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27 Aug 20. British Army ‘battle lab’ to lead technology innovation for battlefield edge.
The UK Ministry of Defence will invest £3.1m ($5.65m) into the Defence Innovation Centre, along with a further £2.6m ($4.74m) from Dorset Council & Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership. The Defence Innovation Centre will be built at the Dorset Innovation Park, the county’s Enterprise Zone.
The British Army, as the lead for this project, has called its part of the centre the Army BattleLab, which is aiming to be operational by spring 2021, providing 1,100 square metre new office space and 450 sq m new workshop space for Ministry of Defence (MoD) innovation, and associated conference and collaboration space.
The Army BattleLab will feature an engineering workshop, as well as joint working and conference areas for use by the Army and wider MoD, for at least 15 years. In its first 10 years, the program aims to create 90 new local jobs and add £4m to the local economy.
UK Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said, “The Army’s BattleLab in Dorset will build close industry relationships while exploiting cutting-edge technologies to keep our Armed Forces sharp in the face of new and changing threats. This initiative will foster talent and innovation and will drive future success.”
As a highly equipped space, the BattleLab will enable the MoD to work directly with academic institutions, defence primes, small and medium enterprises and wider industry to develop new products and technologies which could be commercialised.
The Army will use the Army BattleLab as the physical manifestation of ARIEL – the Army Rapid Innovation and Experimentation Laboratory. It will allow the end users, the soldiers, the opportunity to work with innovative industries in a shared space, allowing ideas to be developed, and technology and equipment to be refined.
BattleLab will mean exciting events, such as the Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE), will become more routine and increases the potential to scale up new and innovative technologies.
Major General Jez Bennett, Director Capability, added, “The Army BattleLab offers an unparalleled opportunity for the Army to engage directly and persistently with industry, small and medium enterprises and institutions who can help us think about our challenges differently.”
Early engagement between end users (soldiers) and those who have the expertise to develop technology, combining our requirements and experience, will change how we develop and procure unique and technical capabilities going forward.
Lieutenant General Christopher Tickell CBE, Deputy Chief of the UK General Staff, said, “We are looking forward to progressing the Army BattleLab initiative, which is not just an example of our commitment to engage, but also an opportunity to extend the effort outside big set pieces like AWE. The chance to accelerate prototype warfare – testing and experimentation – and lead this area of Defence innovation, and to work with industry on a more regular footing.”
Dorset boasts a particularly strong defence sector and is home to the Army’s Armoured Trial and Development Unit in Bovington, the Royal Corps of Signals training centre in Blandford, and a unique training area at Lulworth Cove, which includes cleared airspace up to 5,000 feet, making it ideal for experimentation and trials to occur.(Source: Defence Connect)
27 Aug 20. Armaments consortium launches new path to field high-tech prototypes. The National Armaments Consortium, along with the DoD Ordnance Technology Consortium and Army Contracting Command-New Jersey, is taking steps to fast-track their armament prototyping efforts, it was announced Thursday.
A year after the Army’s high-profile reorganization to more quickly field cutting-edge weapons technologies, the Charleston, South Carolina-based National Armaments Consortium ― made up of 900 companies and academic institutions ― wants to better sync with both the government’s increased demand and its actual bandwidth for turning research into prototypes.
Pentagon modernization efforts have prioritized, in recent years, long-range precision fires, hypersonic and extended-range missiles, and anti-jam GPS devices ― all of which fall in the lane of the armaments consortium, said National Armaments Consortium Executive Director Charlie Zisette.
“Armaments is kind of where the rubber hits the road for our war fighter because we’re dealing with everything in the kill chain, protection and survivability,” Zisette told Defense News. “All of these things created a fairly large demand signal for modernization of our systems and components.”
The 20-year-old NAC is one of a growing number of Pentagon-sponsored consortia that work to translate the government’s notional requirements into technological breakthroughs and business opportunities.
Consortia members will work with the government through collective “other transaction agreements” or “other transaction authorities.” These OTAs have become a popular tool to allow the government to communicate more openly about its needs and to work with nontraditional defense contractors whose innovations the Department of Defense wants to harness.
