Drones in arctic environments

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM); KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: This is a master thesis by Maria Ader and David Axelsson, students at the Master of Science in Engineering degree program in Design and Product Realization at KTH, within the master program Integrated Product Design. The thesis work will benefit ÅF and the EU project ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛ. The ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛ project is part of the EU’s effort to forward climate research, and aims to “coordinate and harmonize research and monitoring efforts that will greatly contribute to our knowledge and understanding of changes occurring in the arctic environment.” One out of 12 subprojects within ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛ aims to “increase awareness of drone technology and sensors among researchers and research station managers while making industry aware of innovative potential uses requiring drone and sensor development.” A drone is an unmanned aerial system/vehicle (UAS/UAV), i.e. an airborne vehicle without a human pilot aboard. This master thesis examines the need of drones at the ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛ research stations and how arctic climates affect drone technology and the ergonomics of piloting a drone. The thesis also provides an overview of the current state of the drone market and the laws and regulations that affect the use of drones. A survey was distributed within ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛ to map the researchers’ need of, and attitudes towards, drones, followed by exhaustive interviews with researchers and other key figures. Field testing at Tarfala Research Station provided complementing data. The primary insight from the study was that the researchers’ need, as well as the tasks and methods that they employ, vary greatly. Another insight was that many researchers want to use drones primarily as a sensor platform to collect data from large areas in a short time span. A situation-based drone recommendation and a concept proposal for a simple water sampling solution were made based on the results of the study

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