“ITALIA 90th Anniversary” Memorial Conference SGI- Società Geografica Italiana

SGI-Società Geografica Italiana is pleased to host an International Conference on the 90th “Italia” Airship Anniversary, in cooperation with the Italian Air Force Museum, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Italy and the association PolarQuest 2018, under the Scientific Direction of Prof. Gianluca Casagrande of the European University in Rome.

This Memorial Conference celebrates, among others, two legendary Explorers of the Arctic, Umberto Nobile and Roald Amudsen. The conference will focus on the Arctic flights of airship ITALIA and their innovative role in the history of technology and exploration; on the extraordinary international effort to rescue and recover the stranded crew of the airship as they fell on the pack on their route back to the homebase; and on some current perspectives on research in the Arctic and the Arctic region as a geographic asset.

Participants and panelists include members of the Italian Geographical Society, Representatives of Italian and Norwegian Universities (Sapienza University, The European University of Rome, Nord University of Bodø) and Research Centers (Italian National Research Council,  NILU – Norwegian Institute for Atmosferic Research) and Museums (Italian Air Force Museum, Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, Museo Civico Umberto Nobile di Lauro, Krassin Museum, Saint Petersburg). Furthermore, explorers, authors and descendants of Umberto Nobile, Roald Amundsen and other crewmembers of airships NORGE (1926) and ITALIA (1928)

The Italian Geographical Society wishes to gratefully acknowledge, for their collaboration and support, the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Rome, the CNR – Consiglio Nazionale Ricerche, the Italian Air Force Museum, GREAL – European University of Rome and Blazing Strategies International Ltd. 

The conference will be held in two days

The first day will take place on Thursday May 24th, at the Italian Geographical Society’s headquarters  at Palazzetto Mattei in Villa Celimontana (Via della Navicella 12, Rome).

The second day (Friday, May 25th) will be held at the Italian Air Force Museum at Vigna di Valle (Via Circumlacuale snc), Bracciano Lake.

The memorial value of the session will be sealed by a ceremonial fly-over by the Italian Air Force aerobatic team, “Frecce Tricolori”


GREAL in the Arctic with PolarQuest 2018

The Geographic Research and Application Laboratory of the European University of Rome will participate in the PolarQuest 2018 expedition to the Arctic region with a geographic observation program by drones. PolarQuest 2018 is currently in an advanced state of preparation. It aims to conjugating scientific research and communication on several relevant phenomena involving the Arctic environment. 

The activity program calls for a scientific cruise onboard experimental sailboat NANUQ. The 60-foot vessel was designed by the Swiss architect and scientist Peter Gallinelli around passive-architecture criteria.

This designing approach allows to operate in high energetic efficiency conditions with limited environmental impact. 

NANUQ is currently being turned into a sailing scientific laboratory. Three research programs are scheduled to be conducted onboard, respectively by  the Centro Fermi of the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), by the Institute for Marine Sciences of Italian National Research Council (ISMAR-CNR) an by GREAL. 

The first program calls for the installation onboard NANUQ of a cosmic ray detector to be operated at high latitude. The second one will perform water sampling in order to research on the nature and distribution of macro/micro plastics in the region North of Svalbard by the deployment of a tool called “MANTANET”. 

The third program, directed by GREAL, is called AURORA (Accessible UAVs for Research and Observation in Remote Areas) and will consist in a series of survey and/or observation flights over some coastal environments by the use of mini and micro-drones. 

The rationale of this specific activity is to provide methodological indications in order to apply these new accessible and powerful technology to scientific research and cultural communication about Arctic environments. 

NANUQ will depart on July 21st from Iceland and will reach Svalbard (an archipelago within the Arctic Circle) for a technical stopover in early August. On August 4th, the vessel will leave the port of Longyearbyen and will attempt the circumnavigation of the islands, with a brief call to the scientific base of Ny Aalesund and several observation landings on the northern shores of Nordaustlandet. In the second half of August, if the ice conditions will allow, NANUQ will move towards the North, in the open sea, for a visit in the area were the exploration airship ITALIA was lost in 1928. 

After a further stop in Longyearbyen the boat will depart again on August 25th towards Tromsø, in Norway, final destination of her journey 

During the expedition, NANUQ’s international crew will constantly include 10 members (with turnovers along the route), 4 in charge of the navigation and 6 in charge of research and communication activities. 


Initial tests for the ENVI-PHANTOM

GREAL/FTD ENVI-PHANTOM is an activity program based on the use of several system configurations for DJI Phantom quadcopter aimed to performing optimized geographic observation.

The program is developed by GREAL in cooperation with FlyToDiscover and will call for several application activities during 2018.

Given the modularity of configurations, the experimental activities have so far considered several versions of the popular DJI drone: Phantom 2, Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 Pro.

The advantage of using this particular type of machine is typically due to its modest dimensions, good endurance and significant technical reliability.

