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Rikola Ltd commercialises VTT’s ultralight hyperspectral camera technology for UAVs



Rikola Ltd commercialises VTT’s ultralight hyperspectral camera technology for UAVs

VTT has developed a compact spectral camera that can be integrated into very light unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). VTT and Rikola Ltd concluded a licence agreement on FPI-based spectral camera technology in June. Rikola’s plan is to bring a commercial UAV camera to the market in early 2013. VTT’s spectral camera prototype has been tested in forest and agriculture applications with the University of Jyväskylä, MTT (MTT Agrifood Research Finland) and METLA (Finnish Forest Research Institute).

Jussi Soukkamäki, CTO at Rikola Ltd, sees rich potential for FPI spectral cameras in UAV markets. Rikola Ltd announced its collaboration with VTT at the AUVSI conference in Las Vegas, 7–9 August 2012. FPI is a cost-effective technology that opens up totally new markets for hyperspectral imaging.

“Very enthusiastic feedback from Las Vegas showed that the UAV market has been waiting for a small, lightweight hyperspectral imager,” says Mr Soukkamäki. “In addition, our frame-based hyperspectral solution gives high imaging accuracy at low cost. This is a dream for small-scale operators.”

There are several potential applications for UAVs in forestry, agriculture, the military, mining, urban mapping, power lines and road monitoring. The work done in the UASI project provided new spectral information in various fields of agriculture, concerning biomass, plant diseases, height profiles, weeds and moisture variations. This new information gives rise to new ways of benefiting from spectral imaging.

VTT’s spectral camera is based on dedicated FPI technology and is integrated together with a 4 megapixel imager chip. The FPI technology enables very light and small-sized spectral systems, which offers several benefits compared to off-the-shelf spectral cameras. FPI is an ideal solution for applications where small size and robustness are needed. The technology makes it possible to take full 2D images at every exposure, enabling the formation of spectral datacubes (a stack of images taken at specific wavelengths) even from low-cost UAV platforms.

The size of the developed camera is 62x56x120 mm, with a mass of only ca. 500 g, including battery and all electronics. The wavelength range of the camera is default 500-900 nm, with a spectral resolution selectable in the range 10…40 nm.

Additional information:

Jussi Soukkamäki
CTO, Rikola Ltd
Tel. +358 50 358 3516