The use of a quadcopter-mounted hyper-spectral spectrometer for examining reflectance in Scottish coastal waters

Rebecca J. Weeks, Philip Anderson, Keith Davidson, David McKee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Remote sensing of the marine coastal environment is useful for obtaining information about processes occurring within it. Monitoring has traditionally been carried out in situ, before investment increased in remote techniques such as manned planes and satellites. This paper proposes the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) as an alternative platform, with an aim of increasing the spectral, spatial and temporal resolution of data whilst reducing the associated costs and risks. A custom-built 'spectro-copter' system, comprising of an integrated dual field-of-view, miniaturised, hyper-spectral spectrometer aboard a purpose-built quadcopter is presented, developed at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban. This has been produced with a view to investigating reflectance from Scottish coastal waters, which can give inferences as to the concentrations of various constituents present [1, 2]. Initial test flights show the 'spectro-copter' system is capable of flights of ~20 minutes, sufficient for meaningful data collection, despite late adjustments incurring increased weight and an associated reduction in efficiency. Early results demonstrate that the setup is capable of discerning differences in R at a high spectral resolution. Further work is ongoing in order to assess the capacity for establishing this equipment as a routine technique for the monitoring of coastal harmful algal blooms (HAB), which currently relies upon physical sampling in combination with satellites. HAB events are noted to be increasing in severity and frequency [3, 4], with knock-on health and economic impacts, particularly for the rising aquaculture industry in Scottish coastal waters [5]. Therefore advancement of an alternative, affordable technique would be extremely beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS)
Subtitle of host publicationObserving, Understanding And Forecasting The Dynamics Of Our Planet
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages4
VolumeIEEE Catalog Number: CFP18IGA-ART
ISBN (Print)9781538671504
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2018

Publication series

NameInternational Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS)


  • Hyper-spectral
  • Quadcopter
  • Reflectance
  • Remote-sensing
  • Remotely piloted aircraft system
  • Scottish coastal waters
  • Spectrometer


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