WP4: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Technology

Icon drone

CIRFA and its partners develop new technologies to allow drones to be used safely and reliably in a cold climate environment. Drones provide an ideal situational awareness tool that may be combined with satellite observations and state-of-the-art-models.

Equipped with sensors and cameras, drones can access areas that are impossible or challenging for humans to access; for example, very thin ice, drifting icebergs, or snow avalanche areas, to safely and efficiently perform ground measurements.

Drone that carries a snow radar. Photo: Anders Martinsen.
NORCE`s Shark drone is instrumented for ship-based operations for supporting sea-ice navigation, oil spill detection and mapping. Photo: William Copeland, MET.
Photo mosaics featuring the ice conditions surrounding a ship contribute to situational awareness. Image: Morten Einarsve, Maritime Robotics.

Both satellite-based systems and RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, commonly known as “drones”) have limitations and weaknesses. Satellites offer superior station coverage but limited spatial and temporal details. Drones offer high-resolution measurements but have a limited range and are weather sensitive. Used in combination, both tools complement each other well.

In the Arctic climate with often cold and moist air, ice can quickly build up on the drone propellors, and batteries last for a shorter time. Hence, drone systems and sensor technologies to be used by industrial operators in the Arctic should be robust and reliable. We develop flexible and efficient drone and sensor technologies that handle the widest possible ranges of environmental conditions, enabling high quality measurements of sea-ice and iceberg properties as well as detecting and monitoring oil spills in ice-affected areas.

Research tasks

Develop resilient platforms with improved take-off and landing capabilities, de-icing performance, wind tolerance, and fault tolerance

Improve communication links, robustness and bandwidth in Arctic RPAS operations

Develop RPAS sensors for sea ice characterization, ocean surface parameters measurements, and oil-in-ice detection and tracking

Develop onboard data processing and improve ‘concepts of operation’ allowing for real-time operation support and ultimately integration into non-segregated airspace

Team members

Agnar Sivertsen

WP4 leader, NORCE

Rune Storvold

Department manager observation systems, NORCE

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