Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
01 Nov 18. Hybrid VTOL Fixed Wing Aircraft for Shipboard Operations. A hybrid quadrotor (HQ) UAS platform with the ability of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and conversion to fixed wing (FW) flight allows for operations from ships, where launch and recover space is constrained while maintaining the range and endurance of a FW aircraft. The HQ technology eliminates the need for rail launchers and aerial capture technologies such as large nets and wires. With a capability of carrying a 15 lb payload and an endurance of 5 to 15 hours such an HQ UAS would greatly enhance many areas of NOAA research including climate and air quality studies, fishery and mammal surveys, oil spill detection, weather observations, and post severe weather damage assessments.
With funding from the NOAA UAS Program Office, the Atmospheric Chemistry Group at NOAA PMEL has been working toward building this capability within NOAA with the goal of making vertical measurements of aerosol properties from a NOAA ship. In June of 2016, PMEL worked with Latitude Engineering (now L3 Latitude) proving the concept of VTOL-FW launch and recovery of a 20-lb test HQ UAS from the NOAA RV Oscar Elton Sette. With lessons learned from those tests, L3 Latitude is currently in the second phase of a NOAA SBIR to develop an HQ-55 UAS able to fly autonomously from a NOAA ship.
The HQ-55 is being designed with a 15-lb payload capability, 5 to 15-hour flight endurance depending on payload weight, and an altitude ceiling of 14,000 ft. At a total weight of under 55-lbs (including the payload) the HQ-55 will be compliant with FAA Part 107 which allows for the operation of UAS in National Airspace.
In a parallel effort, PMEL is developing an aerosol payload for integration into the HQ-55 with instruments able to measure total particle number concentration, particle number size distribution, aerosol light absorption, solar irradiance and sky radiance, aerosol composition, and meteorological parameters.
The payload is modular in design to allow for quick swapping in and out of the UAS so that multiple payloads, each with different measuring capabilities, can be used during a given observation period. A previous version of the payload was flown in the Arctic (Svalbard, Norway) in 2011 and 2015 to investigate climate impacts of soot pollution. Through that work, the aerosol payload transitioned to Technical Readiness Level 8, system demonstration in an operational environment. First shipboard tests of the HQ-55 with the integrated aerosol payload are planned for Spring 2019 from a NOAA ship. As part of these flights, NOAA AOC pilots will continue training to fly the HQ-55. Through a collaboration between NOAA PMEL, the UAS Program Office, the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, and the SBIR Program Office, the ultimate goal is to provide a VTOL-FW UAS capability within NOAA for use by all line offices through the Aircraft Operations Center. (Source: UAS VISION/NOAA)
01 Nov 18. Wing Installation Phase on Turkish Unmanned Fighter. A privately owned Turkish drone specialist has installed the wings on its unmanned fighter jet currently in development.
Selçuk Bayraktar, the chief technology officer at Baykar Makina, announced the progress on the Uçan Balık/Akıncı program (Flying Fish/Raider in Turkish). Bayraktar shared photos of the Akıncı on social media after the assembly of the aircraft’s wings. “It [the program] is progressing as scheduled,” Bayraktar said. Turkey’s vice president, Fuat Oktay, visited the Baykar Makina production unit to inspect the Akıncı.
Bayraktar believes the platform’s development foreshadows a more advanced version of itself down the road. “We are hoping to have our first unmanned fighter aircraft by 2023. We are also hoping to fly our first unmanned aerial vehicle that can carry up to 1.5 tons of payload for strategic missions in 2019,” Bayraktar said.
Baykar is Turkey’s leading privately owned drone specialist. It has supplied 58 unarmed and armed drones to the Turkish military that are mainly deployed in areas (southeastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq) where the country is fighting Kurdish militants. Fifteen Baykar drones are simultaneously on duty for counterterror missions. The company wants to raise that number to 50. Baykar’s TB-2, a drone that comes in both armed and unarmed versions, is mainly deployed in Turkey’s southeast to combat Kurdish militants. The armed version uses the MAM-L and MAM-C, two miniature smart munitions developed and produced by state-controlled missile-maker Roketsan. Industry sources say Turkey’s industry also is developing BSI-101, a signals intelligence system, for the TB-2 to end the country’s dependence on American-made SIGINT systems for drones.
The TB-2 can fly at a maximum altitude of 24,000 feet for up to 30 hours. Its communications range is 150 kilometers. The aircraft can carry up to 55 kilograms of payload.
