Exploring Science Applications for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aboard UNOLS Ships

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Rosanne Bailey, TIM Lachenmeier and Michael C. Hatfield, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been expanding the use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for science support from a variety of ships for several years. The ease and safety of flying from research vessels offers the science community lower cost access to overhead surveys of marine mammals without impact on sensitive populations, monitoring of AUV operations and collection of transmitted data, extensive surveys of sea ice during formation, melt, and sea temperatures through multiple seasons. As FAA expands access to the Arctic airspace over the Chukchi, Beaufort, and Bering Seas, the opportunities to employ UAS in science applications will become easier to exploit. This presentation describes the changes coming through new FAA rules, through the Alaska FAA Test Site, the Pan-Pacific UAS Test Range Complex which includes Oregon and Hawaii, and even Iceland. Airspace access advances associated with recent operations including the NASA-sponsored MIZOPEX, whale detection, and forming sea ice work in October will be presented, as well as a glider UAS connected to very high altitude balloons collecting atmospheric data. Development of safety procedures for use of UAS on UNOLS ships will be discussed.