07 Oct 20. The Pentagon wants SpaceX delivering cargo around the globe – and a live test could come next year.
U.S. Transportation Command is taking the potential for cargo delivery via orbit seriously enough that it hopes to test the concept with SpaceX as soon as next year, the command’s head said Wednesday.
In what he called a “provocative thought,” Gen. Stephen Lyons said “I’m really excited about the team that’s working with SpaceX on an opportunity, even perhaps in as early as ’21, to conduct a joint proof of principle” for space-based delivery.
The dream, Lyons told the National Defense Transpiration Association, is to be able to move 80 tons of cargo — the equivalent of a C-17 transport — via space-based vehicle, anywhere on the globe, within one hour.
“Think about the speed associated with that, whether a small force element or other capability,” he said, adding “I can tell you [SpaceX is] moving very, very rapidly in this area.”
A TRANSCOM spokesman said details of the potential “proof of principle” are still being worked out with SpaceX, but that it would involve actually “delivering cargo from one place to another through space.”
In a public release after Lyons’ comments, TRANSCOM revealed that the command has entered into two Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) related to the project. The Elon Musk founded SpaceX signed on in March, and xArc, a commercial “space architecture” firm, signed on in April.
Under the CRADA, the two firms are working to assess technical, regulatory and cost barriers to the idea of space-based delivery. While the CRADA does not come with federal funding, TRANSCOM is “providing expertise in logistics and distribution in austere environments which will inform commercial space industry efforts to support programs that will ultimately be required to operate on the lunar surface and eventually Mars,” according to the news release.
SpaceX has gained notoriety for its ability to launch and then land a reusable system back on Earth, something that has led to speculation that there could one day be space-based transportation around the globe. xArc’s role is unclear, but based on its portfolio, the Austin-based company may be working on designing a landing pad of some sort. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
07 Oct 20. Fortress UAV Releases New Drone Field Repair Kits. Fortress UAV, a supplier of UAS maintenance and deployment services based in Plano, Texas, is now offering a Drone Field Repair Kit available for public purchase. The Drone Field Repair Kit will serve as a critical emergency option for drone operators who need a quick fix for maintenance while on-site during a drone mission.
The Fortress UAV Drone Field Repair Kits are the size of a typical small toolbox and include all the necessary consumable quick-fix parts and accessories to quickly get your drone back in the air. The kits are small enough to be easily transported in a car or SUV to the drone mission site.
Drone Field Repair Kits will be personalized for the operator’s drone make and model. Fortress UAV will also offer various kit levels (Standard and Deluxe) based on maintenance needs and usual wear-and-tear.
Current models offered: DJI Mavic Pro / Platinum, DJI Mavic 2, DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, and DJI Matrice 200 / 210.
When asked about the usage of the Drone Field Repair Kits, Garret Bryl, Principal Aerospace Software Engineer and UAS Pilot for the Public Safety UAS Response Team stated,
“These are great. I can see numerous public safety and field teams using these kits as their go-to for basic repair needs while on a critical, time-sensitive mission”.
In a sturdy on-the-go hard case, the Drone Field Repair Kit includes drone-specific tools and items necessary to repair simple issues swiftly and with ease. Items included in the Drone Field Repair Kit, depending on kit purchased are:
– Precision Phillips Driver
– MIP HEX Driver Wrench Set
– Opening Pry Tool
– Air in a Can
– Axis Covers
– Necessary USB Cables
– 4-Pack Magnetic Parts Tray Set
– Screw Pack(s)
– Blue Loc-Tight
– Other Necessary Items
The Drone Field Repair Kits are a perfect toolbox addition for small and large companies utilizing drones on-site for surveying, mapping, photography/videography, surveillance, and many more. Public safety agencies can also take advantage of the tool kit when using drones for search & rescue, crime scene investigation and more.
Brendon Mills, CEO of Fortress UAV stated, “I am proud that our team is bringing this product to the drone market. It is our hope that the Drone Field Repair Kit becomes an essential tool for drone operators on location in need of quick access to tools for basic repairs and drone maintenance”. (Source: UAS VISION)
06 Oct 20. DoD Taps Sea Machines for Autonomous VTOL Replenishment Vessels. Sea Machines Robotics, a Boston-based developer of autonomous command and control systems for surface vessels, has been awarded a multi-year Other Transaction agreement by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the company announced in an Oct. 5 release.
