College of Charleston takes new drone on its maiden voyage

College of Charleston takes new drone on its maiden voyage
Published: Aug. 14, 2014 at 7:33 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2014 at 11:41 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Faculty and students from the College of Charleston were in James Island Thursday testing out their newest high tech piece of equipment that will provide a unique view in future research projects.

The college's SenseFLY eBee drone took its maiden voyage today. The drone was recently purchased in order to assist the geology and archeology departments with research projects, as well as mapping hazardous areas, water quality, and storm patterns.

"It's a rapid deployment system," said Geology Assistant Professor Dr. John Chadwick. "We can go anywhere in the world really quickly. We can fly this thing, and we can take images from 400 feet up and do a map of a relatively large area really quickly."

The anxious group huddled in an open soccer field around a representative from SenseFLY, who helped teach the faculty and students how to fly the drone, as well as how to use the 3D mapping system. The system will use images that the drone takes while in flight to map out terrain.

Before the drone, Dr. Chadwick says the college had to use satellites or airplanes to get remote sensing data, but both those methods proved time restraining and costly. The drone will allow the two departments to get images immediately.

"This is a system that allows us to do something rapidly to map things right after a hurricane hits, right after another natural disaster," said the professor. "A forest fire? We can be over top of that thing right away."

As a geology professor with a passion for volcanoes, Chadwick says he hopes to take the drone out west in the coming months and fly it over Mount St. Helens and map the lava flows, as well as map the day-to-day changes following an eruption.

"Anything you can monitor and map using remote sensing imagery, we can do with this drone," said Chadwick.

For those of you getting nervous about having a drone flying around town, no need to worry. Chadwick says the college will obey all FAA and safety regulations.

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