Unmanned Systems and Managing from Above: The Practical Implications of UAVs for Research Applications Addressing Urban Sustainability

  • Karen GallagherEmail author
  • Patrick Lawrence
Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 14)


The development and widespread use of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), such as quadcopters with GoPro cameras, is leading a revolution in a wide range of hobby, commercial and potential research applications of the technology. Within urban areas the variety and pace of changes occurring with both human and natural systems have significant impacts on efforts to address and manage sustainability. A wide range of opportunities and challenges exist in considering how UAVs may effectively be used as a spatial tool in examining urban areas, including buildings, infrastructure, ecosystem features and processes, natural areas, and environmental health. This chapter examines the technical, practical, policy and legal implications of the use of UAVs to assess and monitor urban sustainability and includes highlighting examples of recent research applications. Uses of scale, resolution, accuracy and reliability are noted along with how improving technologies and the growth in the widespread familiarity and use of UAVs represent an expanding field for urban research applications. Challenges including privacy, federal regulations governing the commercial use of UAVs are discussed. A series of recommendation research applications are presented in terms of the greatest potential where UAVs can be employed to further research, understanding, and decision-making in the area of urban sustainability.


Urban Environment Drones 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and PlanningUniversity of ToledoToledoUSA

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