Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
19 Jul 18. P.2HH awaits clearance. Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace is awaiting funding clearance from the Italian government for the development of the P.2HH, the company has said, with the United Arab Emirates expecting to be adding to the programme. Speaking to Jane’s on 18 July, company Chief Executive Officer Renato Vaghi said that the company was expecting the P.2HH to be “a binational product between Italy and the UAE.” Initial funding is hoped to develop a platform that is to act as an evolution of the company’s P.1HH HammerHead medium altitude, long endurance (MALE) UAV. “The P.1HH was the first UAV we developed over the past five to six years, we’re bringing it to market in the next month, and this is a significant milestone for us at Piaggio Aerospace and the customer,” Vaghi said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Jul 18. Metal Shark, ASV team for Sharktech. Shipbuilder Metal Shark has teamed with ASV Global to introduce a new line of autonomous vessels called Sharktech. The ASVs will incorporate Metal Shark vessels – ranging from 16’ to over 300’ in aluminum, steel, and composite – with ASV Global’s proven autonomous capabilities, including the ASView control system. The ASView onboard digital control system provides dynamic collision avoidance with robust decision-making capability. Depending on configuration, the system considers data from multiple situational awareness inputs, including multiple radars, 360-degree daylight and thermal cameras and AIS to safely identify and steer clear of stationary and moving obstacles. The system allows operation in various modes including unmanned operations, reduced manned operations or conventional manned operations. The vessel’s operations may be monitored from a mother ship via radio link, or from shore via satellite link. In the instance of lost primary and backup communications, the vessel will assume pre-programmed behavior, such as station-keeping. Other safety features include geo-fence tools, emergency-stop buttons, and the ability to switch from autonomous to manual control at any time. Sharktech autonomous vessels can be custom configured for military, law enforcement, fire rescue, and the full spectrum of applicable commercial markets. (Source: Shephard)
18 Jul 18. UK trials unmanned systems to supply troops on the front line Drones and other kit to be tested on Salisbury Plain by British army. British soldiers take part in a training exercise on Salisbury Plain. Technology expected to save lives and money Defence establishment turns to the private sector Military innovations may have civilian uses An autonomous paraglider invented by a zoology professor who designs drones based on animals has been selected for intensive testing by Britain’s armed forces to see if it might provide the answer to a costly and potentially deadly question: how to supply troops on the front line. Stork, developed by Animal Dynamics, a UK engineering start-up spun out of Oxford university, is one of five unmanned transport systems chosen by the British government’s Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory for assessment by soldiers during a four week exercise on Salisbury Plain in November. Three of the other four systems selected by DSTL have also been produced by UK companies — a robot on tracks called Titan created by Qinetiq; a fixed wing drone made by Barnard Microsystems; and a truck named the Viking built by Horiba Mira. The only overseas design selected is one by the Finnish company Fleetonomy, which has the backing of French aerospace and defence group Thales to develop an autonomous quadcopter. With DSTL having put the five companies’ products on a shortlist for testing, they will each receive £750,000 from the government to continue developing their ideas. A decision is due next year on which of these unmanned transport systems will be used to supply troops on the frontline. Paraglider competes against drones Stork’s inventors said the paraglider offered the military a less fuel intensive option compared with drones that resemble helicopters. The three or four wheeled vehicle takes off using a propeller which drives the storage frame forward, inflating a giant, crescent shaped wing. Once airborne it can glide or use the propeller. Stork can carry up to 100kg of supplies, such as water, food and munitions, over a distance of 100km.
“Quadcopters are good for surveillance and hovering but this burns much less fuel and is very nimble and can turn around corners with greater agility,” said Alex Caccia, who co-founded Animal Dynamics with Adrian Thomas.