The primary purpose of the agreement is to initiate a prototype that will enable commercial ocean-service barges as autonomous Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) units for an Amphibious Maritime Projection Platform (AMPP).
Under this OT agreement, Sea Machines will engineer, build and demonstrate ready-to-deploy system kits that enable autonomous, self-propelled operation of opportunistically available barges to land and replenish military aircraft. The kits will include Sea Machines’ SM300 autonomous-command and control systems, barge propulsion, sensing, positioning, communications and refueling equipment, as well as items required for global deployment. Each modular kit will meet U.S. Navy criteria and will be in compliance with classifications and regulations from the DoD’s aviation bodies.
The contract includes a concept demonstration phase, with an option for following phases to deploy SM300 Operational Kits. The live concept demonstration is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020, in Washington state, for which Sea Machines has teamed with FOSS Maritime, a leading maritime transportation and logistics provider based in Seattle. FOSS will provide naval architecture, support engineering and operations management to outfit a remotely commanded deck barge to land helicopters and host a scaled fueling station for aircraft, surface vessels and shore replenishment. Using the SM300, shoreside operators will have remote situational awareness and will be able to demonstrate the capabilities of remote command and control of the vessel, her operating systems and flight deck.
Sea Machines is the prime contractor for the multi-year contract and is working closely alongside FOSS Maritime and other significant industry leaders, including Huntington Ingalls, America’s largest military shipbuilding company and a provider of professional services, based in Newport News, Virginia, and Bell Flight, a producer of commercial and military, vertical-lift aircraft, based in Fort Worth, Texas, to ensure a successful demonstration.
“The AMPP autonomous replenishment systems will solve critical logistics challenges of expeditionary missions. We are pleased to enable this innovative capability, which will increase the effectiveness and flexibility for the U.S. military,” said Sea Machines’ Phil Bourque, director, sales. “With Sea Machines systems already working off the waters of four continents, this project is well suited for us and one that we look forward to delivering on for the U.S. government.”
“Foss is excited about this new opportunity with Sea Machines.This contract has led to discussions with Sea Machines in a number of other areas where their expertise can help Foss, including bringing more technology to our tug fleet. What they are doing in automation is very interesting and that technology could help our mariners and our vessels safety,” said FOSS’s Will Roberts, chief operating officer.
DIU’s work is part of the DoD’s Resilient Expeditionary Agile Littoral Logistics (REALL) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) project. Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Research & Engineering, the JCTD Program addresses Combatant Command and Joint warfighting gaps through prototyping and demonstration of innovative and game-changing technologies.
The following offices are involved with defining performance requirements and developing capabilities for REALL: U.S. Central Command, U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and the Naval Aviation Warfare Center – Lakehurst. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://seapowermagazine.org/)
05 Oct 20. Speed and simplicity from new Robotiq cobot palletising system. A new robotic palletising solution which combines flexibility and ease of set-up with greater throughput for rapid return on investment, has been introduced by collaborative robot (cobot) application specialist Robotiq. The Robotiq Palletising Solution has been specifically developed to meet the needs of companies providing essential goods in lower throughput applications with frequent changes of task and box or pallet size.
Around 30% faster than other cobot palletisers currently on the market, the new system is designed for applications of up to 13 boxes/ minute. Installable in less than a day thanks to its single, integrated application software, this solution can be set-up for a new SKU in as little as five minutes.
In addition, this application-focused technology comprises fully connected, plug and play hardware and software with pre-selected functions for rapid and simple deployment with UR10.
“We were very impressed when testing this Application Kit. The synchronised motion makes it a very unique product in the cobot space,” said Early Ewing, Head of UR+ Ecosystem at Universal Robots.
The palletising application can be set up in just three simple steps on the visual robot control device, with automatic trajectory planning and collision detection, and no need for a PC or external programming. Once programmed, simple one-click activation gets operations under way immediately.
