Skip to content

Alternative Applications for GPR Dam Drone

Fri, 09 April, 2021

The technology developed as part of the GPR Dam Drone Project can easily find applications in areas outside of dam inspection and monitoring. There have already been several instances where drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) enabled with ground penetrating radar technology have been deployed for a range of purposes.

The applications for GPR Dam Drones ranges from archaeology to geology and humanitarian uses through to soil moisture investigations and rail infrastructure monitoring.

Here we present details of some of these potential applications:

  • Landmine and IED Detection

Drone-based GPR surveys have been investigated by a number of projects related to  the detection of landmines and unexploded ordnance. Drones or other UAVs equipped with GPR offer an attractive method of detecting buried objects without ground contact. This makes them ideal for the safe and fast detection of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and landmines.

  • Search and Rescue Operations

As well as landmine and IED detection, GPR equipped drones could offer humanitarian support for first responders in search and rescue operations. As well as providing situational awareness of a site such as a collapsed building, this technology could also locate occluded spaces or voids in rubble that may contain victims.

  • Archaeology

GPR has been deployed successfully in a number of archaeological investigations, including at the site of the Dzuun Khuree monastery in eastern Mongolia, where the monastery’s unusual circular form and layout suggested a foundation that was earlier than previously expected. The technology has also been used to highlight several architectural changes to medieval monastery of San Pietro a Cellaria in Southern Italy, uncovering unknown history of the 12-13th Century site.

  • Soil Moisture Mapping

Drone-borne GPR has also been deployed for high-resolution soil moisture mapping at a field scale. This can provide subsurface information to aid agriculture and environmental monitoring of a location.

  • Glacial and Geological Applications

Ground penetrating radar can be used to investigate glacial or geological areas including the thickness of ice or the presence of bar top hollows (BTH). Being able to identify and better understand BTH in subsurface reservoirs allows for the optimisation of CO2 storage sites, exploration of fresh water aquifers, and the characterisation of oil and gas reservoirs.

  • Railway Infrastructure Monitoring

While there are lots of potential industrial asset monitoring applications for GPR Dam Drones, the technology has already been utilised to complete risk assessments of railway infrastructures. For example, in Croatia, where much of the infrastructure is over 100 years old, there was a need to assess track conditions. GPR enabled drones have been used for this work, allowing track speeds to increase, safety to improve and remediation costs to reduce.

  • Road Condition Monitoring

GPR can also be used to assess roads and pavements across their life cycle. Non-contact monitoring techniques can be used to obtain surface and sub-surface information about damage, including crack depth and in-depth structural failure. When used alongside other techniques, aerial GPR can help predict the future road maintenance needs.

  • Geomorphology

GPR has also been used to study washover fans caused by barrier overwash or breaching and coastal inundation. Washover fans, which consisted of multiple sequences of sand, shell debris and coral rubble, were examined in the Exmouth Gulf (Western Australia) as geomorphological and depositional evidence of intense storms. This information can help build up a chronological picture of storm-induced deposition.


The DamGPR Drone project has received funding from Innovate UK under file reference number: 133909