Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unmanned aerial vehicles mark robotic first for British Antarctic Survey

19.03.2008
Scientists at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in collaboration with the Technical University of Braunschweig (TUBS), Germany have completed the first ever series of flights by autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Antarctica.

This is the first time that unpiloted UAVs have been used in the Antarctic and the successful flights open up a major new technique for gathering scientific data in the harshest and remotest environment on Earth.

Dr Phil Anderson of BAS says, “This is a huge technological achievement for BAS and TUBS. Apart from take-off and landing, when the UAVs are controlled by radio, the aircraft are completely autonomous, flying on their own according to a pre-programmed flight plan. Each flight lasts for 40 minutes, covering around 45 km and taking 100 measurements a second, so waiting for the UAV to return safely after its research mission was very exciting. Seeing the first UAV come back successfully was a real heart-in-the-mouth moment.”

Following trials during the austral winter of 2007, the UAVs successfully completed 20 flights between October and December 2007, including four over the Weddell Sea. They were fitted with instruments to record the exchange of heat between the lower atmosphere and sea ice. During the Antarctic winter, the Weddell Sea freezes, and because of its bright white colour, the ice reflects heat and helps to cool the planet. However, sea ice is a major unknown feedback mechanism in the Earth’s climate system and scientists need to discover more about it and its sensitivity to climate change.

Using UAVs to gather this kind of data is a major step forward, allowing scientists to study areas that are too costly to reach using ships or conventional aircraft. According to Anderson, “UAVs allow scientists to reach the parts others cannot reach – the future of much atmospheric research will be robotic.”

Despite the enormous physical and technical challenges BAS’s UAV team had to overcome – not least learning how to keep batteries operating at very low temperatures and how to operate radio controls for take off and landing in thick gloves and mitts – the Antarctic is actually an ideal place to pioneer UAV technology. “UAVs are physically harder to operate in the Antarctic, but far easier in safety terms because there is virtually nothing sensitive to hit. Our next challenge will be to operate UAVs in the depths of the Antarctic winter,” says Anderson.

Issued by British Antarctic Survey Press Office.

Athena Dinar | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bas.ac.uk
http://www.antarctica.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>