Sponsored By Oxley Developments
15 Mar 21. Call issued for EDA Defence Innovation Prize 2021. EDA today issued a call for applications from parties interested in participating in the ‘EDA Defence Innovation Prize 2021’ which is dedicated this year to the topic: Innovative solutions & technologies on Human-Machine Interfaces enabling Human-Machine-Teaming for Defence.
The EDA contest is rewarding companies and research entities who come up with innovative and ground-breaking technologies, products, processes or services applicable in the defence domain.
Applicants are called to come up with stimulating innovative solutions & technologies on Human Machine Interfaces to enable Human Machine Teaming for Defence Applications in Air, Land and Maritime platforms.
Examples of these technologies are:
- Gesture commands
- Head and tracking; eye gesture and wide area eye tracking
- Voice commands and 3-D audio
- Immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality
- Wearable human-machine-interfaces
- Human multi-asset interaction
- Haptic control and feedback
- Virtual Assistants
- Crew Monitoring System such as brain computing interface and pilot sensing and monitoring
- Stress and health monitoring
- Autonomous decision-making functions such as human-AI interaction.
Medical and casualties evacuation, supply chain and precision air drop or intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR) are only some examples of domains where the innovation on these technologies could enable Human Machine Teaming for Defence operations.
The winning idea/concept will be worth 30,000€.
How to apply?
The deadline for submitting applications is 31 August 2021.
The contest rules and application criteria/details can be found here (plus the annexes to the call for applications here).
The prize winner will be selected by an evaluation committee composed of EDA staff. The prize will be handed over during the 2021 EDA Annual Conference in Brussels later this year.
Submitted innovations must be the applicants’ own intellectual property. However, submissions may include improvements of already existing ideas, new combinations or adaptations of them applicable in a different context. The applicants must demonstrate the innovative added-value of their ideas, compared to what exists already. Proposals must be innovative, implementable through a collaborative project and financially affordable in terms of future development and exploitation.
Who can apply?
The contest is especially (but not exclusively) aimed at non-traditional defence industries (civil or dual-use producers) and researchers as they play a growing role in inventing and creating the disruptive capabilities that Member States’ Armed Forces will need tomorrow. The contest also provides a good opportunity for small and medium sized enterprises, research organisations and universities involved in defence R&D activities to demonstrate their know-how, maximize dual-use synergies and create partnerships with key players in the defence field.
Since 2018, the Agency organises the ‘EDA Defence Innovation Prize’ which rewards companies and research entities who come up with ground-breaking technologies, products, processes or services applicable in the defence domain. The contest aims to stimulate defence innovation in Europe and provide non-traditional defence stakeholders (civil industries, SMEs, research organisations, universities, etc.) with an opportunity to showcase their know-how in domains relevant for defence. (Source: EDA)
15 Mar 21. Tech Firms Team on BVLOS in VLL Airspace. Latvian mobile innovator LMT and software company Dimetor have partnered to explore the integration of drones into VLL (very low level) airspace. This builds on earlier collaboration where the two companies succeeded in validating the viability of BVLOS drone flights using mobile networks.
The current collaboration entails investigative research into the theoretical and practical possibilities of using the mobile network to drive the inclusion of UAVs into air traffic.
A critical component of the research conducted by the two pertains to addressing the challenges of communication and safety related to BVLOS (beyond the visual line of sight) flights. Ensuring real-time communication between flight operators, aviation authorities, and any 3rd parties that are involved, is critical to paving the way for autonomous flights. To address these challenges, the AirborneRF data platform by Dimetor will be used in the LMT mobile network and its advanced network measurements to ascertain the success of the experiments.
LMT and Dimetor’s collaboration spans more than one year already. In 2019, they collectively implemented a live BVLOS drone flight, providing early validation to the safety and viability of drone flight beyond the visual line of sight. Building on this experience, LMT also demonstrated one of the first cross-border BVLOS drone flights worldwide.
The results of these pilot projects demonstrate that the mobile network in its current configuration is capable of hosting UAV flight – the widespread use of autonomous drones in smart city (among other) applications is within reach. But further investigation is needed to confirm that it is sufficient to do so in a safe and functional manner.
