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IoT-Based Drone Seeks Treasure for History Channel
PrecisionHawk brought a LIDAR-based drone with wireless connectivity to map out the terrain in the Philippine jungles, in order to search for the hiding places that Japanese soldiers might have used for the treasure they captured while occupying the island during World War II.
PrecisionHawk's team mounted a LIDAR sensor to the base of the drone, which fired its LIDAR pulses at the ground at a rate of 100 pulses per second. The system then measured the amount of time it took for the light to bounce back up from the jungle surface, Tompkins says.
On the ground, PrecisionHawk set up a base station with satellite connectivity and GPS functionality, as well as a computer for interpreting the collected data. Due to the fast planning and the remote location, the team needed to be versatile. Jill Wrenn, PrecisionHawk's director of operations for LIDAR, was the onsite processor to create a map from the data. "The first day there," she recalls, "we needed more access to GPS satellite, so we had to call our GPS company to add on worldwide access to satellite. Thankfully, it only took a day to figure that out," since the team had only days to complete their work.
The team did not find the treasure they sought, but they did discover indications that it might still be there—and the project gave PrecisionHawk an opportunity to test what it could do in a short period of time on challenging terrain. "It was super-fun, and those guys [the production crew] were awesome," Tompkins says. "We found enough to let them see what they wanted," Young adds, "and our experience prevented the unknown."
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