According to Zisette, the NAC has 650 active projects at various stages to solve tough problems like developing a new heat-resistant composite material, new types of explosives and a complex long-range precision artillery system. So far this year, its efforts have led to 150 new-start acquisition programs, half awarded to “non-traditionals.”
Historically, the NAC would release one annual solicitation based on government requirements, and host one annual collaboration event for NAC members to tout their technologies and ask government representatives about requirements. NAC also hosts a members-only online collaboration portal along similar lines.
But something had to change. Amid the DoD’s modernization efforts, the NAC has grown such that there would be 350 government solicitations and upward of 1,400 whitepapers, almost simultaneously. It was a “huge bow wave” that overwhelmed the procurement, legal and program staffs involved, Zisette said.
“It became too much for the Department of Defense, so we were seeing our award-cycle times getting stretched out,” he said. “We realized we had to level that workload out: put in more agreements officers and contracts specialists so we could … get quickly through the process itself.”
The NAC unveiled Thursday it will initiate faster deadlines to develop prototypes, but it will also move to monthly solicitation releases and three virtual collaboration events per year instead of one.
Other consortia will often either deal with requirements on an annual or ad hoc basis, meaning they’re emailed out as they’re developed. To Zisette’s knowledge, no other DoD-sponsored consortia have monthly solicitation releases like the NAC is planning, but the idea for tri-annual events was something Zisette borrowed.
“The total model will be a pathfinder,” he said, “but absolutely leveraging some of the best practices and input from across the department.” (Source: Defense News)
28 Aug 20. US Navy solicits input for computer infrastructure-as-a-service initiative. The US Navy is soliciting industry input for an effort to migrate all computer infrastructure supporting the entire surface fleet into an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) construct, one of several strategic shifts navy leaders are implementing as part of the Future Integrated Combat System (FICS) Computing Infrastructure (CI) architecture initiative.
The IaaS effort will be a third-party, cloud-based infrastructure where navy information technology specialists will have the capability “to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications”, according to the navy’s 25 August Request for Information (RFI). In turn, navy officials will not have management authority or control over the underlying infrastructure under IaaS but will be able to utilise the provided processing, storage, networks, and “other fundamental computing resources” as part of the infrastructure, the RFI added.
The “common, scalable intermittently connected edge cloud architecture” envisioned for the IaaS will enable the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) construct under the FCIS CI architecture initiative, navy documents stated. “The IaaS and PaaS layers will abstract the mission applications from the physical computing resources and automate the configuration of the entire CI,” which will then support navy surface fleet deployments beginning in 2023, the documents added.
Aside from supporting all navy surface combatant fielding under the FICS CI, potential industry participants in the RFI will also help develop “hardware refresh” solutions for the surface fleet. Those solutions will cover “large and small surface combatants, aircraft carriers, amphibious ships, and other related programs including [the] US Coast Guard”, as well as future ship classes and Aegis Combat Systems produces for Foreign Military Sales.
Officials from Navy Sea Systems Command’s Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) are spearheading the IaaS RFP and the overall FCIS CI initiative. (Source: Jane’s)
28 Aug 20. Elbit partners with Qld-based Intellidesign for next-gen enhanced tactical computer. Elbit Systems of Australia and Intellidesign have partnered for Australian production of the next-generation Enhanced Tactical Computer Mark 7 (ETC MK7) for the Australian Defence Force.
In a significant win for Australia’s burgeoning defence industry, the ETC MK7 will be assembled in south-east Queensland. This deal has resulted in a significant increase in the Australian Industry Content, essentially doubling the number of units to be assembled in Queensland.
This has been made possible by an upgrade and additional investment in Elbit’s Brisbane facility to support the ETC MK7 delivery.
Paul McLachlan, the managing director of Elbit Systems of Australia, was pleased to announce the partnership, “We are very pleased to announce this collaboration with Intellidesign, a fantastic Australian company. The team at Intellidesign are extremely impressive, and we are looking forward to benefiting from their extensive experience in manufacturing, design, quality and innovation.”
