Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
25 Apr 19. AeroVironment Announces Initial Milestone in Solar HAPS Program – Assembly of First HAWK30 Solar HAPS.
- Developed for high-altitude, long-endurance operation, HAWK30 is designed to deliver telecommunications network and other types of connectivity from the sky to the ground
- HAPSMobile Inc., a joint venture between AeroVironment and SoftBank Corp., recently increased the ceiling value of its Design Development Agreement with AeroVironment to $126m
- AeroVironment participated in a joint press conference with SoftBank Corp. in Tokyo today at 11:30 am JST
AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) for both defense and commercial applications, today announced the achievement of a significant solar HAPS project milestone, the assembly of the first HAWK30 solar HAPS for its HAPSMobile joint venture with SoftBank Corp. HAPS stands for High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite or High-Altitude Platform Station.
“AeroVironment recently rolled-out the first HAWK30 for our HAPSMobile joint venture, initiating a new phase of our design, development and demonstration program and the promise of a new era for global connectivity,” said Wahid Nawabi, AeroVironment president and chief executive officer. “The result of decades of experience developing and flying solar HAPS, our team designed, developed and assembled the entire HAWK30 in only 24 months. This is very rapid for a HAPS of such large size and significant payload capacity.”
Developed and assembled in AeroVironment’s HAPS Innovation Center, the HAWK30 has a wingspan of approximately 260 feet and is propelled by 10 electric motors powered by solar panels covering the surface of the wing, resulting in zero emissions. Flying at an altitude of approximately 65,000 feet above sea level and above the clouds, the HAWK30 is designed for continuous, extended missions of up to months without landing. HAPSMobile recently increased the ceiling value of the Design Development Agreement with AeroVironment by $39m, to a total of $126m.
“We are making great progress on this program and look forward to sharing future achievements with our shareholders and potential customers. We are excited to debut our next generation HAPS as we advance this strategically important project for HAPSMobile and for AeroVironment,” added Nawabi.
23 Apr 19. Revolutionary Phoenix aircraft can stay in the sky indefinitely, engineers say. Experts have created a new type of aircraft that can stay in the air indefinitely by varying its buoyancy.
Phoenix, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), has been designed to repeatedly transition from being lighter than air to heavier than air.
This generates thrust to propel the craft forward. The development of the aircraft was lead by the University of the Highlands and Islands, with the team made up of representatives from academia and industry.
Phoenix, which is 49ft (15m) long and has a 34ft (10.5m) wingspan, was flown successfully and repeatedly over a distance of 120m (394ft) during indoor trials at the Drystack facility in Portsmouth in March. The test flight was the culmination of a three-year project to prove the viability of a variable-buoyancy powered aircraft. Andrew Rae, professor of engineering at the university, led the design of the UAV.
He said that vehicles based on its technology could be used as pseudo-satellites which would “provide a much cheaper option for telecommunication activities”.
Pseudo-satellites are high-altitude aircraft that operate in the stratosphere and can be used for various different purposes such as communications, monitoring, surveillance, and environmental observation.
Mr Rae said: “The Phoenix spends half its time as a heavier-than-air aeroplane, the other as a lighter-than-air balloon.
“The repeated transition between these states provides the sole source of propulsion.
“The vehicle’s fuselage contains helium to allow it to ascend and also contains an air bag which inhales and compresses air to enable the craft to descend.
“This motion propels the aeroplane forwards and is assisted by the release of the compressed air through a rear vent.”
Mr Rae continued: “Current equivalent aeroplanes are very complex and very expensive. By contrast, Phoenix is almost expendable and so provides a user with previously unavailable options.”
The design of the Phoenix allows it to be completely self-sufficient.
Energy needed to power its pumps and valves is provided by a battery which is charged by lightweight flexible solar cells on its wings and tail. The Phoenix team is now exploring collaborations with major manufacturers to take the technology to the next phase of development.
The project has been part-funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, through the Aerospace Technology Institute. (Source: News Now/Sky News)
23 Apr 19. New Swiss Search and Rescue Drone. At its Annual Media Conference, Rega presented a new type of aircraft for searching for missing persons: the newly developed Rega drone can autonomously scan large search areas and is equipped with various sensors, such as a thermal camera. As a result, in future, Rega will have at its disposal an additional device to help it search for people in distress.
