Drones Used For Science of the Future in the Meadowlands


The Meadowlands in New Jersey is a vast ecosystem which has more than 9000 acres of both native and invasive organism species. The Meadownlands Environmenral Research Institute monitors all aspects of the Meadowlands ecosystem which includes plants, animals, soil sample, water quality and more.

For a longtime, the only avenue for scientists of the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute to monitor the area was by attaching a camera to a balloon. This camera was used to take photos and observe the Meadowlands. But this has all changed now that drones will be used. The research institute has just acquired two sophisticated drones which will now be used to carry out better inspections and assessment of Meadowlands.

The introduction of the drones is a big breakthrough for the institute. In the past when a balloon was used to observe Meadowlands, assessments and surveys usually take a whole day. The balloon assessment operates totally by chance due to wind speed and wind direction. The institute had no means to direct the movement of the balloon. As a result of this, their observation capacity was limited.

The acquisition of the sophisticated drones will enable the institute to carry-out better site assessments, more detailed inspections and accurate identification of invasive species. The acquisition of the drones represents the beginning of a new era of technology which will significantly improve the capacity of the institute to perform research, surveys and inspections of Meadowlands’ ecosystem.

As a measure to guarantee the effective use of the drones, four members of the institute staff underwent training for six months and obtained the needed certification required by them to fly the drones. Each launch of the drone involves three people, a pilot and two observers. The drones are a great relief to the institute considering the fact that there are certain areas in Meadowlands that is difficult for the people to inspect physically. With the introduction of the drones, it would now be possible for all parts of Meadowlands to be surveyed. This is a big boost for the research operations of the institute.

The director of the Research Institute, Francisco Artigas hopes that the institute would be able to use the drones once a week during the high season between May and November. One of the drones is an imaging drone which will take pictures and make videos of the Meadowlands ecosystem while the other drone is equipped to collect soil and water samples. The imaging drone costs about $2000 while the drone which would collect soil and water samples cost about $2500.

The introduction of the drones would change everything about the way the institute carries out its research.


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