As well as being one of the UK’s leading academics in the field of biomechanics and aerodynamics, Mr Thomas is also a British paragliding champion — experience he has taken into account when designing Stork, added Mr Caccia. As the technologies behind artificial intelligence and robotics advances, so the importance of drones and unmanned ground and air vehicles to military commanders is growing. Last week Britain passed another milestone in this area when the Royal Air Force took delivery of its first US-made Protector drone, which has advanced reconnaissance and attack capabilities. The aircraft made the 24 hour journey from the US flown by pilots sitting in North Dakota. Defence establishment turns to private sector But whereas military scientists once led the way in developing technologies that went on to have widespread civilian uses, the defence establishment is increasingly turning to the private sector, including tech start ups, for state of the art drones. “We are trying to engage different areas of industry which defence doesn’t normally engage with,” said Pete Stockel, the DSTL director at Porton Down leading the project focused on unmanned transport systems. “The threat is changing very rapidly, so we want to stay ahead of this game and get the capability into the hands of people very quickly.”
A fixed wing drone made by Barnard Microsystems In the US, the defence department’s research agency Darpa last year asked private companies and academics to help develop a robot that can autonomously navigate and search underground terrain to assist with disaster relief efforts and infrastructure inspection. For a British army that has been shrinking in size and is now facing a tight budget as the Ministry of Defence grapples with a £20bn funding shortfall over the next decade, there is a clear incentive to exploit robotics as quickly as possible. Mr Stockel said: “At the moment guys are doing this task [of supplying troops on the frontline] by driving quad bikes and going back and forwards or it is done by helicopter. That’s dangerous and ties up lots of people. This is about freeing forces up from those tasks.”
Will military product have civilian uses? The question for the five companies vying to provide the army’s frontline supply system is whether they might be able to revive the tradition of military innovation solving wider commercial conundrums. With technology groups such as Amazon investing vast sums in drone equipment that will deliver packages to homes, the prize on offer is enticing. Drone technology has the potential to increase UK gross domestic product by £42bn by 2030, said a report by PwC, the accounting firm, in May. A robot on tracks called Titan that has been created by Qinetiq However translating a battlefield system into everyday life — for example, delivering groceries — may not work in this instance.
“The case on the battlefield is straightforward, it’s about saving lives in austere conditions,” said Elaine Whyte, a former RAF engineer who now heads up PwC’s drones research team. “To translate that use into a UK commercial case, you need a fairly robust business case to convince yourself the customer satisfaction and costs are viable moving forward. It’s not clear cut.”
18 Jul 18. Airbus and International SOS sign MOU on drone cargo delivery systems.
- Ensuring safe flight operations for a hub-to-hub drone delivery service
- Planning an urban to rural or a ship to shore maritime setting
- Using drones approved by the aviation authorities with a higher than 5kg payload
Airbus and International SOS, the world’s leading medical and security risk services company, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today to jointly study the viability of using aircraft or unmanned systems to deliver medical cargo and supplies. Under the agreement, Airbus will help to define and install reliable aircraft or unmanned aerial medical cargo deliveries as part of International SOS MedSupply services. MedSupply deploys medical supplies, specialist medical care and equipment to meet the requirements of preventive health programme or in support of a medical emergency in urban as well as unfamiliar and remote locations. The studies will look into both urban to rural and ship to shore deliveries. Airbus and International SOS will thus collaborate on safe, secure and enterprise drone delivery for hub to hub distribution of medical cargo, compliant with local regulatory bodies, as International SOS have global operations worldwide in emergency evacuation or medical resupplying.
“We hope to develop a viable business partnership where we can assist International SOS with unmanned medical cargo delivery. This means using our cutting edge technology to potentially save lives, and transform the medical and travel security industry,” said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer, Airbus Defence and Space.
Arnaud Vaissié, CEO, Chairman and Co-Founder of International SOS, said: “Bringing together the Airbus expertise in securing aerial deliveries, and our global infrastructure assisting clients worldwide, is a clear move towards a greater efficiency. We are always striving to provide our clients with excellent customer service and this innovative venture will enable us to look into furthering our capabilities and enhancing our service.”
