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Ardupilot flew on the north pole!


Norce, as a participant in CAATEX (Coordinated Arctic Acoustic Experiment), has reached the geographic North Pole using Norwegian coast guard ship / ice breaker.
We had two 23-24kg TOW OctaQuad’s with us, along with two fixed wings planes.
The Octaquad’s had two payloads developed by us / UiT: one with a low freuency, high bandwidth ice-penetrating radar, and the second with a high-resolution stereo-camera plus spectrometer.
The payload was mavlink-integrated too, and the radar onboard computer uses mavlink data.

The planes was for photogrammetry and FPV ice-scouting only, no special payload.

We flew on the north pole, and many other places nearby.

Conditions were mostly 6…12m/s wind, -6°C and -2°C in the water. Typical ice thickness 2-3meters. Depth was 4-5km. Dew point and temperature were always very close, so we have experienced great icing conditions.

We had some clear ice buildup on some flights.

and some strange, spiky ice, especially near the propeller hub on others.

I monitored the throttle demand closely, but we never built up enough ice to significantly affect the performance due to overpowered design, (hover at 23% throttle).

The ice is almost always drifting, so auto missions were not always feasible, and a lot of manual flights related to ground markers (traffic cones) were performed.

On one occasion, I flew a plane “around the world”, at such high latitude, it is not that far. The autopilot did not mind that, many smartwatches went nuts while changing time-zones “constantly” in that area.

We were less than 500km from the geomagnetic north pole, I expected the yaw (based on magnetometers) to be a bigger issue, but due to the brilliant EKF, I could always take off, and in worst case, after flying a box manually, the copter would be able to hold position/navigate just fine, and could have done auto missions just as fine as the RTL I tested a few times.

Great work, thanks to all developers/contributors. :slight_smile:

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Very interesting! Did you guys have to do compass calibration at that latitude before flights? We’re you using cubes?
Spiky ice on leading edge… Not something I would have expected.

due to the payload, and overall size of the copters, I chose not to try compass calibration.
in any case, calibration alone can’t help the fact that the magnetic field up there is much more vertical than normal. It was last calibrated in Tromsø (69.6°N)
Logs sum up to a total of 12.5 hrs in air during this cruise (not block-time, flight time)

True!

That’s impressive! :smiley:
Thanks for the post!:+1:

Awesome project! This is fantastic to hear, as many closed-source projects strictly prohibit flying north of the arctic circle due to compass issues.

Do you mind sharing any of your logs? I’d love to take a look at that mag data!

this is further south, but my favorite to share, as it it has a lot of poshold flight time with stereo-camera

  • you see voltage rising during the flight a great phenomenon (or, batteries thawing) :slight_smile:
    should you have suggestions for config changes, feel free to say so, those have not been flown much after being build before this trip, and yaw control is …not great…(slow, then overshoots.)
    https://drive.google.com/open?id=1N-jw8hpdGBqPskweAo-JkehvjOvkuFil

@Andre-K sorry I couldn’t get the skycontroller done in time. Were you able to fly it with traditional RC?

We flew it with custom batteries(modified voltage table) and campan mod, otherwise stock.
Looking forward to the results of your work.

Hey! Congratulations. We flew our UAVs in Arctic too. We mapped many glaciers there. :blush:

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