Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



Presentation, ASABE 2020 Annual International Meeting


Paper Number: 2001345


Use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in agriculture has risen in the past decade. These systems are key to modernizing agriculture. UASs collect and elucidate data previously difficult to obtain and used to help increase agricultural efficiency and production. Typical commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) UASs are limited by small payloads and short flight times. Such limits inhibit their ability to provide abundant data at multiple spatiotemporal scales. In this paper, we describe the design and construction of the tethered aircraft unmanned system (TAUS), which is a novel power-over-tether UAS leveraging the physical presence of the tether to launch multiple sensors along the tether at multiple altitudes. With power from a ground station, the TAUS can acquire continuous data for several hours . The system is used to sense atmospheric conditions and temperature gradients across altitude. The development of the prototyped system is presented, along with the results of field experiments. The influence that power losses across the tether have on the sensors’ abilities to accurately sense is discussed. We demonstrate a 6-hour continuous flight at an altitude of 50 feet, and a 1-hour flight at sunset to acquire the gradually decreasing atmospheric temperature from an array of 6 sensors. An empirical evaluation of the system’s performance found that the prototype successively demonstrated proof of concept by considerably increasing flight times and throughput by simultaneously acquiring data from the sensor array. The TAUS will be improved by integrating performance-monitoring circuitry, elevated levels of algorithm-based autonomy, and multivariable sensors.