The ETC MK7 is the seventh generation of Elbit Systems’ Enhanced Tactical Computer and will replace the Enhanced Tactical Computer Mark 4 (ETC MK4), in service with the Australian Army since 2010.
The next-generation ETC MK7 builds on Elbit’s extensive experience in ruggedised hardware design and contains enhancements to meet the needs and unique requirements of the Australian Defence Force.
The ETC MK7 delivers more computing power, high-resolution capacitive touchscreen and buttons for compatibility with the Australian Generic Vehicle Architecture Standard interface. The ETC MK7 is future-proof and is capable of supporting Elbit’s next generation of digital command and control systems.
Matt Bromwich, CEO of Intellidesign, welcomed the collaboration and the opportunity it presented for Australian industry, saying, “We are very pleased to be awarded the contract to support Elbit Systems of Australia with the manufacturing of their Enhanced Tactical Computer Mark 7 for the Australian Army.
“We see this as the start of a long-term relationship supporting Elbit with our electronic design and manufacturing capabilities. With our recent achievement in passing stage 1 in AS9100 certification and relationships with primes such as Elbit strongly positions us to service both the domestic and global defence markets,” Bromwich added.
The Elbit and Intellidesign partnership showcases Elbit’s commitment to collaborating with local partners and investing in transitioning work to Australia to improve the resilience of local supply chains. The contract is a continuation of Elbit’s experience and tradition in transfer of technology over the past decade, creating engineering jobs in Australia and generating local IP and innovation.
McLachlan added, “We see this as the first step in a long-term strategic partnership with Intellidesign and local industry partners. We believe we have many other next-generation systems that can be provided to the Australian Defence Force and manufactured locally. We want to continue our demonstrated commitment to technology transfer and deliver as a true sovereign capability in both hardware and software.”
The ETC MK7 will be rolled out to hundreds of platforms in the ADF fleet, including Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles, G-Wagons, M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers and the Landing Helicopter Dock Landing Craft.
Production of the ETC MK7 will commence in late 2020 and will continue until 2022. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Aug 20. DARPA awards contracts for advancing modeling and simulation capabilities. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency made two multi-million dollar contract awards to create an advanced modeling and simulation environment to increase the speed at which military leaders make decisions. DARPA, the Pentagon’s research and development arm, awarded a $10.1m contract to Huntsville, Ala.-based company Radiance Technologies and a $9.1m contract to Orlando, Fla.-based Cole Engineering Services as part of its Secure Advanced Framework for Simulation and Modeling (SAFE-SiM) program.
SAFE-SiM, run out of DARPA’s Adaptive Capabilities Office, is working to develop a “government-owned and controlled, faster-than-real time,” all-domain modeling and simulation environment at the mission level.
“This capability would enable rapid analysis supporting senior-level decisions for concept of operations development, force structure composition, resource allocation and targeted technology insertion,” the contract announcement said.
Today’s modeling and simulation tools aren’t robust enough for the Pentagon’s needs, according to the SAFE-SiM program broad agency announcement from earlier this year. They can only model a limited amount of domains or areas, aren’t well-attuned to cyber and electronic warfare, and struggle to account for the “factorial increase” in inter-relationships in a multi-domain kill-web, the announcement said. It also said current modeling and simulation architectures can’t process and disseminate data across classification levels quickly enough.
Work is anticipated to be completed on both contracts in August 2021. Fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds totaling $3.75m were obligated at the time of the award.
As for Cole Engineering, fiscal 2021 RDT&E funds amounting to $3.31m were obligated at the time of the award. The contract was competitively awarded with 10 solicitations received. (Source: Defense News)
26 Aug 20. DARPA’s new hardware proves tough to crack. The Defense Department’s top research body is betting big on the theory that better cybersecurity starts with hardware, and so far it’s proving to be right.
About halfway into its three-month bug bounty program called Finding Exploits to Thwart Tampering (FETT), crowd-sourced hackers haven’t yet been able to crack the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program.