Over the last year and a half, Rega has been working on its own drone project. In future, the Rega drone is to be deployed on missions to search for missing, injured or ill persons to supplement the conventional resources – for example, if the helicopter has to remain on the ground due to poor visibility. Such missions are performed in close collaboration with other rescue partners, in particular the police. Further comprehensive test flights are necessary before the drone system can be used in search operations as from 2020.
Valuable expansion of Rega’s scope of operations
“Ever since it was founded, Rega has continually used cutting-edge technology to further improve air rescue and to come to the aid of even more people in distress”, says Rega CEO Ernst Kohler. “I am confident that the Rega drone will expand our scope of operations even further.”
When developing the drone system, Rega was able to draw on its decades of experience in conducting countless search missions. In the last year alone, Rega searched for missing persons from the air on around 160 occasions because there was good reason to believe that a person needed help.
Taking the initiative
“We observed the development of drone technology from an early stage and were always convinced that drones could be of help in particular on search missions,” says Head of Helicopter Operations Sascha Hardegger, who is in charge of the project. However, there is currently no drone system on the market that meets all of Rega’s requirements. In particular, it is not possible to operate a relatively small, lightweight and flexible drone over a distance of several kilometres and for several hours without visual contact with the drone pilot. “As a result, we took the initiative and decided to develop a Rega drone ourselves in collaboration with suitable partners”, says Hardegger.
Rega has spent the last 18 months or so intensively working on its own drone project with the aim of making this additional operational device available for search missions in the very near future.
The drone looks like a mini helicopter
With its three rotor blades and a rotor diameter of just over two metres, the new Rega drone looks like a mini helicopter and in appearance has little in common with commercially available multicopter drones. During a search mission, it flies at an altitude of 80-100 metres above ground level and, using satellite navigation, it scans large search areas precisely and autonomously following a predefined route. It is also able to independently detect and avoid other aircraft or obstacles, such as helicopters and overhead cables. This is possible thanks to anti-collision systems, coupled with countless data stored in the drone’s in-flight computer, such as digital models of the terrain and obstacle databases. The drone is not deployed over densely populated regions or in the vicinity of airports or airfields. In addition, it is equipped with an emergency parachute.
Sensors on board to locate missing persons
Various sensors on board the drone make it possible to locate missing persons from the air. The signals from the infrared and daylight cameras are categorised in real-time on board the drone with the aid of a self-learning algorithm. This software is being developed in collaboration with the ETH Zurich. If, based on the pixel pattern of the images, the algorithm “presumes” to have located a person, the drone immediately relays this information to the operator on the ground. It is also planned to use an integrated mobile phone tracking function to search for injured or ill persons. This allows the Rega drone to locate a mobile phone in an uninhabited area from a distance of several hundred metres and thus most probably also find its owner. The prototype of this device is currently being trialled in collaboration with the police, who are responsible for emergency searches for missing persons. Here particular attention is paid to protecting sensitive data.
The drone as a supplementary aid
“Even if the drone is unmanned and can fly autonomously, it still needs a well-trained drone crew, comprising an operator and a pilot, to coordinate the search with the various rescue teams and to deploy the drone effectively,” Sascha Hardegger explains. “Difficult person searches only have a chance of succeeding if all the rescue teams involved work closely together. In certain cases, the drone will be a useful supplementary aid, but it will never completely replace the Rega helicopter and its crew. If the search for an ill or injured person proves successful, a Rega helicopter or other form of rescue will still be needed to recover the person or fly medical assistance to the site of the incident.” (Source: UAS VISION)
22 Apr 19. Export potential: Turkey’s homemade drones could boost local industry. Several unmanned systems independently designed, developed and produced by Turkey’s industry have in recent years proven their export potential, providing hope for future deals with foreign customers.
Procurement policymakers say two important aspects make indigenous unmanned systems distinct from other military platforms such as helicopters and tanks: Turkish drones do not require foreign export licenses, and they are combat proven.
The Turkish military has used unmanned systems in its fight against Kurdish militants in the country’s southeast and in counterinsurgency operations in neighboring Syria and Iraq, where thousands of Kurdish fighters are holed up in mountainous areas.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeast Turkey since 1984, when it launched a violent war responsible for the death of more than 40,000 people. Turkey, the United States and the European Union have listed the PKK as a terrorist organization.
“Turkish-made drones have proven to be a most useful asset in our anti-terror fight over the past few years,” said a top commander in charge of Turkey’s fight against the PKK. “Their usefulness is beyond our imagination.”
Scores of PKK commanders have been killed in air raids in northern Iraq, assisted by intelligence from Turkish-made drones.
In January, Baykar Makina, a privately owned Turkish drone maker, won a contract to sell a batch of 12 of its Bayraktar TB2 UAVs to Ukraine. The aircraft later passed performance tests there. The deal also involves the sale of ammunition for the armed version of the Bayraktar TB2.
In a 2017 deal, Baykar Makina sold a batch of six TB2s to Qatar. And the company recently launched a naval version of the drone. The Turkish military currently has 75 TB2s in its inventory. The Bayraktar TB2 is a medium-altitude, long-range, tactical UAV system. It was developed by Kale-Baykar, a joint venture of Baykar Makina and the Kale Group. The UAV operates as a platform for conducting reconnaissance and intelligence missions. In 2011, Kale-Baykar won a serial production for the Bayraktar from Turkey’s procurement office. The second phase involving the development and serial production of Bayraktar Block B (TB2) commenced in January 2012. Bayraktar TB2 completed its first flight in April 2014. The first acceptance tests of the UAV were conducted in November 2014, and six UAVs were delivered to the Turkish Land Forces by 2014. A second batch of six indigenous Bayraktar TB2s was handed over to the Turkish Land Forces in June 2015. Bayraktar TB2 features a monocoque design integrating an inverse V-tail structure. The fuselage is made of carbon fiber, Kevlar and hybrid composites, whereas the joint segments constitute precision “computer numerical control” aluminium machined parts. Each Bayraktar TB2 system consists of six aerial vehicles, two ground control stations, three ground data terminals, two remote video terminals and ground support equipment. The drone’s maximum payload exceeds 55 kilograms. The standard payload configuration includes an electro-optical camera module, an infrared camera module, a laser designator, a laser range finder and a laser pointer.
Turkey’s national engine maker, Tusas Engine Industries, recently completed the development phase of a program to build the country’s first drone engine. TEI officials say the PD170 engine was successful in initial tests. TEI has been working on the PD170 since December 2012, when it signed a development contract with Turkey’s procurement authority, then the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, but know known as the Presidency of Defence Industries. The 2.1-liter, turbo-diesel PD170 can produce 170 horsepower at 20,000 feet and 130 horsepower at 30,000 feet. It can generate power at a maximum altitude of 40,000 feet. The PD170 was designed for the Anka, Turkey’s first indigenous medium-altitude, long-endurance drone, built by Turkish Aerospace Industries. In 2017, the Presidency of Defence Industries released a request for information for a drone system with aerial photography capabilities. It also released an RFI for the acquisition of a ship-based vertical-takeoff-and-landing drone.
To support drone programs with subsystems, the Turkish industry has locally produced the BS-101, a signals intellignece system and an automatic takeoff-and-landing system for drones.
Last year, Selçuk Bayraktar, the chief technology officer at Baykar Makina, identified the installation of wings as the latest progress on the Ucan Balik/Akinci” program (“Flying Fish/Raider”), an unmanned fighter in the making.
The Akinci is a combat UAV, but Bayraktar thinks that it could serve as an overture to a more advanced unmanned fighter jet.
“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,” said Bayraktar, the CTO.
The Akinci is the latest version of a family of drones Turkey thinks would perform well in counterinsurgency operations. In June, Turkish officials announced the country signed a contract for the development and production of the 4.5-ton Akinci. The first deliveries are scheduled for 2020.
The Akinci can reach an altitude of 40,000 feet and has a payload capacity of 1,350 kilograms, which it can carry for up to 24 hours. The aircraft is powered by two turboprop engines, each generating 550 horsepower. The engine under development by TEI, maker of the PD170.
“All these indigenous programs promise the emergence of new combat-proven systems in the next years, and without delays,” a government drone specialist with Turkey’s procurement authority said. “That will pave the way for further exports of unmanned systems.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Apr 19. Australia to Purchase 2nd Triton Aircraft. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) welcomes the announcement last month by the Australian Government to purchase a second MQ-4C Triton aircraft. Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper identified the requirement for seven high altitude, long endurance Triton unmanned aircraft. Northrop Grumman will deliver the Triton through a cooperative program with the United States Navy.
“Northrop Grumman is excited to develop this unrivaled capability for the Royal Australian Air Force,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president and program manager, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. “Triton will provide the Australian Defence Force a high-altitude, long-endurance system for intelligence, reconnaissance and broad area surveillance missions to enhance the security of Australia’s borders.”
Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne identified “people smuggling and the exploitation of our natural resources” as threats which Triton’s capabilities can help to address.
Minister for Defence Industry Linda Reynolds identified the opportunities this program will create for Australian industry and said that “there will be significant opportunity for Australian industry to share in billions of dollars of system maintenance and network management functions.”
Northrop Grumman is committed to developing a sovereign defence capability for Australia through industrial partnership and participation, direct investment and technology transfer.
“We are proud of our partnership with the Australian Government and Australian industry, which we exemplified in the recent signing of the Australian Industry Capability Deed with the Minister for Defence Industry at the Avalon Airshow,” said Chris Deeble, country executive, Northrop Grumman Australia. “To date we have partnered with several Australian entities to assist in the production and sustainment of the Triton unmanned aircraft system in Australia. Initiatives like this ensure local companies benefit from the investment in Australia’s security, and we take great pride in contributing to this.” (Source: ASD Network)
22 Apr 19. The US Navy wants new tools for launching robots from torpedo tubes. Every torpedo tube is the portal between the dry storage of some useful payload, and the wet medium through which that payload will travel to its ultimate destination. It is also, and this is the more important bit, a fixed size, which constrains exactly what the Navy can put inside and launch from the tube. A new project by the Office of Naval Research seeks to find a way around that limitation.
Specifically, the Navy is looking for a way to use torpedo tubes to launched Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs. The immediate answer at the heart of a Small Business Innovation Research request is a “UUV Sabot System,” or UUVSS. The ultimate design will be defined by constraints. First, there’s the dimensions of the torpedo tube: 21-inch diameter, 25-feet-long, and ending in an “ocean interface.” The sabot is to be a guide through that passage and transition, separating from the vehicle once the vehicle has left the tube.
The sabots can be either expendable or reusable, which will alter their function in a key way. ONR wants expendable sabots to eject from the torpedo tube alongside the underwater robot, and the reusable ones to remain in the tube through the launch and then be recovered internally. The sabot will have to accommodate sea drones that are 12-inches and 18-inches in diameter, and do so with launches at depths of up to 100 feet below the surface.
There’s more in the full list of project requirements, but what stands out is how this isn’t just a desire brought about by advances in robotics. It’s also a request that’s only possible because of progress in materials sciences. This isn’t just about launching robots from torpedo tubes, it’s also about building miniaturized pumps and inflatable sabots that make robot-launch-by-tube even possible, using new textile technologies and modeling of fluid interactions.
The project fits into a broader plan to find ways for submarines to serve as platforms and motherships for smaller robots. One proposal for a different project looked at ways to modify vertical launch tubes on Virginia-class submarines, converting another port for projectiles into a home for robots. The sabot system would allow torpedo tubes to function similarly, making a human-crewed submarine not just an asset unto itself, but a host for a whole array of maneuvering and scouting machines. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
17 Apr 19. Turkey advances Anka-Aksungur MALE UAV development. Turkish Aerospace is expanding the testing envelope of its internally funded Anka-Aksungur medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) development with the aim of pushing the air vehicle into series production by the first quarter of 2020, company sources told Jane’s.
The company earlier announced that a prototype of the twin-engine air vehicle had successfully performed its maiden flight – which lasted 4 hours 20 minutes – on 20 March. The air vehicle also demonstrated its automatic take-off and landing capabilities, it added.
Jane’s understands that a second test had been conducted on 3 April near Ankara, which had a duration of 3 hours and was aimed at expanding the prototype’s flight testing envelope.
The Anka-Aksungur UAV features a twin-boom airframe design supported by a retractable undercarriage and incorporating forward-mounted PD170 twin-turbocharged engines developed by Tusaş Engine Industries (TEI) with input from General Electric, followed by a set of high-mounted wings with slight dihedral and terminating in vertical stabilisers joined by a horizontal tailplane.
Jane’s earlier reported that the 2.1 litre, water-cooled inline-4 PD170 engine – equipped with three bladed propellers in a tractor configuration – has a dry weight of 170kg and can develop and maintain an output of 120hp at up to 30,000ft (9,144m) and 170hp at up to 20,000ft. TEI expects an engine growth potential of up to 210hp with only minor modifications.
The air vehicle also features an overall length and height of 12 m and 3 m, respectively, with a wingspan of 24 m. Each wing is equipped with an integral fuel tank and can accommodate up to three hardpoints. According to the source, this arrangement provides the air vehicle with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) “in excess” of 3,000 kg and a payload capacity of 750kg. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Apr 19. UK safety watchdog highlights Watchkeeper UAV shortfalls.
- The British Army is still having issues operating its Watchkeepers, despite the UAVs having received their ‘release to service’ certification
- Three Watchkeeper UAVs have crashed in recent years while on UK-based training sorties
UK safety investigators have identified significant technical problems with the British Army’s Thales Watchkeeper tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Shortfalls in the UAVs’ flight-control system and cold weather operations capability were revealed in two reports by the UK’s Defence Safety Authority (DSA) into two Watchkeeper crashes in 2017.
Lieutenant General Richard Felton, former director general of the Defence Safety Authority, criticised Thales, the manufacturer of the Watchkeeper, and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for “not fully understanding how the Watchkeeper works, not making the most of simulation or the exploitation of data, and providing a disproportionate level of complexity to those who fly Watchkeeper”.
The two service inquiry reports, focusing on accidents on 3 February and 24 March 2017 by Watchkeepers flying from West Wales Airport at Aberporth, were released on 11 April. The cause of the first crash was determined to be icing in the UAV’s pitot head that eventually confused its flight-control systems, resulting in it stalling. The next crash was believed to be caused by a computer failure in the Watchkeeper’s flight-control system that meant a back-up component was not working.
A service inquiry into another crash on 13 June 2017 is expected to be published soon, but Lt Gen Felton said there were common themes in all three incidents as each resulted in a Watchkeeper air vehicle being lost beyond repair. The reports recommend more than 50 modifications to the Watchkeeper system, improvements in operational processes, and changes to flight procedures. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Apr 19. US Marines to Retrofit Kaman K-Max Helicopters. The US Marine Corps (USMC) plans to retrofit its two Kaman K-Max helicopters with additional autonomous capabilities to further cargo delivery experimentation with the aircraft. The USMC’s first experiment with the K-Max was in Afghanistan in 2011, where the helicopter completed the service’s first unmanned air vehicle (UAV) cargo delivery in a combat zone. After the initial trial run proved successful, the helicopters flew for three years and delivered 2 million kilogrammes (4.5 million pounds) of cargo. In 2016, the helicopters were transferred to MCAS Yuma in Arizona for further experiments. Now, the service plans to further enhance the helicopters with additional unnamed autonomous capabilities, said USMC Lieutenant General Steven R. Rudder, Deputy Commandant for aviation, during a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on 10 April.
“We are trucking them back to Connecticut to get them flying again and having them retrofitted with the systems that will make them autonomous,” he says. “We hope to get them back next year. And that will allow us to go back and experiment more with autonomous systems.”
In response to a question about how the USMC plans to operate with fewer personnel in light of persistent pilot shortages, Rudder highlighted the K-Max autonomy research project, as well as the service’s Marine Air Ground Task Force – Unmanned Expeditionary Capabilities (MUX) programme.
“Sometimes there is nothing unmanned about unmanned [air vehicles]. Some of our more precious assets right now are our folks that fly our unmanned systems,” he says. “So, autonomy is key in trying to eliminate that human link in that.”
The USMC’s unmanned K-Max previously flew using an autonomous flight control system developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and Kaman. In March, Kaman announced that it would be offering its own autonomous flight control kit to be retrofitted to manned versions of its helicopter. It is not clear what autonomy system the USMC would be using. Lockheed Martin and Kaman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky says the USMC’s Kaman K-Max effort is unrelated to its MATRIX autonomous flight control system.
Originally built as a commercial helicopter to perform repetitive external lifts of up to 2,722kg of cargo, the Kaman K-Max has two sets of intermeshing rotor blades. It is also used for firefighting, logging, power line construction and disaster relief missions. (Source: UAS VISION/FlightGlobal)
18 Apr 19. The Black Hornet became indispensable. Now the UK is ordering more. Haphazardly stored, the 30 sparrow-sized robots could easily fit into a bucket. Seen inert, the minuscule drone looks like a sophisticated toy, a novelty item from a forgotten sci-fi romp. It is one of the most persistently fascinating little machines of war. And with a new purchase order, the newly FLIR-owned Black Hornet will be back in service with the armed forces of the United Kingdom. The reintroduction of the Black Hornet into the armed forces of the United Kingdom follows a decision to cut the nano-UAV from its inventory in 2016 and 2017 as part of an overall reduction in unmanned systems. But, as the purchase order suggests, there isn’t quite anything else in the inventory, or even made by another manufacturer, that can do for the UK what the Black Hornet did.
