As part of the Autonomous Systems Initiative (ASI) — a multi-million-dollar research collaboration between research and industry experts across Alberta — Whitehead and his team are using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology, more commonly known as drones, to map floodplains and riverbed depths in flood-prone areas. Through the mapping process, they’re helping calibrate provincial hydrological models and identify infrastructure at risk from flood events.
SAIT’s role falls under ASI theme three, Sustainable Communities, and is part of a larger project dedicated to using autonomous systems to support infrastructure resilience and disaster response.
“We’re using some really cool technology to look beneath the surface and detect objects. CIRUS was able to fly the first UAV-mounted Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) system, in North America.”
Whitehead adds GPR is traditionally mounted on a cart and towed behind a vehicle or manually pushed to cover areas. This new approach makes it a cost-effective tool for exploration and mapping of subsurface features, either under the ground, under ice or under shallow waterbodies.