Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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32 unmanned systems inside August/September 2017 by Renee Knight M easuring snow depth around a mountain can be a tedious, challenging job—but is a crucial part of predicting dangerous, often deadly, avalanches. Typically, this requires manually drilling the snow, which means workers must bring heavy equipment to dig out room-sized cubes throughout the area being mea- sured. Once the cubes are ready, the surveyor can begin measuring, then take the average of measurements from various areas to determine the depth. The cubes must be big enough to comfortably and safely hold the surveyor, and getting them set up is a process that often takes weeks. Even so, this is considered one of the most effective ways to measure snow depth, said Dr. Mohamed Mostafa, Director, mdSolutions for Microdrones. Microdrones and the University of Sherbrooke decided there had to be a better way. Earlier this year, they f lew a LiDAR-equipped unmanned aircraft system (UAS) over Mount Albert in the Chic-Choc range in the Gaspésie National Park, located in the Gaspé Peninsula of eastern Quebec. In about a half a day's time, Stéfanie Van-Wierts, Microdrones' LiDAR Development Lead, was able to ac- quire all the data needed to create accurate digital surface models (DSM) that precisely told surveyors how deep the snow was. "The snow depth defines a number of parameters for the analysis of avalanches and their maximum occurrence potential," Mostafa said. "The main concern is always how deep the snow is." The Project The team surveyed the areas on Mount Albert where ava- lanches are a concern, Mostafa said. Flights took place USER SHOWCASE FIELD TESTED, FIELD PROVEN. Photos courtesy of Microdrones. by Renee Knight PREDICTING AVALANCHES WITH LIDAR-EQUIPPED UAS Microdrones recently fl ew its mdMapper package equipped with a LiDAR payload at a national park in Quebec. The system was used to quickly and accurately measure snow depth to better predict the risk of an avalanche.

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