Developing an ash/water collection system for UAVs

Dean of Postgraduate Research
Vice-Chancellor’s Office
Extension: 7285
Summer Research Scholarship Scheme
Project Application Form
Please complete and submit the application form as a WORD document and send to
The Project
Title of Project (max 30 words):
Developing an ash/water collection system for UAVs
Project Leader(s):
Kelvin Barnsdale, Geoff Kilgour (GNS Science)
Host Department/Organization:
GNS Science
Other persons involved in this topic/activity:
(List other significant members involved along with their affiliation to the research project.)
Affiliation to project
Salman Ashraf
GNS Science
Brief outline of project
Describe the proposed research project – maximum of 400 words (box will expand as you type).
Note that this information will be published on the web in order to attract student applicants and therefore be
mindful of any Intellectual Property issues
This project aims to develop a mechanism for collecting volcanic ash/rock and water samples using a multirotor UAV. While this has broad applicability for a variety of applications, the proposed system will be
specifically tailored to volcanic-hydrothermal systems, which are very difficult operating environments. For
instance, the operating environment contains toxic gases, hot and highly acidic fluids and dusty air.
The need for the proposed system is significant. Immediately after a volcanic eruption, it is often very
dangerous to venture close to the vent area. As such, geologists are often unable to immediately inspect the
erupted material. Furthermore, volcanic lakes are often hot and acidic and sampling can be problematic.
Therefore, a remotely operated collection system will allow for scientists to obtain samples quickly and safely
for analysis. While these samples are difficult or dangerous to collect, they are vital for understanding the
system in question. This project will work closely with volcano monitoring and research scientists to develop
the most robust mechanism for the extreme conditions.
If the project involves work away from the University campus (e.g., at fieldwork sites) please detail all locations.
Testing could be completed in Rotorua or other geothermal region.
If the student be required to work outside of normal university hours (8am-5pm) please provide details
Benefits student will gain from involvement in the project
Describe the research experience and skills that the student will acquire through involvement in this research project –
maximum of 100 words.
The student will gain enhanced engineering skills in a rapidly developing field of UAV technology. A sampling
system attached to a UAV does not currently exist and so the student will have to develop a new method for
sample collection. In addition, the student will also have to make the system robust enough to operate in
extreme atmospheric conditions, which will be difficult, yet achievable. Finally, the student will work alongside
volcanologists to test the system in real-world scenarios, which will connect the student with active scientists.
Specific student requirements
Please provide details of all requirements you have for the student to work on this project – for example, if specific
courses/experience are necessary.
UAV experience would be useful, but not essential.
Strong engineering skills, including electrical or mechanical engineering