Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
02 Oct 18. ECA Group releases a new USV INSPECTOR 120, as a part of its range of robotic and autonomous systems for naval applications, including mine counter measures. ECA Group has been designing and delivering unmanned surface vehicles (USV) for 15 years. After supplying INSPECTOR Mk1 to the DGA in 2008, ECA Group has developed and supplied to several navies with its unmanned surface vehicle INSPECTOR 90. Benefitting from a standardized and sea proven USV This USV is 9 meters long and is able to carry Mine Identification and Destruction Systems (MIDS) and to automatically deploy these underwater robots for identification (SEASCAN) and neutralization (K-STER C) of sea mines. The INSPECTOR 90 can also carry two sonars, one on its front arm for very shallow operations and a TOWSCA towed sonar for underwater mine detection. The USV INSPECTOR 90 is therefore a USV that can perform all underwater mine clearance missionsfrom mine detection to its destruction. This USV can also be used as a radio relay between other drones (AUV, UAV) and the mothership for the transmission of remote commands and sonar or video data. It was successfully demonstrated in Belgium in September 2017 as part of a Belgian-Dutch acquisition program for 12 mine hunters equipped with unmanned systems for which a call for tender is currently open.
02 Oct 18. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) completed the first flight of its second MQ-9B SkyGuardian Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) (YBC02) aircraft on September 26. The flight of the company-owned aircraft was conducted at Laguna Army Airfield in Yuma Proving Grounds.
“We’re very pleased to have our second MQ-9B aircraft completed and flying,” said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. “MQ-9B development continues to move forward on schedule as we look forward to our first customer delivery in the early 2020s.”
The second MQ-9B SkyGuardian gives the GA-ASI program team another aircraft to perform important development testing and demonstrations. New capabilities that weren’t available when the first prototype was completed in 2016, such as lightning protection, an upgraded avionics and software suite, and a de-icing system, have been included as part of MQ-9B’s roadmap to become the first RPA to be certified to fly in civil airspace. The upcoming test schedule for YBC02 includes further flight envelope expansion testing, testing of the Certified Redundant Control Module, flight controller updates, and testing of the Certifiable Ground Control Station (C-GCS).
The first MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft has been busy, completing more than 75 flights and 400 flight test hours. Last year the aircraft set an endurance record for Predator® series aircraft when it flew for more than 48 consecutive hours. In December it was used to demonstrate Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability using SATCOM only. Then in July, it completed a trans-Atlantic flight that took off from Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA, landing at Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford in Gloucestershire, UK. The flight covered 3,760 nautical mile flight in just over 24 hours. The RAF is acquiring MQ-9B SkyGuardian as part of its PROTECTOR RG Mk1 program. MQ-9B is the latest evolution of GA-ASI’s multi-mission Predator® B fleet. GA-ASI named its baseline MQ-9B aircraft SkyGuardian, and the maritime surveillance variant SeaGuardian. Its development is the result of a five-year, company-funded effort to deliver a RPA that can meet the stringent airworthiness type-certification requirements of various military and civil authorities, including the UK Military Airworthiness Authority (MAA) and eventually the U.S. FAA.
03 Oct 18. Drone Nerds to Distribute Quantix in North America. Drone Nerds, Inc. the largest UAV distributor in the United States announced its collaboration with AeroVironment, Inc. to become an authorized Quantix Hybrid drone dealer in North America. Founded in 2014, Drone Nerds, Inc. offers the most comprehensive set of services aimed to enable all participants to maximize the value of their drone program, ranging from new consumer users to large scale enterprises looking to roll out comprehensive drone programs.
“Drone Nerds is growing rapidly and expanding its product line with all types of UAV innovations. We support our comprehensive product offering with an array of value-added services that range from drop shipping, custom kitting and packaging, and private labelling on the distribution side. On the enterprise side, we offer fleet management, custom training, pilot program support, and full program rollout services. To all customers, we offer the most experienced and capable repair service team in the industry” said Jeremy Schneiderman, the CEO of Drone Nerds Inc., “Partnering with AeroVironment highlights a significant approach for our development in North America. We firmly believe that our collaboration will help further the adoption of commercial drone technology and deliver numerous benefits to growers and other businesses.”
Quantix, together with the AeroVironment Decision Support System (AV DSS), provides an integrated drone and data analytics ecosystem designed specifically for precision agriculture. With one-touch mission planning and launch command, Quantix eliminates the learning curve for operators and can scout up to 400 acres in just 45 minutes, delivering actionable intelligence for today’s growers. AV DSS is a web-based data analytics platform that seamlessly performs advanced image processing, analytics and historical reporting to guide grower’s decision-making and improve their operational efficiency.
