An overview of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for air quality measurements: Present applications and future prospectives

Villa, Tommaso Francesco, Gonzalez, Felipe, Miljevic, Branka, Ristovski, Zoran D., & Morawska, Lidia (2016) An overview of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for air quality measurements: Present applications and future prospectives. Sensors, 16(7), Article no. 1072.

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Assessment of air quality has been traditionally conducted by ground based monitoring, and more recently by manned aircrafts and satellites. However, performing fast, comprehensive data collection near pollution sources is not always feasible due to the complexity of sites, moving sources or physical barriers. Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with different sensors have been introduced for in-situ air quality monitoring, as they can offer new approaches and research opportunities in air pollution and emission monitoring, as well as for studying atmospheric trends, such as climate change, while ensuring urban and industrial air safety. The aims of this review were to: (1) compile information on the use of UAVs for air quality studies; and (2) assess their benefits and range of applications. An extensive literature review was conducted using three bibliographic databases (Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar) and a total of 60 papers was found. This relatively small number of papers implies that the field is still in its early stages of development. We concluded that, while the potential of UAVs for air quality research has been established, several challenges still need to be addressed, including: the flight endurance, payload capacity, sensor dimensions/accuracy, and sensitivity. However, the challenges are not simply technological, in fact, policy and regulations, which differ between countries, represent the greatest challenge to facilitating the wider use of UAVs in atmospheric research.

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 98011
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: air quality, UAVs, sensors, atmosphere, pollution, aerosols
DOI: 10.3390/s16071072
ISSN: 1424-8220
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation
Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
Copyright Statement: This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution
(CC-BY) license (
Deposited On: 11 Aug 2016 03:13
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2016 22:21

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