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Greater intensity storms and high sea levels mean that our coastal environments will be affected now more than ever. Coastal management of shorelines, beaches, and dune mapping will be an important component in addressing the problem of shoreline erosion. Current methods for management include flying for aerial orthoimagery and LiDAR after storms, but both of these are costly and  overly time consuming. Team Coastline is working to use drones to provide high resolution images of shorelines along with 3D digital surface models following storms to track shoreline erosion rates and dune volume changes and assist with post-storm recovery.

Meet the Team

Pictured from left to right are Ryan Hull (Senior, Computer Engineering), Son Nguyen (Senior, Electrical Engineering), Cody Ryan (Senior, Geography), Nathaniel Chandler (Senior, Electrical Engineering), Jonathon Rigney (Senior, Computer Engineering), and Brian Duvall (Graduate Student, Engineering).

A Look Into Our Process…

Drone Examination

Initially we thought that we’d build our own UAV drone to map shoreline erosion; here is an image of the team examining a pre-built drone to decide if this was the right choice.

Building Own Drone

Upon further examination this day, we decided against building our own UAV drone because we were provided with a 3DR Solo drone that would make the process more timely.

Downloading Software

Here is an image of the 3DR Solo drone. At this point, we were downloading the necessary apps we needed to ready the drone for test flights the next week.

Locations Limited

Here we were unloading the drone from the truck right after arriving in Sandbridge. This was the only location that allowed us to do test flights because of the military presence and airports in Norfolk.

Testing Mission Planner

Once we got on the beach and were able to fly our drone that we’d programmed with Mission Planner, we were able to execute an automated survey of our area of interest.

Testing Drone

Another set of test flights occurred at False Cape State Park in North Carolina, where we used a DGI drone for comparison of the models available to us.

Future of Our Project

With the 3DR, we were unsuccessful in making the 3D model, so our goal in the future is to continue comparing the accuracy of the two models’ systems. From there, we’d use the drone we pick to map out a coast and compare shoreline erosion before and after storms to protect infrastructure on beaches.