Field test of beach litter assessment by commercial aerial drone

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

3 Scopus Citations
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  • Leung-Chun Wong
  • Shu-Hin Kwok
  • Yan-Kin Lee
  • Beverly Hoi-Ki Po


Original languageEnglish
Article number110823
Journal / PublicationMarine Pollution Bulletin
Online published29 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


The visual survey is the most common method to quantify and characterize beach litter. However, it is very labor intensive and difficult to carry out on beaches which are remote or difficult to access. We suggest an alternative approach for assessing beach litter using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or aerial drone, with automated image requisition and processing. Litter of different sizes, colours, and materials were placed randomly on two beaches. Images of beaches with different substrates were obtained by the drone at different operating heights and light conditions and litter on the beaches was identified from the photos by untrained personnel. The quantification of beach litter using the drone was three times faster than that by visual census. This study has demonstrated the potential of using the drone as a cost-effective and an efficient sampling method in routine beach litter monitoring programs.

Research Area(s)

  • Beach litter assessment, Drone