Fednav, a shipping company headquartered in Montreal, has employed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage.
According to the company, the Umiak I, one of Fednav's icebreakers, used a variety of video-equipped UAVs to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters of the Labrador Coast. The goal, Fednav says, was to provide the captain and officers with detailed real-time visual information on the local ice conditions.
This method of ice detection, Fednav notes, allows for the immediate capture of subtle ice features, such as ridges, leads and fractures. The UAVs also deliver visual observations to help navigators see beyond the normal horizon for strategic navigation.
‘The use of UAVs is proving to be extremely beneficial to identify many ice features that should be avoided ahead of the vessel, as well as identifying open water leads to improve voyage efficiency,’ comments Fednav's Thomas Paterson. ‘In addition, the deployment of drones fitted with top-quality cameras gives the ice navigator another useful aid when making important decisions while transiting heavy ice regimes, and in turn, improved safe navigation.’