“We (the world) are decades away from fully unmanned fighter aircraft. But for countries like Turkey that fight asymmetrical warfare, the gear built between full unmanned fighters and today’s armed drones will be crucial,” a senior defense procurement official said. (Source: UAS VISION/Defense News)
01 Nov 18. German Triton Programme Renamed Pegasus. The German Air Force’s plans to field the Northrop Grumman RQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle is proceeding to plan with a procurement contract expected to be signed late next year, a senior service official said on 24 October.
Speaking at the SMi Airborne ISR conference in London, Lieutenant Colonel Roland Runge, Deputy Commander Tactical Air Wing 51, said the Luftwaffe’s latest effort to field an unmanned signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability is on track for a contract in late 2019 ahead of a planned entry-into-service in the mid-2020s. “Following the cancellation of the Euro Hawk programme in 2013, the Triton was chosen as the next airborne SIGINT platform. A contract signing is expected next year, and things are looking pretty positive right now,” Lt Col Runge said.
Germany’s procurement of the Triton system was approved by the US government in April. The sale, which is valued at USD2.5bn, covers four Triton UAVs that have been modified to an undisclosed German configuration, as well as one mission-control station (MCS) comprising one main operating base (MD-3A) and one forward operating base (MD-3B). Other equipment and support is also provided.
Formerly known as Broad-Area Maritime Surveillance-Demonstrator (BAMS-D), the US Navy’s Triton programme is a HALE platform based on the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aircraft system (UAS). As noted by Lt Col Runge, the Luftwaffe is to rename its Triton platforms Pegasus, which stands for Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System.
The Triton was one of the main programmes featured in the inaugural Air Capability Strategy Paper that was released by the German Department of Defence in January 2016. Other unmanned programmes included the Airbus-IAI Heron TP and the European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) remotely piloted air system (RPAS) being developed by Airbus, Dassault, and Leonardo. (Source: UAS VISION/Jane’s 360)
01 Nov 18. Netherlands explores Reaper co-operation with Italy. Dutch Secretary of State for Defence Barbara Visser visited the Italian airbase of Amendola on 29 October to explore possibilities for co-operation on the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system operated by Italy and being acquired by the Netherlands. Visser said she discussed with Italian officials the possibility of co-operating on certification and integration of the Reaper into civilian airspace, as well as training. Italy wants to investigate the possibility of Dutch Reapers conducting training in Italian airspace, according to Visser. She described Italy as “an ideal interlocutor [for] exchanging experience, both on best practices and lessons learned”. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
01 Nov 18. Korea Aerospace Industries Develops VTOL UAV. Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has launched an internally funded programme to develop an indigenous multirole vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to meet a future Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) requirement, with flight trials expected to commence in 2019. KAI officials told Jane’s that the Night Intruder 600 VT is the company’s first attempt at developing a VTOL UAV. The prototype air vehicle has an overall length of 9 m, width of 2 m, height of 2.5 m, and a planned maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 600 kg. However, its MTOW could be extended to more than 750 kg when the programme matures.
“Development of the Night Intruder 600 VT commenced in 2017 and we have based it on a commercially available two-seat helicopter for logistical and maintenance efficiencies,” said Kwak Kyoung Ryoung, deputy senior manager at KAI’s UAV Business and Program Management Team.
“Using the latest lightweight helicopter platforms eliminates concern about parts obsolescence or discontinuity, and is much more cost effective than developing a bespoke airframe,” Kwak added.
He declined to disclose details of the air vehicle’s propulsion system, although he noted that engineers are aiming for a 6-hour endurance with a full-mission loadout.
