Airborne Research Australia Use 3D Aerial Maps on Kangaroo Island to Aid Fire Recovery on the Ground

Detailed maps help researchers plan their massive recovery efforts

Based in Adelaide, Airborne Research Australia is helping communities on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills recover from the devastating wild fires by creating high-resolution 3D maps of the areas for free. By using 3D laser printing, Airborne Research Australia is also helping to reduce the risk of future fires with the free maps.

Using 3D laser printing, these maps show incredibly accurate details that can help researchers, communities, and emergency service agencies plan their massive recovery efforts that are necessary after South Australia’s ravaging summer fires. Available on the ARA (Airborne Research Australia) website, the 3D maps can also help agencies have a clearer understanding of how wildfires behave, which can help in planning future defense strategies.

To create the maps, ARA uses slow flights at low altitudes to collect the data. The motor gliders are equipped with hyperspectral sensors, LIDAR, and high-resolution RGB cameras. This state-of-the-art equipment is capable of capturing even the smallest detail in stunning clarity. The details are then turned into 3D maps of the fire ravaged areas.

The founder of ARA and its’ chief scientist, Flinders Emeritus Professor Jorg Hacker stated that the company wanted to make the data available to everyone, especially those in the affected areas. ARA wants communities to be able to recover the natural landscape, including in areas that are difficult for humans to reach.

Professor Hacker went on to state, “Our sensors can map in unprecedented detail landscape and forest features that are not visible with standard aerial photography or satellite data or from the ground. The combination of LIDAR and hyperspectral sensors provide centimeter resolution detail. This lets us both detect the location of such habitats and the state and structure of the undergrowth with LIDAR and even the state of health of the surviving vegetation with hyperspectral scanning.”

Based in Adelaide, ARA is a non-profit, independent research institute that got its start at Flinders University. Their organization uses Parafiled Airport as their primary base to launch their research planes. These planes are similar to gliders, which enables them to fly lower and slower than traditional aircraft. These planes also use less fuel, which produces less noise and pollution. When asked why ARA does not take advantage of drones, the explanation is simple. Drones have a limited range and are not able to carry the sensors used to create the detailed 3D maps.

ARA does accept donations, and it was a substantial one from the Hackett Foundation that is helping to fund the 3D mapping project over Kangaroo Island and Adelaide Hills. ARA also encourages further donations to keep with this and other environmental projects the non-profit is working on.

With funding, ARA can continue to use environmentally-friendly airborne research to study the effects of fire in Southern Australia, and provide much needed information on recovery and prevention.

Keep reading: more articles about 3D scanning

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