RUAS have recently completed a drone training programme with a group of delegates in Western Kosovo. Working alongside Praedium Consulting Malta (PCM) through its subsidiary The MAT Kosovo (MK) EOD & ERW Training Establishment, we are proud to be involved in the training of people within such a challenging field. The use of drones in mine action is a safety-conscious and vital humanitarian need for something that, for the second year in a row, has recorded a very high number of casualties and fatalities as a direct result of mine usage.
With 'Landmine Monitor' reporting that there are still 61 states with an identified area of antipersonnel mine contamination, the benefit of using drones to identify minefields and hazardous areas is becoming clearer, with successes already documented including at a base in Azerbaijan. The Landmine Monitor, recording the statistics for the preceding year, reported in the latest issue the highest annual total of mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) since 1999 as well as the highest number ever of child casualties recorded. With an average of almost 24 casualties per day across the previous year, it is clear that there is still a great need for a safe and effective way to remove this remaining risk.
The presence of land mines can often be identified by certain changes in the surrounding soil structure, and the growing use of drones provides a clearer picture than the previously used satellite and Google Earth imagery. By attaching scanning and recording devices to a drone, the area can be recorded at a higher resolution and with a reduced risk to all involved. It also provides the opportunity for a more in-depth search of the area in question with repeat scans, orthophoto maps, drawings and digital models of the land able to be produced with no mine clearance personnel required to physically enter the dangerous area to put these together. This can enable full topographical mapping and plans of action to be put together before mine clearing machines are brought in.
Combined with technologies such as the Airbourne Standoff Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) developed by the United States making use of laser detection systems that can be mounted to a UAV, the requirement for individuals performing on the ground detection is greatly removed. Operators are able to view the data produced by this equipment, attached to their UAV, from a safe distance mitigating the dangers that are inherent to mine fields and lower the number of deminers killed and injured in the undertaking of their work.
RUAS are proud to have been chosen to run training for a new generation of workers in the mine action field. We provided the training and skills required for their Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licence (or equivalent for non-UK Nationals) with a focus on the challenges faced in the humanitarian mine action field. With UAV use becoming more prominent in this area we are pleased to have ensured that all attendees of this flight school were provided with the knowledge and skills they need to operate a drone, considering the safety of both themselves and the surrounding public.
If you have any questions about the training we can provide, or how you can gain your own remote pilot qualifications then please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01633 835123.
RUAS division are delighted to have recently partnered with Bangor University to work alongside them on a new project to map artificial and natural substrates at coastal locations across Wales.
Bangor University, founded in 1884 with a long tradition and pedigree in research, is a partner in the Ecostructure project, a consortium led by Aberystwyth University and including universities across Ireland and Wales. The project will raise awareness of eco-engineering solutions to the challenge of coastal adaptation to climate change. RUAS have joined them to help conduct a range of aerial mapping surveys at coastal locations in Wales where there is artificial hard substrate present, such as sea defences or coastal structures.
Working in close partnership, RUAS will provide high quality aerial imagery and associated topographical information for sites around the coast of Wales for Bangor University to analyse. Using both fixed wing and multirotor drones, the project has been timed carefully to make the most of near-Spring low-tides and to ensure maximum visibility of all coastal structures.
Andrew Davies from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University says: "RUAS offers a combination of state-of-the-art equipment and operational expertise that is required to collect data from forty different sites throughout Wales, in what is the largest high-resolution mapping exercise of coastal defence structures ever undertaken."
Explaining the project Davies adds: "Hard coastal defence structures are becoming commonplace on our coastlines due to rising seas and increasing storminess. The Ecostructure project is focused on raising awareness of eco-engineering solutions, and a first step is developing comprehensive maps and models of structures throughout the Irish Sea."
The consortium is looking to support marine eco-systems, and it is hoped that this project will help to assist with such as the pipelines that jettison into the sea. These often contain a full and diverse eco-system which can, on occasion, block the pipe so it is hoped that this research will help to provide some further insight to these. This information can then be used to assist in changing materials or positions to minimise disruption to the pipeline whilst maintaining a healthy habitat for the creatures living within it.
Mark Jones, Head of RUAS says: "We are pleased to have been appointed by Bangor University to be working with the School of Ocean Sciences. The use of unmanned aircraft (drones) to map ecostructures around the coastline of Wales will greatly enhance the scientific research capabilities for the project and we are delighted to showcase what drones can do in this field."
Resource Group's Unmanned Aviation Services division has been working in partnership with MAT Kosovo (part of the PCM Group), the international mine action standards training specialists, to organise a week-long flight school in Kosovo. Three months in the making, this progressive flight training course focused on the use of drones within the specific requirements of the Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) field.
From Saturday 16th September, Resource Group provided training to operational users, system developers and academics enabling them to learn and share their current experiences. This bespoke training meets with the requirements of the Remote Pilot Qualifications (RPQ-s), Resource Group's Civil Aviation Authority approved drone qualification, whilst ensuring relevance through its focus on the very specific requirements in the exceptionally challenging ERW arena.
As the sole flight training partner of MAT Kosovo, Resource Group supplied drones, course materials and an evaluation towards the RPQ-s certification, giving all attendees the opportunity to gain a formal qualification. With a focus on the safe and legal handling of drones, the training applied real-world ERW experiences and scenarios preparing students for the challenges encountered in the ERW environment.
Mark Jones, Head of Unmanned Aviation Services for Resource Group, said
"We're delighted to have a productive partnership with MAT Kosovo and the PCM Group. As the partner of choice for this important and cutting-edge application of drone technology, we feel that the integration of drones into this well-established field will add yet another tool to the armoury in the fight against explosive remnants of war. Resource Group look forward to providing attendees with the skills they need for safe and legal drone flight, and helping to develop insight in this critical area worldwide."
This event provides a baseline and foundation for the future development of drone technology within mine action. The ongoing collaboration between Resource Group and MAT Kosovo contributes to a better understanding of the use and potential for drones in all ERW activities, along with providing the skills and qualifications required.
Resource Group's Unmanned Aviation Services delivery team filmed a 105 light gun being fired from the summit of Snowdon in a celebration to mark 300 years of history for the Royal Regiment of Artillery. They filmed the action with a DJI Inspire 1 drone and the footage was shared live with those on the ground.
The gun fire took place early on the 13th May was one of the last stages in a yearlong event called 'Ubique 300', a west to east circumnavigation relay of the globe that started in Woolwich mid 2015 and will finish at the regimental home in Larkhill this year.
Mark Jones, head of service delivery was joined by Resource Group's own TA Sgt Liarne Fox and WO2 Paul McCarthy. Resource Group was chosen to support the event due to its demonstrable expertise within the industry and close relationships with the TA in the Newport area.
The gun arrived at the summit of Snowdon via the train on the evening of 12th May and was fired very early in the morning on the 13th to ensure minimum disruption and risk for the general public.