Unmanned aerial systems (UASs), frequently referred to as ‘drones’, have become more common and affordable and are a promising tool for collecting data on free-ranging wild animals. We used a Phantom-2 UAS equipped with a gimbal-mounted camera to estimate position, velocity and acceleration of a subject on the ground moving through a grid of GPS surveyed ground control points (GCPs) (area ∼1200m2). We validated the accuracy of the system against a dual frequency survey grade GPS system attached to the subject. When compared to GPS survey data the estimations of position, velocity and acceleration had an RMS error of 0.13m, 0.11ms−1 and 2.31ms−2 respectively. The system can be used to collect locomotion and localisation data on multiple free-ranging animals simultaneously. It does not require specialist skills to operate, is rapidly and easily deployed and easily transported to field locations. It is therefore a useful addition to the range of methods available for field data collection on free-ranging animal locomotion.
- Received February 12, 2016.
- Accepted June 20, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd