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11 Jul 19. Skyworks Global, Scaled Composites bank on VertiJet’s tip-jet design. Skyworks Global and Scaled Composites are betting that the unique tip-jet design found on gyrodynes such as the team’s VertiJet aircraft will give it an advantage over conventional rotary-wing aircraft.

Traditional helicopters have drive systems, gearboxes, and transmission with a drive that spins the rotor located on top of the aircraft. These give the platform its vertical lift and landing capability but also add weight to the aircraft. The Swisscopter Tip-Jet Dragonfly aircraft uses tip-jets to spin the rotor during liftoff. Notice the devices that look similar to rockets at the end of the rotor blades. (Swisscopter)

Autogyros such as those developed by Skyworks Global lack a drive system to the rotor. These aircraft, instead, use an unpowered rotor in free autorotation to develop lift. The aircraft features an engine-driven pusher propeller on the backend to give it its forward propulsion. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Jul 19. The next generation of high-performance computers. Researchers for the intelligence community want ideas on how to improve modeling and simulation of high-performance computing architectures and applications. As HPC systems advance, they are becoming more exotic, dynamic, complex and vast, potentially overwhelming  traditional methods of designing, testing and optimizing them, according to a June 25 request for information posted by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity. All that complexity — from many-core designs to burst buffers, novel networking and parallel computers — can lead to systems that can be made up of disparate computers, storage systems and other large-scale data sources, it said.

“This additional challenge of heterogeneous data sources make modeling the execution of an application an even more important, but complicated effort,” said the RFI.

IARPA is asking for help with modeling and simulation research that can eventually tackle large-scale computational and data-analytic applications that run on HPC systems. Those models, it said, should be able to act on dynamic information about hardware, power sources, performance, resiliency and other variables and respond accordingly with trade-offs as those variables change.

IARPA also wants input on using machine learning and artificial intelligence to help develop simulations, modeling of dynamic power and resiliency capabilities and other dynamic factors in systems. Responses are due July 29. (Source: Defense Systems)

11 Jul 19. Indian Air Force to fit transports, helicopters with Israeli-made SAR systems. The 3 June crash of an Indian Air Force (IAF) Antonov An-32 ‘Cline’ transport aircraft, in which 13 service personnel died, has accelerated New Delhi’s efforts to equip a large proportion of the IAF’s fleet of helicopters and transport aircraft with Israeli-made search-and-rescue (SAR) systems to help locate aircraft that have either crashed or are in distress.

IAF sources told Jane’s that the service’s Dornier 228, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited/Avro 748 and Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft are to be fitted with emergency locator transmitters and airborne locator systems from Elbit Systems.

The IAF’s Mi-17 transport and Mi-25/35 attack helicopters as well as Chetak (Aérospatiale Alouette III), Cheetah (Aérospatiale SA-315) and Dhruv rotorcraft are also expected to be fitted with this equipment. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

10 Jul 19. Skyworks Global, Scaled Composites target US Army’s FVL with VertiJet. Key Points:

  • Skyworks Global and Scaled Composites are teaming to develop the VertiJet gyrodyne
  • A new procurement and investment environment allows innovators the opportunity to enter a military aircraft market dominated by prime contractors

Skyworks Global and Scaled Composites will offer their VertiJet gyrodyne aircraft for one of the US Army’s various Future Vertical Lift (FVL) competitions, according to an executive.

John Michel, Skyworks Global executive director and retired US Air Force (USAF) brigadier general, told Jane’s on 9 July that VertiJet can fulfill a variety of military missions including combat search and rescue (CSAR); ship-to-shore logistics; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); armed escort, and special operations. While the US Army has an active competition in Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft-Competitive Prototype (FARA-CP) and a potential competition for Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA), Michel said the team had not determined which competition, or competitions, to pursue.

The VertiJet is a runway-independent aircraft that can take off and land vertically and hover similar to a helicopter. VertiJet will incorporate technologies designed and developed by Skyworks in the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) Heliplane programme to achieve an estimated top speed of 644 km/h and a range of 1,000 n miles with a maximum payload of 454 kg. Michel said Skyworks and Scaled Composites are targeting VertiJet’s unit cost for the USD6-8 million range.

DARPA’s Heliplane was designed to combine the key attributes of a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft: vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and hover capability of a rotary-wing aircraft combined with high speed and efficient cruise capability of a fixed-wing aircraft. The VertiJet features twin-jet engines, a large rotor for take-off and landing, four weapon hardpoints underneath the fixed wings, and twin booms with a horizontal stabiliser. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

10 Jul 19. Battelle To Explore Artificial Intelligence, Neural Interfaces with DARPA Award. Battelle is combining years of brain-computer interface (BCI) projects, such as NeuroLife®, with its expertise in machine learning and artificial intelligence under a new award from the federal government’s forward-thinking government agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The award is part of DARPA’s Artificial Intelligence Exploration program called Intelligent Neural Interfaces.

Using terabytes of neural data gathered in the past five years during NeuroLife sessions, Battelle Senior Data Scientist David Friedenberg and his team will build new decoding algorithms to make neural interfaces more robust over long periods of time.

The BCI systems typically rely on a decoder that monitors brain activity and then translates it into actions—in the case of NeuroLife, those signals are sent to a special sleeve that uses electrodes to stimulate muscles to evoke hand movement. However, the decoders require significant and time-consuming calibration to learn the mapping between the brain data and the user’s intended action.

In June, the Battelle team began work on a $1m, 18-month project that will try to solve longstanding problems with decoder optimization and maintenance while improving accuracy and robustness. To accomplish this goal, Battelle will develop a hybrid approach for stable long-term neural decoding using end-to-end deep neural network decoders to learn optimal features from the raw electrode recordings. In addition, using third-wave AI approaches, Battelle will develop models that account for changing context and continuously adapt accordingly. This allows for adjusting both the features and the decoder on-the-fly during normal system use to counteract non-stationarities and instabilities in the signal without requiring the user to intervene and recalibrate the system.

The next evolution of BCIs will occur as the systems move from the lab into the real lives of users. “We want these systems to require less training and be more robust to interruptions and interference,” said Friedenberg. “We want to develop optimal decoders that automatically and continuously adapt to each individual and the BCI they’re using.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)

10 Jul 19. Northrop Grumman’s air dominance technologies bring new capabilities to U.S. warfighters. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), together with military partners at Northern Edge 2019, successfully displayed advanced capabilities in air-to-air, air-to-surface and maritime tactical scenarios that address key warfighting gaps in advanced strike; intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR); and electronic warfare.

Northrop Grumman’s reconfigurable flight test aircraft significantly reduces the technology development process, bringing advanced capabilities to warfighters faster, more affordably and reliably.

“Northrop Grumman is developing agile and affordable technologies that address the advanced strike, ISR and multi-domain command and control needs for our customers,” said Tom Jones, vice president and general manager, airborne C4ISR systems, Northrop Grumman. “Using reconfigurable flight-test aircraft outfitted with advanced sensors and cognitive artificial intelligence capability at events such as Northern Edge speeds up the development process significantly.”

Northern Edge is the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s biennial joint training exercise, held May 13-24 at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex and the Gulf of Alaska. It involves all U.S. military services and agency partners, as well as virtual participants from stateside and overseas bases. The exercise is designed to enhance air warfare and interoperability among the services in a highly contested environment.

Celebrating 10 years of participation at Northern Edge this year, Northrop Grumman has consistently demonstrated leading technology capabilities at the joint military-industry exercise. Innovative solutions tested at earlier Northern Edge exercises include auto target recognition and combat identification; advanced electronic protection and attack; cognitive mission computing; maritime search and track; long-range surface-to-air missile detection; and infrared search and track.

Northrop Grumman also demonstrated Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) gateways and multi-level secure live, virtual and constructive training. Many of these capabilities are now fielded on U.S. platforms, providing a significant warfighting advantage to Air Force, Navy and Marine aircrews.

09 Jul 19. Altitude Angel and Pierce Aerospace Form Alliance. Altitude Angel, a global unmanned traffic management (UTM) provider, and Pierce Aerospace, the U.S. based remote identification system supplier, have agreed to form an alliance with the goal to bring automated drone flight a step closer. Capitalising on the two businesses core strengths, the partnership will explore the opportunities surrounding the integration of Altitude Angel’s market-leading UTM technology and Pierce Aerospace’s Flight Portal ID secure authentication system.

Philip Binks, Altitude Angel, Head of ATM, said: “Altitude Angel and Pierce Aerospace share many of the same values; innovative, pioneering and determined. Our collaboration with Pierce Aerospace has great potential, not only for our businesses, but also the wider UTM industry. The meeting of our two market-leading and cutting-edge technologies will look to help realise and implement safe, automated drone and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight.