Potential medical cargo delivery pilot cases are being explored in Singapore and Indonesia, and Airbus and International SOS will work with the local civil aviation and maritime authorities in both countries to develop these capabilities. If successful, this could be extended to International SOS operations globally. Other potential areas of cooperation under the MOU include support for mobile hospitals, space and satellite services.
17 Jul 18. The US Marines want a drone delivery system that can haul up to 500 pounds to remote troops. The Marine Corps is developing a system of autonomous drones that can be ordered to fly resupply missions and drop critical supplies into dangerous or hard-to-reach areas. While commercial drone delivery services max out most payloads at less than 40 pounds, the Marine Corps is asking for a much larger, more powerful autonomous drone delivery systemcapable of carrying as much as 500 pounds to Marines at least 10 km away. A recent request for information posting on the government website FBO.gov by the Marine Corps’ Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons wants the dronedelivery vehicle to weigh no more than 1,320 pounds, fit in a small vehicle and operate day/night in a variety of environmental conditions. It should take no more than 30 minutes to set up and launch. And it must be operationally ready as early as next year. Researchers want multiple deliveries, so they also expect the recovery and turnaround time to be short. And operators should be able to retrieve the drone either autonomously or manually from near where it was launched. Some portions of the RFI sounded such as work being done by the Navy-Marine Corps program Next Generation Logistics, or NexLog. The program looks for logistics innovations and held a public event in March at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to showcase an automated drone project. The project, called “Hive Final Mile,” was launched in part by Marine Corps Reserve Maj. Christopher Thobaben, a motor transport officer who works supply chain logistics in his civilian life.
Thobaben’s concept, further developed by a team of researchers and engineers with NexLog, uses algorithms to allow for a hive base of drones to carry items such as MREs, water bottles and small medical equipment on demand to Marines in the field, who have the ability to order items with the push of a button. The system can also be set to continuously deliver items, for example creating a pile of MREs at a remote base over an hour or so with multiple drones streaming to the site. The main hub can identify what’s available in nearby hives and resupply the chain as it delivers, and certain supply stocks dwindle. The major estimated that the system could scale up to “thousands” of drones operating in less than two years of further research and development. However, Jamie Cosgrove, spokeswoman for the Naval Air Systems Command, said that the current RFI is for existing commercial options to deliver items in the 25- to 500-pound range and is not part of the NexLog program. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
18 Jul 18. Focus on naval power for UMS Skeldar with next-gen V-200 roll out. UMS Skeldar has used the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK to officially unveil the new variant of their Skeldar V-200 unmanned aerial system, which is in the running for Australia’s SEA 129 Phase 5 Stage 1 Maritime Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (MTUAS) program. The SKELDAR V-200B completed its trials earlier this year, following an intensive modification audit, based on in-theatre performance feedback and the strategic imperative to further widen competitive advantage.
“It is no secret that more players are attempting to enter the maritime market for rotary UAVs. Recent navy contracts have stipulated the role and specification, and this has confirmed our strategy of development is absolutely the right move at the right time,” said David Willems, head of business development at UMS Skeldar, the UAV joint venture between Sweden’s Saab and UMS AERO of Switzerland. “We are able to fly longer, over five hours, at maximum payload capacity through weight savings from design modifications and our 2-stroke engine configuration provides significantly unmatched time between overhauls (TBO), all of which are vital to maritime operations by military and civilian customers.”
The SKELDAR V-200B variant of the industry-pioneering heavy-fuel engine rotary UAV, boasting enhanced features including extended endurance, engine management system and payload capabilities. The past 12 months have witnessed substantial corporate strategic initiatives for UMS Skeldar, thanks to a new senior management team, led by ex-Saab industrial business head Axel Cavalli-Bjorkman. Achievements include:
- The alignment of production and supply chain at Linköping in Sweden;
- The acquisition of German engine manufacturer Hirth;
- Heavyweight partnership programs aimed at navy contracts including the recent collaboration with QinetiQ to provide the platforms and solutions for a joint Canadian maritime program, including the Royal Canadian Navy UAV contract, ESG in Germany, a number of undisclosed navy tenders and the declared mission to win the RAN SEA 129 Phase 5 Stage 1 MTUAS tender.
