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Co-chairs: Dominique Chabot (droneMetrics)

Greg Henry (University of British Columbia)

Lisa Loseto (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

David Bird (McGill University)


The past decade has seen a dramatic surge in the advancement and application of drones and other unmanned vehicles thanks to their unique capacity to collect very high-resolution remote sensing data in a distinctly convenient, timely, unobtrusive and economical fashion. They have proven especially beneficial for use in remote Arctic locations where it is otherwise inherently hazardous to conduct conventional aerial surveys with humans onboard. Arctic drone applications that have emerged in recent years include wildlife surveys (e.g. seabirds, marine mammals), glaciological research and monitoring, sea ice and other Arctic Ocean monitoring operations, snow depth estimation, habitat mapping (e.g. tundra landscape, permafrost, vegetation), meteorological and atmospheric measurements, and emergency response (e.g. search and rescue). Despite many successful applications, the characteristically harsh conditions of the far north pose distinct challenges for these typically small and lightweight robotic vehicles. This session will gather together researchers working on a variety of the aforementioned applications of drones in the Arctic and provide a valuable opportunity for them to present and share their experiences, including: methodological approaches spanning data collection through processing and analysis; and practical strategies for overcoming various operational challenges encountered in the Arctic that can be adopted across different applications. Beyond aerial drones, operators of other types of unmanned vehicles-including ground rovers, surface vessels and submersibles-will also be invited to contribute to the session. Attendees will learn about the diverse possibilities for using unmanned vehicles in the Arctic and gain valuable knowledge and insight towards prospective applications of their own. Session contributors will subsequently be invited to submit their presented research to a joint special issue of the Canadian Science Publishing journals Arctic Science ( and the Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems (