Iceland Glacier Flown by University of Southampton

Many thanks to Nigel from QuestUAV for sending on news of one of his platforms out in the cold!

Congratulations to Alex Clayton and Tom Bishop for flying the Skaftafellsjokull Glacier one week after completing training with QuestUAV.  Despite poor visibility and very little experience with their new UAV the team succeeded in capturing imagery for a high-resolution DEM of the area and later processed in Agisoft Photoscan

The trip lasted one week only and mainly concentrated on collecting GPS data and ensuring GPS stations still work but with some spare time and good weather the crew got out flying. The UAV data will be used to support the geophysical work being done on the glacier.  The crew hope to do continue their research using the QuestUAV and hope to get students from the University of Southampton involved in the near future.


“We are pleased to report that we were successful in flying over two days on the glacier. The Icelandic CAA were happy for us to fly more or less anywhere, in any manner, as the UAV weighs <5kg.

We initially flew at sea level on farmland to test the system. The coastal area in this region is very flat and doesn’t really have any topographic or man-made hazards for tens of kilometers, and is very suitable for test flights. The local small gulls repeatedly dived the aircraft but didn’t make contact… and the farmers gun dog took a worrying interest whenever the aircraft landed, but we managed to restrain it.

We then flew on the glacier. The winds were light (c.5knots) and blew continuously down the ice. The area was covered in a medium density snow which made landings very soft but not too wet – so long as we remembered to operate the landing flap beforehand. We did have some concerns about boundary layer turbulence as the down-ice (katabatic winds) are localised and the area is topographically complex. Winds at height were 90degrees to the surface winds, but neither appeared strong and the aircraft maintained its survey courses admirably. We had a petrol generator on the ice which proved essential as it both charges the batteries and also keeps them warm.”