The air vehicle is typically equipped with a chin-mounted stabilised electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) turret with high-definition daylight and thermal cameras, although a laser rangefinder or designator can be incorporated to provide targeting support to forward deployed RoKA ground elements. Other mission payloads being planned include a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system. As the Night Intruder 600 VT is expected to operate in a contested environment, KAI has incorporated patented GPS anti-jamming capabilities to reduce its susceptibility against interference and intentional jamming. It will also be equipped with a redundant flight control and communications system, with the initial approach employing combined C-band satellite communications (satcom) – which operates at lower frequencies and therefore offers improved performance under adverse weather conditions than the Ku-band or Ka-band frequencies – and ultra-high frequency radio for assured control. (Source: UAS VISION/Jane’s 360)
30 Oct 18. Algeria unveils Chinese UAVs. The Algerian Ministry of National Defence (MDN) revealed that it has acquired two types of Chinese-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in its coverage of a visit by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaïd Salah to Ain Ouessara Air Base in the 1st Military Region on 30 October. The footage released to Algerian television showed Lt Gen Salah inspecting CASC CH-4 and smaller CH-3 UAVs in a hangar as well as shots of them taking off and in flight. Neither type were seen armed, but the CH-4 was fitted with hardpoints for weapons. Murals on the hangar’s walls showed both types carrying weapons, as well as a Denel Seeker, the only type of UAV previously known to be in Algerian service. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Oct 18. iXblue positions DriX USV for military applications. French navigation, positioning, and imaging systems specialist iXblue is offering its DriX unmanned surface vessel (USV) for military applications. Launched to the civilian market in 2017, DriX is a composite-formed/Kevlar-reinforced autonomous surface vessel utilising a hydrodynamically efficient hull shape. The 7.7m sea vehicle is equipped with a 37.5hp diesel engine that enables it to attain speeds of up to 14kt, and has a stated endurance of up to 10 days. A sensor payload gondola, submerged 2m below the surface, is designed to provide a stable, low noise environment for data capture. The system’s open architecture allows for the integration of a wide range of military sensor payloads: options include an ultra-short baseline acoustic positioner, a multibeam echo sounder, a lightweight towed array sonar, an active source, a side scan sonar, a sub bottom profiler, an acoustic Doppler current profiler, a LIDAR, and cameras/optical sensors. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Oct 18. New Russian owl drone will hunt tanks in northern warfare. Without needing to accommodate a human on board, drones are bound only by the laws of aerodynamics. That means shapes familiar and strange, from palm-sized rafts that resemble miniature helicopters to tube-launched boxes with wings that transition into fixed-wing vehicles in flight. One exciting frontier for drone body shape is biomimicry, masking the outward appearance of the robot by giving it a form that resembles an animal. Consider, if you will, a Russian drone, built to resemble an owl. This owl-shaped drone comes from the Zhukovsky/Gagarin Air Force Academy. It’s not the first such bird-imitating drone from the Academy, which also made a falcon-shaped drone. For greater realism, that falcon drone can play prerecorded falcon sounds. (Beyond Russia, there’s a rich field of drones that look like birds, used for everything from advertising sunscreen to scaring birds away from airports and even spy drones for other militaries.)
“What’s interesting is that Russian designers are thinking creatively about UAV applications,” says Samuel Bendett, a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses. “Biomimicry allows UAVs to operate in areas where a ‘regular’-looking UAV would have been sighted and eliminated.”
As advertised, this Russian owl-drone uses an electric motor for quiet flight and carries a laser targeter to illuminate targets. The intended function of the owl drone is to track tanks, vehicles and other heavy equipment, spotting and then directing fire under the cover of its animal shape. Designed for use in the northern reaches of Russia, the drone is made to resemble a Snowy Owl, or possibly a Ural Owl, though neither has a face quite as cartoonish as this robot.
“In Russia’s part of Eurasia where hunting birds like owls, falcons and eagles are very common, a UAV that looks like a bird can become an invaluable ISR asset — it can basically ‘hide’ in plain sight,” says Bendett. “It’s logical that more designs like that may follow, until Russian MOD settles on those it thinks are best suited for various military missions.”
