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Drones - New technologies for geophysics?


Drones, also referred as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), are aircraft without pilot on board. USA is today the leading country in the field of UAS but recently, seven European countries have pledged to launch joint programs for drones, with the aim of producing the next generation of UAS before 2020. According to some studies on the potential market of UAS in Europe, the geoscience sector is definitely one of the most promising. In this paper, we bring a short description and classification of drones, according to their sized and shaped, with particular attention to the advantages and drawbacks of each type in reference to the possible employment in geosciences applications. Currently the drones are used for geological and topographic mapping, coastal control, landslide inspections, etc., and are capable to integrate geophysical sensors like magnetic, electromagnetic, infrared, radar, natural gamma ray sensors and etc. UAS technology have several advantage over conventional airborne geophysics like resolution, accurancy, cost, etc. We are witnessing the birth of a new branch of aviation, which could be profitably applied to geophysics measurements.