British Scientists Test Drone That Could Unveil Antarctica’s Secrets

British scientists are to explore some of the darkest, coldest areas of the Antarctic using an autonomous drone. A team has arrived at the Rothera Research Station in Antarctica, prepared to initiate trials on the groundbreaking Windracers ULTRA aircraft. If successful, this cutting-edge drone platform could substantially elevate the scientific capabilities of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) in the icy continent. The Windracers ULTRA UAV (uncrewed aerial vehicle) is meticulously designed for extreme environments, featuring a fully autonomous, twin-engine, 10-metre fixed-winged aircraft with a capacity to carry 100 kg of cargo or sensors over distances of up to 1000 km. The scientific drone has already been tested in another harsh environment – the wet and wild Welsh mountains. Its first experiment will survey the mountains under an ice sheet to predict how quickly ice melt will result in a global sea-level rise. If successful, the drones could emerge as the primary tool for airborne scientific surveys, replacing the current use of Twin Otter aircraft. The new craft promises significant increases in flight time and geographical coverage, potentially reducing CO2 emissions per flight hour by around 90%.

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