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04 Mar 08. Britain is rushing to push more unmanned aerial vehicles into service in Afghanistan to increase the reconnaissance capabilities of UK forces.
The drones – remote-controlled, unpiloted vehicles that can be used to gather information – are being acquired through so-called urgent operational requirements designed to speed up the normally glacial process of defence procurement. (Source: FT.com)

Mar 08. The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a $6.75m modification to a previously awarded contract to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system services in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terror. Work will be performed in St. Louis and is expected to be completed in October. (Source: Google)

06 Mar 08. AeroVironment (AV) has flown its Puma small unmanned aircraft for over nine hours, powered by an onboard fuel cell battery hybrid energy storage system. This broke the previous announced Puma flight record of over seven hours. A two-camera payload system provided a live, streaming video feed from the Puma, the largest of AV’s portfolio of small unmanned aircraft systems that also includes Raven and Wasp. The nine-hour flight duration more than triples the duration of Puma’s standard battery-only operation. This successful demonstration marked a milestone in AV’s Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the development of advanced energy storage and propulsion technologies for unmanned aircraft. AV developed the battery pack, power electronics and controls portion of the hybrid energy storage system, which used Protonex Technology Corporation’s (LSE: AIM: PTX) Pulse™ UAV fuel cell system. Progress on this unique technology development program advanced swiftly from kickoff in January 2007, to achieve a five-hour flight in May 2007, a seven-hour flight in July 2007, and the recent nine-hour flight.

03 Mar 08. iRobot Corp. has received an award under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LANdroids program. Through this multi-year robotics research and development program, iRobot will develop a new portable communications relay robot that is small, inexpensive, intelligent and robust. The new effort takes advantage of the company’s extensive experience in mobile robot design and production. The goal of the DARPA LANdroids program is to develop technologies to enable the warfighter operating in dense urban environments to rapidly deploy and maintain a vital communications infrastructure. This infrastructure is composed of a system of multiple LANdroids mobile communications relay robots that form a reconfigurable communications backbone in support of operations.

25 Feb 08. BAE Systems says it has carried out the integration of autonomous technologies onto a Supacat vehicle. “The autonomous technology at the heart of the BAE Systems Supacat-based unmanned ground vehicle — UGV — was originally developed by BAE Systems Australia as the Vehicle Management System — VMS — and ground mission systems for the Kingfisher UAV — unmanned air vehicle — and has since been used on the Raven, Corax and HERTI UAVs,” BAE Systems said in a statement last week. “This latest milestone, which involved the BAE Systems UGV autonomously driving and navigating itself around a 100 acre paddock at the Company’s UAV Flight Test Facility in West Sale, Australia, demonstrated the ability to take the common systems / common architecture approach, already used by BAE Systems in its UAV development activities, into the land domain,” the company said. “The development of the BAE Systems UGV took less than 6 months and used lessons learned from earlier work using an autonomous Bowler Wildcat 4×4 vehicle developed by our Advanced Technology Center — ATC — in (Britain),” said Julia Sutcliffe, System Autonomy Capability Manager for BAE Systems Australia. “Bringing together te

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