Schmidt Ocean Institute supports drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) operations with rental systems for supported projects aboard R/V Falkor.

R/V Falkor can serve as an oceanographic platform for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).  These systems, sometimes referred to as Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs) are used to sample the atmosphere, as a force multiplier to allow sensors to cover large areas of ground while Falkor conducts other science and to collect video and still images. Falkor supported UAVs can range from small, consumer grade, quadcopter units – used to film video for outreach purposes – all the way to large, gasoline powered units able to carry sensor payloads and cover over a 100 km at a time.

Falkor as seen from an aerial Remote-Control blimp.

What is an UAV?

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or uncrewed aerial vehicle, also known as unmanned aircraft or uncrewed aircraft (UA) – commonly known as a drone – is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), which include additionally a ground-based controller and a system of communications with the UAV. The flight of UAVs may operate under remote control by a human operator ― remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) ― or with various degrees of autonomy, such as autopilot assistance, up to fully autonomous aircraft that does not allow human intervention.

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The UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), an L3 Harris HQ-90UAV, takes off from the Flight Deck. Capable of flying for 12 hours, it begins with a vertical take-off and transitions into horizontal flight.

What Can an UAV do?

On Falkor, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are used to collect ocean surface and atmospheric data, while at times, also collecting visuals such as photo and video. Compared to crewed aircraft, UAVs were originally used for missions too “dull, dirty or dangerous” for humans. While drones originated mostly in military applications, civilian use is rapidly expanding into many more applications including science, and infrastructure inspections.

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