“I’m happy to report, as of today, no one has successfully penetrated our SSITH defenses,” Keith Rebello, the program manager for the microsystems technology office at DARPA, said during the agency’s microelectronics conference Aug. 18.
DARPA is moving to incorporate the system to fit DOD’s needs, and the technology is now being used in commercial application-specific integrated circuit designs, Rebello said. DARPA is planning to create SSITH application-specific chips for DOD applications.
Rebello said continuous monitoring for software vulnerabilities, which can often target underlying hardware, can hinder computer systems’ performance while better hardware that can detect and prevent cyberattacks would “obviate the need for software patches,” he said.
Cyber vulnerabilities are a constant and evolving threat that aren’t likely to be completely eradicated. But Rebello said SSITH’s capabilities could eliminate entire classes of cyber vulnerabilities, such as buffer overflow exploits and computer memory attacks.
DARPA is also developing enhanced security benchmarking software tools that measure computer systems’ security performance.
FETT is DARPA’s first crowd-sourced bug bounty program between the Defense Digital Service and Synack that launched in July and is expected to run through September. During a July 30 call with reporters, DARPA Acting Director Peter Highnam said the effort is one of many to “ensure that DOD always has access to secure chips,” which has been an issue of growing concern.
“How to take an existing architecture from whichever country we buy them from, whether it’s a special purpose device or a regular CPU, and what else do you add to it to ensure that device honors the machine, honors the model that the manufacturer claims, and how do you embed that within the design process without incurring additional overhead? I think this type of work is incredibly exciting because this is embedding security for all of us and with clear DOD needs,” Highnam said.
Highnam said the bounty program garnered 500 entries.
“We’ve really just opened this up to the people to give it a shot, see if you can break these things,” Highnam said.
There is a monetary bounty with an amount that varies by the attack’s sophistication, but it wasn’t publicly listed. However the acting director said it’s more about notoriety than money.
“Fame and glory I think is part of it. For an academic team this is a huge deal,” he said. (Source: Defense Systems)
27 Aug 20. LDRA, the leader in standards compliance, automated software verification, software code analysis, and test tools, today launched the Secure Software Development Resource Centre. The online portal guides developers through the phases of the software development lifecycle—from requirements, design, model, code, and verification whether developers are using traditional V-model, waterfall lifecycle, or an agile approach. By implementing best practices such as bidirectional traceability that connects functional safety and security standards’ objectives to requirements, models, design, code, tests, and testing artifacts, companies greatly increase their ability to build secure code and mitigate security risks. This is critical for minimizing the risk of liability claims, damage to reputation, and compliance fines.
“Too often, companies design their software first and test it later, which invariably leads to insecure code that puts people and property at risk,” said Ian Hennell, Operations Director, LDRA. “The security resources at our new portal are designed to help companies learn how to build security into their software from the beginning, because attempting to bolt on security after the fact is costly and error prone. Preventing vulnerabilities from entering the code during construction cost-effectively addresses the accelerating security requirements of connected devices and systems.”
The portal offers insightful content on:
- Why secure application code matters, identifying what makes software a target for hackers and key elements associated with in-depth protective measures used to secure applications, particularly when designs involve IoT endpoints that need securing.
- The Secure Software Development Lifecycle (SSDLC) provides a detailed introduction to a better, proactive approach to ensure that code is secure by construction and implemented using a systematic development process.
- How Static Application Software Test (SAST) can be implemented early in the lifecycle, lowering the cost of vulnerability rectification.
- How white box Dynamic Application Software Test (DAST) analyzes and complements SAST and black box DAST techniques.
- Why secure software development is key for various vertical applications such as automotive, aerospace & defense, industrial & energy, rail, medical, and IoT.
The security resources at the online portal highlight case studies from companies such as HCC Embedded and Now Technologies that successfully enhanced the safety and security of their products by using the LDRA tool suite to build applications systematically through all stages of software development. Developed by a company that actively plays a leadership role in the formation of many security and safety standards, the LDRA tool suite automates code reviews for compliance and the testing process as a whole. With the tool suite developers can quickly identify and repair potential coding flaws and vulnerabilities, thereby saving time and money in the production of high-assurance software applications.
