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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Comment by Rick F on December 30, 2011 at 5:01pm

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

Comment by Kevin Baxter on December 31, 2011 at 10:01pm

Here is their official release regarding the technology:

They seem to have already had success this season


Comment by Kevin Baxter on January 1, 2012 at 10:53am

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.  

Comment by james sowell on January 1, 2012 at 12:53pm
Comment by Kevin Baxter on January 1, 2012 at 8:36pm

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.

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 3, 2012 at 5:21pm

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.


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