UAV application in the forestry sector cutover aerial survey - stage two

Dr Richard Green, Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Applicants are invited for the following Master’s Degree project within the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering.


The client, Scion, is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute (CRI) that specialises in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product and wood-derived materials and other biomaterial sectors. Scion is the trading name for New Zealand Forest Research Institute Limited.
Scion is currently investigating the advantages Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology can bring to the forest industry. This project is just one of many forestry applications where UAV technology will bring cost savings and efficiencies to the industry.

This project

When harvesting a forest, the area of cut trees is called the “cutover”. Currently, the geographic edge, and hence area, of cutover is not routinely measured. However, this information would be extremely useful in the following ways:

  • The area of cut trees is directly related to the logging contractor’s remuneration.
  • Log quality to land topography can be correlated if the original position of the cut tree is known.
  • Topography of the land can be measured, for future planning purposes.

In stage one of this project (2015) a proof of concept sensor was built for this task. This project (stage two) will take the concept, and develop an industry ready prototype.


This stage will continue the development of a UAV platform that can autonomously record the forest “cutover” geographic edge. The challenges will be:

  1. Automatically, with high reliability, detect the cutover edge using aerial sensors in a portable, embedded application.
  2. To perform the above with a variety of tree types, and tree density.
  3. To maintain a high degree of flight guidance safety and reliability.


  1. Carry out a literature search on the parameters of IEEE802.11p.
  2. Gather information on the typical warehouse channel model.
  3. Create a propagation model of the warehouse environment.
  4. Perform simulation trials on various safety critical scenarios.
  5. Investigate the availability of hardware for real-world trials.
  6. Setup and perform representative communication trials in a warehouse.
  7. Deliver a thesis on this project.

Stipend and duration

The student will receive a stipend. The course fees will be the responsibility of the student. The duration of the project will be one year. The student will work within, and use facilities of the Spatial Engineering Research Centre.

Suitable experience

The following students would be appropriate for this project: Engineering graduates with a background in Computer Vision, Software engineering and/or mechatronics.

Submission of applications

Applicants are required to submit the following documents by email to Graeme Woodward, Research Lead, Spatial Engineering Research Centre.

  • Your current curriculum vitae.
  • An A4 page typed statement about how your experience or interests relate to the chosen project(s).
  • A reference from a supervisor or lecturer (or referee details).
  • A copy of your current academic transcript.

Please ensure you include: Full legal name, postal address, email address, telephone/mobile number, programme and year of study and student number.


  • The University of Canterbury reserves the right to not award the stipend if a suitable candidate is not found. 
  • Short listed applicants will be interviewed by the UC project supervisors, College of Engineering.
  • Applicants must meet the University of Canterbury enrolment criteria for postgraduate study. 
  • Stipend subject to a successful contract agreement with the client, once a suitable candidate is identified.