“Customers like HCC Embedded and Now Technologies knew they needed to develop applications for security-sensitive systems, and worked closely with us to make that happen,” Hennell said. “Our new online portal and its extensive resources will share the best security practices these customers and others have learned in using our proactive approach to securing software. Over the months and years ahead, we will build on the portal’s initial content, highlighting industry trends, customer successes, insights, and techniques developers can use to secure all phases of the software development lifecycle in the most cost-effective manner possible.”
Visit the portal at https://resources.ldra.com/secure-software-development/
26 Aug 20. ColdQuanta Selected as an Industry Partner for DOE’s Quantum Science Center. The Quantum Science Center, to be headquartered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, supports the U.S. National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.
ColdQuanta, the quantum atomics company, was selected as one of only three industry partners for the Department of Energy (DOE) Quantum Science Center (QSC), under the collaboration headed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Announced by ORNL earlier today, the collaboration is charged with developing quantum technologies that will usher in a new era of innovation to enhance national security and ensure that America remains a global leader in scientific R&D. IBM and Microsoft were named as the other two industry partners.
In announcing ORNL as the leader of the collaboration, QSC Director and ORNL physicist David Dean said: “We pulled together a fantastic team from four national laboratories, three industry partners and nine universities to overcome key roadblocks in quantum state resilience, controllability and ultimately scalability of quantum technologies. We are prepared to catalyze quantum materials, computing and devices research to significantly impact the national quantum ecosystem.”
“The selection of ColdQuanta as a partner in this national initiative is a huge honor,” said ColdQuanta CEO Bo Ewald. “It is also a testament to our expertise in quantum technologies and our track record of delivering on our commitments to U.S. Government programs. We are very excited about being part of this mission critical collaboration.”
The QSC is one of five multidisciplinary National Quantum Information Science Research Centers supported by the DOE’s Office of Science. To find out more, visit the website.
ColdQuanta leads the market in commercializing quantum atomics, the next wave of the information age. The company’s Quantum Core™ technology is based on ultra-cold atoms cooled to a temperature of nearly absolute zero; lasers manipulate and control the atoms with extreme precision. ColdQuanta manufactures components, instruments, and turnkey systems that address a broad spectrum of applications: quantum computing, timekeeping, navigation, radiofrequency sensors, and quantum communications. ColdQuanta’s global customers include major commercial and defense companies; all branches of the U.S. Department of Defense; national labs operated by the Department of Energy, NASA, and NIST; and major universities. ColdQuanta is based in Boulder, CO, with offices in Madison, Wisconsin, and Oxford, UK. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
24 Aug 20. Near Earth Autonomy Extends Autonomy to Kaman’s unmanned K-Max. With support from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Near Earth Autonomy and Kaman Aerospace have partnered to develop an intelligent autonomy system for the K-MAX helicopter, a large-scale transport aircraft capable of lifting a payload of 6,000 pounds.
The capability developed will be broadly applicable to large aircraft that can take off and land vertically with a large set of commercial and military applications.
In 2014 Near Earth worked with the Office of Naval Research to develop a package of sensors and software for testing autonomy on a full-scale helicopter in the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) project. Implementation of the technology has continued on small and medium-sized vehicles, under the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) military program. Near Earth’s continued work on large-sized transport aircraft builds on past expertise, demonstrating that one architecture can work well across a wide range of different aircraft types and sizes.
Using sensors and computing onboard, the aircraft can sense its environment to make real-time flight decisions such as deciding to fly around objects in the flight path and selecting clear places to land or to drop off cargo. Applications for safe autonomous aerial logistics include the efficient movement of military supplies, patients, and Warfighters. Autonomous large-scale heavy transport also enables commercial applications for delivery and urban air mobility.
Environmental awareness is essential for the vehicle to be able to avoid obstacles and complete autonomous missions safely and efficiently. The graphics below show the autonomy system’s awareness of the physical world around it.
