What is a drone GPR?

A drone GPR is a ground penetrating radar antenna mounted on a drone. Most often you have a specially developed GPR antenna, with lightweight construction and internal memory, suitable for mounting on an ordinary airborne drone. Measurements are carried out using time triggered pulses paired to GNSS positioning. A drone GPR can enable data collection in remote, hazardous, and inaccessible areas. 

GPR measurements from drones can be efficient for several applications but also have some drawbacks compared to surface-based investigations. These pros and cons need to be considered before a final decision on investigation type can be made.  

Main advantages to using a drone GPR 

  • Data collection can be efficient in rough terrain (such as ice and snow-covered ground, rocky and uneven terrain, across rivers and in avalanche-prone areas) where surface surveys may be impossible. 
  • Data collection can be done in areas where there would otherwise be health-risks for the operator. 
  • Data collection can be automated, in other words, surveys based on pre-defined survey grids.  

Main disadvantages to use of a drone GPR  

  • The radar signal penetration is less than for a comparable ground coupled antenna.   
  • Data will include more ’noise’ from objects above the surface (air waves, air reflections).  
  • Data collection is made in time mode (time triggered); the conversion to distance is only made in a post-processing step using GNSS information.  
  • Data quality may be lower due to a varying air gap (flight-height) and an uneven measurement speed.  

It is also recommended to keep a flight-height of approximately 1 meter (or less) and an automated survey grid for best possible data collection. Make sure you use a drone with sufficient lifting capacity and with possibilities to securely mount equipment below it.  

Typical applications for drone GPR are: 

  • Bathymetry studies (e.g. river/lake bed profiling) 
  • Depth to bedrock 
  • Detection of larger sinkholes 
  • Detection of larger cavities (e.g. cavities in limestone areas) 
  • Shallow sedimentary structures 
  • Artic ice and snow profiling or other deeper ice/snow measurements 

Note! If surface GPR measurements are possible to meet your needs, this is most likely the best option.  

Airborne GPR systems are currently not  certifiednot certified under FCC, ETSI or other localized UWB GPR regulations. In order to purchase and operate the MALÅ GeoDrone 80 the user/customer will need to present an exemption from local regulations or certify/prove that there are no UWB GPR regulations in place. 

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