please note there is no conspiracy here, just an editorial decision. Thank you for reading and watching!

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