The Hirth-developed engine, with heavy fuel licensed technology from Australia’s Orbital Corporation, was the first medium maritime UAV to be heavy fuel capable, able to operate on Jet A-1, JP-5 and JP-8 fuels.
“The major difference between the SKELDAR V-200 engine and those of our competitors is that our engine is more tolerant of the JP-5 quality and that is a big advantage. Our maintenance schedules and ease of access to engine compartments mean that we outperform and stay longer in the air before any need for overhaul. These are non-negotiable advantages for operational commanders,” explained Willems. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Jul 18. SNC & IAI Partner on Tactical VTOL UAS for US Market. Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to support development of a new tactical Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) able to take off and land vertically for the U.S. market. The companies see great potential in this collaboration for special mission applications in the American tactical UAS market over the next decade as the increased use of unmanned aircraft continues to enhance the operational flexibility, safety and effectiveness of U.S. military air operations.
“SNC looks forward to a bright future in the unmanned systems sector with the signing of this strategic agreement with IAI,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s Integrated Mission Systems business area. “We are pleased to have IAI’s strong past performance and exciting new products like VTOL UAS as the foundation of this mutually beneficial relationship between the two companies.”
The VTOL UAS will give forward-positioned units the ability to deploy expeditionary wide-area UAS Intelligence, Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) assets in austere environments without needing access to a runway, while providing increased safety and reduced risk throughout the range of operations and mission locations. This agreement builds on a five-year relationship between the two companies, combining SNC’s experience developing and testing customizable UAS in various launch conditions and environments with IAI’s vast expertise and capabilities to create an innovative VTOL solution for the tactical UAS market. SNC‘s experience executing large-scale system integration programs for the U.S. Government and its leading in-house engineering capabilities, along with IAI’s world renowned unmanned systems will result in a product that will be manufactured, operated and maintained in the United States. As the prime contractor, SNC will be responsible for the overall system integration and leading the U.S. marketing effort in support of direct sales and long-term lease opportunities. This partnership is aligned with U.S. policy and is expected to generate new jobs in Mississippi and Alabama as part of the expanding UAS program.
“IAI is excited to sign the strategic agreement with SNC, with whom we have been working successfully for a number of years now,” said Shaul Shahar, executive vice president & general manager of IAI’s Military Aircraft Group. “I am confident that SNC’s leading engineering expertise and strong U.S. foothold combined with IAI’s experience and leadership with unmanned systems, including VTOL, will create a high-quality American system to meet the market’s growing needs.” (Source: UAS VISION)
17 Jul 18. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) and GKN Aerospace have declared their intent to collaborate on composite tails for GA-ASI’s Predator® B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) series via a Letter of Interest (LOI) signed here today.
“We are pleased to expand our relationship with GKN Aerospace as part of our growing industrial collaboration team in the UK,” said Linden Blue, CEO, GA-ASI. “We have seen the results of GKN Aerospace’s extensive experience in advanced composite manufacturing first-hand and look forward to working with its team.”
GA-ASI has been partnered with GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business unit in the Netherlands since 2016 for production and sustainment of Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper® landing gear subsystems. In April of this year, GKN Aerospace Deutschland and GA-ASI entered into a Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA) to expand GA-ASI’s carbon-composite manufacturing capabilities significantly by manufacturing major aerostructures for MQ-9B SkyGuardian, the latest evolution of the multi-mission Predator B, in Germany. Following the successful completion of the required technical and commercial evaluations and agreement, GA-ASI also intends to perform composite manufacturing for Predator B tail structures at GKN facilities in the UK.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to be involved in the manufacturing of a key component of the proven Predator B aircraft family,” said Michiel van der Maat, vice president business development defense, Aerostructures and Systems Europe and Asia of GKN Aerospace. “Our goal is to deliver structurally lightweight composite tails to GA-ASI that meet the highest certification standards while delivering best in class performance.”
