Drone & Satellite Workshop

One-day workshop on using UAV and satellite sensing platforms.

September 20th, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia.

M600 Drone.

About the Workshop

Advanced cameras mounted on satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or 'drones') are increasingly being used in diverse fields, ranging from ecology to urban-planning. Multi-spectral satellite data can help monitor the impact of droughts, measure changes in vegetation, or reveal the long-term impact of humans on the landscape. Drones provide complementary, high-resolution and targeted information, and can be cheaply deployed to remote areas at high cadence.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Macquarie University is hosting a free 1-day workshop on using drones and satellite data for research.

Topics include:

  • Using drones and satellites to monitor coastal environments and ecology.
  • Archaeology from drones and satellites.
  • Drones as a tools for astronomy applications and monitoring light polution.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of custom-built drones versus off-the-shelf solutions.
  • Using drones to validate data from satellite cameras.
  • Science using multi-spectral and hyperspectral cameras.

Invited Speakers

Our invited speakers show that new technology can be harnessed for good: saving the natural world.

Prof Steven Longmore

Prof Steven Longmore is an astronomer and head of the astro-ecology groupat Liverpool John Moore's University. His astronomy research aims to understand how the Universe evolves over cosmic time. He also has a keen interest in applying astronomical techniques to tackle problems a little closer to home, such as helping ecologists save endangered species.

Dr Paul Butcher

Dr Paul Butcher is a senior research scientist with the Fisheries Conservation Technology Unit of the DPI. He is in charge of monitoring sharks as part of the NSW Government's $16 million Shark Management Strategy and is currently involved in the largest shark tagging program in the world. Since 2016, he has been running trials of drone technology to better detect and deter sharks off the NSW coast.

Program Overview

The full program for the day is now set:

  Friday September 20th
  Speaker Subject
09:00 - 09:15 Prof Mike Steel Welcome
09:15 - 10:00 Prof Steven Longmore "Astro-Ecology": combining drones and astrophysics techniques to help tackle biodiversity loss and climate change
10:00 - 10:15 Sam Shumack Drone and satellite data for monitoring desert ground cover
10:15 - 10:30 Lara Talavera UAS-based monitoring of sandy coasts
10:30 - 10:45 Morning Tea
10:45 - 11:00 Amir Zaribaf Pre-historical occupation of estuarine environments in the Persian Gulf
11:00 - 11:15 Yuri Shendryk Fine-scale prediction of yield in sugarcane: A comparison of UAV-derived LiDAR scans and multispectral imagery
11:15 - 11:30 Yuri Niella Space-usage models for tiger sharks
11:30 - 12:00 Discussion Session
12:00 - 14:30 Long Lunch and Climate Action
14:30 - 15:15 Dr Paul Butcher Invited Talk
15:15 - 15:30 Andrew Walsh Validation of Landsat and Sentinel products, using a drone-based approach
15:30 - 15:45 Aman Chokshi Characterising Radio Telescopes with Communication Satellites.
15:45 - 16:00 Michael Murphy Calibrating astronomical spectrographs with drones?
16:00 - 16:15 Afternoon Tea
16:15 - 16:30 Michael Baber Using drones for research at Macquarie
16:30 - 16:45 Richard McDermid Protecting the Night
16:45 - 17:00 Jackie Carpenter Drones and the workforce of the future
17:00 End of meeting


The workshop will be held at the Collaborative Learning Forum, 17 Wally's Walk, Macquarie University. The university is well-serviced by public transport, with a Sydney Metro station on campus. Allow approximately 15 minutes to walk from the station to the room.

Registration and Contact Details

Registration is free and includes morning and afternoon tea. Come along if you are thinking about using satellite data in your research, or you are simply drone-curious.

The program is full, so unfortunately no further talks can be accommodated. However, we welcome participants who just want to come along and contribute to the discussion.

Questions and comments should be addressed to cormacREMOVE.purcellREMOVEmqREMOVE.eduREMOVE.au.

Climate marchers.

Worldwide Climate Strike

September 20th is also the day of worldwide climate strike. The organisers (and likely many participants) are keen to support this action, so we have scheduled a long break in the middle of the day. The event in central Sydney is taking place at from 12:00 - 14:00 at The Domain park, which is about an hour from the university by train.

For those who prefer to stay on campus, we will organise our own local gathering. We will be running a social media campaign during the day, highlighting talks that relate to bio-diversity and climate change, and posting in support of the climate strike. Please let us know if you want to take part!