Uncrewed Systems Technology 043 l Auve Tech Iseauto taxi l Charging focus l Advanced Navigation Hydrus l UGVs insight l MVVS 116 l Windracers ULTRA l CES 2022 show report l ECUs focus I Distant Imagery

108 T he UAE’s coastline is home to a multitude of mangrove swamps, lagoons and islands that form cherished points of natural beauty for locals and tourists, and act as ‘blue carbon’ sinks for the considerable emissions produced by the region’s bullish economies. Mangrove forests sequester carbon at a much faster rate than deciduous forests, and can do so for thousands of years, making them vital to the UAE government’s sustainability goals. To preserve these critical ecological assets, local company Distant Imagery has recently planned and conducted a project to repopulate the Mirtha lagoon in Abu Dhabi with new mangroves, using a range of proprietary and COTS technologies deployed by autonomous multi-rotor systems. The company was set up by local UAV engineer Cory Rhodes and Jane Glavan from Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency (EAD). The two had previously worked together on UAS projects for virtual tours of ecological sites, as well as mangrove mapping. Its ecological restoration work began with a pilot phase in 2019, in which a hectare or so of coastline was planted with experimental mangrove seed balls and using specially adapted UAVs equipped with additively printed planting rigging. The area was then monitored every month for growth over the following 12 months. A second phase, in late 2021, involved further refining the UAV rigging and planting methodology, using the seed balls as well as pre-germinated mangrove seeds, in order to scale up the planting and improve the growth and survival of the resulting saplings. As a result of the project, more than 50,000 mangrove seeds were planted in the lagoon, making a key contribution to the Emirati government’s ambition to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. Distant Imagery has since been named as one A multi-rotor UAS has been deployed to repopulate mangroves in a region of the UAE. Rory Jackson finds out how it works Growth industry April/May 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology