Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
16 Jan 19. L3 ASV, Dstl complete autonomous recce missions at ‘Autonomous Warrior.’ Autonomous maritime systems house L3 ASV has revealed testing of an experimental unmanned craft fitted out with advanced autonomous navigation as part of the ‘Autonomous Warrior 18’ showcase event in Jervis Bay, Australia. Tested in support of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the 9 m Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed craft, known as MAST-9, was tasked to perform a series of reconnaissance, interdiction, and patrol missions.
Designed and built by L3 ASV, MAST-9 used radar to provide situational awareness, making it possible to detect and avoid other vessels accordingly. The vessel operated in fully autonomous mode, including COLREG-aware collision avoidance, navigating the waterways at speeds of up to 40 kt for over 80 hours, across the two-week event. This aggregated to a distance of 1,380 km covered.
According to L3 ASV, the MAST-9 system completed about 100 tasks commanded from the Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) command-and-control system. MAPLE is a Dstl project designed to demonstrate and de-risk the integration of multiple unmanned systems into future UK Royal Navy combat systems.
“Operational status and payload feedback were communicated to and from MAPLE using ASView, L3 ASV’s proprietary autonomous control system,” said the company, adding, “Using an optical and infrared camera, MAST-9 demonstrated high-speed inspection capability. The ASView control system allowed the remote mission commanders to track and follow target vessels for interdiction tasks.” (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jan 19. HAV receives POA from CAA. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has received Production Organisation Approval (POA) from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, the company announced on 9 January.
The POA follows a Design Organisation Approval (DOA) received from the European Aviation Safety Agency in October 2018
The POA covers the manufacture and assembly aspects of aircraft production including supply chain management, processes relating to manufacture and assembly and the production facility itself. The DOA covers design activities and flight test of aircraft. Both the DOA and the POA are required to move forward into a type certification programme with the Airlander 10. The team at the Airlander Technology Centre production facility is also working to establish rigorous supply chain and quality assurance processes. (Source: Shephard)
15 Jan 19. InstantEye Robotics launches Mk-3 GEN4-D1 sUAS. InstantEye Robotics is set to begin full rate production of its new InstantEye Mk-3 GEN4-D1 small UAS multiple capability system in March 2019, the company has announced. The InstantEye Mk-3 GEN4-D1 is the latest addition to the company’s InstantEye family of UAS. It is an encrypted, all-digital system that captures real-time visible and thermal video as well as still imagery to support standoff reconnaissance of any target set. The system has a payload capacity of over 3lbs and has been designed to provide near real-time ISR, communications relay, and chemical/radiological detection. The Mk3 systems use a tablet computer with two hand controller and can be operated in all weather and locations. The tablet allows operators to programme missions and capture and review still imagery in flight. The InstantEye Mk-3 GEN4-D1 is currently being delivered in low rate initial production. (Source: Shephard)
16 Jan 19. UUV Aquabotix Ltd (ASX:UUV) (“Aquabotix” or the “Company”) today announces that it has received approval to conduct all three demonstrations proposed by the company for the United States Navy’s Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (“ANTX”) events scheduled for the summer of 2019. ANTX is a recurring annual event that enables the U.S. Navy to identify science, technologies, and future concepts for the maritime domain. This event provides the opportunity for the U.S. Navy and industry to come together to test cutting edge autonomous systems and their related technologies. These demonstrations will showcase the capabilities of Aquabotix’s SwarmDiver™ as well as a new vehicle system currently in development, fitting the theme “Prepare for Battle: Undersea Security”. Among other things, Aquabotix will demonstrate its products’ ability to enhance a user’s understanding of their operational environment in the very challenging shallow water and surf zones.
Whitney Million, Aquabotix’s Chief Executive Officer, commented “Aquabotix is pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate to the U.S. Navy both the enhanced capabilities of its SwarmDiver vehicle systems and Aquabotix’s new technology offering. The Navy is selective in choosing participants for the event, and we are honored that the Navy has accepted multiple demonstration proposals by Aquabotix. We anticipate that the event will further cement Aquabotix’s place as a leader in the emerging ‘micro marine vehicle’ defence market.”
