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UAVs and machine learning fight invasive species in WV/PA

July 3, 2023  - By
Image: Donn Bartram

Image: Donn Bartram

Researchers at the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design are using UAVs to develop tools to detect, map, treat and monitor invasive plant species with a $175,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Multiflora rose is an invasive shrub that threatens native plants in more than 40 states, including West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This project aims to equip UAVs with sensors to collect environmental data in a designated area of southwestern Pennsylvania over multiple seasons. The research team will use that data, combined with machine learning technology, to develop software that can identify multiflora rose and, eventually, other invasive species. The software could then be used for targeted delivery of herbicides via UAVs.

WVU is collaborating with two partners to help facilitate the project, including CNX — a natural gas company headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania that is offering the use of reclaimed mine land — and Resource Environmental Solutions — an ecological restoration company that is providing technical assistance with herbicide selection and deployment.

This project builds upon ongoing UAV-based research conducted by the National Resource Analysis Center (NRAC) with the U.S. Office of Surface Mine Reclamation and Enforcement. The current study focuses on autumn olive, which is one of the most common invasive brush species in West Virginia.

Most of the data collection and analysis focused on multiflora rose will begin in the 2024 spring growing season, but NRAC’s team of researchers is already using autumn olive data to see what information can be gathered about multiflora rose.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in Latest News, UAV/UGV

About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie was a managing editor at GPS World.