Canadian Manufacturing

Canadian shipping firm uses drones to scout for ice off Labrador coast

Used video-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles for ice reconnaissance work

MONTREAL—Montreal-based Fednav Ltd. claims to have pioneered the use of drones in Arctic shipping after using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for ice reconnaissance work.

According to Fednav, its Umiak I icebreaker used video-equipped drones to scout conditions ahead of the vessel in the ice-covered waters off the Labrador coast, becoming the first shipping company to use drones for ice reconnaissance on a commercial voyage.

The goal was to provide the ship’s captain and officers with real-time images of ice conditions ahead.

“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,” Fednav senior vice-president Thomas Paterson said in a release.

“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.”

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