17 Jul 18. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI), the world’s leading manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), has been selected to provide UAS to the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). This decision follows consideration by the Ministry of Defence for the Netherlands.
“We are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to meet the UAS requirements of the Royal Netherlands Air Force,” said Linden Blue, CEO of GA-ASI. “We are committed to providing a NATO-interoperable solution that enhances the ISR capabilities of the Netherlands and the Alliance.”
GA-ASI will deliver its Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper® Medium Altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) UAS to the Dutch Military. The existing MQ-9 fleet has logged over two million operational flight hours with the USAF, UK RAF, Italian and French Air Forces, NASA and the US DHS. The Spanish Air Force is scheduled to take delivery of MQ-9 systems in 2019. The multi-mission Predator B has up to 26 hours of flight endurance and carries HD-video sensors (optical and IR), ground-imaging/MTI/maritime radar, and other surveillance sensors. The aircraft features an extensive payload capacity (386 kg internally, 1361 kg externally), with a maximum altitude of 45,000 feet/13700 meters.
14 Jul 18. Britain chooses basing for Protector drone, even as acquisition details evolve. Britain’s defense secretary has named RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, England, as the base for the Royal Air Force’s new Protector drone. The aircraft made “aviation history” by carrying out the first trans-Atlantic flight of a UAV when it landed in the U.K. on July 11, according to manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and the Royal Air Force. The service’s incumbent fleet of MQ?9 Reaper UAVs that Protector will replace currently has its home base at Waddington, “continuing the foundations of flying Reaper,” he said. The Royal Air Force’s MQ?9B SkyGuardian variant is known as Protector. SkyGuardian has been developed as a certifiable version of the ubiquitous Reaper UAV, designed to fly under traditional flight rules as if it were a manned platform. However, while General Atomics may have written a small footnote in unmanned aviation history, the company’s effort to get the MQ?9B into service with the British is proving more trying. Protector was originally slated to enter service this year but was put back to 2021. It now looks like it will be 2024 before the Reaper replacement will be fully operational. The numbers are also changing. When Britain first announced its intention to acquire Protector in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the numbers were put at more than 20, but for at least the moment Britain is looking at ordering an initial 16.
“The final number of Protectors we will acquire has yet to be set, but we are committed to more than doubl[ing] the existing capability provided by the fleet of 10 Reapers. Our current agreement with the U.S. government is for the initial supply of 16 air vehicles,” a Ministry of Defence spokesman said. He added that work on the program was going well, but confirmed the program faced a delay.
“The Protector program is progressing well and will be introduced by mid 2024, which was a change from its previous in-service date. We are simply sensibly managing a seamless transition between getting the most out of our current Reaper aircraft and moving to the cutting-edge Protector,” he said.
Additionally, in the announcement from Williamson regarding the basing of Protector at Waddington, the MoD reiterated that the introduction of the UAV will double the RAF’s Reaper capability, which stands at 10 air vehicles. The numbers and timing could be a matter of financial re-profiling at Britain’s cash-strapped Defence Ministry. The upcoming publication of the defense review, known as the Modernising Defence Programme, could throw more light on MoD intentions. Certainly, as Royal Air Force chiefs at the Air Power Conference in London earlier this week made clear, information as well as command and control are at the heart of a transformation effort already underway here. That should be a sweet spot for Protector. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
13 Jul 18. Northrop’s Fire Scout drone gets a new look for its European debut. Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter is making its European debut Friday at the Royal International Air Tattoo, giving potential international customers their first chance to get up close and personal with the drone. The unmanned aerial system won’t be flying at RIAT this weekend — in fact, this MQ?8C has had its avionics stripped out and is intended as a showpiece. However, Northrop hopes to showcase the Fire Scout’s ability to accomplish a mission set it hopes will entice foreign buyers: anti-submarine warfare.
