SPECTORS is a Dutch-German high-tech initiative that unlocks the market potential of civilian drone technology through sensor innovations for remote sensing and remote monitoring.

SPECTORS exploits drone market potential

The civilian market for the use of drones and associated sensor technology for remote sensing, remote monitoring and agricultural film production is immense. SPECTORS  exploits this market potential through value creation in the region. Specifically, interdisciplinary projects lead to the development of a large number of products (demonstrators) and associated services based on the latest hard- and software. The products are then offered and distributed by the region’s small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).

SPECTORS stimulates and strengthens innovations

SPECTORS is a strategic initiative in the field of high-tech systems and materials. The project stimulates and strengthens innovations by SMEs through cooperative research and development projects, as well as long-term, cross-border competence networks, relations and synergies of companies, research organisations and development centres. This cross-border bundling of competences creates an effective added value for the growing civilian drone and specialist-sensor market in the border region.


Successful start of German-Dutch INTERREG V A Project SPECTORS (from left to right:) Paul Schilderink (Ministry of Economic Affairs), Theo Föllings (Oost NV), Sjoerd Zoete (Rhein-Waal Euroregion), Dr Michiel Scheffer (Executive Board Member, Province of Gelderland), Dirk Unsenos (ISIS IC GmbH), Prof. Rolf Becker, Prof. Marion Halfmann (both Hochschule Rhein-Waal), Dr Lammert Kooistra (Wageningen University & Research). Photo: Hochschule Rhein-Waal.

In this project a method has been developed and tested with which we can process raw images of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS into usable information, in the form of vegetation and land use maps. The challenge of such a method is that the entire chain of processing steps ultimately determines the quality of the final result. For example, the camera on the RPAS must be correctly set, the pilot must maintain an ‘ideal’ flight altitude and speed to obtain sharp and undistorted images, after which all individual images are taken to the office and have to be put together. Then the conversion of the raw, pixel-based images to digital maps that are divided into classes (types of land use, vegetation class, drought, etc.) begins. This entire chain has been worked out. The next step in this project is to test this chain of algorithms with RPAS data.

We are currently using these measurements to calibrate and validate SWAP-WOFOST and to draw conclusions about parameter values ​​and the usefulness of different concepts to determine the evaporation. Currently we have collected both vegetation data and RPAS data at 2 occasions. Lysimeter data have been collected on a daily base since early May 2017.

SPECTORS delivers new products and jobs

The project delivers:

  • 18 new products in the field of sensor and drone technology for remote sensing and remote monitoring.
  • An interdisciplinary and complementary consortium of 31 partners, of which 20 are SMEs that cover the entire spectrum, from conception up to commercialisation of the different products.
  • 40 new jobs during the project duration, increasing to 90 over the subsequent 5 years.
  • Securing 840 jobs in companies and research organisations.
  • Knowledge-sharing through internal and external workshops and symposia for products, users and other interested parties.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.