It’s also worth noting that the materials for a pretty-good bird-like airframe are relatively cheap. Drones that propel themselves through the air by flapping are doable, but tricky and complicated. Making a bird-shaped body out of foam and then putting sensors and an electrical engine inside it is much easier, and with birds that glide long distances, likely effective enough at the range where the drone intends to operate. While the advent of small drones means that radar systems and other sensors are better at distinguishing drones from birds, most of those counter systems have short detection ranges. If the owl drone’s sensors can operate beyond that, the only easy way to detect it will be an eagle-eyed observer on the ground. Or an actual eagle. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
30 Oct 18. Alpha 800 at NATO Live Field Exercise in Norway. The gasoline-powered Alpha 800, will be presented by Alpha Unmanned Systems at NATO’s Exercise Trident Juncture in Trondheim, Norway. The live field exercise Trident Juncture 18 started on 25th October 2018 and is taking place in all three domains – air, land and sea, in central and eastern Norway; the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the Swedish and Finnish airspaces and will continue till 7th November 2018 involving around 50,000 participants from NATO’s 29 member states plus Sweden and Finland. The overall objective of the exercise is to ensure that NATO forces are trained, to test the ability personnel from NATO Allies and partner countries to operate together and their readiness to respond to any threat from any direction so that to defend the populations and territories and deter potential adversaries. Around 250 aircraft, 65 vessels (including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman) and up to 10,000 are involved. The Alpha 800 will be involved in the enhanced logistical base demonstration as part of work to showcase future military logistics capabilities. The Alpha 800 is a tactical 14kg gasoline powered helicopter that provides 2.5 hours of continuous flight with a 3kg payload and 30km of operating range. It is equipped with a light and strong airframe and a military-grade autopilot with high precision GPS and sensors. It is “the unmanned helicopter that does the hard work” and “simply the best in its class” as reported by Alpha Unmanned Systems. It is designed for a multitude of monitoring tasks and it is the most reliable and durable unmanned helicopter for that purpose. The Alpha 800 does much of the same work as a manned helicopter but with far lower maintenance requirements and overall costs. It utilizes a UAV platform that flies in fully autonomous and/or manual mode, or both. (Source: UAS VISION/Bulgarianmilitary.com)
30 Oct 18. Sky Guys Partner with DataWing Global to Enter US Market. The Sky Guys, a Canadian unmanned aerial system (UAS) solutions provider, announced that they have partnered with DataWing Global to provide turnkey aerial data solutions to their respective clients across a wide range of sectors within the North American market. DataWing Global is a leading U.S. aerial intelligence firm with over 100 years of combined leadership experience in oil and gas, insurance, aviation, business management, analysis, and emergency response operations.
“Aerial data can help businesses save a lot of time and money,” commented Adam Sax, President & CEO of The Sky Guys. Sax noted the UAS industry is in the early phases of consolidation, and that “This partnership allows The Sky Guys and DataWing Global to share expertise and provide more compelling value proposition in an evolving marketplace. We are constantly looking for innovative solutions with clients in mind.”
This partnership allows both companies to expand their offerings to meet the rapidly evolving and increasingly sophisticated needs of enterprise customers. The Sky Guys and DataWing Global are positioned to provide cutting-edge UAS solutions to a broader market base, including customers in Energy, Insurance, Government, and Construction.
Our respective companies have seen tremendous growth and success over the past few years. We want to share and leverage our expertise, which is why we’ve partnered with DataWing. The time is now to solidify our position as a global leader in turnkey aerial intelligence solutions.
ADAM SAX, PRESIDENT & CEO
The Sky Guys offer turnkey solutions to enterprise customers through precise operations and advanced technology, including AI-based analytics and their landmark project the DX-3 Vanguard, capable of flying for 24hrs and up to 1500km in range.
Founded by ex-Air Force pilots, DataWing Global has extensive operational capabilities in over 30 U.S. States across a fleet of 500+ UAS pilots and Cessna’s, on top of powerful analytics, reporting, and consulting services.
“This has been a tremendous year for drone technology adoption in many industries,” stated Steven Fargo, CEO of DataWing Global. “Whether companies choose to insource or outsource, DataWing has helped them prepare for long-term success. Working alongside the Sky Guys will allow us to leverage both company’s experience to reach further into market verticals and offer additional value to forward-thinking clients. Our respective companies have seen tremendous growth and success over the past few years. We want to share and leverage our expertise, which is why we’ve partnered with DataWing. The time is now to solidify our position as a global leader in turnkey aerial intelligence solutions,” concluded Sax. (Source: UAS VISION)
29 Oct 18. U.S. Army Pilots Fly Autonomous Sikorsky Helicopter in First-of-its-Kind Demonstration. U.S. Army pilots exercised supervised autonomy to direct an optionally-piloted helicopter (OPV) through a series of missions to demonstrate technology developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (NYSE: LMT) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The series of flights marked the first time that non-Sikorsky pilots operated the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), a modified S-76B commercial helicopter, as an OPV aircraft.
“Future vertical lift aircraft will require robust autonomous and optimally-piloted systems to complete missions and improve safety,” said Chris Van Buiten, vice president, Sikorsky Innovations. “We could not be more thrilled to welcome Army aviators to the cockpit to experience first-hand the reliability of optimally-piloted technology developed by the innovative engineers at Sikorsky and DARPA. These aviators experienced the same technology that we are installing and testing on a Black Hawk that will take its first flight over the next several months.”