“This is going to be the first time that the larger Fire Scout is going to be seen by some of our partner nations that will be attending RIAT,” said Jack Thomas, the company’s director of Fire Scout operations. “The why behind that, I would say, is when you look at where the program is from the U.S. Navy’s perspective, I think they see it as a really good opportunity to at least expose to a larger audience what the capability is that the U.S. Navy has been started to integrate here now.”
The Fire Scout at RIAT will be displayed alongside a new anti-submarine warfare pod not currently in use by the U.S. Navy. Northrop believes the drone can serve as a longer-endurance alternative to manned helicopters, which are widely used by international countries to perform the ASW mission today. Aside from the ASW pod, which is made by U.K.-based defense contractor Ultra Electronics, the MQ-8C at RIAT will also be paired with radomes from Leonardo’s Osprey 30 active electronically scanned array radar. Northrop is currently integrating that radar with the unmanned helicopter, with a planned early operational capability planned in 2019 and initial fielding in late 2020.
“That radar is a fantastic radar. There are two arrays that are integrated into the aircraft and give a huge field of coverage,” Thomas said.
The MQ-8C — an unmanned version of the Bell 407 with Northrop-devised controls that allow it to autonomously take off and land on ships — is currently bound within the line of sight of the ship upon which it’s embarked, although the Navy has a technology road map that would allow it to go beyond that. However, even now, the altitude that the MQ-8C flies at allows it to see way past what a shipboard radar would normally be capable of doing, Thomas said.
“Any kind of a mast-mounted radar on a ship will at maximum give you 12–20 [nautical miles] depending on the atmosphere that day,” he said. “Your Fire Scout itself can go up to 100 miles from the ship because of its own line of sight link back to the ship, and then its radar can go over 100 miles itself. So now you’ve extended your ability to sense and detect out to multiple hundred miles for the ship.”
Fire Scout is set to be fielded aboard the Freedom- and Independence-class littoral combat ships to conduct surveillance. The “Charlie” version of the system has double the endurance and three times the payload of the earlier MQ-8B model. The MQ-8C is scheduled to hit a number of milestones over the next year as it moves from development to fleet integration. Last week, the Navy conducted at-sea tests of the Fire Scout aboard littoral combat ship Coronado for the drone’s initial operational test and evaluation period, and the service will now begin land-based tests, Thomas said. (Source: Defense News)
12 Jul 18. Indonesian Navy to establish new unmanned aviation squadron. Key Points:
- The Indonesian Navy is establishing a new unmanned naval aviation squadron
- Formation will initially operate the ScanEagle system that is being provided under a US assistance package
The Indonesian Navy (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL) is establishing a new squadron to oversee the service’s unmanned naval aviation requirements. TNI-AL sources told Jane’s that the new squadron will be known as Skadron Udara 700 (Aviation Squadron 700) and it will be based in Juanda Surabaya. The first equipment to be operated by Skadron Udara 700 would include the Insitu ScanEagle surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Indonesia is currently anticipating the delivery of four Insitu ScanEagle UAVs and associated equipment, from the US government. The UAVs are being provided under a grant by the US government under a capacity-building programme for Southeast Asian navies known as the Maritime Security Initiative (MSI). The MSI programme was first revealed by then US secretary of defense Ashton Carter at the 2015 iteration of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. The initiative seeks to improve maritime surveillance capabilities of Washington’s partners in the region: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The Philippines took delivery of six ScanEagle UAVs, which have been delivered as part of the MSI programme, in March 2018. The Indonesian MSI package seeks to specifically improve the country’s maritime patrol capabilities, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance integration, and equipment maintenance capacity. The aim is to ensure that Jakarta has the capacity to adequately safeguard its maritime territories and economic resources, and contribute to regional security and stability, according to a note on the MSI programme published on a US government website. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
12 Jul 18. Metal Shark and ASV Global Introduce Sharktech Autonomous Vessels. Louisiana, USA-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has joined forces with autonomous vessel technology developer ASV Global to introduce “Sharktech” Autonomous Vessels. Metal Shark is now offering Sharktech autonomous technology on its entire portfolio of vessels, which range from 16’ to over 300’ in aluminum, steel, and composite. Sharktech autonomous vessels may be custom configured for military, law enforcement, fire rescue, and the full spectrum of applicable commercial markets.