“In addition, the collaboration will give Altitude Angel a further foothold in the North American market and to help Pierce Aerospace gain a foothold in Europe. I’m very much looking forward to working with Aaron and his team to make amazing things happen.”

Aaron Pierce, Pierce Aerospace, CEO added: “Pierce Aerospace is thrilled to be working with Altitude Angel. Integrating our remote ID functionality with Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM platform can make BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights an everyday occurrence. Pierce Aerospace and Altitude Angel have all the components needed to make this a very successful collaboration.” (Source: UAS VISION)

09 Jul 19. New App Aims to Automate Drones for Good. Researchers at Cranfield University have developed a smartphone app which can connect with off-the-shelf drones and send them to autonomously inspect multiple locations using coordinates received by SMS text message. Controlling drones in this way could be useful for a variety of applications in the future including the collection of crop health data in specific locations and searching for missing persons.

The goal of the CASCADE project is to accelerate the exploitation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) across a range of science and industry applications by automating control and facilitating communication between multiple drones so they can work on tasks together.

Alex Williamson, Experimental Research Fellow in UAV Operations in the Centre for Autonomous and Cyber-Physical Systems, Cranfield University, said: “Autonomy is a fundamental factor in increasing the ease of adoption of UAVs for many applications while reducing operational costs. Creating this smartphone app has demonstrated that UAVs can carry out complex tasks autonomously from simple instructions.

We are initially focusing on demonstrating the benefits that multiple autonomous UAV operations can have within a precision agriculture environment, but alternative use cases are being considered to enable quick spin-off adoption into other applications such as search and rescue.”

The app – designed for Android phones and to work with the majority of DJI drones – receives waypoints via SMS text message, compiles the mission and sends standard off-the-shelf (commercially available to the general public) drones on autonomous missions with no user intervention required. Safety features are included within the app to ensure the drone operates within legal requirements, and currently a safety pilot is required to keep the drone within line of sight throughout the mission.

Mission waypoints are defined by a separate higher level survey drone which processes data during flight and communicates to a ground control station. SMS messages are then sent by the ground station to the smartphones connected to the lower level UAVs with coordinates to fly to.

Adam Fleming, Chief Technical Officer of Apadmi, who worked with Cranfield to develop the app, said:

“It was great to work with the Cranfield team on the CASCADE project – it’s a true innovation in orchestrated drone operation automation, and gave us the chance to explore the integration of mobile devices with drone control systems. We’re already thinking about next steps, such as how mobile devices could further reduce the need for on-site manpower and increase automation – we’re excited for where we can take this development.”

The app was successfully trialled during a week of testing at a CASCADE collaboration event at Snowdonia Airfield in June.

Next steps in the project will focus on automating the control of multiple drones and technology development that allows UAV operations at extended and beyond visual line of sight.

Partners in the five-year Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC)-funded Complex Autonomous Systems Configuration and Design Exploratory (CASCADE) project are the University of Bristol, Cranfield University, Imperial College London, the University of Manchester and the University of Southampton. Other case studies of potential applications being investigated include wildlife surveys, traffic monitoring, environmental sampling and package and cargo delivery. (Source: UAS VISION)

09 Jul 19. Rohde & Schwarz and Marvin Test Solutions create a turnkey production tester for 5G beamforming ICs. T&M companies Rohde & Schwarz and Marvin Test Solutions have cooperated to create a unique turnkey solution suited for beamforming integrated circuits (IC) used in 5G mmWave (FR2) and satellite communications. The resulting production tester TS 900e-5G from Marvin Test Solutions is based on the new R&S ZNBT40 multiport vector network analyzer (VNA) from Rohde & Schwarz.

Beamforming is becoming a default concept in 5G NR and satellite communications. It is also a common technology in the aerospace and defense industry, the specialty field of US based aerospace test and measurement provider Marvin Test Solutions. The cooperation between the two companies began when Marvin Test Solutions showed interest in the capabilities and specifications of the R&S ZNBT40 by Rohde & Schwarz as the basis for their 5G beamforming IC production tester.

The new, industry-leading R&S ZNBT40 is a multiport VNA enabling fast, reliable and extensive verification and characterization of beamforming ICs with typically 5, 9 or even 17 RF ports. It is a unique vector network analyzer with a frequency range from 100 kHz to 40 GHz and a true multiport architecture. Besides testing multiport devices under test (DUT) like the beamforming ICs, it also allows parallel testing of multiple DUTs using its up to 24 ports. The large number of ports makes it possible to characterize a beamforming IC in full detail and see the cross-correlation effects while monitoring all antenna connections.