Sanjiv Singh, CEO of Near Earth, comments, “Our past efforts laid a strong foundation for solving complex autonomy challenges for small, medium, and large vehicles. Thanks NAVAIR Public Release 2020-586. Distribution Statement A – Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. to our dedicated team, partners, and sponsors, we are moving from the art of the possible to the art of the practical and in specific, to making autonomous flight safe, efficient, and robust enough for daily operation. This program will serve as an important milestone in making autonomous logistics a reality.” (Source: UAS VISION)
21 Aug 20. Rolls-Royce backs hypersonic-power specialist Reaction Engines with new investment. Rolls-Royce has formed a strategic partnership with British hypersonic-power experts Reaction Engines and is backing that up with a new investment in the company.
The new partnership is aimed at developing high-speed propulsion systems for defense and civil applications as well as exploring Reaction Engines’ key thermal management technology as part of Rolls-Royce’s own gas turbine engines and hybrid-electric systems.
Rolls-Royce will invest £20m ($26m) over the next two years, building on an initial equity investment made in 2018. Other investors like BAE Systems, Boeing Horizon-X and financial institutions could follow suit, said a Reaction Engines spokesman.
The announcement comes as Rolls-Royce steps up its interest in supersonic flight.
Earlier in August, Virgin Galactic revealed a delta-winged Mach 3 sub-orbital vehicle concept powered by Rolls-Royce.
Earlier this year the British engine builder said it was collaborating with the U.S. company Boom Aerospace on propulsion options for a Mach 2.2 airliner called Overture.
“We have been working closely with Reaction Engines for the past two years, including exploring the potential of high-Mach systems for defense applications, and I am delighted that we are able to strengthen that relationship,” said Mark Thompson, director of global strategy and business development at Rolls-Royce.”
“Reaction Engines’ thermal-management skills, added to our suite of existing technologies and capabilities, will further assist us as we explore opportunities in supersonic and hypersonic aviation,” Thompson added.
The two companies have also been involved with BAE and the UK Ministry of Defence in the first phase of a contract related to high-Mach advanced propulsion systems which could eventually find their way on to the British Tempest sixth-generation combat aircraft development.
Aerospace and defense consultant Howard Wheeldon, of Wheeldon Strategic Advisory, said the tie-up demonstrated the determination of both companies to be at the forefront of high-speed engine development going forward.
“The future of aerospace development from here on is about creating greater efficiency of operation and sustainability. Speed, including supersonic and hypersonic aviation development, will be an important part of this, and high-Mach advanced propulsion systems combined with the potential to apply some of the developed Reaction Engines technology within existing gas turbine engines together with what this offers for future hybrid-electric systems is of huge importance to a world-leading aerospace company such as Rolls-Royce,” he said.
Reaction Engines CEO Mark Thomas said the partnership will help speed commercialization of the technology.
“This strategic partnership is about developing market-ready applications for Reaction Engines’ technology in next-generation engines and is a significant step forward for our technology commercialization plans,” said Thomas.
Based at Culham, southern England, and with a test site at Denver, Colorado, Reaction Engines has been developing technology to power aircraft and rockets at supersonic and hypersonic speeds of Mach 5 and above – more than twice the speed of the Concorde.
Last October Reaction Engines announced its key lightweight air cooling technology had been tested at its Colorado facility as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s HTX project.
At the time Reaction Engines said its heat exchanger had been exposed to hypersonic conditions approaching 1,000 degrees centigrade (1,800 degrees F).
The heat exchanger performed its precooler function by quenching about 1,800-degree Fahrenheit temperatures in less than one-twentieth of a second.
Wheeldon said the Colorado test was a significant step in the development of Reaction Engines’ SABRE rocket engine program.
“As an enabling technology for a potentially large range of other precooled propulsion systems that have potential commercial applications, the successful testing last year by Reaction Engines of its precooler heat exchanger at airflow temperatures conditions representing Mach 5 was a significant milestone in the development of its revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine. The new strategic partnership with Rolls-Royce offers further the commercial opportunities and potential for both companies,” said Wheeldon.
