Unmanned Aerial Survey (UAS) Review


  • Are there other tools (e.g. risk assessment) or technology which the E&P industry need to develop or enhance?


A literature review, internet searches, and communications with personnel working with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were used to identify the capabilities of UAS throughout the world. This project assessed the ability of UAS to replace manned aerial surveys for marine mammals and sea birds, monitor sea ice and other physical features, and aid search and rescue operations by industry in offshore Arctic and sub-Arctic waters.

The vast majority of the systems identified were either too expensive or their capabilities did not meet minimum standards necessary to perform the tasks required of them. Eight systems were identified that might be able to perform some of the desired tasks. Several other systems had similar capabilities but had not been tested or would require upgrades. Installation of high-definition (HD) video and better stabilization systems would improve UAS performance. Final recommendations were for the development of HD video with real-time data transmission and stabilization systems for UAS to be pursued and that side-by-side comparisons of a few of the best systems be conducted.

Objectives and methods

Through literature review, internet searches, and vendor solicitations:

  • Identify existing technologies and applications of UAS’s
  • Evaluate potential usefulness of technologies to offshore E&P operations
  • Identify further development opportunities
  • Identify additional testing requirements
  • Identify political or regulatory barriers to acceptance


This effort determined that UAS technology does not currently meet industry needs, and that manned surveys are still required for most operations. It emphasizes the need for industry to invest more time and energy associated with manned surveys (aerial, PAM, MMO). It also acknowledges that this technology is still developing and recommends a re-evaluation of UAS technology within 5 years.


LGL Ltd.


  • Research Tools

    The JIP has researched and developed a range of research tools that not only improve our studies, but have also advanced general scientific knowledge of marine animals.

  • Innovation

    The Marine & Sound JIP has funded research into technologies and methods that influence the way the industry operates, such PAMGuard, PCAD, Tags, DECAF, BRAHSS and Tags