Unmanned Systems in Newfoundland and Labrador
© 2009 FrontLine Defence (Vol 6, No 5)

From Alcock and Brown’s transatlantic crossing in 1919 to its strategic location as an air force and naval staging point during the Second World War, ­Newfoundland and Labrador has played a pivotal role in the development of marine and aviation transportation.

With this rich history in mind, government, industry and educational institutions in Newfoundland and Labrador have been actively pursuing opportunities to design, develop and test leading-edge technologies in the UVS sector. The province has been involved in the first transatlantic unmanned flight, has been the testing location for the world’s largest and most advanced UVS platforms, and is a world leader in developing ocean and emerging technologies. In partnership with industry, its world renowned education and R&D facilities are providing strategic enhancements in automated underwater applications, unmanned aerial programs and robotic technologies.

The Remote Aerial Vehicle for Environment Monitoring project (RAVEN) is one such collaboration which has tested UAV technology in the North Atlantic environment for future commercial applications. Researchers at Memorial University have worked with Provincial Aerospace Ltd. (PAL) and government entities to develop a maritime surveillance platform using small, lightweight UAVs.

RAVEN II, the second phase of this program, aims to develop “Sense and Avoid” technology in order to commercialize an Autonomous Collision Avoidance System for small UAVs. The RAVEN II project team is a collaboration of Memorial University, PAL, National Research Council and Defence Research and Development Canada, with input from Transport Canada, Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics and NATO.

Newfoundland and Labrador has also caught the eye of some major international players in the aerospace and defence sector. EADS Defence and Security has discovered one of the province’s assets, testing its Barracuda UAV platform at 5 Wing Goose Bay. This state-of-the-art military facility offers 130,000 km² of air training space and is known throughout the world as a first-class military training facility.

The Boeing Company has also demonstrated its interest in the province with an investment to establish a laboratory in Autonomous Systems at Memorial University. Memorial’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science has significant research strengths in robotics and automations, particularly for harsh environment applications.

Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s campus. With over 17,500 students, MUN is the largest university in Atlantic Canada.

Earlier this year, a joint team from Memorial University and International Submarine Engineering Ltd. successfully deployed the Explorer AUV through the Arctic ice as part of the Canadian program to extend its exclusive economic zone in the Arctic under the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea. The focus of this work was to determine and address logistical issues associated with deploying an autonomous underwater vehicle through ice and to develop a launch and recovery protocol for subsequent Arctic work.

With a firm grasp of its roots and an eye toward the future, Newfoundland and Labrador is poised to deliver its leading-edge technology and facilities to the world.
For information on investing in Newfoundland and Labrador, visit www.nlbusiness.ca
© FrontLine Defence 2009