Wales Trials Drones for Monitoring Tidal Flooding, Illegal Fishing

Posted by Betsy Lillian on March 23, 2016 No Comments
Categories : Mapping & Surveying

Government and industry representatives recently gathered at Wales’ Snowdonia Aerospace Centre to watch unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) take on a series of missions, which demonstrated how drones flown from the airfield can help tackle environmental issues and other challenges.

The weeklong event – hosted by QinetiQ, in partnership with the Welsh government and Snowdonia Aerospace LLP – comprised two scenarios: one exploring the use of drones in fisheries protection and the other in managing the threat to the Welsh coast from erosion and flooding.

A Bramor rTK drone, with a wingspan of 2.3 meters, flew from the airfield and out over the Welsh coast to collect data on erosion and flooding. A high-definition camera took a series of pictures to provide a 3D model of the area’s topography. A 3D model can then be filled with virtual water to indicate which areas would be submerged in the event of a flood.

According to QinetiQ, roughly 60% of the Welsh population lives in coastal areas – meaning an estimated 84,731 properties are at risk from tidal flooding. Around 2,000 properties will be at risk from coastal erosion over the next 100 years if there is no active management, explains the company, adding that the exercise demonstrated how UAS could help spot warning signs earlier. Guests also learned how similar missions could be used to monitor flora and fauna in sensitive natural habitats.

For the maritime scenario, a 2.3-meter Bramor C4Eye drone, equipped with a small video camera, was launched from the airfield and flew out over Cardigan Bay, where it approached a Welsh government fisheries patrol vessel to collect data.

The activity showed how authorities can investigate vessels for signs of illegal fishing; authorities can act on the information immediately to prevent further offenses or use it as evidence to pursue prosecutions at a later date, says QinetiQ.

“The environment we operate here in Snowdonia puts Wales on the global stage for UAS training and the test and evaluation of unmanned systems,” says Jeremy Howitt, unmanned services campaign manager at QinetiQ. “As understanding of unmanned technology grows, sectors such as emergency services, agriculture and communications are beginning to see the possibilities. This demonstration is a chance for our guests to see firsthand the role Wales could play in realizing that potential.”

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