Skip to main content

News & Events

Brian Straight - PhD defense

Monday, July 06, 2020, 9:00AM - 10:00AM


Brian Straight


Virtual online meeting

Contact Susan Ponsor for Zoom link

INSTAAR is pleased to announce Brian Straight’s dissertation defense.


Deep-water unmanned aerial vehicle water sampling: Effective use of heavy-lifting drones for environmental monitoring and regulation


A deep-water aerial sampling technique has been designed and implemented for sampling pit lakes, which are dangerous water bodies for boats to approach. The approach involves an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) hexacopter, DJI Matrice 600, that can attach a 1.2L Niskin sample bottle or conductivity, temperature, and depth profiler. The bottom attachment on the UAV consists of two servo motors that allow the detachment of a 1 kg messenger that triggers a 1.2L Niskin bottle shut and provides an emergency payload release. We first tested this technology on September 20, 2016 and obtained a conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) profile of Dillon Reservoir and then collected a water sample from 25 m depth. The CTD profile showed a possible layer of water originating from an inflow stream, the Snake River, which has high particulate and dissolved metals from acid rock drainage. In addition, this UAV deep-water sampling approach has been tested at seven pit lakes from 2016 – 2017, the deepest sample retrieved was 80 meters, and is seen to be an effective method of water sampling at depth. It is important to gain an understanding of water-quality conditions to determine the extent to which pit lakes are effecting the environment. The water-quality characteristics of pit lakes also provide a better understanding of remediation requirements. This methodology of sampling with a heavy lifting drone is seen to be an effective approach to sampling dangerous water bodies and a municipality’s water supply. The benefits and field considerations of a UAV water sampler include improved safety, reduced sampling costs, and improved efficiency.


Free and open to the public.