senseFly drones assist monitor Lake Winnipeg ice hazards – Drones Information


CHESEAUX-SUR-LAUSANNE, Switzerland, September 2020 – senseFly fixed-wing drones have been used by NextGen Environment Research Inc., a Canadian company based in Winnipeg, to track and monitor the formation of sea ice hazards on Lake Winnipeg. The project, carried out as part of the Canadian Space Agencies’ Earth Observation Applications Development Program (EODAP), aimed to identify and monitor the lake’s ice level, as well as detect cracks and pressure ridges for local communities and first responders for Raise awareness of the risks of the lake Ice Travel.

With studies predicting lake mass reduction in the coming years, ice safety is becoming a critical consideration for many populations who use the lakes for commercial and recreational activities. The onset of melting ice – which begins in spring – is a critical time to monitor the ice as it can create pressure ridges, lead and cracks, and expose open water. Pressure ridges can extend 3 m above the surface and extend for more than 100 km on larger lakes. In winter, they can create significant obstacles for ice rides on the lake and increase the risk of collisions. In cold periods, thin ice can also form in cracks, which are covered with snow overnight and can pose an invisible hazard the next day.

SenseFly’s eBee Plus drone was used to map the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg as it can withstand extreme temperatures while accurately mapping larger areas per flight than any other UAV of similar weight. Reliable equipment that could operate in rapidly changing temperatures was critical so that the team could collect accurate and reliable data on site in conditions between -20 ° C and + 20 ° C. By using senseFly’s drone technology, traditional soil mapping techniques were no longer required, which can be dangerous on a surface where ridges continually open and close.

The eBee Plus was used weekly from late February to early May, performing a full topographical survey, which was then combined with data from 14 satellite flyovers. Prior approval was required from Transport Canada, which allowed the team to use the eBee Plus using a visual observer within the line of sight (VLOS). A total of 14 surveys were required to gain a thorough understanding of the area and to produce accurate, precise digital elevation models. To evaluate challenging conditions such as wind speed and project feasibility, the team used senseFly’s eMotion management software before each flight to plan routes and load elevation data in advance.

The NextGen team was able to collect hundreds of images that were processed with Pix4DMapper software to create highly detailed digital surface models showing the location of the ice hazards. This enabled the team to locate ice ridges and monitor changes in size from week to week and map a safe lake of ice travel routes.

Dr. Paul M. Cooley, Founder and President of NextGen Environment Research said, “Lake Winnipeg ice conditions in spring are extremely difficult. We were confident that the senseFly eBee Plus would be reliable enough to fly across the lake at a safe distance from the dangerous ridges – even if the ice began to decay and move and we had to work from the shore. This level of reliability on such a large scale has been critical to our business.

“Investing in the eBee Plus allowed us to identify key areas for ice validation and examine much larger areas as we know where to work before the satellite fails. This is an ideal way to integrate data from the surface and from orbit. For NextGen, the results were incomparable. “

Benjamin Pinguet, product and solution manager at senseFly, added: “With the help of the intuitive drone technology and the software-enabled NextGen from senseFly, you can capture the detailed and highly geographical data required to identify safe travel routes and to regularly monitor the dangers at Lake Winnipeg critical points are necessary in the year – despite the unstable sea ice mass in winter and spring. As the world’s leading provider of fixed-wing drones, senseFly’s eBee Plus offered an efficient, reliable and user-friendly alternative to terrestrial techniques, which could have proven dangerous under the difficult conditions. The results are great and we are excited that the seamless experience of the eBee Plus will be vital for future projects under NextGen’s leadership. “

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