SABRE, which stands for Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine, is a propulsion system being developed to operate in air breathing and rocket modes using the pre-cooler technology. (Source: Defense News)
21 Aug 20. Reaction Engines and Rolls-Royce partner on high-speed aircraft propulsion. The agreement covers the development of high-speed aircraft propulsion systems, as well as exploring applications for Reaction Engines’ thermal management technology within civil and defence aerospace gas turbine engines and hybrid-electric systems.
“We have been working closely with Reaction Engines for the past two years, including exploring the potential of high-Mach systems for defence applications, and I am delighted that we are able to strengthen that relationship,” Mark Thompson, Director of Global Strategy and Business Development at Rolls-Royce was quoted as saying. “This partnership follows our recent announcements with Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic.”
“Reaction Engines’ thermal management skills, added to our suite of existing technologies and capabilities, will further assist us as we explore opportunities in supersonic and hypersonic aviation,” Thompson added. “Building on our many decades of innovation, we will also explore the use of Reaction Engines’ technology within our aerospace gas turbines and its potential application in future hybrid-electric propulsion systems, as we look to make flying ever more efficient and sustainable.” (Source: Jane’s)
24 Aug 20. US Army Research Lab Develops Power Line Sensor. At the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, researchers developed a novel sensor and software application to detect and avoid energized power lines in the vicinity of unmanned aerial system, or UAS.
The goal is to provide autonomous systems sufficient time and distance to react, avoid wires and navigate follow-on maneuvers.
Army researcher David Hull developed the innovative approach using a unique configuration of field and 3-D sensors, in conjunction with low-power processing methods. This resulted in detecting power lines and informing the device’s autopilot to prevent collision with the wires.
“Power lines are small and difficult to see with radar or optical sensors, but they generate large fields that can be easily detected with low-power, low-cost, passive electric- and magnetic-field sensors,” Hull said.
This method allows UAS equipped with these to use smaller, lower power and lower cost sensors to detect the location and Poynting vector (i.e. the directional energy flux density) of nearby power lines. This allows the UAS to autonomously avoid or navigate alongside the detected power lines.
While existing wire-detection and wire-avoidance technologies that use radar and/or optical sensors have had commercial success, they are known to be expensive, bulky, and power-intensive with technical limitations. The detection algorithm developed at the lab will result in size, weight, power and cost reduction.
By combining both sensing modalities in one sensor, Army researchers estimated the direction of power flow, something no traditional sensor can do, Hull said.
“This technology has significant dual-use potential and is expected to offer the military a better means for ground and air-based vehicles to avoid electric power lines when moving,” Hull said. “It is also useful for mapping out power grids or locating damaged wires, after a hurricane, or as part of a nation-building effort. The same technology is beneficial to power companies that require routine and emergency inspect of many miles of power lines to detect tree encroachment, excessive sag and other issues.”
The lab recently announced a patent license agreement with Manifold Robotics, a startup company based in New York, who will produce the new technology for drone-based commercial applications.
“We are incredibly pleased to have Manifold Robotics as a licensee,” Hull said. “Commercialization of our power line detection methods could have a significant impact on the development of autonomous UASs that operate near power lines.”
Manifold Robotics chief executive officer, Jeff Laut, discussed his vision for further development of the detection and avoidance technology.
“We’re delighted…and expect that the Army technology will help us rapidly facilitate many autonomous drone applications, particularly those for power utilities and commercial operations,” Laut said.
Engineers and drone experts at Manifold Robotics said they intend to create a drone-based system that will detect power lines at a distance and determine their precise location to enable safe navigation. They said this will overcome the factors that limit the efficacy of drones in the vicinity of power lines and unleash their full potential for autonomous power line inspection as well as other Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations.
“With the rapid proliferation of drones for autonomous applications, we imagine that freight delivery companies may also be able to leverage our technology and transform power line rights-of-way into superhighways for drone freight deliveries,” Laut said.
