02 Feb 17. Fusion underwater vehicle introduced. Nortek and Strategic Robotic Systems have launched a new jointly developed underwater vehicle that combines autonomous and remotely underwater vehicle (AUV and ROV) capabilities with diver navigation and propulsion technologies, the company announced on 1 February. Called Fusion, the vehicle has been designed to combine AUV, ROV and diver functionality in a single vehicle with a suite of sensors in a tightly integrated package, including multi-beam forward-looking sonar, side-scan sonar, and a 1MHz Doppler Velocity Log (DVL). Nortek’s 1MHz DVL has a bottom track that ranges from 20cm to 50m, and its housing is available with a 4000m pressure rating. Jesse Rodocker, president at Strategic Robotic Systems, said: ‘Both the electronics and transducers are smaller and have a better form factor for the Fusion underwater vehicle. The higher frequency for increased accuracy is of huge value for aiding the Fusion’s automated control and navigation system. The added dedicated altimeter provides more accurate altitude directly below the Fusion for better terrain following.’ (Source: Shephard)
30 Jan 17. Air Force Seeks UAS to Refuel Other UAS in Flight. To avoid having to return an unmanned aircraft back to its base, or having to fly a manned tanker aircraft to the location of a UAS to refuel it, the U.S. Air Force is putting out a proposal called “Aerial Refueling of UAVs,” which seeks to find unmanned aircraft capable of refueling other unmanned aircraft while in the air. The proposal has a special focus on refueling larger UAS under Class 4 and Class 5, such as the Global Hawk and MQ-9 Reaper.
“In order to maximize potential on-station capability, it is desirable to minimize the distance the UAV must travel in order to reach the refueling orbit,” the Air Force says, via the National Interest.
“Since many military UAVs operate inside hostile territory, bringing a large manned tanker into this arena is problematic. Because of this, an unmanned, automated tanker could be a potential solution.”
While on the surface it seems like using UAS would offer more convenience, using unmanned aircraft to refuel other unmanned aircraft in flight could have hurdles of its own. Some of the potential issues that the Air Force has highlighted in using UAS to refuel other UAS during flights include the UAS needing to avoid collisions, the UAS needing to know each other’s exact positions to help avoid collisions, and the UAS being used for refueling needs to be capable of operating at night and in inclement weather.
The Air Force has pointed to these issues as things to consider when making pitches.
“For this effort, offerors should consider both the tanker and UAV for how a potential refueling system will work,” the Air Force says. “One element of the problem is for the system to be applicable to unmanned refueling aircraft, rather than existing manned tankers (e.g. KC-135).”
The Air Force adds, “offerors should also consider automation of probe/drogue deployment and retraction, coordination between unmanned systems (cooperative control), and possible influence (flight dynamics or other) of a smaller tanker aircraft, if any.” (Source: AUVSI)