Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic January 28, 2016 - 11:15 am

Eyes in the sky: Iqaluit firm touts Arctic drones

“What aviation can do, we can do, and more”

JIM BELL
A full-size replica of one of ING Robotic's unmanned aerial vehicles, on display at the Northern Lights 2016 trade show this week in Ottawa. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
A full-size replica of one of ING Robotic's unmanned aerial vehicles, on display at the Northern Lights 2016 trade show this week in Ottawa. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Kirt Ejesiak of Iqaluit pitches his start-up firm, Arctic UAV, Jan. 27 at the Northern Lights 2016 trade show in Ottawa. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Kirt Ejesiak of Iqaluit pitches his start-up firm, Arctic UAV, Jan. 27 at the Northern Lights 2016 trade show in Ottawa. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Arctic UAV says their civilian drones could be used for many applications in the Arctic, including aerial photography, mapping, ice surveys, wildlife surveys and emergency response. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Arctic UAV says their civilian drones could be used for many applications in the Arctic, including aerial photography, mapping, ice surveys, wildlife surveys and emergency response. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)

OTTAWA — Here’s an idea for the Arctic: a small cheap aircraft whose pilot stays on the ground.

Kirt Ejesiak of Iqaluit believes unmanned aerial vehicles, usually known as drones, offer many applications that could make it easier for northern governments and businesses to get things done.

To that end, Ejesiak, and associates like Eli Turk of Ottawa, George Metuq, Glenn Williams and Ken Spencer of Iqaluit, have formed a new company called Arctic UAV.

And they’re using this year’s Northern Lights 2016 trade show at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa to pitch their business to prospective northern clients.

“What aviation can do, we can do, and more,” Ejesiak said Jan. 27 in a presentation.

And Turk said in their presentation that the potential applications are numerous.

These include:

• sea ice monitoring;

• an aid to navigation for sea vessels;

• search and rescue support;

• wildlife surveys;

• wildlife habitat assessments;

• inspecting the roofs of buildings;

• mapping; and,

• aerial photography, including use of infra-red cameras.

“We found that there are only a handful of businesses doing this around the world,” Ejesiak said.

For that reason, he said his company is in a “unique position” to offer this technology across the circumpolar world.

Robotic drones are unmanned aircraft that are controlled either by an onboard computer or by a controller on the ground who views the drone’s flight path on a monitor screen.

So Ejesiak believes this presents a good opportunity to train local Inuit as drone operators.

Arctic UAV has teamed up with an Ottawa-based company called ING Robotic Aviation, whose CEO, Ian Glenn, attended the Northern Lights session.

ING Robotic tested its rotary-wing Responder UAV in 2012 from aboard Fednav’s MV Arctic vessel.

The MV Arctic is an ice-strengthened bulk carrier that ships ore from mines such as Glencore’s Raglan operation in Nunavik.

The ING Robotics drone was fitted with a Nikon D7100 camera, which they used to take high-resolution aerial photos to help the MV Arctic’s crew plot a course through the ice near Deception Bay in Nunavik.

“We certainly proved the utility and clearly demonstrated how this can be a useful solution for Arctic shipping,” Glenn said in a 2012 article published in a UAV trade publication.

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