Anti whaling activists using UAV to track whaling fleet


Just found this in the news:

The Sea Shepherd ship, Steve Irwin, deployed a drone to successfully locate and photograph the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru on December 24th.


Would be interesting to get more information about the system they use... (Range endurance etc.)

Especially the recovery on the small helicopter deck could be challenging.

Merry Christmas to all !!


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  • 3D Robotics

    They got an official reprimand from the Australian government

    THE conservation group Sea Shepherd has received what it describes as a reprimand from the Australian government for its use of aerial drones to track the Japanese whaling fleet.

    The Australian Antarctic Division told it the drones must undergo an urgent environmental impact assessment (EIA) if they are to be used in waters covered by the Antarctic Treaty.

  • No ships show up on the Marinetraffic AIS site unless they are within 40 miles of a coastal based receiving station somewhere or self-cooperating via satellite internet connection. Ships below the tip of South America are rarely listed unless they are around Australia or near the manned bases of Antarctica. There are supposed to be several polar orbit satellites to be launched that will cover the entire earth with AIS reception but those are still a few of years off, if ever.  The standard AIS information includes location, heading, speed, rate of turn, and plenty of other info that could help a UAV intercept it and photograph it. If the Japanese are turning off their AIS it is a major maritime no-no, especially if they happened to be near a foreign navy vessel or sovereign nation’s coast.

  • they are not showing up on AIS

  • I would imagine that they are using an AIS receiver on the UAV with a com link back to the Sea Shepherds as  all commercial vessels have to have an AIS transceiver. The Nisshin Maru is listed at well over the 300 ton limit which means it must have a Class A transceiver which is generally “visible” for 40 miles. The Japanese might occasionally turn of the transmitter but if they were not trying to actively evade the Sea Shepherds they would have to have it on due to international maritime laws. Even getting the UAV a few thousand feet above the ocean would give them an AIS view of several hundred miles.  

  • Here is their official release regarding the technology:

    They seem to have already had success this season


  • The drone is a Hanger 18 Osprey, check this link:

  • Very cool. I saw this news story posted on slashdot, no mention of the actual UAV specs though. The comments degraded into obnoxiously opinionated losers flinging feces at each other.

    Is there any more specifications on the plane? How it is powered? AUW? etc?
  • @jimmy congrats ;) I assume u are one of the proud member of attopilot folks ;)
  • I was concerned with getting fingers in the prop throwing this beast but I goes that's not an issue if you have good headwind. Would love to see videos of the procedures Jimmy. What are the specs as to speed  and endurance?

  • The Osprey is hand launched and recovered in a net on the ship during landing.  In the picture the left aileron is up because the autopilot has been initialized and is trying to bring the plane back to level.  As soon as it's launched it will level off and start a climb to a given altitude before it starts navigating.   We can also bungee the Osprey but if it's powered properly (as this one is) you can hand launch with a little wind in your face.


    Hangar 18

    (Designer of the Osprey :)  )

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