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Federal government successfully tests drones for icebreaking operations


March 30, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Government of Canada announced on Wednesday that it has successfully tested drones to assess its potential to support icebreaking operations.

Photo Legend: The Government of Canada tests unmanned aerial vehicle from the flight deck of the CCGS George R. Pearkes.

Photo Legend: The Government of Canada tests unmanned aerial vehicle from the flight deck of the CCGS George R. Pearkes.

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Transport Canada, the National Research Council and the Royal Canadian Navy said in a joint press release that they flew an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, near Fogo Island, off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. The operation was intended to assess the agencies’ potential to support CCG operations at sea.

The release said that the UAV was launched from the flight deck of the CCGS George R. Pearkes, a light icebreaker, on Monday, and sent real-time data on ice conditions to the ship. This trial will help the CCG determine how UAVs can assist during icebreaking operations and will also help Transport Canada explore the use of similar technology.

The trials were conducted in partnership with Schiebel, an Austria-based company that developed the UAV. Alaska University and Memorial University of Newfoundland also lent expertise and participated in the trial. The model that was tested is a Schiebel Camcopter S-100, which can operate day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a range of up to 200 kilometres, both on land and at sea, the release noted.

“The Government of Canada is a strong supporter of innovation in the aerospace sector,” said Minister of Transport Marc Garneau in the release. “This trial is an important step toward using UAV technology to enhance our operations.”

Federal Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, added that “by conducting leading-edge trials in real environments, we are better able to understand the impacts, benefits and potential applications of this new technology and ensure that the knowledge we gain is shared with our industry and academic partners.”