Canada’s Academic R&D Roadmap of UAS

a research paper commissioned for Transport Canada

Hugh H.-T. Liu
Institute for Aerospace Studies
University of Toronto

Version (June 2020)
Version (March 2018)

Executive Summary

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) hold great promise for applications as diverse as natural resource monitoring, infrastructure inspection (pipeline, railways), agriculture, mineral exploration, journalism, and search & rescue operations. This is the most vibrant sector of the aerospace industry, growing more quickly than any other segment. It is forecast that the UAS sector will continue to experience strong growth for the next decade. Given Canada’s vast geographical landscape (e.g. the Arctic) and natural resources, the Canadian commercial or civil UAS market is expected to grow rapidly. Canada has a long and successful history of leadership in aviation. Canadian companies and research institutions have also emerged to take leading roles in the growing civilian UAS research and development, nationally and internationally. A research paper is commissioned for Transport Canada’s Innovation Policy Directorate to provide an overview of Canada’s research capacities in UAS, especially to cover the landscape of Canadas academic networks, and research institutions in this area.

The key findings of the research paper are highlighted here:

  • 127 researchers, 7 multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research centres are identified across Canada
  • Canada’s research capacity in UAS development is charted by 5 major disciplines: aero- dynamics (AER), guidance, navigation and control (GNC), design and manufacturing (ADM), propulsion (PRP), and structures and materials (SM). The research focus is placed on GNC (68%), the research direction points to the integration of UAS, and intelligence of UAS development.
  • Canada’s research capacity in UAS development is charted by 8 commercial and civil application domains, including infrastructure, environment, natural resources, agriculture, public safety, delivery, arts and defence (military). Research and development is consistent with Canada’s landscape and resources, over 83% applications cover infrastructure (16%), environment (27%), natural resources (19%), and agriculture (21%)
  • Canada’s research capacity in UAS development is also charted by regions, where 53% is located in Ontario. The rest are evenly distributed between western (AB, BC, MB, SK 24%) and Quebec and maritime provinces (22%)
  • A new survey discovered 97 drone flight schools across Canada.

download the updated report of 2020 here
download the full report of 2018 here