SARA, which has more than 300 hours of autonomous flight, successfully demonstrated the advanced capabilities developed as part of the third phase of DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program. The aircraft was operated at different times by pilots on board and pilots on the ground. Sikorsky’s MATRIX™ Technology autonomous software and hardware, which is installed on SARA, executed various scenarios including:
- Automated Take Off and Landing: The helicopter autonomously executed take-off, traveled to its destination, and autonomously landed
- Obstacle Avoidance: The helicopter’s LIDAR and cameras enabled it to detect and avoid unknown objects such as wires, towers and moving vehicles
- Automatic Landing Zone Selection: The helicopter’s LIDAR sensors determined a safe landing zone
- Contour Flight: The helicopter flew low to the ground and behind trees
The recent Mission Software Flight Demonstration was a collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Aviation Development Directorate, Sikorsky and DARPA. The Army and DARPA are working with Sikorsky to improve and expand ALIAS capabilities developed as a tailorable autonomy kit for installation in both fixed wing airplanes and helicopters.
Over the next few months, Sikorsky will for the first time fly a Black Hawk equipped with ALIAS. The company is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify ALIAS/MATRIX technology so that it will be available on current and future commercial and military aircraft.
“We’re demonstrating a certifiable autonomy solution that is going to drastically change the way pilots fly,” said Mark Ward, Sikorsky Chief Pilot, Stratford, Conn. Flight Test Center. “We’re confident that MATRIX Technology will allow pilots to focus on their missions. This technology will ultimately decrease instances of the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT).”
Through the DARPA ALIAS program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot directed autonomy that will give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program will improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.
29 Oct 18. China’s AVIC trials Venus solar-electric UAV. The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has successfully conducted the maiden flight of a 20 m wingspan technology demonstrator of the Qi Mingxing (Venus) solar-electric long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the company announced on its Wechat social media account on 26 October. Although AVIC did not disclose details of the date and location of the trial, it claimed that the Venus UAV technology demonstrator – which is being developed by its First Aircraft Institute division – was flown at a cruising altitude that exceeded 20,000m (65,616ft).
“Through the development and first flight of the large-size technology demonstrator, we have further mastered the key design, manufacturing, testing, and flight technologies of large-scale solar-powered UAVs,” the company stated. “Complete scientific design, calculation, and test methods have been established as a result of this trial,” it added. “A large amount of engineering design experience and flight data has been obtained, [laying] a solid foundation for the subsequent development of full-sized UAVs.”
AVIC also revealed that it constructed a 10 m wingspan Venus UAV prototype in 2016, putting it through two years of flight testing to validate its airframe design, structural strength, and aerodynamic performance, as well as electrical power generation and management characteristics. In September 2018, the 10 m prototype performed an autonomous technical flight demonstration that lasted for approximately five hours.
Jane’s previously reported that carbon fibre and composites manufacturer Jiangsu Hengshen was contracted by AVIC to supply a composite structure with all-weather flight capability for the 20 m Venus technology demonstrator, with the main wing structure reportedly featuring a chord length of 1.1m and a weight of 18.9kg. The technology demonstrator is understood to have entered production at the end of 2017 and completed in July 2018. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Oct 18. Australian Navy commissions Xperimental squadron. The Royal Australian Navy has officially commissioned its developmental 822X Squadron, which will help the branch to bring key unmanned aircraft systems into operation. The Naval Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit (NUASU) was formally transitioned to 822X Squadron, making it the fourth operational squadron in the RAN Fleet Air Arm.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, said this was a significant moment for the Navy and the Fleet Air Arm. “Autonomous systems are becoming increasingly important, with unmanned systems soon being deployed to every operational theatre, and 822X Squadron will realise the full potential these technologies present,” VADM Noonan said.
The squadron will operate the Insitu ScanEagle, a small, long-endurance, low-altitude aircraft and the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter, which can carry payloads such as electro-optics and infrared sensors.
Commanding Officer 822X Squadron, Commander Michael Rainey, said the squadron has a big job ahead of it. “We will be working with Fleet and Australian Defence Force units to use this technology to enhance our unmanned aircraft systems capability,” CMDR Rainey said. (Source: Defence Connect)
26 Oct 18. US Army Funds Kent State Drone Propulsion Research. A grant from the Army Research Laboratory has a Kent State University researcher flying high. The grant provides more than $130,000 for Blake Stringer, Ph.D., assistant professor of aerospace engineering in Kent State’s College of Aeronautics and Engineering, to study propulsion systems for a new generation of intermediate-sized unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones.
“I would say that unmanned aircraft systems are becoming the disruptive tech of the 21st century in the aerospace and aviation industries,” Dr. Stringer said. “This technology is really changing the way we function as a society. So how do we control them? How do we implement them? How do we use them? How big can they be?”
