In an afternoon practice session Iain Kerr and John Graham worked on the technology and flight practice of the drones we affectionately call SnotBot. We are working with NOAA on permitting, as this is a new field of marine mammal research, and are still raising funds for this project but we’re excited by the possibilities.
We plan to use small waterproof drones to collect viruses, bacteria, DNA, and stress hormones from whale blows in a non-invasive manner. The black quadcopter was built by Olin College and is completely waterproof so it can land in the water. A version of this will be the actual collection platform. The silver quad, built by John Graham from scratch, is a camera platform with first person view flight capacity and a gyro-stabilized camera platform. The contraption on a platform in the background is a ground station, also built by John, where we can see images from the quad and flight information such as height, speed, location, and battery status. It was a rare no-wind day in Gloucester so all-in-all a successful session.