Ground Penetrating Radar for Drone

Acquire subsurface data quick, safe and efficient!

GPR+drone integrated system enables to see through the surface of the ground, ice, rocks, freshwater at unsafe and hazardous environments without compromising the safety of staff, providing an additional solution for more efficient surveying.

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Why use GPR with drone?

Acquire data faster compared to traditional methods
Drone's precise positioning and rangefinder systems result in high accuracy measurements
UAV surveys are more cost-effective compared to manned flights
Increased staff safety
The integrated system can be used at unsafe and hazardous environments without compromising the safety of staff
Automated flight
Drone ensures higher accuracy in following survey lines thanks to the inbuilt GPS and automated flight mode.
Location not reachable by foot can be reached by drone

How it works

The system consists of a UAV integrated with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). The full integration is ensured by adding the onboard computer UgCS SkyHub to the system. Drone's flight is planned and managed using the full functionality of UgCS.

You can choose between a ready-to-use system or components like the UgCS SkyHub integration kit for self-assembling.

An off-the-shelf or custom-built UAV based on DJI A3 flight controller, i.e. DJI M600/M600 Pro

GPR selected based on the survey's goals
Application Notes

UgCS SkyHub
UgCS SkyHub

Radar's data logging is started automatically and geotagged with GPS coordinates from the autopilot
User Manual


Flight planning and control software displaying GPR's status data and its current trace


Small objects detection

Radar Systems Zond-12e #Drone 1000a #GPR system is applicable to detect small objects with a diameter starting from 8cm and pipes/cables with a diameter starting from 3cm. The GPR+drone integrated system can be used both with a drone or for terrestrial surveys if conditions don't allow to use a drone.

Dataset - Small objects detection in wet sandy soil >>>

Bathymetry of fresh water

The GPR-drone integrated system enables to measure the depth of water or profiling the bottom of freshwater rivers, lakes, ponds up to 15 meters in depth.

Benefits – possibility to do work even when the water is frozen or the surface of the water is partially covered with ice. Compared to bathymetry using a boat (equipped with echo sounders) the drone with a GPR provides better accuracy in following survey lines thanks to the inbuilt GPS and automated flight. Also, in most cases, a drone makes it a lot easier to deliver the necessary equipment to the desired area.

The results displayed in Figure 3 were gathered with the drone flying at an altitude of 20 meters above the water surface level to profile 8 meters deep frozen lake.

Image: Profiling results of a frozen lake. The 3D visualization of the lakes profile was created using GPR-Slice software (

Geological surveys for soil layer profiling

Soil layer profiling is a standard task that needs to be done before any serious area development or construction works. The standard technique is drilling dozens of holes or conducting a GPR survey on carts.

GPR-drone integrated system delivers higher work productivity and enables safer work conditions for the personnel in cases of rough terrain.

GPR allows finding any potentially dangerous underground water streams or lakes.

Data gathered by GPR-drone integrated system flying at an altitude of 5 meters over an asphalt-covered car parking lot is displayed in Figure 4. The soil layers are clearly visible.

Image: Layers of the soil below a parking lot measured up to a depth of 36m (screenshot of Prism2

Mapping of underground infrastructure

Mapping of underground infrastructure is an important task before starting any construction works on previously developed territories or in cases when actual documentation and maps for underground infrastructure is missing.

True Terrain Following

Acquire best possible data by flying the GPR as low as possible mimicking the relief of the surface.

True Terrain Following enables the drone to fly at low altitudes (up to 1 meter) without a need to import precise Digital Elevation Model (DEM) height-map into UgCS.

Adding a laser altimeter to the system will enable to fly in True Terrain Following mode.

Case Studies

Location of underground gas pipes

Pilot project in collaboration with: Conexus Baltic Grid, JSC

Goal: verify the applicability of airborne Ground Penetrating Radars (GPR) to locate underground gas pipes.

Technology: 124 MHz and 500 MHz GPR antennas integrated with a drone.

Flight control: UgCS with True Terrain Following mode.

Result: The 700mm steel pipe is clearly detectable from altitude up to 7meters using 500 MHz GPR system in sandy soil (typical for Latvia). Acquired and processed data samples can be downloaded on

Locating aircraft buried under Greenland's ice

Customer:  Arctic Hotpoint Solutions and Fallen American MIA Repatriation Foundation (FAMIARF)

Goal: Locate the P-38 “Echo” a U.S. dogfighter lost during the events of WWII

Technology: GPR+drone integrated system managed with UgCS software

Result: Acquired data showed anomalies at a depth of around 100m

Read the full article about the expedition on the magazine.

Freshwater bathymetry


Goal: Determine the change of bottom shape of water reservoir's due to exploitation

Technology: GPR+drone integrated system

Flight control: UgCS

Result: Profile of the freshwater reservoir defining its depth

Project 1667 - searching the Gold Ship wreck

Customer: Project 1667

Goal: Determine the applicability of GPR at the current area at ocean shoreline

Technology: integrated Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) with a drone equipped with a laser altimeter, allowing the drone to fly in the True Terrain Following mode.

Flight control: UgCS with True Terrain Following mode

Result: GPR proves to be applicable at areas in some distance from ocean shoreline - test data analysis presents penetration of up to 5-10 meters

Archaeological investigation of Inca ruins

Customer: Archeological surveyors, Peru

Goal: Test systems applicability for archeological investigation to locate remains of Inca ruins

Technology: integrated Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) with a drone equipped with a laser altimeter, allowing the drone to fly in the True Terrain Following mode.

Flight control: UgCS with True Terrain Following mode

Result: Acquired data with detected anomalies, to be used for further research

Technical specification

Currently, SPH Engineering provides 5 setup configurations for the GPR-drone integrated system. All systems are integrated with DJI M600/M600 Pro drone.

Supported GPR systems are:

  Radar Systems Zond-12e
Drone 1000a
Radar Systems Zond-12e
Drone 500a
Radarteam Drone CBD
Radarteam Cobra
Plug-In SE-70
Radarteam Cobra
Plug-In SE-150
Frequency range, MHz 600-1300 200-900 50-1400 20-140 20-280
Bandwidth, MHz 700 800 1350 120 260
Centre frequency, MHz 1000 500 500 80 124
Size (L x W x H), cm 41 x 31 x 18 41 x 31 x 18 50 x 35 x 20 139 x 15 x 21 92 x 22 x 22
Weight, kg 3,2 3,2 5,2 4,9 4,6
DJI M600 Pro drone with GPR
Take-off weight
with TB47S batteries, kg 13,6 13,6 14,3 14,3 14,1
with TB48S batteries, kg 14,1 14,1 14,8 14,8 14,6
Approximate flight time
with TB47S batteries, min 18 18 15 15 16
with TB48S batteries, min 24 24 19 19 20
Maximum length of survey line (speed 2m/s)
with TB47S batteries, m 2160 2160 1800 1800 1920
with TB48S batteries, m 2880 2880 2280 2280 2400

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