Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) are rapidly becoming important tools for data capture across many Scientific domains, as well as within commercial industry. sUAS have the potential to transform how data are captured in many arenas by, offering higher temporal and spatial resolutions, with less impact on the environments being monitored, and access to new locations and parameters. In many cases these advantages are further accompanied by lowered costs and increased human safety during data capture.
As a new technology, however, there are currently no industry-wide accepted best practices for sUAS sensor and flight data handling and management. There are many reasons for why such would be beneficial but 3 of particular note include:
- The creation of standards would lower the barrier to entry and innovation in terms of what might be monitored with sUAS, by reducing the number of unknowns a new user faces and providing working examples to serve as guides.
- With no common goal standards to build to, the development of mature tools for sUAS captured data processing and fusion (with sUAS and other data sources) is currently hampered. As a consequence, each use case generally develops a unique custom pipeline that only sees one-time use.
- sUAS captured data is - for the most part - not being managed according to data stewardship best practices, such as would ensure the data is FAIR, as articulated by Force11 (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable).
This interest group therefore seeks to explore and publish (via the RDA community based model), some best practices as regards the handling of sUAS captured sensor and flight data. By publishing such, after a broad, cross-community engagement process, it is hoped and expected that such will see adoption by both those already using sUAS for scientific work those just beginning to explore their possibilities. They will therefore address the 3 concerns laid out above, with the associated positive consequences for the scientific community. These outcomes also align directly with the RDA’s Vision and Mission focus, namely, promoting the open sharing of data.