This course is an introduction to the use of small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in collecting/processing imagery for mapping/information analysis. Course content includes UAS characteristics, small camera considerations, project planning and processing, and legal requirements in the United States and selected European countries.
The practical and research use of airborne imagery from aircraft has been present since the first World War. Such imagery are historic documents of the landscape at a moment in time with a multitude of applications. Courses in aerial photographic interpretation, remote sensing (which considers energy beyond the simple visible spectrum), and image processing are common in geography departments across the world. A recent paradigm shift in the collection of imagery using affordable, reliable, stable, and with moderate quality digital cameras (non-metric) on small unmanned aerial aircraft has occurred in the remote sensing community. These systems are termed small unmanned aerial systems (UAS or sUAS). The concepts involved in such ‘personal’ unmanned aerial systems are somewhat different than other larger and manned aircraft. Pilot licenses are not required (although pilot certificates may be required depending on the purpose for the flight and flight location/time.). Flying altitudes are very low and below the legal range of manned aircraft in the U.S. The geographic extents are very small. Automatic route flying removes the level-of-effort for the ‘pilot in command’. Integrated global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) both enable pre-determined image collection and restrict the UAS from restricted airspace. This course focuses on the application of these integrated technologies available in a sUAS for planning for, collecting, post-processing, and interpretation of the airborne imagery from these systems. The issues and concepts in using an airborne drone for image collection involves multiple dimensions of geography – legal, social, physical, and mapping sciences. Thus, this course becomes an ideal segway into other geography courses, particularly the GIScience courses.
This 200-level course will feed into the suite of existing 300-level GIScience courses (covering aerial photo interpretation, geographic information systems, and cartography) in our Department of Geography. There is no other course on the USC campus system to educate students on the issues (technology, legal, and applications) associated with a UAS for image collection. Other air photo or remote sensing courses provide almost no content on planning for image collection from an airborne platform. This course would provide an introduction to the UAS paradigm and concepts.
October 16, 2017
To: Dr. James Allen, Department of Geography
From: Dr. Roger A. Dougal, Chairman, Department of Electrical Engineering
Subj: Letter of Concurrence for the New Proposed GIS Course (GEOG 285)
After reviewing the course proposal, the department has no objection to the development of a new course entitled “Introduction to Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for Image Collection” proposed by Department of Geography. In fact, we encourage the course development as it might have some relevance to some of our engineering students. There is no overlap of content with any EE class that we now teach, nor with any that we contemplate to teach. Any related class from our department would focus on radio-frequency communication channels, information integrity, or perhaps, on control of flight dynamics.
Thank you for submitting your proposal to the Committee on Curricula & Courses. We are moving your proposal forward to the Faculty Senate. There is no need to attend the Curricula and Courses meeting, but it is recommended someone from the department attend the next Faculty Senate meeting in case there are questions from the floor regarding your proposal.
We appreciate your patience and commitment to undergraduate and graduate education.
John Gerdes, Chair
Faculty Senate Committee on Curricula and Courses