Programmable multispectral imager development as light weight payload for low cost fixed wing unmanned aerial vehicles

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

ASME 2009 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference


The American Society of Mechanical Engineers


San Diego, CA

Publication Date



In this paper, we have developed a light-weight and cost-efficient multispectral imager payload for low cost fixed wing UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) that need no runway for takeoff and landing. The imager is band-reconfigurable, covering both visual (RGB) and near infrared (NIR) spectrum. The number of the RGB and NIR sensors is scalable, depending on the demands of specific applications. The UAV on-board microcomputer programs and controls the imager system, synchronizing each camera individually to capture airborne imagery. It also bridges the payload to the UAV system by sending and receiving message packages. The airborne imagery is time-stamped with the corresponding local and geodetic coordinates data measured by the onboard IMU (Inertia Measurement Unit) and GPS (Global Positioning System) module. Subsequently, the imagery will be orthorectified with the recorded geo-referencing data. The application of such imager system includes multispectral remote sensing, ground mapping, target recognition, etc. In this paper, we will outline the technologies, demonstrate our experimental results from actual UAV flight missions, and compare the results with our previous imager system.

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