Daniel Babatunde

Loughborough University


Development of a smart and autonomous environmental multi-physics sensor monitoring system using networked Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems (UAVs)


Dr. Simon Pomeroy and Dr. Paul Lepper

PhD Summary

The recent proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has opened new avenues of research into the potential applications of such vehicles. Unlike ground vehicles, UAVs are not restricted to movement in the two-dimensional space making them more manoeuvrable. They are also generally lighter than their ground counterparts and their accessibility to three-dimensional space makes them easier to deploy in compromised sites. Unmanned aerial vehicles have a wider reaching scope with potential applications in search and rescue, agricultural and military sectors. Whilst UAVs are exciting and fascinating technology, developing autonomous drones is a more challenging and expensive undertaking compared to ground vehicles. To start with, one is faced with the problem of dealing with navigation in an extra dimension. My PhD project is looking into the development of autonomous UAVs for Marine Mammal and aquatic environmental monitoring in Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) in the UK. Historically, the observation of marine mammals have employed the following techniques: – Aerial Monitoring from light aircrafts or helicopters at certain intervals during the year – Direct Counts from boat or shore. Both techniques are slow, expensive and have a low turnover rate. Recently, UAVs have come to play a part in this but the potential importance of this technology could go much further. What if we could run autonomous unmanned missions by leveraging existing sensor technologies and computer vision algorithms to fly a drone from a base station to a defined section of the ocean to observe and report on current activity among other things? I plan to approach my project by combining existing sensor technologies and making use of machine learning in my research to aid with the identification of marine life.

What inspires you

I’ve always loved big Cats ever since the first time I saw one in my local zoo growing up. At different points in time during life, I’ve also lived in rural areas rich in local wildlife so I think my interest in the natural world had just been maintained that way.

Previous activity

I studied a Masters of Engineering at Loughborough University

Why did you choose doctoral research?

During my Masters project I became fascinated with the unexplored opportunities and potential of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. I felt a Doctoral research was a nautral progression for me to pursue this fascination.

Why did you choose CENTA?

Coming from an Engineering background, things are a bit different for me within CENTA. But I pride myself in pushing out of my comfort zone. Additionally, CENTA is an amazing DTC I feel proud to be a part of and I’ve been made welcome so far.

Future plans

I’ve not thought that far yet. “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”