Stanford drones open way to new world of coral research

Stanford drones open way to new world of coral researchLike undiscovered groves of giant redwoods, centuries-old living corals remain unmapped and unmeasured. Scientists still know relatively little about the world’s biggest corals, where they are and how long they have lived.

The secret to unlocking these mysteries may lie with a shoebox-size flying robot.

The robot in question is a four-rotor remote-controlled  developed by Stanford aeronautics graduate student Ved Chirayath. The drone is outfitted with cameras that can film  from up to 200 feet in the air. Chirayath teamed up with Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Stephen Palumbi to pioneer the use of drone technology to precisely , measure and study shallow- reefs off Ofu Island in American Samoa.

“Until now the challenges have been too high for flying platforms like planes, balloons and kites,” Palumbi said. “Now send in the drones.”

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