Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
21 Sep 17. UK to gain sovereign upgrade capability with Protector. A sovereign upgrade capability for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) new Protector unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a vital part of the project to renew the service’s fleet of unmanned systems. Speaking exclusively to Jane’s, Dave Alexander, president of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s (GA-ASI’s) Aircraft Systems Group, said the provision of a design authority capability would mean the RAF has greater autonomy to modify the Protector, as is the case with its existing General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers. “With minor exceptions, after full certification the UK will have design authority for its Protectors,” he said. Alexander revealed that the United Kingdom’s Protectors will be the first operational UAVs to be fitted with a satellite communications (SATCOM)-linked automatic take-off and landing system that will transform the operational flexibility of the United Kingdom’s UAV fleet. (Source: News Now/IHS Jane’s)
19 Sep 17. Chinese company Tengoen unveils several armed UAVs. Chinese company Tengoen unveiled a series of armed reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at the 14th China–ASEAN Expo in Nanning from 12 to 15 September, including two fixed-wing and two vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAVs. One of the platforms displayed in the southern Chinese city was the TB001 ‘Twin-tailed Scorpion’, which the company claims is the only Chinese twin-engine, twin-boom unmanned aerial system (UAS) on the market. Using two reciprocating engines, the 10m-long TB001 has a wingspan of 20m, a maximum take-off weight of 2,800kg, an endurance of 35 hours, and a maximum range of 6,000km. Equipped to conduct satellite control linkage and carrying an electro-optical targeting sensor under its fuselage, the exhibited TB001 also has two underwing pylons that can be fitted with dual launchers for small missiles or bombs.
Each pylon can reportedly carry up to 100 kg of ordnance. The TB001 was marketed alongside weapons developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) under the latter’s ‘FT’ series. A Tengoen illustration at the exhibition also showed the UAV armed with eight Norinco Blue Arrow ground-attack missiles.
Tengoen also unveiled a smaller single pusher-engine UAV called the TA001, which features two underwing weapon pylons and an electro-optical targeting sensor. According to information provided at the show, the UAV has a maximum take-off weight of 1,200 kg and can fly for up to 24 hours. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
13 Sep 17. The technology is here for tiny, swarming, gust-tolerant, perching drones. A decade of scientific research on micro-unmanned aerial vehicles culminated last month with 17 live demonstrations of new drone technologies and capabilities; from autonomous swarming to “perch and stare” abilities.
“I am absolutely certain this technology will help soldiers of the future, there are new platforms, new algorithms, new sensors,” said Allison Mathis, a researcher with the Army. Dr. Brett Piekarski, Collaborative Alliance Manager for the Army, added that an example of these new innovations “is in scaling things down to be able to do autonomous behavior in something that fits in the size of your hand.”
The program, known as Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST), was a collaborative project between the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), BAE Systems, and multiple academic institutions, according to the ARL press release.
Many of the innovations of the MAST program were demonstrated live from August 22nd to 24th at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Some of the most notable breakthroughs were in self-organized flying, gust-tolerance, and “perch and stare” capabilities.
According to the ARL, one of the original program objectives was to explore the technology that