Montreal-based shipping company Fednav claims to have recently become the first shipping company to employ aerial drones for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage through the Arctic.
On a recent trip, the MV Umiak I, a 31,992 DWT ice-strengthened cargo ship, used a variety of video-equipped UAVs (Unmanned Air Vehicles) to scout ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters off Canada’s northeastern Labrador Coast, looking to provide the captain and officers with detailed real-time visual information about local ice conditions.
Not only do the UAVs help navigators scout subtle features in the ice, such as ridges, leads, and fractures that in turn provided for strategic navigation, but the high-quality video captured also happens to be perfect for a pretty spectacular promotional video.
“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,” says Thomas Paterson, Senior Vice-President, Ship Owning, Arctic, and Projects of Fednav Limited. “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.”
To come up with the idea, Fednav worked together with its subsidiary, Enfotec, which for the last 20 years has specialized in providing advanced ice imagery and analysis to vessels operating in difficult ice conditions. But to say that the video is the first ever footage captured of a ship underway using an embarked drone would actually be untrue. Just check out this and this.