Russian developers at Siberian Federal University (SFU) have developed a radio altimeter that allows unmanned aerial vehicles to fly at extremely low altitude.
The developers explain that unlike the current barometric altimeter devices and sensors that need to be remotely controlled for landing and flight at a midget height, the newly developed radio/radar altimeter uses automatic mode to operate at a height of just ten meters above the ground.
"This development will be able to significantly improve aerial surveys, which frequently require a lot of photographic mapping. This might be photography and video surveillance with a high level of detail, or geological exploration work," Peter Sharshavin, a lecturer at the university's Institute of Engineering, Physics and Radio Electronics and lead researcher on the project, said in a press release.
"The radio altimeter also has an 'autopilot' function for landing on unequipped runways. This will significantly improve the quality of exploration without increasing its cost," Sharshavin explained.
A radio altimeter is an airborne electronic device that measures the distance between the aircraft and the terrain directly below it. They are commonly used to land large commercial or military aircraft.