Drone-based Hyperspectral Data Capture and Processing

Capture spectral data on every pixel to inspect vegetation, soil, and liquid properties

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PrecisionHawk offers specialized drones, sensors, flight services, data processing services, and training for hyperspectral data collection and processing.

Hyperspectral sensors capture gigabytes (and sometimes even terabytes) of spectral data. Typically viewed as a three-dimensional hypercube, hyperspectral data represents the entire spectrum of each pixel in a given image. Analysts can use this reflectance profile to:

  • Measure plant health and identify plant disease
  • Assess water quality
  • Perform precise vegetation index calculations
  • Determine mineral and surface composition
  • Fill spectral sensing
  • Conduct spectral index research
Hyperspectral sensing is complex, requiring careful drone flight planning. We can help--contact us!

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Fly it Yourself


Collect your own hyperspectral data using drones: get a specialized drone and hyperspectral imager from our portfolio of vetted drone hardware.

Hire Drone Pilots

Get hyperspectral data, starting now. With the largest drone pilot network in the world, drone-based aerial intelligence is at your fingertips.

Hire Data Analysts


Avoid technical and time-intensive hyperspectral data processing by hiring PrecisionHawk's data team to produce maps and models.

A Business Case for Drone-based Hyperspectral

New to hyperspectral? Already using hyperspectral data but haven’t tried drones? Here’s how to make the case for a drone-based hyperspectral investment--we identify the four criteria of a strong business case and offer guidance on how to present it, including: 

  • Building your team
  • Developing and evaluating a drone solution
  • Gaining buy-in through effective communication
  • Managing change
  • Drafting the case 

Learn from our experience working with leaders in major industries, government, and Fortune 100 enterprises and present a winning drone-based hyperspectral business case.


How Hyperspectral Sensing Works

Hyperspectral sensors collect data as a series of narrow and contiguous wavelength bands providing a high level of performance in spectral and radiometric accuracy.

The datasets produced by hyperspectral imagers come in the form of a three-dimensional hypercube in which two dimensions represent the spatial information (x,y) and the third dimension representing the spectral information. You can use this detailed spectral information (5-10 nm, up to 200 bands per pixel) to identify subtle differences in vegetation, minerals and other materials.

When you investigate different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, it’s like looking at the same subject matter under a completely different microscope. How that object interacts with incident light changes based upon the wavelength of energy, or spectral band, recorded.

Applications of Drone-based Hyperspectral Sensing

Geology--Mineral Exploration and Soil Assessment
Ecology--Chlorophyll, Cellulose, Leaf Water, Pigments, and Lignin
Agronomy--Photosynthetic Efficiency, Plant-Pathogen Identification, Ecological Monitoring, Nutrient Stress
Crop Management--Plant Stress Indexing

Talk to our team about your goals in deploying drone-based hyperspectral.


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Selecting a Hyperspectral Sensor

When selecting a hyperspectral sensor, consider your desired data output and resolution requirements. The more precise your needs, the more spectral and spatial bands you'll require of a hyperspectral sensor. The frame rate of your sensor will impact the speed at which you can capture data, as well.


Headwall Nano-Hyperspec

Headwall's Nano-Hyperspec is purpose-built for drone-based hyperspectral applications. It's light, small, and augmentable with direct-attached GPS and IMU. The sensor is configured in an aberration-corrected concentric layout, using slit line (a.k.a "push-broom") scanning.

  • VNIR spectral range (400-1000nm)
  • 270 spectral bands, 640 spatial bands
  • Maximum frame rate: 350Hz
  • 480 GB internal storage



Headwall Micro-Hyperspec

The Micro-Hyperspec, by Headwall, is a small hyperspectral sensor. It comes in VNIR, NIR, Ext. VNIR, and SWIR versions, in an all-reflective, concentrical optical layout. Get high spectral and spatial resolution.

  • Up to 369 spectral bands
  • Up to 1,600 spatial bands
  • Frame rates up to 450Hz

Choosing a Drone for Hyperspectral Sensing

Hyperspectral sensors are heavier than visual and multispectral sensors, requiring a drone with greater payload capacity. When deploying hyperspectral, pilots must fly their drones "low and slow." So, you'll want a drone with a large battery capacity--that'll allow you to keep the drone aloft for longer.

We’ve put together a portfolio of drones based on the wide range of hyperspectral missions we’ve flown:


DJI's M600 is one of the largest of their offerings, making it ideal for deploying hyperspectral sensors. Its modular frame makes it easy and quick to set up and deploy. The M600 can handle major payloads, owing to its actively cooled motors and large frame. Since geospatial precision is important when flying hyperspectral sensors, the M600’s A3 self-adaptive flight system is of critical importance: It adjusts flight parameters automatically based on different payloads, and can be upgraded with two additional GNSS and IMU units or a D-RTK GNSS for high geolocation accuracy.


BFD 1400-SE8

An American-made alternative to DJI's M600, the BFD 1400-SE8 is perfect for big multispectral payloads. Its wingspan is 1399 mm, but the drone's competitive weight ratio allows it to fly up to 12kgs and still remain under 25kg. It’s also flight computer-agnostic. This means you can customize your flight controller, telemetry modem, off-board computer and other elements of your hyperspectral flight operation.

Ready-to-Fly Hyperspectral Drone Package

Looking for a turnkey package that'll get you collecting hyperspectral data quickly? We’ve assembled a Ready-to-Fly package, which includes:

  • Headwall Nano-Hyperspec
  • Choice of VNIR lens
  • DJI M600 UAV
  • Custom gimbal
  • Standard GPS/INS
  • Hyperspec III and Spectral View software
  • Radiometric calibration and reflectance calibration tarp
  • One day of training at Headwall

Get in touch now and get ready for take-off.

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Need Help Collecting and/or Processing Drone-based
Hyperspectral Data?

We don’t need to tell you that flying and processing hyperspectral on a drone is more involved than snapping a few landscape photos. Setting up a base station, assuring data quality while in the field, processing point clouds--the hyperspectral data value chain is complex. When accuracy is critical, there’s little margin for error.


We’ll Fly & Process Hyperspectral for You

PrecisionHawk offers a staff of on-demand hyperspectral drone pilots available for single-day data capture or months-long projects.

Back at HQ, an accredited team of hyperspectral data scientists is available to process hyperspectral data and produce a wide range of maps and models.


We’ll Train You to Fly Hyperspectral

If you’d like to fly hyperspectral yourself, but need a little help getting off the ground, our expert pilot team offers 3- and 5-day training courses that teach you everything you need to know about collecting hyperspectral data via drone. Classroom and field training includes hardware, flight planning, safety, airspace, and other flight operations issues.

Speak with a Hyperspectral Expert

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