Intro to Remotely Piloted Systems

ESRM 370 • Spring 2016

When         & Where   Fri 10– 1150 in Sierra 2314 & Fri Afternoon Elsewhere

Contacts            Dr. Sean Anderson, M 2-250(BTW1265), F 900-950(Sierra 2314)

Text: (504) 475-7447 or Voice: (805) 732-2732

Mr. Todd VanEpps (858) 243-4182

Mr. Chase Tillman

Mr. Paul Spaur


Course Description

In this course we will explore the emerging array of Remotely Piloted Systems increasingly available as “off the shelf” technology within the price point and technological ability of many environmental professionals. We will become familiar with the array of platforms, their potential usage to support coastal and marine monitoring and management, and (to the extent permissible) gain practical experience with these instruments. We will also touch upon data collected with these instruments and application of that data to extant management situations.


Schedule Overview

Given the dynamic nature of both El Nino storms and the restriction placed on our use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, our schedule is a rough guide only and will certainly evolve over the semester. Our general schedule will focus on conceptual, policy, societal, and legal issues related to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles over the initial weeks of our class. We will next move onto practical flying skills. These will begin with computer-based simulators, move onto to smaller trainer platforms, and ultimately to platforms appropriate for research/professional applications.   Please see our tentative schedule at the end of the syllabus for known days where we will not be holding class, etc.


Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, you should understand and be able to clearly articulate:

  • the current use and perceptions of Remotely Piloted Systems.
  • common hazards associated with Remotely Piloted Systems and practical approaches to avoid such hazards and use these systems safely and responsibly.
  • common types of aerial platforms and their capabilities.
  • common sensors utilized by Remotely Piloted Systems.
  • be able to safely and effectively pilot and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.


Course Evaluation

You will be graded on your participation, blog posts, assignments, and skill proficiency as follows:

20% Participation & Progress (attendance, clear progression, deadlines, etc.)

10% Blog Updates & Scoop.It posts

10% Other Assignments & Write-Ups

20% UAV Poll (in-person surveys, aggregate analysis, etc.)

40% Practical Skills Evaluations (including prep, and breakdown, metadata, etc.)

Grade Break Down: A = 90-100%, B = 80-89%, C = 70-79%, D = 60-69%, F ≤ 59%

Please note that I use the “+” and “-” system (e.g. B- = 80-82%, B = 83–86%, B+ = 87-89%)


Weekly Postings

Scoop.It posts (to our Remotely Piloted Systems page) by Friday at 9:00am

This can be anything related to drones in the broadest possible sentence. Please add in at least one or two descriptive sentences (in the “add your insight” box) and some relevant keywords (under the advanced tab in the “” box).

Class Blog

New Posting (to our blog) by Monday at 9:00am

            Each of your given week’s blog posts will consist of at least two paragraphs of observations/insights wherein you include at least 3 hyperlinks to content outside of your page and at least one picture or video or audio file. Make sure to properly reference the source of any materials you did not collect yourself.

The topic/theme for each of your weekly posts will migrate through this rotation:

Conservation (“conservation” or “environment”)

Search & rescue/EMS/disaster response (“search and rescue” or “EMS”)

Sensors (“sensor”)

Business or behavior (“economic” or “economy” or “poll”)

Conservation (“conservation” or “environment”)

Entertainment or art (“art”)

Illegal or highly dangerous/risky uses (“illegal” or “crime” or “idiot”)

Anti drone technology or failure/accident (“anti” or “fail” or “crash”)

Legislation or lawsuit (“legal” or “legislation” or “policy”)

Conservation (“conservation” or “environment”)

Entertainment or art (“art”)

New technology (“innovation”)

            We will begin your postings on week 4 (week of Feb 15). For that first week, we will have the following assignments. After that we will rotate through the topics (e.g. Hunter will do Conservation week 4, the following week he’ll do Search and Rescue, etc.).

Hunter: Conservation

Antonella: Search & rescue/EMS/disaster response

Tara: Sensors

Corey: Business or behavior

Tim: Conservation

Casey: Entertainment or art

Tyler: Illegal or highly dangerous/risky uses

Angel: Anti drone technology or failure/accident

Becca: Legislation or lawsuit

Elliot: Conservation

Patrick: Entertainment or art

Leo: New technology

Comment on at least three other postings (at least three sentences per individual comment) from that week by Thursday at 9:00am.


Opinion Polling

Online Polls (link pending) will run through the first week of April. Please distribute the link as far and wide as possible once we disseminate it. Any and all venues are appropriate, but the more widely circulated/the more general the audience the better. All of the data collection for this component will be handled automatically and you need not do anything short of encouraging folks to take it/trying to disseminate the instrument.

In-Person Surveys (link pending) I will provide you with sample polls for us to start the process during week three. You will be required to survey 40 people by March 11th, with no more than 20 people surveyed at any one location. Our survey locations range includes any public spaces from Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties. Upon completion of the survey instrument, you will enter the responses into a worksheet so as to compare how our local residents feel compared to the wider public.

            The first 5 polls (completed and entered) will be due 9am, Feb 26th.

            The remaining 35 will be due by 9am, March 18th.



Tentative Intro to RPS Schedule Guest Speakers in blue

Week 1

January 29:               Intros & Logistics; Paul Spaur: AARR Research


Week 2

January 5:                 Opinion Poll Discussions & Brainstorming; Begin Simulators


Week 3

February 12:              President Rush: Innovation; Jon Rupprecht: Drone Law (Zoom)


Week 4

February 19:             Safety Overview; Rick Larsen Legal Challenges


Week 5

February 26:              Systems Overview; Alan AeroVironment; Begin Microquads


Week 6

March 4:                    SensFly????


Week 7

March 11:                  SensFly???? MAST Center????


Week 8

March 18:                  No Formal Class Planned; Dr. A to New Orleans

Spring Break      No Class March 25


Week 9

April 1:                       No Formal Class Planned; Poll Closes; In-Person Polls Due


Week 10

April 8:                       TBD; Begin Full quads


Week 11

April 15:                    TBD


Week 12

April 22:                     TBD


Week 13

April 29:                    TBD


Week 14

May 6:                        TBD


Week 15

May 13:                     Debrief; UAV Scholarship Proposal Due; Final Practical Tests

Finals Week   Final Flights; Repeat Practical Exam (If Needed)

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