Spanish Company Deploys Drones to Battle Light Pollution

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Light map of Paris (credit: NASA)

A Spanish drone company is taking to the skies to combat a rising global problem – light pollution.

Embention is developing a method to map areas at night to determine the optimal process for street-light deployment in major cities – a process that can help mitigate light pollution.

The increased urbanization of most developed nations is resulting in an increase of artificial light.

According to a recent report in Popular Science:

“Light pollution can harm many forms of life. For humans, the burgeoning field of chronobiology—the study of how our sleep and wake cycles affect our health—suggests that artificial light, especially of the blue variety, can trigger wakefulness when our bodies should be preparing for a good night’s sleep. Excessive exposure to nighttime light is now linked to everything from cancer to obesity.”

Mapping urban areas with drones makes it “possible to redesign streetlights in cities, decreasing wasted light projected to the sky and adjusting light levels to the strictly necessary,” an Embention press release claims.

“Currently, there are low weight electronic components already in the market, such as photoelectric sensors used by cars, which can be installed in drones to control and monitor light pollution. Drones allow users to quickly gather light level data from the area to check, creating thermal maps to determine the most affected areas.”

The company plans to mate photoelectric sensors with its NMS model multi-rotor-vehicles and integrate flight management with Embention’s Veronte Autopilot drone mapping software.

Embention’s ambitious plans demonstrate yet another way drones can help the environment.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  uses photogrammetric hexacopters to collect data about endangered killer whales.
  • Last year, Intel announced a collaborationwith a noted photographer/conservationist to track polar bear populations across the Arctic.
  • Tanzania’s Ministry of Tourism approved the use of UAVs over the 1,000-square-foot Tarangire National Park following a trial deployment at Mkomanzi National Park to battle poachers.
  • Norwegian research conglomerate Sintef announced a project to deploy UAS to optimize aquaculture in regional waters – especially for the beleaguered salmon population decimated by sea lice.


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