Skip to main content


Today the geoscanning solutions are based on airborne scanning from helicopters. The purpose of the Eurostar project AGAVE is to develop the solution further to use drones.

Integrating a high-resolution ground investigation workflow consisting of a geoscanning system carried by a UAV, machine- learning-based data integration and a drastically reduced invasive sampling program, will increase sustainability for the construction sector.

Project goal

SDU UAS Center will develop the foundation for an UAV solution capable of

conducting safe time domain electromagnetic mapping (TEM) operations.


Analysis of missions to be flown by the UAV with TEM system and risk assessments will make the requirements for the UAV evident. Specific Operational Risk Assessment (SORA) will be used to create the foundation for traffic authorities to grant permissions for BVLOS operations. 


Project details

SDU is involved with guidance and requirements to the UAS that will be special created for this mission. The UAS will carry a geoscanner in a tether. This will create draft when the UAS is moving and it will need extra power to carry the equipment. To mitigate risk, the UAS will also need different kind of equipment e.g. redundancy system, a camera, a sense and avoid system etc. This equipment will also add weight for the UAS to carry.

Finally, the tether must be at a certain length so the UAS system does not interfere with the geoscanning equipment and all in all, every adjustment will influence the SORA risk assessment. SDU has a close collaboration with Airborne Instrument/SKYTEM who are responsible for the technical devices to get the project safely flying from the beginning.

SDU project manager Marianne Iversen is looking forward to the cooperation: “AGAVE is a worldwide green project for geoscanning. The technology is already available, but not connected to each other. Our task at SDU is to make the risk assessment (using SORA) when the UAS is connected to the geoscanner and thereby making the missions as safe as possible. To gain experience the training will be conducted in a closed airspace at the test-field of HCA Airport in Denmark before the missions will continue, with the local approvals, in the designated countries.”.

Perspective - Enabling new markets 

Today’s helicopter-based solution has a high entry cost and comparably low resolution. This limits the ROI for small infrastructure projects that depend on high accuracy and have limited ground investigation budgets.

The UAV-based workflow will bridge this gap, with the solution being lower cost, faster and better in terms of accuracy and resolution. “Faster, better and cheaper is usually the typical wish that can’t be fulfilled, but with the change from a half-a-ton helicopter sensor to some dozen kilos on a drone we can make this dream reality”, says Andi Pfaffhuber, CEO of EMerald Geomodelling. “Our vision is to extend our resource saving workflow from large linear infrastructure projects to all infrastructure developments that today suffer under unsustainable traditional workflows” he continues.  

When the product is fully developed, the aim is to scale it to become a new standard for any geotechnical investigating. This development increases the sustainability of infrastructure investments, both in terms of costs and carbon emissions, in addition to make the solution easier to use in smaller projects. 


EMeraldGeomodelling (Lead, Norway), SkyTEM (Denmark), Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and SDU UAS Center.

Part of the Eurostars programme

Eurostars is a joint programme between EUREKA and the European Commission to support innovative projects led by research and development performing small and medium-sized enterprises (R&D-preforming SMEs), supported by the European Union through Horizon 2020. The project was honored to be selected for funding, ranked as number 15th out of 384 applications. 

Last Updated 01.12.2023