By far the largest river in the world in terms of water discharge, the Amazon River is home to several unique flora and fauna and little known ancient tribes. The Amazon rainforest has a vital role in the regulation of carbon cycle and global climate. Humans have resided in this South American river for several centuries now (approximately 13,000 years). It was once thought that the tribes dwelling in the Amazon had little contribution to their surroundings but recent research suggests otherwise. In fact, researchers are banking on a new drone technology to know more about these tribes and how their activities improved modern vegetation for the better.
Working hand in hand with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, University of Exeter researchers intend to examine the hidden secrets of the massive Amazon rainforest through a remotely piloted aircraft. They want to extract more information about how ancient tribes used the Amazon to their advantage. How did people from thousands of years ago make a difference in the Amazon rainforest? There is currently insufficient data about how complex those ancient societies were, what they did to improve the Amazon landscape and to what extent they made an impact.
How drone technology will uncover secrets of Amazon tribes ?
Using the new drone technology, it is hoped that the project will reveal the degree of contribution made by the tribes. The high quality fixed-wing drone with remote piloting features will fly around the Amazon basin beginning October 2016. Researchers partnered with experts in the aerospace industry, esteemed engineers and highly qualified technicians to arrive at the world’s first batch of fixed-wing drones. These drones are not only made from quality materials. They also come with a survey grade laser device that will scan the landscape and provide 3-D data and imaging solutions. The 3-D data collection feature is capable of showing the extent of the changes the past humans did to Amazon’s landscape.
Brazil’s thick rainforest has lush vegetation that tends to conceal salient portions of its landscape. 3D imaging will cut through this obscurity and help archaeologists find the most ideal areas to dig. This task would have been difficult to carry out without the new drone technology.
The drones can fly for a long time. They will be collecting data and flying a large expanse of not more than 60 square kilometers within two hours and thirty minutes. Aside from surveying the landscape through its quality laser scanner, the drone will also gather data that will help researchers find information on how to use the rainforest in a sustainable manner.
Drone flights will take off this October though many of the units have already been built and tested way back 2015 through the joint effort of University of Exeter’s remote sensing experts, the manufacturers of RPA XMobots and Brazilian National Institute for Space Research top researchers. The test flights were successful so far. The first Amazon drone exploration will hopefully find the same level of success.
The researchers said they are looking forward to release their new drone technology to know more about ancient people’s way of life.