UV - Unmanned Vehicles

Centaur OPA tracks great whites

14th November 2016 - 11:11 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Aurora's DA-42 Centaur optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) was used for aerial support in a project to locate and track great white sharks off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts, the company announced on 9 November.

The company partnered with marine conservation organisation OCEARCH for this project. Centaur was flown in a predetermined flight pattern over the expedition area to help scientists on an OCEARCH vessel identify, target and track the location of sharks in real time.

The Centaur was remotely operated by a pilot onboard the OCEARCH vessel, scanning the mission area using a FLIR 230 infrared sensor. The sensor was used to pick up heat signatures and movements in the water, and its imagery was downlinked and displayed in real time on the shipboard ground control station.

A total of five great white sharks were tagged over the three-week expedition.

John Langford, Aurora chairman and CEO, said: 'We are thrilled about our new partnership with OCEARCH and Centaur’s ability to expand on the process for identifying sharks. The expedition allowed us to demonstrate the technological and operational capabilities of Centaur, and more importantly, the value and benefits of utilising optionally-piloted aircraft for a variety of missions which now includes maritime.'

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