From a military perspective, UASs are increasingly used by Soldiers for a variety of missions. In many cases, these drones must successfully operate in urban environments with a high number of power lines in and around the area.
The development goal is to see significant improvement in the safe usage of aerial drones in close proximity to power lines and power grids. Researchers said they believe the licensed Army technologies will enable commercial and military drones to detect power lines at a greater distance. Additionally, the technology is expected to accelerate the development of drone applications such as power line inspection systems and freight delivery drones. (Source: UAS VISION)
24 Aug 20. Plug Power Develops 1kW ProGen Fuel Cell System. Plug Power Inc. , a provider of hydrogen engines and fueling solutions enabling e-mobility, has announced a new 1kW ProGen fuel cell system intended for small scale robotics, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and other aerospace applications.
The new ProGen system represents an expansion of the technology and product line acquired through the Company’s June 2019 acquisition of EnergyOr, a Montreal-based fuel cell systems company with extensive experience in aerospace fuel cell system design and application. Plug Power’s new fuel cell system combines a patented light-weight and rugged construction method with its proprietary air-cooled, closed-cathode technology, delivering several key advantages over market competitors.
“Plug Power builds cutting-edge technology from ideation to operation,” said Andy Marsh, CEO for Plug Power. “ProGen hydrogen fuel cells allow devices with electric motors to run cleanly and efficiently. The 1kW ProGen lets Plug Power power everything from electric vehicles to small robotics and UAVs, and everything in between. Yet another solution to support the global supply chain.”
Plug Power’s lightweight and rugged new 1kW fuel cell system is specially designed to deliver extended flight endurance and run times under the most demanding operating conditions. With a compressed hydrogen fuel source, the system outperforms the average lithium battery in terms of endurance by a factor of three to four. With liquid hydrogen fueling systems, this endurance advantage is extended to a factor of up to nine times.
Plug Power’s new 1kW fuel cell system is a larger and more powerful version of the ProGen 450W. Its sophisticated air-cooled and closed-cathode technology eliminates significant complexity, removing the weight of the liquid cooling loop and heat exchangers used in traditional liquid-cooled systems. This simplicity of design allows for an elegant, remarkably lightweight overall system architecture. At the same time, the closed-cathode allows the stack’s cathode loop to be pressurized for high altitude and high ambient temperature operation with minimal system performance loss, while also reducing cathode contamination—three areas where typical open-cathode systems face significant limitations.
Plug Power is now launching this new fuel cell system, the ProGen 1kW, into the market.
“I’ve always believed that technology and talent are the most valuable assets that a company can secure in any acquisition,” says Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power. “That’s true in general, but it’s especially true for those of us who work in high-tech industries. In less than a year, the EnergyOr team has become a vital and closely integrated part of the Plug Power family. As a result, Plug Power is now able to take its first steps into the world of aerospace and UAV applications with an incredibly powerful new fuel cell system. This product has incredible potential. In fact, I’d say the sky really is the limit.”
The new ProGen 1kW fuel cell system is protected by five U.S. patents, and is one of five sub-2kW products offered by the company. Others include: the ProGen 450W for robotics and UAVs, the 1.5kW GenDrive for material handling, and the backup power models GenSure E-1100 (1.1kW) and GenSure E-200 (200W). (Source: UAS VISION)
24 Aug 20. Engineers at BAE Systems are exploiting the digital environment to design, test and fly conceptual models for Tempest, a next generation combat air system for the UK. Using digital twin technologies, conceptual shapes for the aircraft have been virtually designed and tested more quickly than ever before. Following extensive digital testing of the concepts and aerodynamic features, 3D printed scale models were put through their paces at the Company’s wind tunnel facility in Warton, Lancashire, under wind speeds of more than twice the speed of sound. Data from the trials will be used to refine and shape the final design of the UK’s next combat aircraft, which will be in service by 2035. The High Speed Wind Tunnel at Warton can consume 15 tons of air in 20 seconds when running at full power. It is a unique national asset, running at subsonic, transonic and supersonic speeds, and has played a crucial role in the development of BAE Systems’ most successful military aircraft programmes.
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.