Over the years, Aurora’s unmanned aircraft have supported a number of environmental and educational missions across the globe. From the North Slope in Alaska, to the wilderness in South Africa, Aurora has conducted dozens of successful scientific and philanthropic operations, proving the countless abilities of unmanned flight.
In 2012, Aurora’s Skate small unmanned aerial system (SUAS) traveled to Peru in support of Vanderbilt University’s archeological survey efforts. Equipped with a high definition camera, Skate conducted routine flights above the Mawchu Llacta archeological site, capturing images to effectively map the area. Skate’s rapid survey and photography of the site was conducted in a matter of minutes, a monumental improvement over the months-long mapping previously executed by kites and blimps.
Skate has also proven an effective solution for wild life conservation efforts. In 2013, the SUAS helped rangers from Kruger National Park in South Africa detect poachers hunting endangered rhinoceroses. The 1-kilogram aircraft demonstrated a new and efficient way to monitor poaching over vast areas, scanning terrain that would have taken rangers on foot hours to canvas in a fraction of the time.
Another platform with proven operational capabilities is the Centaur optionally-piloted aircraft. In 2013, Aurora teamed with Harvard University and NOAA to integrate a greenhouse gas measurement system to the Centaur DA-42. The aircraft logged more than 60 hours of scientific data collection over the North Slope of Alaska, providing scientists with measurements of carbon dioxide and methane levels being released in the Arctic region. The research provided insight on the contributors to global warming and was critical in analyzing the rate of carbon addition to the atmosphere.