To ensure that the mobile network is suitable for UAV flight, LMT is working on a variety of projects:
- The COMP4DRONES project, an ECSEL JU project that brings together a consortium of 50 partners with the aim of providing a framework of key enabling technologies for safe and autonomous drones.
- Collaborating with local regulating institutions to solve the regulatory requirements of integrating drones into airspace.
- Network and infrastructure research and analysis in collaboration with Dimetor on the future viability of ensuring communication in VLL airspace.
- The SESAR U-Space “GOF 2.0 Integrated Urban Airspace Validation” project.
Dimetor is a consortium member, and Latvia will be one of the countries where the end-to-end BVLOS drone operations, utilizing LMTs mobile network, will be implemented. The objective is to “focus on the safe, secure, and sustainable integration of all airspace users into one unified airspace”.
Significant efforts to integrate UAVs into common airspace are being made by GSMA and GUTMA, establishing the Aerial Connectivity Joint Activity (ACJA). Bringing together mobile network operators, regulators, and the aviation industry to best understand how to integrate drones into common airspace is a crucial prerequisite to implementing drone applications.
“LMT, as a founding member of ACJA and very active contributor to the global interface specification and performance requirement work, is clearly a driving force for a future of cellular-connected drone services.” – Thomas Neubauer, GUTMA/GSMA (ACJA) Work Task lead and co-founder of Dimetor.
To support these efforts, solutions for information exchange and safe drone flight are necessary for this integration to happen. This is the area that LMT and Dimetor’s collaboration aims to address. (Source: UAS VISION)
16 Mar 21. Changing the course of marine autonomy. tpgroup’s fully autonomous navigation system, Northstar, is central to an ambitious new autonomy project that aims to help improve safety and endurance in high-risk marine environments. This project, led by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), sets out to show how self-controlled unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) can operate in congested coastal waters such as ports and harbours. The project has been awarded £400k Defence & Security Accelerator (DASA) funding under its Autonomy in Challenging Environments Programme.
Underwater operations in coastal or littoral waters are more challenging than open waters. Both require underwater platforms to surface frequently to obtain a GPS ‘fix’, but in congested waters this requirement is far more frequent due to the varied underwater terrain coupled with increased tidal and current effects. Further, with greater congestion than in open water, they also carry a greater risk of collision when surfacing.
In response to these challenges, NOC and tpgroup are working in partnership to deliver and demonstrate a capability that allows a UUV to determine its position and navigate safely underwater for sustained periods – without the need for a frequent GPS ‘surface fix’. This will involve integrating the NOC’s UUV with Northstar, and augmenting the on-board sensor (including SONAR) data with UK Hydrographic Office data so that Northstar can build and update a 3D map of the UUV’s location – while also enabling collision-free navigation, all without human control.
To deliver this project tpgroup is extending and enhancing the proven capability of Northstar, a real-time fully autonomous navigation system for unmanned platforms, which has already reached commercial readiness in the maritime sector and is being demonstrated with the U.S. Air Force to manage autonomous land transport.
tpgroup is an established partner of the NOC’s Marine Robotics Innovation Centre. This project provides tpgroup with the first opportunity to work with the NOC’s Marine Autonomous Systems Development Group, who are leading the project. The new capability will be demonstrated during sea trials using a new NOC-developed hover-capable UUV, known as Autosub Hover One.
Luke Tucker, tpgroup’s Group Consulting & Services Director, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to extend the proven capability of Northstar into this dynamic and complex environment – enabling true, objective and risk aware, autonomy for safe operations in challenging environments”.
15 Mar 21. Reaction Engines chases the elusive prospect of a hypersonic fighter jet. A hypersonic propulsion company backed by Rolls-Royce, Boeing and BAE Systems has taken a step closer to developing an engine capable of powering combat jets and other aircraft at speeds of up to Mach 5 following tests of two subsystems vital to the success of the design.
British-based Reaction Engines said the recently completed tests of full-scale heat exchanger and hydrogen pre-burner subsystems validated the design of what are key components required to supply heat energy and air to the core of the air-breathing engine.
Reaction Engines, which also has a U.S. test operation in Denver, Colorado, has worked for decades on its Sabre synergetic, air-breathing rocket engine for aerospace applications, including for combat jets and to assist vehicles into space.
