Past Awards

FY 2022 | 2 – Respond | 22-10-14

Airborne Fluorosensor

Christopher Roussi, Michigan Technological University (MTU)
Contract Term: 07/01/22 - 09/30/23
Award: $69,735

In order to organize the response to a spill, it is important to be able to detect the presence of oil on the water surface, especially at night. Given the low light levels, one proposed method of detecting the oil is to induce fluorescence, and isolate the oil emissions from other environmental fluorescence (such as chlorophyll). Recent advancements in small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) make this an appealing platform for such a sensor. 


MTRI proposes to design, test, assemble, and demonstrate a practical and inexpensive oil fluorescence emission sensor that can be mounted on a sUAS for rapid response and measurement. The requirements for this system are: 

  • Able to operate at an altitude of at least 50 feet, with a target altitude of 100 feet 
  • Able to operate for at least 30 minutes  
  • Weigh less than 4 pounds, including the illumination, sensor, controls, packaging, and power-supplies 
  • Wide field-of-view (FOV) to allow mapping of larger areas 
  • Ability to provide detection outputs tagged with full geo-location data 
  • Relatively inexpensive, which implies significant commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components 


This is expected to take approximately 2 months for the base sensor, with an optional 1 week field-demonstration in Alaska. The prototype system will be tested at the Ann Arbor, MI office of MTRI, using an existing sUAS (MTRI has a fleet of sUAS capable of carrying a variety of payloads, up to 8kg). A prototype sensor, along with the software needed to process the collected data, will be delivered at the end of the project.