That last question is exactly the one the Army wants Dr. Stringer to answer. Small consumer-grade quadcopters have been a favorite holiday present in recent years, while companies, like Amazon.com Inc., want to use them for package delivery. The military’s options for moving people and supplies through the air, however, remain limited to airplanes and helicopters. In a collaborative effort with Army Research Laboratory consultants and researchers at the University of Tennessee, Dr. Stringer will assess the feasibility of creating a drone that is sized somewhere in between.
“We’re taking something between zero and 55 pounds, and trying to make it 1,000 pounds,” Dr. Stringer said. “We want to make it so it’s able to drop supplies off or perform some mission.”
Dr. Stringer, who retired after 20 years in the Army, said the drone needs to serve a wide variety of functions.
“Maybe you have soldiers in an urban area clearing a building and they need to be extracted from a top floor on a high-rise building, or you’re looking for something that can send supplies to a more remote area,” he said.
“We’ll put different sized electric motors and different sized rotors on it, and measure things like thrust, speed, thermal efficiency, acceleration, deceleration and vibration data,” he said. “From that, we’ll be able to determine how big is too big before we have to change the way we’re constructing things. When you go to scale these things from this small arrangement to something big, the dynamics of the rotor change.”
He said one of the main challenges for designing such aircraft is meeting the power requirements.
“How do we efficiently produce power that’s not around a gas turbine or a piston engine?” he said. “Is it going to be some kind of hybrid propulsion system? Will you have a fuel cell that feeds into a battery and uses the battery for surge moments? There are a lot of different questions.”
Dr. Stringer said the grant is for a one-year project, but he hopes the research will be successful enough to take the group project to a second phase of support by the Army. (Source: UAS VISION)
26 Oct 18. CABI Cattaneo unveils Deep Shadow swimmer delivery vehicle. Italian naval systems manufacturer CABI Cattaneo unveiled details of its new special forces Deep Shadow swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) at the Euronaval 2018 exhibition in Paris. The vehicle features a modular design and promises operational and payload flexibility to fulfil multiple mission requirements. With an overall length of 9m, a 1.45m beam, and a hull draft of 1.8m, the vehicle can accommodate two pilots and four fully equipped combat divers. An option to carry external pods, which can fit additional mission equipment, is also available. The vehicle features a composite hull with two horizontal (bow and stern) and two vertical integrated-in-the-hull thrusters to increase the platform manoeuvrability. It has an empty weight of six tonnes, is powered by lithium-ion battery packs, and can operate at maximum speeds in excess of 8kt and a range of 46n miles at 5kt. The SDV can undertake a range of special forces operations, including covert projection in littoral environment, surveillance and reconnaissance, counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations, mine countermeasures and maritime protection, and deployment and recovery of remote unmanned devices. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Oct 18. Who needs thumbs? Not these drones. It’s an image maybe just as absurd as swallows carrying coconuts, but a reality infinitely more useful. A pair of small drones with winches and hooks work together to open a door, manipulating an object 40 times their own mass. The technique is novel, inspired by wasps, and suggests new tasks for small military robots in the future. The technology — designed by a team of researchers at Stanford University and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland — looks to the way that small wasps pull large objects across the ground. Like wasps, the drones of the “FlyCroTug” system fly into place, and then land on the ground before pulling. Unlike wasps, the drones are able to clip cords and anchors on door handles, or slide a gripping strip in the gap under a door, release some slack, land on the ground and then start both walking and winching the object in the direction it wants to go. The overall effect is that two small, specially built flying robots are able to work together to clasp onto and then pull open a door.
In a video demonstrating the ability, the door is forgiving: unlocked, with an easily gripped handle. If a group of soldiers or Marines were to carry along door-opening drones, it’s unlikely they could count on the same ease of access, but a similar set of drones could perhaps pull open a door that’s been blasted off its hinges, or with different attachments drag an obstacle out of the way. (Finely maneuvering a key into a lock seems unlikely for now, but stranger things have happened.) What’s really exciting about the FlyCroTug drones, besides the sheer weirdness of a couple hand-sized quadcopters opening a door, is the way it encourages us to think about drones as not just scouts or weapons platforms, but as useful tools. Small bodies that can fly through narrow spaces and then drag larger objects out of the way mean new paths for scouts or even humans. It means that the small robots that squads take into battle in the future can do more than just look ahead. They can lend a hand, or more realistically, a winch and a hook and a surprising amount of gripping power. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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