Air monitor drone

Detecting air pollution is now 13 times more sensitive

  • inexpensive, lightweight system fits on any copter-based drone
  • powered entirely by propellers on drone, no moving parts
  • makes drone-mounted sensors 13 times more sensitive
  • enables efficient environmental sampling using drones

Licensing manager: Joe Runge, J.D., M.S. or 402-559-1181


Detecting air pollution is now 13 times more sensitive

For all that’s said and heard about drones, they mostly do one thing: take pictures. Using one of the most prevalent drone designs, a quadcopter, University of Nebraska at Omaha researchers developed a better, safer way to use drones in a new way: Monitor air quality and detect airborne particles.
The innovation uses a passive funneling system that channels the air drawn into the quadcopter’s propellers. Using commercially available sensors, with no additional moving parts, a drone can now detect airborne particles with as much as 13 times more sensitivity.
The new design is inexpensive, lightweight and designed specifically for quadcopter or other copter drones. The invention expands the commercial applications of drones beyond passive airborne observations to a more active role with efficient particle detection. Drones will become an even more essential tool especially for environmental compliance, meteorology and military applications.
To discuss licensing opportunities contact Joe Runge, J.D., M.S., at or 402-559-1181.

Additional Information

Technical details

The passive funneling system dramatically improves airborne testing on drones. The inventors outfitted a drone with an air sampling tube 2 feet long. The goal was to improve sensitivity when sampling the air through which the drone moved. The result produced a signal 13 times more powerful than without the passive funneling system.
The shorter tube shows that a drone, outfitted with the passive funneling system, will sample more air and produce a more robust signal—especially for particles with a lower concentration.