Drones or unmanned aerial vehicles are now being used for various purposes, recreational and commercial. Some northern entrepreneurs now feel the Arctic region has huge potential for drone usage.
Arctic UAV offers industrial mapping systems and aerial imagery services to individuals and companies. The company’s CEO Kirt Ejesiak recently said he started thinking about commercial uses for drones when a friend asked him to fly his drone over the roof of his house to check for a leak. His company now has five drones, each costing more than $50,000, and is on the market for more. “The interest level is extremely high,” Ejesiak told a leading media organisation.
The Arctic is a polar region located at the northernmost part of Earth with only very few companies offering industrial surveying and imaging services there. Hence when Arctic UAV was formed it was bound to be a success. The scope of usage of drones in the Arctic is high as it a great way to obtain information about various things including surveying wildlife and aquatic life to monitoring rescue operations.
GroundTruth Exploration is another such company; it claims to provide a full spectrum set of proven exploration tools backed by an industry leading team. The company based in Dawson City, Yukon bought its first drone three years ago, which it intended to use to assess topography for mineral explorers but since then offers 3D imaging services. The usage of drones in survey situations is still underrated the company feels. The company also said it hasn’t seen a huge amount of new competition.
“We always believe the competition is coming. But we haven’t really seen many sophisticated or aggressive companies really trying to tackle that market.” A spokesperson for the company said.
While there are many barriers that could be delaying companies’ entry into this niche, including the regulatory red rape that governs commercial drones and the price of the drones themselves, the main reason seems to the hard conditions in the Arctic region.
Drone experts feel that many companies outside the north are not prepared to deal with the conditions in the Arctic. They do not develop or test their systems for the rough conditions of the Arctic and hence could find it very difficult to work there. However companies are quickly realizing the potential the Arctic has to offer and see it as a training ground for drones resulting in sturdier drones that can withstand the cold much better.
Even with drone technology evolving quickly companies with high-definition surveying capabilities are still hard to find.
While Ejesiak’s Arctic UAV has the drones and the staff it needs, it still faces other hurdles in the Arctic, as they are only licensed to fly drones within visual line of sight of the pilot on the ground. This distance is only about half a kilometer, the company hopes to eventually be able to fly beyond the line of sight which it feels could leverage the real potential of the Arctic.