“The industry has watched and waited as autonomous technology has matured from its fledgling stages, and today we’re offering ASV Global’s fully proven autonomous capability on our entire model lineup,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “We are demystifying and streamlining the process of autonomous technology integration by bringing this capability to market in turnkey form straight from the OEM. Check the box and get the option, on our full range of globally proven designs.”
“As the world’s largest and most experienced unmanned vessel technology company, ASV Global is proud to partner with Metal Shark to bring our industry-leading ASView unmanned vessel control technology to market,” said Thomas Chance, CEO of ASV Global. “The ASView control system offers multiple modes including unmanned operations, reduced manned operations, or conventional manned operations. In addition, ASV Global can assist with mission payload and sensor integration, control, and remote supervision.”
“Sharktech autonomous vessel technology opens up myriad opportunities for operators in all sectors,” said Mr. Allard. “Similar to how advancements in aviation technology reduced aircraft cockpit crews, Sharktech offers crew reduction at the flip of a switch. Sharktech is ideal for dangerous missions in remote or hostile environments, for endurance missions where it may be necessary for vessels to loiter in a holding pattern for extended periods, or for any mission simply undesirable for a human crew.”
Beyond simple waypoint navigation or the execution of pre-programmed mission routes, Sharktech’s ASView onboard digital control system features dynamic collision avoidance with robust decision-making capability. Depending on configuration, the system considers data from multiple situational awareness inputs, including multiple radars, 360-degree daylight and thermal cameras, and AIS to safely identify and steer clear of stationary and moving obstacles. Sharktech’s ASView system allows for autonomous or remote operation of navigation and safety lighting, hailers and sirens, pumps, and other components. The system also supports the integration and autonomous or remote operation of a near-infinite range of specialized equipment, including fire pumps, monitors, and other fire-fighting equipment; hydrographic survey equipment; equipment for acoustic, oceanographic, or meteorological monitoring; and the full spectrum of FLIRs and other specialty cameras.
“While autonomous technology is perhaps most commonly associated with military applications, its value to commercial operators cannot be overlooked,” said Mr. Allard. “Sharktech’s benefits for safety, crew reduction, endurance, and CONOPS flexibility are unprecedented in our industry, and we are only scratching the surface of its potential applications.”
The vessel’s operations may be monitored from a mother ship via radio link, or from shore via satellite link. In the instance of lost primary and backup communications, the vessel will assume pre-programmed behavior, such as station-keeping. Other safety features include geo-fence tools, emergency-stop buttons, and the ability to switch from autonomous to manual control at any time. To showcase the new technology, Metal Shark and ASV Global are taking a Sharktech-equipped Metal Shark 38 Defiant patrol boat to the 2018 Multi Agency Craft Conference (MACC) in Baltimore, Maryland for demonstration on July 18th and 19th. The Sharktech demo vessel showcases multiple layers of autonomy, as it also carries a Shearwater aerial drone from Planck Aerosystems that may be launched, flown, and landed autonomously from the moving vessel thanks to an integrated navigation and guidance system. In order to rapidly meet anticipated demand, Metal Shark has pre-engineered its most popular models for Sharktech autonomous capability, and has also added Sharktech vessels to its Stock Boats program, which utilizes staged hulls and repurposes in-production units to drastically reduce lead times.
“Depending on propulsion and desired equipment, we can currently deliver a fully-autonomous Sharktech-equipped 38 Defiant in as little as 60 days,” said Mr. Allard. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
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