Royal Australian Navy personnel have used an S100 unmanned aerial system to create seabed and beach mapping for amphibious landings during Exercise Sea Raider.
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S100 crew from 822X Squadron and Defence Science and Technology Group personnel were able to use the S100 unmanned aerial system fitted with a bathymetric light detection, ranging sensor, and green wavelength laser beams to create littoral and terrain geospatial surveys.
The trials investigated the optimal balance between flying low to collect data in comparison to tactical flying, while operating from the flight deck of the Canberra Class landing helicopter dock, HMAS Adelaide.
The S100 itself has a range of 200 kilometres and can be used day or night in most weather conditions, navigating via pre-programmed GPS waypoints or by a control unit. It can also be integrated into a ship’s system, assisting air traffic control and gathering intelligence.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas Lennards, from the Australian Amphibious Force, was exposed to the laser technology thanks to his work implementing hydrographic and geospatial collection for the S100.
“We generate survey plans for landing areas, then create 3D flight profiles and gradients, either electronically or paper, which are used as a briefing tool of shallow water bathymetry, beach, back of beach topography,” LCDR Lennards said.
“The surveys are used to navigate hazards, beach entry and exit points, helicopter landing zones, bridges, hinterland, and terrain.
“We have overlays of nautical charts and satellite imagery used to make sure the information is current with our collection and compare anomalies with what’s scanned compared to what is charted.”
The Defence Science and Technology Group engages closely in exercises to research new capabilities and concepts.
Geography scientist Dr Alexander Lee, along with his team, attached the sensor as part of the S100 introduction into service trials onboard HMAS Adelaide.
“We participate in major exercises to understand how the outputs of scientific research can be accelerated through the transition into operational use. This seeks to make the warfighter more effective for their missions,” Dr Lee said.
“It’s about talking to people, either day or night, to better understand how science can be used to resolve issues or identify new opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of the ADF.”
Dr Lee was trialling hand-held laser scanners that provided 3D views of beaches, forests, and terrain that can be used for detection analyses, including battlefield damage assessment.
“The data it generates allows us to better understand the limits of the LiDAR data collected from airborne platforms like the S100,” he said.