“Working with growers, agronomists, crop consultants and academic researchers, we developed Quantix and AV DSS from the ground up for Precision Agriculture,” said Jeff Rodrian, director, AeroVironment Commercial Information Solutions. “We share with Drone Nerds a commitment to quality, innovation and customer service. We’re excited to partner with Drone Nerds to make it easy for growers nationwide to access the fully integrated Quantix and AV DSS data analytics ecosystem.”
Beginning today, Quantix products including Hybrid drone, control tablet, accessories and subscription to its data analytics platform (AV DSS) will be available through the official website and retail stores of Drone Nerds. The customer services will be provided accordingly. For more information, please visithttp://www.dronenerds.com.
About Drone Nerds, Inc.
Drone Nerds is the largest exclusive drone and accessories distributor in the United Sates. By having the largest staff of drone specialists in the industry, Drone Nerds offers the most comprehensive set of services aimed to enable all participants to maximize the value of their drone program, ranging from new consumer users to large scale enterprises looking to roll out comprehensive drone programs. (Source: UAS VISION)
28 Sep 18. Interior trusts 3D Robotics drones. Could the Pentagon? While the 3DR Solo drone failed to make much of an impact on the commercial market, it might have a second life as a government quadcopter. To say that China dominates the commercial drone market is to vastly overestimate the size of the non-Chinese drone companies. For insurgent groups that want cheap access to aerial photography, this is fine. For professional militaries that want to include cheap drones, without opening themselves up to more cybersecurity vulnerabilities, this poses a major challenge. All of this is what makes the Department of the Interior’s recent purchase of drones from California-based 3D Robotics so intriguing.
The contract is modest: $289,000, for an order that appears to be just 109 quadcopters. That would place the drones at about $2,100 apiece, or about twice what the company initially offered the drones for in 2015. Depending on accessories, it puts the 3DR Solo drone in a similar price point to the higher-end models of DJI’s Phantom 4 quadcopter. As ably documented by Sally French, 3D Robotics has struggled to stay competitive, and most commercial clients have moved on.
A 2018 survey found that DJI alone accounts for 74 percent of the market share, and only two other brands have more share than simply making a drone from spare parts. 3D Robotics is not one of those brands.
But the Pentagon itself has put new obstacles in the way of using Chinese-made drones. In August 2017, the Army ordered an immediate halt to the use of DJI drones, citing cyber vulnerabilities. By May 2018, the Pentagon had extended that ban to include the entire military, and to include all variety of commercial drones. In June, that ban was specifically applied to the InstantEye quadcopters used by the Marine Corps, while the cybersecurity vulnerability review continues.
The cybersecurity needs and risks of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense are hardly identical. But if Interior finds the California-made drones reliable, having another quadcopter producer stateside that designs drones for a government customer could be a win for the Pentagon. The Defense Department would get the advantages of commercial drones without adding unnecessary risk. Even if those drones come in a little less cheaply. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
01 Oct 18. Bell Demonstrates Distributed Propulsion Aircraft. Bell Helicopter demonstrated its unmanned Hybrid Drive Train Research Aircraft (HYDRA) at the first Tech Demo edition of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence in Alma, Quebec, last week. According to the company, HYDRA uses distributed propulsion technology and a circular wing to “sustain wing-borne flight at reduced power consumption, while increasing its speed and range over a traditional multi-rotor aircraft.” The demonstration flight lasted for 40 minutes and ran through automated manoeuvres including takeoff, conversion into wing-borne flight, conversion into hover mode and landing.
Bell hopes the research done with HYDRA will eventually allow the company to develop passenger transports and large unmanned aircraft that use distributed propulsion technology.
“HYDRA has already proved to be a great teacher,” the company said. “Our team has discovered the unexpected stability of a circular wing in flight and certain control laws that allow aircraft stability in VTOL mode, airplane mode, during transition and even in the event of a system failure.”
HYDRA is also being used to study new hybrid propulsion technologies such as electric and fluid dynamic. (Source: UAS VISION/AV Web)
The British Robotics Seed Fund is the first SEIS-qualifying investment fund specialising in UK-based robotics businesses. The focus of the fund is to deliver superior returns to investors by making targeted investments in a mixed basket of the most innovative and disruptive businesses that are exploiting the new generation of robotics technologies in defence and other sector applications.
Automation and robotisation are beginning to drive significant productivity improvements in the global economy heralding a new industrial revolution. The fund allows investors to benefit from this exciting opportunity, whilst also delivering the extremely attractive tax reliefs offered by the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). For many private investors, the amount of specialist knowledge required to assess investments in robotics is not practical and hence investing through a fund structure makes good sense.
The fund appoints expert mentors to work with each investee company to further maximise the chance of success for investors. Further details are available on request.