A literature review, internet searches, and communications with personnel working with unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were used to identify the capabilities of UAS throughout the world. We assessed their ability to replace manned aerial surveys for marine mammals and sea birds, monitor sea ice and other physical features and be platforms for search and rescue operations that are conducted by oil and gas exploration and production companies working in offshore Arctic and sub-Arctic waters. The vast majority of the systems identified were either too expensive or their capabilities did not meet minimum standards necessary to perform the tasks required of them. Eight systems were identified that might be able to perform some of the desired tasks. Several other systems had similar capabilities but had not been tested or would require upgrades. Installation of high-definition (HD) video and better stabilization systems would improve UAS performance. It is recommended that development of HD video with real-time data transmission and stabilization systems for UAS be pursued and that side-by-side comparisons of a few of the best systems be conducted.
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