In recent years the work has attracted BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Boeing Horizon X and others to invest in the company. The British government has also ploughed millions of pounds into the company’s design effort. Ministry of Defence funding has gone toward Reaction Engines’ work with Rolls-Royce and BAE for the possible application of high-Mach know-how on the sixth-generation Tempest fighter project.
The latest test success comes as the field of hypersonic technology becomes increasing attractive in the West, triggered in part by rapid technological advances by potential adversaries.
Other Western engine companies are also investing in hypersonic propulsion. Pratt & Whitney recently confirmed it is developing a hypersonic engine it calls the Metacomet. The company designed the J58 engine that powered the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane to a record speed of about Mach 3.4 in the 1960s.
Adam Dissel, the president of Reaction Engines’ U.S. operation, said the effort to advance in the hypersonics sector is generating plenty of cross-Atlantic dialogue between Washington and London.
“There is great collaboration between the U.S. and U.K., and there are lots of discussions happening as to how we collaborate on these technologies,” he said.
The success of the trials on the heat exchanger, known as the HX3, and the pre-burner is another step in the right direction to maturing Reaction Engines’ technology. The latest tests follow trials undertaken in 2019 in Denver, where the company undertook high-temperature airflow testing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s HTX program.
The company reported at the time that its proprietary ultra-lightweight heat exchanger used in the test was exposed to hypersonic conditions approaching 1,000 degrees Celsius, or roughly 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat exchanger performed its pre-cooler function by quenching about 1,800-degree Fahrenheit temperatures in less than one-twentieth of a second, according to the company.
Dissel said that together the three tests successfully demonstrate key subsystems not previously used in an aerospace environment.
“The company is very focused on maturing the subsystems that are fundamentally new to aerospace. Pre-cooler was the big one, and now with the innovative HX3 heat exchanger and pre-burner tests, these are three key components very specific to Sabre,” he told Defense News on March 5. “We are well past the hump in terms of validating the fundamental pieces. Putting it together as an integrated device able to go five times the speed of sound is still a big challenge, so from an overall integration standpoint we are at the beginning.
“There are some additional components that are in the works, but the next real, major milestone for us is to put several of those subsystems together in what would be cooperative operation of a Sabre on the ground. In the first instance it wouldn’t be a full engine generating thrust, but it would demonstrate the full behavior of the [engine] cycle to prove the validity of the concept.”
When might we see Reaction Engines move to the next stage and conduct a Sabre engine core test? The company said last year that could happen in the next 12-18 months. Now, however, there appears less willingness to discuss dates.
Answering a question about timing, Dissel said Reaction Engines continually evaluates what can be done in terms of funding and customers, including the British government. “Certainly it is in the technology plan, but timing is somewhat funding-dependent.”
In the meantime, Reaction Engines is generating revenue through its own by marketing efforts and making the individual elements of the technology it has developed available to commercial markets. The company has created an applied technologies division in the U.K. that offers thermal management and other products for the aerospace, energy, environmental and automotive sectors, among others. Dissel expects to see the company secure its first commercial contracts this year.
“As a company we are looking at the near-, mid- and far-term revenue-generating opportunities. Our investors would like to see a return on investment, and their interests span that gamut. So as a company we are very much diversifying and looking at what can be addressed in all three of those areas,” he said.
However, it’s not just about generating returns for shareholders, he noted.
“The revenue along the way is important, but we also see the opportunity to be maturing and gaining experience and credibility with these enabling technologies,” he said. “Midterm you will see coming online systems where we believe Sabre-derived technology will enable faster flight.”
That ambition potentially got a boost in 2019 when the British MoD signed a deal with Rolls-Royce, Reaction Engines and BAE to undertake high-Mach propulsion studies in parallel with early work being conducted on the Tempest sixth-generation fighter, under development by Britain and its partners Italy and Sweden.
Updating the EJ200 engine, which powers the Typhoon fighter, with Reaction Engines’ know-how might be another option, a senior Royal Air Force officer suggested at the time of the announcement.
“The full Sabre engine design is at the end of the road map, offering a complete revolution in the way we access space. That doesn’t come online until the mid-2030s as a fully operational system,” Dissel said.
(Source: Defense News)
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.