Evaluating Drone Technology at Identifying Ice Changes that can Cause Ice-Road Hazards

Rural Alaska depends on constructed winter ice roads to travel between villages, between satellite villages to a main hub (e.g., Bethel) that has critical services such as a regional airport and hospital. Villages like Tanana actually are connected via an ice road to the Alaska highway system for several month out of the year. These ice roads support personal and commercial traffic. To that end commercial traffic can be as heavy as large tractor trailers bringing essential food or building supplies as well as large heavy equipment for summer development. Outside of Bethel these ice roads are nearly 100 miles long and thus, maintaining these ice roads open to traffic and despite inclement weather and changes to the ice is a daunting task. Snow drifts are common obstacles that are reasonably easy to spot, and avoid. On the contrary thin ice, and different type of cracks (dry vs wet) are impossible or very difficult to spot and classify their risk to ice road stake-holders. During the fringes of ice road season local hazard can develop unexpectedly and abruptly. Climate change is another wild card that plays on ice roads. Warm temperatures with above freezing temperatures events, or even rain, can change ice road safety swiftly and heterogeneously. Thus, there is a wide motivation to improve the efficiency in spotting ice road hazards such as thin ice and ice cracks. In this project the research team proposed to evaluate UAS coupled with three type of remote sensing sensors to identify these hazards. The team proposed to use visible and thermal cameras to try to find cracks in the ice as well attempt to classify wet from dry cracks. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a proven technology and are already used by the community to measure ice thickness. However, the current application is very spotty and requires physically placing the GPR on an ice of unknown or suspicious hazard. By utilizing a UAS one will expend the survey and eliminate personal risk


    • English


    • Status: Active
    • Funding: $100000
    • Contract Numbers:


    • Sponsor Organizations:

      Department of Transportation

      1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
      Washington, DC  United States  20590
    • Managing Organizations:

      Center for Safety Equity in Transportation

      University of Alaska Fairbanks
      Fairbanks, AK  United States  99775
    • Performing Organizations:

      Center for Safety Equity in Transportation

      University of Alaska Fairbanks
      Fairbanks, AK  United States  99775
    • Principal Investigators:

      Saiet, Eyal

      Bjella, Kevin

    • Start Date: 20221221
    • Expected Completion Date: 20230731
    • Actual Completion Date: 0
    • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

    Subject/Index Terms

    Filing Info

    • Accession Number: 01872004
    • Record Type: Research project
    • Source Agency: Center for Safety Equity in Transportation
    • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747129
    • Files: UTC, RIP
    • Created Date: Jan 28 2023 7:06PM