Project Title: Autonomous Mappingece

Team 1412 Members:
Jeremy Hibbs, electrical and computer engineering
Travis Kibler, systems and industrial engineering
Jesse Odle, optical sciences and engineering
Rachel Powers, electrical and computer engineering
Thomas Schucker, electrical and computer engineering
Alex Warren, computer science

Sponsor: UA Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

1412Team 1412, sponsored by the University of Arizona department of electrical and computer engineering, is creating a quad-copter to map buffelgrass for the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, or SABCC.

The rapid spread of buffelgrass is a pressing environmental issue in the Sonoran Desert. Buffelgrass turns the fire-resistant desert into a flammable grassland and threatens to supplant native plants, such as the saguaro cactus and ironwood tree, and destroy habitat for wildlife, including the desert tortoise and mule deer.

“SABCC has volunteers who go out and visually mark and inspect buffelgrass locations. An alternative is to hire a private helicopter crew to take pictures of the grass. The volunteer work is time-consuming and labor-intensive; the helicopter option is expensive. The quad-copter we are building costs less, is safer and easier to use, and requires fewer people,” explained team member Travis Kibler.

“It navigates using GPS way-points, which we upload into the autopilot. The quad-copter autonomously takes off, flies to the way-points, avoiding any obstacles, and continues its mission. Once the images are taken, we upload them into software we are writing and stitch together the images to create a huge image map of the area.”