A Vienna-based tech firm is flying high after showing its value to Canadian officials in aiding ice-breaking operations on the high seas.
In April, the Schiebel Group demonstrated the Camcopter S-100, a single-rotor UAV, while aboard the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker George R. Pearkes about 60 miles north of Fogo Island, a sub-arctic island off the coast of Newfoundland.
Using its onboard Wescam MX-10S camera, the drone provided imagery that allowed the ship’s crew to plot the best and safest course in breaking through several layers of sea ice.
“Due to the S-100’s operational maturity in the maritime environment and ability to operate in a broad range of weather conditions, it is perfectly suited to support the demands of the Coast Guard,” said Chris Day, Schiebel’s Head of Capability Engineering. “The flight tests included multiple takeoffs and landings in winter conditions. The [drone] has demonstrated it value, flexibility and suitability for maritime operations in hostile environments,” he added.
Schiebel hopes the Canadian government will deploy the Camcopter S-100 in maritime missions to identify vessels, animals and objects at long range.
“For the Canadian Government this trial is an important step forward to enhancing our operations by using UAV technology,” Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said in a Schiebel press release.
At almost four feet in length and weighing in at 440 pounds fully loaded, the Camcopter is much larger than conventional quadcopter drones. It burns standard aviation fuel and can handle a payload of up to 75 pounds with a beyond line-of-sight flight capability of 125 miles.
The S-100 navigates via preprogrammed GPS waypoints and can also be operator piloted. A point-and-click graphical user interface can control mission planning.
“One goal of the trials was the enhancement of situational awareness by transmitting pictures directly and in real time to the ships bridge,” Day said. “This S-100 feature is already well proven — in the Mediterranean for humanitarian operations — and is easily adapted to support activities related to the conservation and protection of the Canadian fishing grounds.”