TraitSeeker and UAVs

The NPEC Open Field module consists of one easily transportable vehicle, the TraitSeeker and three UAVs, all equipped with state-of-the-art sensors. All devices can be transported to different field sites to study individual plants in small plots or large fields in their local conditions. Depending on the experimental needs, the devices can be used together or separately.


This self-driving phenotyping platform is built to precisely measure plant performance and development through high resolution imaging. It’s development by CropTraits and Phenokey was customised to NPEC’s desires. The vehicle is optimised for plots of 1.5m wide, with the flexibility to widen the wheel-based up to 2.0m wide and can measure plants up to 1.2m in height in a non-destructive manner. The vehicle makes use of AB-line driving and cruise control for and repeatable measurements. Data capture is automated based on georeferenced plot polygons.

The vehicle is equipped with 2 hyperspectral sensors (VIS-NIR/ SWIR), a 2D LiDAR sensor and a high-resolution RGB line scan sensor. A ceiling of specialised illumination ensures constant optimal light conditions independent of weather conditions. All data is georeferenced for location and inclination through an on-board GPS/ INS unit.

During data processing, sensor fusion – full integration on pixel level of all sensor data – takes place. From the resulting extensive 3D dataset several parameters can be extracted. Examples are individual plant height, plant count, % of groundcover, digital biomass and more. The TraitSeeker is the platform for accurate, non-destructive, repeatable measurements over time in the field.

Data output

NPEC imaging experts explain in this video how the TraitSeeker works, which imaging systems are present and what kind of data they generate:

Grass – RGB and LIDAR 3D combined data visualisation

Beet data impression FX10 visualisation in PerClass – Mira

Lettuce – 3D LIDAR visualisation of collected data with CloudCompare

Lettuce data impression FX17 hyperspectral data visualisation in PerClass – Mira

Read more about LettuceKnow here.


Sometimes the bigger picture is better seen from above. With the use of drones a whole new perspective of experimental fields can be created. Whether it is your desire to map certain plant characteristics, shoot a nice picture for the cover of your PhD thesis or make a promotional video, it is possible with our drones.

DJI Matrice M300 RTK + DJI Zenmuse P1 + DJI Zenmuse L1 + Micasense Altum

This large drone is standard equipped with the Micasense Altum multispectral sensor with integrated radiometric thermal sensor and with the DJI Zenmuse P1 RGB sensor.

Separately a DJI Zenmuse L1 Lidar sensor can be attached under the drone. The option to use all 3 sensors would require 2 flights over the mapping area.

The Zenmuse P1 RGB

The Zenmuse P1 integrates a full-frame sensor with interchangeable fixed-focus lenses on a 3-axis stabilized gimbal. Designed for photogrammetry flight missions, it takes efficiency and accuracy to a whole new level.

  • 45MP Full-frame Sensor
  • 4.4μm Pixel Size
  • Low-noise, high sensitivity imaging extends daily operational time
  • Take a photo every 0.7 s during the flight
  • TimeSync 2.0 aligns the camera, flight controller, RTK module, and gimbal at the microsecond level
    – GSD up to 16mm/pix
  • DJI Matrice 210 RTK V2 + Micasense Altum

The Zenmuse L1 Lidar

The Zenmuse L1 integrates a Livox Lidar module, a high-accuracy IMU, and a camera with a 1-inch CMOS on a 3-axis stabilized gimbal. When used with Matrice 300 RTK and DJI Terra, the L1 forms a complete solution that gives you real-time 3D data throughout the day, efficiently capturing the details of complex structures and delivering highly accurate reconstructed models.

  • Integrates a Lidar module, an RGB camera, and a high-accuracy IMU
  • High Accuracy: Vertical Accuracy: 5 cm/Horizontal Accuracy: 10 cm
  • Point Rate: 240,000 pts/s
  • Detection Range: 450 m (80% reflectivity, 0 klx)

Micasense Altum

The Micasense Altum contains 5 synchronized global shutter multispectral sensors, 475, 560, 668, 717 and 842nm, 7.84 focal length and a resolution of 2064 x 1544 pixels (3.2 MP per EO band). The integrated thermal sensor has a focal length of 1.77mm and has a resolution of 160*120 pixels.

DJI Matrice 210 RTK V2 + HiPhen-Airphen+Flir Tau2

This large drone is equipped with the HiPhen-Airphen multispectral sensor with integrated radiometric thermal sensor and with the DJI Zenmuse X5s RGB sensor.

The Airphen contains 6 synchronized global shutter sensors, for which a selection out of 450, 530, 570, 675, 710, 730, 750 and 850nm can be made.

The FLIR has a focal length of 19mm and has 640*512 pixels.

The Zenmuse comprises a DJI MFT 15 mm lens with 20.8 MP 4/3”CMOS sensor and an aperture of f/1.7. Choices for video resolution are 4K DCI (17:9), 4K UHD, 2.7K, FHD (16:9) or 5.2K, 4K UHD (2.44:1).

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The Mavic 2 Pro has an integrated Hasselblad L1D-20c sensor (RGB). The Hasselblad sensor features a 28mm 20 MP 1” CMOS sensor with adjustable aperture between f/2.8 and f/11. It has a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile and a video resolution of 4K, 2.7K or FHD, also supporting HD.

DJI Mavic 2 Zoom

This drone is equipped with a 12 MP 1/2.3” CMOS sensor and can even create 48 MP Super Resolution Photo’s by merging 9 photo’s together. It features Dolly zoom – flying backwards while zooming in – with which a fine special effect in videos can be created. For video resolution 4K, 2.7K or FHD can be chosen.

Data output

Micasense impression

RGB (High resolution red, green, blue)

NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index)



AirPhen impression




Detail overview Airphen+Flir




Source AirPhen data: Coping with Dutch droughts: Irrigation in the Netherlands –