Wageningen University & Research Unmanned Aerial Remote Sensing Facility (UARSF)

Wageningen University & Research Unmanned Aerial Remote Sensing Facility (UARSF)

To support environmental management there is increasing need for timely, accurate and detailed information on our land. Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are increasingly used to monitor agricultural crop development, habitat quality or urban heat efficiency. An important reason is that UAV technology is maturing quickly while the flexible capabilities of UAV fill a gap between satellite based and ground based geo-sensing systems.

In 2012, different groups within Wageningen University & Research established an Unmanned Airborne Remote Sensing Facility (UARSF). The objective of this facility is threefold:

  • To develop innovation in the field of remote sensing science by providing a platform for dedicated and high-quality experiments;
  • To support high quality UAS services by providing calibration facilities and disseminating processing procedures to the UAS user community;
  • To promote and test the use of UAS in a broad range of application fields like habitat monitoring, precision agriculture and land degradation assessment.

Currently, several groups from Wageningen University and Research take part in the facility: these include the Laboratory of Geo-Information Science and Remote Sensing (GRS) and the chair group Information Technology, Wageningen Food Safety Research, Unifarm and NPEC of Wageningen Plant Research, and the Earth Informatics team of Wageningen Environmental Research.

Description of facility

The added value of the Unmanned Aerial Remote Sensing Facility (UARSF) is that compared to for example satellite-based remote sensing, more dedicated science experiments can be prepared. This includes for example higher frequent observations in time (e.g., diurnal observations), observations of an object under different observation angels for characterization of BRDF and flexibility in use of cameras and sensor types. In this way, laboratory type of set-ups can be tested in a field situation and effects of up-scaling can be tested.

Within the facility a range of UAV platforms are available: these include the following rotor-based systems DJI S1000, DJI M100, DJI M210, DJI Phantom, DJI Mavic, while also we have a fixed system available: the Sensefly Ebee. The choice of a specific platform depends on the requirements of the experiment and capabilities of the platform.

Next to UAV platforms, also a large range of camera systems can be used:

  • Headwall Nano Hyperspectral camera combined with LiDAR system
  • Hyperspectral mapping system (HYMSY)
  • Rikola hyperspectral camera
  • Wiris thermal camera
  • RGB-NIR camera (MUMSY)
  • Several RGB camera’s: including DJI Zenmuse X7
  • Sequoia multi-spectral camera
  • Fluorescence point-spectrometer (FluorSpec)
  • Several chemical sensors to measure gas components and atmospheric particles

Finally, we are operating a Laser Scanning system on a UAV: this is the Riegl Ricopter. from this LiDAR system, detailed and precise 3D models of objects can be collected and mapped.


The following projects are using or have been using the expertise and equipment of the UARSF:

  • I-Seeds (H2020; 2021-2024): GRS partner: developing a new generation of self-deployable and biodegradable soft miniaturized robots
  • PalmWatch (BELSPO; 2019-2022): GRS partner: Using remote sensing to tackle red palm weevil in palms
  • EU project GENTORE (H2020: 2018-2022): WENR: Phenotyping livestock with drones
  • KB-NPEC (Kennisbasis 2018-2022). Phenotyping with drones
  • Automated Airborne Pest Management (NWO; 2017-2020): GRS partner
  • PPS PrecisieTuinbouw ‘Next Generation Phenotyping’ (2017-2020). WENR
  • Spectors (Interreg; 2016-2020): GRS en WEnR partner

Relevant PhD and postdoc projects

Open source UAV datasets