The system delivers optimised, synchronised motion control of both the cobot and 7th axis, with seamless movements ensuring a maximised cobot life cycle. Its compact footprint means it fits easily within any existing floor layout, with no need to reconfigure production.
Each system consists of a vertical axis, a robot base, an application software and a vacuum gripper. In details: vertical 7th axis and control box containing PLC, drive, motor and safety relay; Robotiq’s vacuum gripper AirPick, bracket and suction cups; pallet and box sensors; cable management system; URCaps nodes for palletiser and axis control; and two status lights.
The technology has undergone extensive and robust field testing, receiving strong endorsements from leading robotics experts. Among them is Bryant Henderson, senior robotics engineer at Advanced Control Solutions, who commented: “Overall I was extremely impressed with the system. The hardware seems tested and robust, and the user interface is extremely easy to use.”
Nicolas Lauzier, senior product owner at Robotiq, explained: “The need to automate the palletising process – already a key consideration in many facilities due to the health & safety implications of repetitive and physically demanding manual palletising on human operatives – has only been intensified by the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
“However, many other cobot palletising solutions on the market have a large footprint, are comparatively high in cost and require substantial expertise in automation, while the time needed for programming can be significant. There are also challenges around the flexibility of these systems for different applications – for example, handling smaller boxes or using pallets of different sizes – and their speed, which rarely exceeds 10 boxes/ minute. The issue is often further complicated by the use of components from multiple providers, leading to compatibility issues.
“The new Palletising Solution by Robotiq is addressing all of these issues at once, providing a flexible and rapid solution particularly suited to the food & beverage, consumer product and pharmaceutical sectors – or any other sector requiring rapid throughput and SKU changeover.”
Additional customer value is provided through risk assessment recommendations comprising an e-learning module on safety and a dedicated section on safety in the instruction manual. It is also compatible with third party safety systems such as safety interlocks, light curtains and area scanners.
01 Oct 20. US to Keep Buying F-35 Parts From Turkey, Despite Purchase Ban. The U.S. will continue to buy parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from Turkey through 2022, despite Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system billed as an “F-35 killer” by Moscow, the Pentagon’s top acquisitions official said Thursday.
The Trump administration in July 2019 banned Turkey from participation in the multinational F-35 program. But the Defense Department had to continue buying Turkish-made parts to maintain production, said Ellen Lord, DoD’s Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment.
Turkish factories currently make more than 900 parts for the F-35’s center fuselage, cockpit display systems and other components, Lord said, adding that a complete cutoff in December as initially planned would result in about $1bn in replacement costs that would slow down production of the aircraft.
“So we made a decision on a number of parts that it was smarter in terms of taxpayer dollars and warfighter readiness to let those contracts play out in Turkey so that we wouldn’t have these huge termination liability costs,” Lord told the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on readiness and management support. “So we have a few of the [Turkish-made] products that will go until 2022.”
However, “we are well on our way” in eliminating Turkey completely from the F-35 program, “and the bulk of the parts will be out by the end of year,” she said.
Over vehement objections from DoD, NATO ally Turkey began taking deliveries of the S-400 Triumf advanced air defense system from Russia in early July 2019, at an estimated cost of $2.5bn.
Later that month, the White House announced that Turkey was being formally removed from participation in the F-35 program.
“Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” then-White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said at the time. “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”
Turkish pilots were also banned from continuing their training on the F-35. The country had planned to buy about 100 of the jets.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., questioned whether the continued purchase of parts from Turkey had the potential to allow sensitive information on the F-35’s stealthy technology to be passed on to Russia.
“We have worked very, very closely with Turkey” to prevent the possibility of Russia gaining an edge, Lord said, but she declined to give details, and suggested scheduling a closed session for further discussion.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, the subcommittee’s chairman, said he would recommend a closed session and added that he hoped the Pentagon had “learned a lesson” from Turkey’s purchase of the S-400.
“Turkey’s an important ally,” he said, but “we can’t be reliant on an ally that all of a sudden starts to be very focused on cooperation with one of our biggest strategic adversaries.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military.com)