UNMANNED SYSTEMS UPDATE
25 Nov 08. QinetiQ North America rolls out a robotic first: the field-transformable Dragon Runner robot. Dragon Runner is the smallest and one of the newest members of QinetiQ’s TALON family of robots. QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group has launched its new Dragon Runner Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV). Dragon Runner SUGV is the first fully modular ground robot system capable of both quick reconnaissance and improvised explosive device (IED) disarmament in urban, mountainous or rural environments. Based on a robot originally designed for the US Marine Corps, the modular base unit Dragon Runner weighs less than 20 pounds and can be carried by one person in a standard-issue pack. With field-transformable features that quickly snap or bolt into place – no special tools required – Dragon Runner SUGV can morph to fit virtually any mission. Dragon Runner SUGV can adapt quickly to fit a variety of critical mission scenarios. These include: reconnaissance inside buildings, sewers, drainpipes, caves and courtyards; perimeter security using on-board motion and sound detectors; checkpoint security; in-vehicle and under-vehicle inspections; and hostage barricade reconnaissance.
21 Nov 08. A Boeing-led team has been selected to continue development of a system enabling unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to autonomously rendezvous with a tanker and refuel. Phase 2 of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) program will involve actual fuel delivery to a surrogate UAV. In Phase 1, a Boeing-led government-industry team demonstrated a UAV could autonomously maneuver between seven standard refueling positions behind a tanker. Acting as a surrogate UAV, a Calspan-operated Learjet remained in position behind the KC-135 as the tanker flew a standard refueling orbit. But the Learjet is not equipped for aerial fueling, so Phase 2 flight-tests will use the Air Force Test Pilot School’s Calspan-operated VISTA F-16 in-flight simulator. The modified fighter is equipped for boom-and-receptacle refueling and can host the AAR-specific navigation and control systems. Phase 2 of the AAR program is aimed at developing and demonstrating the capability for a long-range strike vehicle, including a future unmanned variant of the Air Force’s planned Next-generation Bomber, to autonomously refuel from existing tankers. (Source: Aviation Week)
20 Nov 08. The Sky-Y of Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, is the first European unmanned aircraft of the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class to have completed a series of ground surveillance missions, by using a European-made electro-optical sensor, to have transmitted data to the ground through a satellite system and to have accomplished missions in any weather condition. Alenia Aeronautica has successfully completed an important final testing phase for the mission system of the unmanned Sky-Y aircraft at the Vidsel testing range in Sweden. The Sky-Y has been developed as a demonstrator for innovative technologies created for unmanned aircraft of the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class and the aircraft has now made six flights during which the following products were tested for the first time: electro-optical sensor EOST-45 developed by SELEX Galileo, another Finmeccanica company; the mission computer developed by Quadrics, a subsidiary of Alenia Aeronautica; a new datalink used for the sensor’s remote control and for sending images to the ground, and new functions of the Tactical Control Station with a Remote Sensor Operator Station also developed by Alenia Aeronautica.
05 Sept 08. The US Air Force (USAF) is this month commencing flight testing of a prototype wideband communications suite planned to equip an Aerovironment Global Observer endurance UAV under an ongoing joint concept technology demonstration led by the US Special Operations Command. The flight trials programme will use the USAF’s Boeing 707 Pau