Drones, like the Internet, started in the military industrial complex. Now with technological change they are becoming cheaper and are beginning to be used in commercial applications. In the US the FAA has stated that by 2015 US airspace will be open to commercial drones. Meanwhile, Yukon College and Shawn Ryan are pioneering efforts to use drones to explore for minerals.
A Hong Kong company has developed a $349 surveillance drone for consumers that provides live feed into the users smartphone. “Skydrone” uses 3G or 4G wireless technology. The company sees uses for property developers, ranchers and even people who want to snoop on their neighbors.
In Yukon, Shawn Ryan the famed prospector who discovered the White Gold find near Dawson, is spearheading a research project to look at drones being used for mineral exploration. Ryan, through his company GroundTruth Exploration brought in technology from Switzerland. The drone to be use by Ryan is the first of its kind in Canada. Ryan is also using new probe technology with a tracked vehicle. GroundTruth is doing contract work for Dawson area explorers to aid their efforts to find minerals.
Yukon College has a project to demonstrate that drones, can be used as a very cost effective tool for conducting aerial photogrammetric surveys thereby removing the potential problems encountered with manned vehicles. The primary objective will be to develop methodologies for generating traditional photogrammetric products and in particular orthophotos, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and contours. The goal will be to offer a service in the North to provide aerial mapping products for a wide range of applications.
Kudos to Shawn Ryan for trying this technology in a new way. Yukon, through the years has led the way, in digital mapping (called Minfile) and in making public resources available for the mineral exploration industry. Yukon College’s drone project is a logical extension of these efforts.