DronIce: Using Drones to Support Icebreaker Operations in the Baltic Sea

Robin Berglund (Corresponding author), Lauri Seitsonen

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference PosterProfessional

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    The Baltic Sea has a seasonal ice cover, which begins to form in October – November and the last pieces of ice melts away by the beginning of June in the northern Bay of Bothnia. Maritime transportation around the year is essential for the society – and there are many factories situated along the northern coast of the Baltic Sea. Specially built ships - the icebreakers - are part of the Baltic winter navigation system that enables merchant ships to visit northern ports also in wintertime. The icebreakers get Sentinel-1 images in near-real-time and these images are visualized in their IBNet information system. On a larger scale, the ice conditions can be assessed from the satellite images, but ice drift and ambiguities in the interpretation are best resolved by airborne imagery. Previously, manned helicopters were used for ice reconnaissance, but today these are considered too expensive to operate. The assumption is that UAV:s can provide the icebreakers with up-to-date information on: - position of navigable leads and registration of leads that are not usable anymore due to ice convergence - status of old leads- ice drift (amount and velocity) to provide an update of the situation compared to the latest satellite image - finding best way through a ridged ice field.- inspection of nearby ships that report of problems or request aid. However, these needs have not been systematically documented nor evaluated. The capabilities of modern UAV:s and instruments also have to be studied as well as processing needs to extract meaningful information to the users helping them in their operations. To shed some light upon these questions, VTT is contracted by the maritime authorities in Sweden and Finland, to conduct a feasibility study where the use of UAV:s to support icebreaker operations, is studied in detail. This study is done in 2019. The methodology is based on interviews and workshops. Also a simple proof-of-concept trial will be done as part of the study.The poster will show the preliminary results of the study answering the following type of questions User related: In which scenarios could a drone provide additional useful information - and for what purpose? How should it be presented? Should it be combined with other information and how? Should this information be shared? With whom? Technical capabilities: What kind of sensors (e.g. cameras, ..) , what kind of UAV:s would be required – what are the options and rough costs. What communication capabilities are required?Operational aspects: Safety, operational arrangements, operator support, regulations Roadmap: What is the long term roadmap including the suggested next steps regarding the utilization ofUAV:s in icebreaking operations?
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - May 2019
    MoE publication typeNot Eligible
    EventLiving planet symposium 2019 - Milan, Italy
    Duration: 13 May 201917 May 2019


    ConferenceLiving planet symposium 2019


    • icebreakers
    • Baltic sea
    • sea ice
    • drones
    • winter navigation


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