Arctic Yearbook 2014
operating in ice-covered waters worldwide. This system allows mariners to access and use satellite
imagery and up-to-date ice and weather information. It also incorporates enhanced marine-based
radar for the detection of sea ice.
In collaboration with Dizifilms, a Canadian leader in the commercial UAVs industry based in
Beloeil, Quebec, Enfotec seeks to improve ice information available to the ship’s crew in order to
optimize the vessel’s routing. With advances in recent years in the quality of information derived
from satellite and radar images and conventional ice charts, the use of unmanned air vehicles for ice
detection allows for the immediate capture of subtle ice features such as ridges, leads, and fractures.
The UAVs deliver critical high-quality, short-range visual observations in real-time, allowing
navigators to see beyond the normal horizon for strategic navigation. As a result, the crew has access
to additional tools to help them make decisions for safer and optimal routing through the ice.
The backdrop for the application of this emerging technology was the Labrador Coast. The coast
experiences heavy winter conditions very similar to those experienced in the Canadian Arctic - thick
first-year ice that is heavily deformed under wind-induced pressure and remnants of multi-year and
glacial ice embedded in the ice cover - which pose great challenges for navigation. Avoiding zones of
severely deformed or pressured ice can save thousands of litres of fuel, thereby contributing to a
reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing the operational cost of the voyage.
In the near future, Fednav and Enfotec plan to take this project further by having drones onboard
the Nunavik through the Northwest Passage, in September 2014, as well as in the Hudson Strait
during a winter voyage in 2015. In the long-term, Enfotec seeks to develop a methodology for the
integration of drone imagery into regular route planning for winter voyages in heavy ice conditions.