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26 Jul 17. Naval Research Laboratory explores autonomous UAVs.
The wingman of the future many not be a man or a woman at all, but rather an unmanned aerial vehicle flying in tandem with a human-piloted aircraft.
The human will program in the mission goals, but the UAV will decide for itself how to get the job done.
“The software controls the actions and behaviors of the UAV; it controls the communication with the human pilot and it ensures the UAV can perform according to instructions,” said David W. Aha, the head of Adaptive Systems Section at the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence, or NCARAI, at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.
To anyone familiar with the complexity of combat aviation, this may sound like an unlikely scenario. In fact, the NCARAI team says it has demonstrated the viability of the idea, even though any real-world implementation remains some years away.
In a recent simulation, an expert pilot was teamed with a UAV under the control of the Naval Research Laboratory’s Tactical Battle Manager, the software system that could one day control UAVs. While the human pilot gave general mission instructions, the UAV was able to “think” through a series of behaviors, self-selecting mission objectives and responding to unexpected challenges and opportunities.
This type of autonomous “goal reasoning” has been a chief aim of the project since it launched in 2013, with planners looking to develop the algorithms that would allow a pilotless craft to carry out a designated mission, even if it should lose contact with its human operators. “If something unexpected occurs in the environment, it could change its goals midstream,” Aha said.
With increased reliance on UAVs comes the need for more sophisticated command-and-control systems. Once an unmanned plane is in play, it needs to be able to operate with some degree of autonomy, Aha said.
“We need an agent that can react to surprise,” he said. “What happens when the communications link is not working or the human operator is not available for some other reason? What if the [adversarial] red team’s strength is much higher or lower than was anticipated?”
27 Jul 17. New Russian Unmanned Helicopter on Show.
Russia-based Radar MMS released further details of its BPV-500 vertical-takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) at the MAKS 2017 airshow in Zhukovsky near Moscow.
Radar MMS representative Sergey Prokofiev told Jane’s that the BPV-500 is designed to operate from land and naval vessels, and is intended to fill a range of mission sets.
“The BPV-500 has been designed in accordance with global VTOL UAS development tendencies. Military bodies and law enforcement agencies can use the vehicle to conduct search-and-rescue [SAR], patrol, and counter-insurgency [COIN] missions,” he said.
A complete UAS consists of a single BPV-500 air vehicle, ground control elements that feature two work stations, communications equipment, and a set of payloads for the aircraft. The control stations can be fitted on board naval vessels or integrated on ground vehicles.
Prokofiev explained that the air vehicle is based on a Rotor-Flight helicopter and utilises only Russian-built components.
The aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg and a payload capacity of 150kg. According to Radar MMS it has an endurance 5.5 hours, a ceiling of 11,482ft, a maximum speed of 155km/h, and a range of 320 km. The aircraft can operate with varying levels of autonomy, including pre-programmed missions. The BPV-500 air vehicle’s fuselage measures 4.7m long and 1.6m wide, and has a height of 2.6m. It features a coaxial main rotor that has a diameter of 6m; in a naval configuration these blades can be folded. (Source: UAS VISION/Jane’s 360)
27 Jul 17. US Navy Special Ops Interested in Air/Water Drone. At the