15 Jan 19. Brazil to resume operations with Heron 1 UAVs. The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) and Federal Police will jointly operate the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron 1 medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), it was announced by the Brazilian Official Gazette on 8 January. The agreement was tabled on 27 December 2018 and will run through to 31 December 2019, although this could be extended. Two Heron 1s were received from IAI in 2010 but were under-utilised due to budget constraints and other issues. Operations with the UAVs reportedly stopped in 2016. With more regular operation of the Heron 1s, Brazil will significantly increase the ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions over its land borders, principally those in the Amazonian region. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Jan 19. Russian Navy to Put Over 30 Poseidon Strategic Underwater Drones on Combat Duty – Source. The Russian Navy plans to place more than 30 Poseidon strategic nuclear-capable underwater drones on combat duty, a source in the domestic defense industry told TASS on Saturday.
“Two Poseidon-carrying submarines are expected to enter service with the Northern Fleet and the other two will join the Pacific Fleet. Each of the submarines will carry a maximum of eight drones and, therefore, the total number of Poseidons on combat duty may reach 32 vehicles,” the source said.
The special-purpose nuclear-powered submarine Khabarovsk currently being built at the Sevmash Shipyard will become one of the organic carriers of the Poseidon nuclear-capable underwater drone. Also, special-purpose submarines and Project 949A nuclear-powered underwater cruisers operational in the Russian Navy may be used as the carriers “after their appropriate upgrade,” the source noted. TASS has no official confirmation of this information. In his state-of-the-nation address to both houses of Russia’s parliament on March 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned for the first time the country’s efforts to develop a nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle that can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads and is capable of destroying enemy infrastructural facilities, aircraft carrier groups and other targets.
Poseidon drones together with their carriers – nuclear-powered submarines – make part of the so-called oceanic multipurpose system. The drone got its name following the results of open voting on the website of Russia’s Defense Ministry.
A source in the defense industry earlier told TASS that the Poseidon drone being developed in Russia would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a yield of up to 2 megatonnes to destroy enemy naval bases. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/TASS)
09 Jan 19. UK government launches satellite-based UTM research programme. A new UK Department for Transport (DfT) UTM research and development project led by the government backed Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) organisation has been launched to research how the UK’s strategic commercial satellite industry development plans can be aligned with future UTM concepts. The project will explore a future UTM framework that could help to enable future service providers, operators, manned aviation stakeholders and regulators to participate in the intelligent control of airspace. Recent research by PwC suggests that the drone industry will be worth £42bn to the UK by 2030 with over 76,000 drones in use, with a third by public sector. However, the TSC recognise that the window of opportunity is small and urgent action needs to be taken to develop safe, regulated environments in which drones can operate. This will allow businesses wishing to operate in the sector to push forward with new products and service offerings.
The TSC will work alongside Altitude Angel, ANRA Technologies, Cranfield University, NATS, Satellite Applications Catapult and Thales UK and to develop the requirements and validation methods for a UTM framework. The outputs from the project will be made public via a white paper.
Speaking about the project Mark Westwood, Chief Technology Officer, the Transport Systems Catapult, said:
“There is industry-wide consensus that drone technology will be impactful, disrupting the remote sensing, infrastructure inspection, surveillance, emergency response, and transport and logistics sectors over the next decade. To enable the UK to maintain a pre-eminent position in this space, there is a need for a focused initiative to generate a safe operating environment with reduced barriers-to-entry. We are bringing together leading industry companies and experts to make this happen, opening the door for the emerging drone industry in the UK to flourish”
Paul Febvre, the Chief Technology Officer, Satellite Applications Catapult said, “Satellites are already used for the reliable positioning and communication to provide safe Air Transport Management systems on a global scale. We anticipate that the emergence of drones brings both challenges and tremendous opportunities, with integration of advanced terrestrial and satellite systems required to support the revolution in air-space operations.”
The TSC will be organising “Drones: Solutions and Opportunities for the UK Transport Industry,” on the 6th March in Milton Keynes.
Founded in 2013 as part of the wider Catapult programme – a government-supported network of elite technology and innovation centres, each with their own specific sector focus – the Transport Systems Catapult remit is to transform the UK’s capability for innovation within the transport sector and to help drive future economic growth. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
14 Jan 19. University of Tampere and VTT to lead robotisation of SMEs with a total funding of EUR 32m. Within the next few years, robotics to enable agile production will be developed in Tampere, Finland in two projects under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme with a combined budget of EUR32m. The projects are coordinated by the University of Tampere and VTT, respectively.