At present, several combinations of sensors, sensor mounts and RPA platforms. The purposes of the ENVI-Phantom will include definition and scientific validation of optimized geographic observation techniques relying on low-cost hardware and software.

Among the first activities planned for the operational tests, there is the geographic observation series proposed by GREAL within the framework of the PolarQuest 2018 Arctic expedition (www.polarquest2018.org). 

The TimeFlyers workgroup involved in precision aerophotogrammetry within the Colosseum, Rome

Between October 17th and 20th the TimeFlyers workgroup was involved in archaeological aerophotogrammetry operations by the use of microdrones within the Anphiteatrum Flavium (Colosseum) in Rome.

The main activity profile consisted in photogrammetric passes and video/photo documentation in the areas of the so-called hypogean level, i.e. the structural complex which was originally under the arena and is now partially exposed due to collapse of original ceilings.  

The primary goal of the work was to obtain a large scale (1:50) ortophoto so as to document the current status of ancient structures. As a side-activity to this type of documentation, a collection of still images and video footage was acquired for additional information.

One of the innovative aspects of the operation was the use of micro-drones of the “0.3 kg” category. Such class of UAVs is regulated in Italy by the article 12 section 5 of the ENAC Regulation on Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems, and calls for UAVs to be within 0.3 Kgs of take-off mass, not faster than 60 kmph and fitted with shielding for the propellers. Under these conditions, registered and insured UAVs can be legally flown in urban settings and without the need of a specific license for the pilot, both elements being subject to heavier requirements for larger drones.

In the specific case, deployed UAVs were FTD Sparks, one of the Italian custom variants of the widespread DJI Spark quadcopter.

Two drones were flown at a-time (led by two separate teams) and they were used to survey several different kinds of structures both in outdoor and indoor environments, aiming to a comprehensive and accurate documentation of the overall space.

The Technical director of the operation was archaeologist Emiliano Tondi (Poleis S.C. a r.l.); GREAL was represented by Prof. Gianluca Casagrande and Mr. Filippo Fiorentini. UAV technical consultant was Mr. Sandro Russello (FlyToDiscover)

GREAL at GISDay 2017, CIRGEO, University of Padua

GisDay 2017, organized by CIRGEO, Padua University under Prof. Massimo De Marchi’s direction, was held today at the historic “Sala dell’Emiciclo” in Padua’s Botanic Garden. Quite a wide series of brief reports was presented by scholars and professionals on subjects related to Geographic Information Science (GIS) and drones (RPAS).

The event is part of the activities of the Post-graduate certification program in Geographic Information Systems and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, now in its third edition. GREAL was represented by Prof. Gianluca Casagrande, who gave a 15 min speech on “Micro-drones under 0.3 kgs of mass and documentation of Cultural Heritage.

Considerations on an innovative tool”. Based on recent research experiences gathered by GREAL in its cooperation with FlyToDiscover srls and Poleis SCarl, the talk was focused on perspectives and issues in the use of very small drones, a category of RPAS which is currently cleared to operate in Italy, according to present regulation, with special opportunities.

In the photo: Prof. Massimo De Marchi opens GISDay 2017

First flight-session FTD Spark NIR “testbed” drone

Sandro Russello, head of FlyToDiscover, took the FTD Spark NIR “testbed” drone into the air today. This is the first series of experimental flights for this 340 g quadcopter, fitted with an additional near-infrared (NIR) camera.

The prototype will undergo a series of validation tests for survey purposes and will serve as a testbed towards the development of a lightweight, low cost commercial survey RPAS. The FTD Spark NIR is the outcome of a close partnership and collaboration between FTD and GREAL towards the development of an accessible survey tool for scientific and professional applications. Such kind of cooperation between the two partners is not new, as it led in the past to the implementation of other prototypes, most notably the FTD 160X4 .

From the standpoint of geographic research, the implementation of Spark NIR is in line with the traditional GREAL’s approach to develop high-accessibility tools for practical applications. In particular, this project aims to take advantage of the regulatory and practical opportunities provided by minimal-sized drones for studies on vegetation, especially in urban and densely populated contexts.


GREAL representatives at the International Eugeo 2015 Congress

The 2015 edition of the Eugeo International congress was held in Budapest from August 31st to September 2nd. The European University of Rome and GREAL were represented there by Prof. Gianluca Casagrande and Mr. Alessandro Prunesti, who gave presentations in two separate sessions, on “The Benefit of Remote Sensing in Geography” and “The future of cities between competitiveness and vulnerability: the smart city perspective“ respectively.
The former session was organized by a group of Hungarian researchers in order to discuss innovative applications of Remote Sensing to Physical and Human Geography. The latter, proposed by a group of Italian scholars and experts, was an extensive overview of innovative perspectives on the world of Smart Cities.