Emissions of particulate matter into the atmosphere are essential to characterize, in terms of properties such as particle size, morphology, and composition, to better understand impacts on public health and the climate. However, there is no currently available technology capable of measuring individual particles with such high detail over the extensive domains associated with events such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions. To solve this problem, we present an autonomous measurement system involving an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) coupled with a digital inline holographic microscope for in situ particle diagnostics. The flight control uses computer vision to localize and then trace the movements of particle-laden flows while sampling particles to determine their properties as they are transported away from their source. We demonstrate this system applied to measuring particulate matter in smoke plumes and discuss broader implications for this type of system in similar applications.
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© 2016 IEEE.
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