The TRINITY project coordinated by the University of Tampere and the DIH2coordinated by VTT help SMEs in robotisation by providing them with new technical and standardised solutions, tailored training and access to Europe-wide competence networks. The projects enable digitisation of SMEs by means of cost-efficient robotics solutions for short production runs.
The electronics industry, automotive industry and other long-run production have been benefitting the most from robotics for a long time. In smaller companies, robotisation has not become as common at a similar pace. They often consider traditional industrial robotics too inflexible and difficult to apply to short-run production. Behind such thinking lie the outdated conceptions of the performance of robotics and its adaptability to changes in production. Recently, the willingness to make investments has also been affected by the lack of competent employees.
“The goal is to keep the European SMEs at the forefront of global competition by bringing each one in the circle of digital revolution. This will fast track to more production and jobs in Europe”, says Ali Muhammad, who acts as coordinator of the DIH2 project at VTT.
“Flexible and efficiently used robotics is one of the methods by which Europe will be able to keep the manufacture and, consequently, the jobs on the continent,” emphasises Minna Lanz, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Tampere and coordinator of the project.
Both projects last four years and offer R&D funding for application trials of individual companies. A total of EUR 16m of funding will be channelled through projects based on open application.
TRINITY: human-robot collaboration in the manufacturing industry
In collaboration with the project consortium, the TRINITY project will present almost 20 advanced manufacturing applications for the needs of SMEs. The demonstrations take advantage of the latest technologies in robotics, industrial internet and data security. Public demonstrations will function as examples of the opportunities offered by modern robotics, and they can be developed further, adapting them to the needs of any interested companies.
In the project, the University of Tampere will focus on human-robot collaboration in the manufacturing industry. In the future, human-robot collaboration will be needed particularly in the manufacturing of short-run products of high quality.
The TRINITY project involves 16 partners around Europe. The partners comprise universities, research institutes, businesses and networks within the sector. In addition to the coordinator, In Finland the TRINITY consortium also includes Fastems from Tampere and CENTRIA University of Applied Sciences from Ylivieska.
Agile production network DIH2
The DIH2project is a pan-European network of agile production and robotics. It represents 26 European digital innovation hubs and aims at reaching more than 300,000 manufacturing industry SMEs. For companies, the DIH2consortium offers expertise and support for agile production challenges, including technologies, investments, standardisation, know-how and competences, as well as ethics, data and cyber security.
The DIH2consortium comprises 37 partners, 28 countries, including 26 innovation centres, and 10 companies providing operative expertise. 10 global business sponsors have pledged their support for the project.
11 Jan 19. Thailand to Purchase RTAF U-1 UAS for its Royal Navy. The Royal Thai Navy has announced its desire to purchase the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) U-1 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), produced by RV Connex Company Ltd (RV Connex). It has been decided, following a selection, that the Royal Thai Navy would acquire the RTAF U-1 UAS as its new Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV). It is to develop a long-term maritime surveillance project for a total amount of $US 3.350, which will support Thai defense industry. Thai government had already purchased the supply of 16 unmanned aerial systems RTAF U-1 with ground control station systems, in 2017. This UAV type was based on the Sky Scout tactical UAS, also created by RV Connex. (Source: UAS VISION/Navy Recognition)
11 Jan 19. More Extended Range Reapers Deploy to Anti-ISIS Fight. A key base in the fight against ISIS got more range as the Air Force brought in extended-range MQ-9 Reapers to replace older remotely piloted aircraft. The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing last month received two of the MQ-9 Block 1 Reapers with the extended-range package.
The full transition is expected to last through March 2019. The new Reapers, with additional fuel tanks, a four-blade propeller, and other upgrades, increase the aircraft’s flight time by 33 percent, according to an Air Forces Central Command release. The aircraft arrived in crates, unlike other recent transitions in the Middle East.
Last year, MQ-9s from Al Udeid AB, Qatar, flew directly to Afghanistan instead of being boxed up and flown over in C-17s. Extended range Reapers have been flying in Afghanistan since late 2015. (Source: UAS VISION/Air Force Magazine)
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.