Major General Stephen T. Sargeant, USAF (Ret.), CEO of Marvin Test Solutions, said, “For the heart of our test set we selected the Rohde & Schwarz R&S ZNBT40 vector network analyzer over the competition due to its unique, cutting-edge capabilities. Our collaboration with Rohde & Schwarz enables our two companies the opportunity to deliver the best available solution to meet customers’ demanding requirements.”

Alexander Keck, Director of Product Management Vector Network Analyzer at Rohde & Schwarz, comments, “Rohde & Schwarz has a strong and long-standing tradition in making high-quality instruments. We are happy to be cooperating with a dynamic test house like Marvin Test Solutions on creating industry-leading turnkey test and measurement solutions.”

The TS 900e-5G production tester is available from Marvin Test Solutions.

09 Jul 19. Cesium and Analytical Graphics Inc. (AGI) are thrilled to announce the launch of Cesium, a newly independent company and the first spinout company from AGI. The new venture kicks off with a $5m Series A investment from Falcon Global Capital to fuel the growth of Cesium’s platform enabling software developers and data providers to build dynamic, interactive 3D geospatial applications. From cameras and LIDAR on satellites, aircrafts, drones, cars, and IoT devices to AI-generated semantics to open data policies to crowdsourcing, 3D geospatial data is more easily available, at a higher resolution, and more frequently refreshed than ever before. Now this data needs to be made accessible, shareable, and ultimately usable – which is where Cesium comes in.

“The sheer volume of real world 3D data being collected is creating opportunities in almost every field,” said Cesium CEO Patrick Cozzi, creator of Cesium and a recognized expert in 3D graphics and geospatial technologies. “This spinout and investment will allow us to accelerate the entire industry by building the platform that will enable the future 3D geospatial ecosystem.”

Cesium is building technology that will unlock the potential of real world 3D data. Their vision is a world where developers easily build 3D data into their apps, data providers share massive models and datasets in seconds with just a link, and data and insights gleaned from 3D data are used across industries and wherever they provide value.

This vision is already beginning to be realized. The National Geospatial Agency uses Cesium for 3D web visualization of its Map of the World. Mozilla uses the platform to add real world 3D data to its virtual reality framework. The Toyota Research Institute uses Cesium to visualize the 3D environment captured by sensors on their autonomous cars, and each year NORAD uses Cesium to track Santa’s path around the globe on Christmas Eve.

Cesium began as an internal project at AGI in 2011 when a team of computer graphics developers set out to fill the vital need of temporal geospatial visualizations on the web. They built what became CesiumJS, an open-source 3D visualization engine that quickly garnered over half a million downloads.

Cesium has since evolved into a complete platform for 3D geospatial data. At the heart of this platform are its 3D tiling pipelines, which transform massive and diverse 3D geospatial data into streamable 3D content that can be used on any device, online or offline. Cesium is also the creator of 3D Tiles, an open standard for 3D geospatial content adopted as a community standard by the Open Geospatial Consortium earlier this year.

“We are thrilled for our Cesium family,” shares Paul Graziani, AGI’s chief executive officer and co-founder. “Patrick and his team have accomplished amazing things at AGI, developing an open-source platform that enables users to visualize and analyze data from virtually any source.  With the rapid advancements and proliferation of 3D geospatial data sources, now is the right time for Cesium to launch as an independent entity. Cesium’s platform will continue to play a vital role in AGI’s software products and we look forward to the exciting things they will achieve going forward.”

Today the Cesium team makes its debut in a new office in Center City, Philadelphia, PA and embarks on its mission to deliver an open platform to stream, visualize, and analyze data that is accurate, performant, and time-dynamic on the web.

04 Jul 19. USN to prototype AI-based decision aid to improve collision avoidance. As part of efforts to reduce the incidence of surface ship accidents, the US Navy (USN) has instigated the development of a decision support aid that would leverage from rules-based artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms previously developed under the Sea Hunter unmanned surface vessel programme.

Being led by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Operator Decision Aid (ODA) pilot project is seeking to develop a prototype that can provide real-time warnings and manoeuvre recommendations to watch-standing teams on the bridge and in the combat information centre (CIC).

According to Glen Sturtevant, Director for Science and Technology in NAVSEA’s Program Executive Office Ships, the driver for the ODA has been the recent spate of collisions involving USN warships. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

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Oxley Group Ltd

Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide.  The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting.  It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.

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