Unmanned aerial vehicles are currently undergoing trials in Antarctica to determine their viability for utilization in scientific studies.
Unmanned aerial vehicles are undergoing experimentation in Antarctica with the goal of utilizing them for conducting scientific investigations.
A team of testers has reached the biggest scientific facility in Britain located on the continent, the Rothera Research Station.
The BAS announced that successful trials would enable the drones to conduct studies on marine ecosystems and glaciers, with a potential CO2 emission reduction of 90%.
The Windracers Ultra UAV, which stands for uncrewed aerial vehicle, is a 10-meter aircraft with two engines. It has the ability to transport up to 100kg of cargo or sensors for distances of 1,000km. Unlike traditional aircrafts, it does not need a human pilot to operate as it is equipped with an advanced autopilot system.
Unlike piloted Twin Otter aircraft, which are costly to operate and face logistical challenges in the extreme environment, the BAS said the “groundbreaking” unmanned drones are safer and “could enable dramatic increases in flight time”.
The unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, will be used to study tectonic formations and the interactions between the ocean and atmosphere. They are equipped with Swarm technology, which uses artificial intelligence to coordinate multiple UAVs as one unit. This capability could enable them to gather data across extensive regions.
The BAS, which falls under the Natural Environment Research Council, is the leading polar research institute in the UK. It has announced its goal to automate its scientific systems and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
According to Dr. Tom Jordan, a geophysicist at BAS who specializes in gathering data from the air, the advancements in technology are incredibly exciting.
According to him, there is a pressing need for updated and detailed data in polar science in order to comprehend the changes happening in the Antarctic ice sheet and the potential effects on global communities.
“This marks our initial move in overcoming the logistical obstacles.”
The planes are constructed in a way that allows them to remain airborne even if the engine or other parts are damaged. Repairs can be made with a limited amount of components.
This project is supported by Innovate UK’s Future Flight 3 Challenge, a non-governmental organization. It will receive a portion of £73m in funding along with 16 other projects.