QinetiQ and Welsh Government demonstrate UAS environmental protection capabilities
In partnership with the Welsh Government and Snowdonia Aerospace LLP, QinetiQ ran a week-long event at the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre in Llanbedr to demonstrate how Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) flown from the airfield can help to tackle environmental issues and other commercial challenges.
Government and industry representatives gathered at the event to watch UAS take on a series of innovative missions that showcased the non-military application of UAS technologies. Representatives from the Welsh Government and industry, including BAE Systems and Thales, saw demonstrations that explored the use of UAS in fisheries protection, coastal erosion and flooding.
Coastal scenario: erosion and flooding
A Bramor rTK UAS, with a wingspan of 2.3m, flew from the airfield and out over the Welsh coast to collect data on the area’s vulnerability to erosion and flooding. A high-definition camera took a series of pictures that can be layered to provide a 3D model of the area’s topography. The 3D model can be filled with ‘virtual water’ to indicate which areas would be submerged in the event of a flood.
Around 60% of the Welsh population lives in coastal areas, with an estimated 84,731 properties at risk from tidal flooding. Around 2,000 properties will be at risk from coastal erosion over the next 100 years if there is no active management.
The exercise demonstrated how UAS could help to spot the warning signs of flooding or coastal erosion early, enabling better preparedness and timelier response.
Guests learned how similar missions could be used to monitor flora and fauna in sensitive natural habitats.
Maritime scenario: fisheries protection
A 2.3m Bramor C4Eye UAS, equipped with a small video camera, was launched from the airfield and flew out over Cardigan Bay, where it approached a Welsh Government fisheries patrol vessel to collect data on its position.
The activity showed how authorities can investigate vessels for signs of illegal fishing. Authorities can act on the information immediately to prevent further offences, or use it as evidence to pursue prosecutions at a later date.