Referring to the drones as PRS, or “Personal Reconnaissance Systems,” the order says that the 30 Hornets are needed to “maximise exploitation within the STRIKE experimentation.” The STRIKE experimentation is a force organization posture adopted by the UK Army in late 2017, with the goal of forming a workable Strike Brigade by 2020. In 2018, observers noted that the reorganizations for the Strike Brigade concept, combined with the loss of Black Hornets, combined to leave units without any unmanned reconnaissance capabilities.
However, since its retirement from UK service, two new versions of the Black Hornet have been introduced, one with night vision, and another that is modular, capable of adding components for missions as needed. FLIR, which acquired original Black Hornet maker Prox Dynamics in 2016, also introduced a drone housing-and-charging unit that can be mounted on vehicles, enabling ground robots and armored personnel carriers alike to launch their own small fleet of scouts.
The cost to equip the UK Army with 30 Black Hornets is just shy of £1.4m (U.S. $1.8m). That’s about $60,000 apiece for the drone. It’s compact form and military-specific design may make it such a good fit for the UK that they found it indispensable after two years without it. Irregular forces and nonstate actors could get much of the same capability, in a large package, for a few hundred dollars from hobbyist quadcopters.
Still, for a military-grade and military-certified product, it appears the Black Hornet is the only drone of its type and class readily available for nations at the moment. In a section explaining why the Ministry looked outside the European Union, the order states that “FLIR are the only company which can produce the number of nUAS demanded in the timeframe” to the required specifications. (Source: Defense News)
18 Apr 19. Terra Drone and Indian Institute of Technology to Establish Center of Excellence for Drones in India. Japan-based Terra Drone Corporation (Headquarters: Tokyo; CEO: Toru Tokushige), Terra Drone India, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad, have signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to co-establish a first-of-its-kind Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Solutions (drones) in India. With its presence in six continents and more than 20 countries, Terra Drone Corporation is one of the world’s largest providers of industrial drone solutions. The company is at the forefront of several innovations in the aviation industry, including promoting the application of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in drones and providing advisory services to the ongoing ‘flying car’ project in Japan. As part of the Terra Drone Group, Terra Drone India offers a complete sales-service-support module for the drone ecosystem in India and is actively working to implement unmanned traffic management (UTM) for drones for various government departments.
A premier engineering college, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad is the first academic institution to offer professional learning programs in AI and emerging technologies in India. IIT Hyderabad is also spearheading academic and industrial collaboration between India and Japan with support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The tripartite agreement was signed earlier this month when Dr. U.B. Desai, Director, IIT-Hyderabad, was visiting Tokyo.
As part of the MoU, the three parties will co-establish a Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aerial Solutions at IIT Hyderabad which will focus on developing autonomous aerial vehicles in India. The alliance will also facilitate collaborative teaching, training, and research activities for upskilling young professionals in the country.
Terra Drone will support IIT Hyderabad to organize workshops, seminars, lectures, and joint projects that leverage cutting-edge unmanned technologies and drone LiDAR systems. As one of the key players in the Indian drone industry, Terra Drone India will also offer internship programs to talented students and prepare them for real-world technology applications.
Commenting on the MoU, Toru Tokushige, CEO, Terra Drone Corporation, said, “Drones can solve complex business challenges in a safe, timely, and cost-effective manner. As the world’s fastest-growing major economy, the potential for commercial drone market in India is huge. By co-establishing a Center of Excellence for Drones in India, we will be empowering young professionals and strengthening the future of the industry.”
Prateek Srivastava, CEO, Terra Drone India, said, “The UAV ecosystem in India is rapidly evolving and drones are set to become an integral part of future working environments in several industries. Terra Drone India wants to democratize this technology by giving young talent first-hand exposure to drones and preparing them for exciting careers in the UAV industry.”
Dr. U.B. Desai, Director, IIT Hyderabad, said, “We are creating a unique educational ecosystem that combines interactive learning with cutting-edge research, strong industry collaboration, and entrepreneurship. This pact with Terra Drone Corporation and Terra Drone India is a step in that direction and I’m extremely positive about its outcomes. We are especially excited about developing drone-based solutions for domains like 5G communication, agriculture, transportation, and AI.” (Source: UAS VISION)
18 Apr 19. France joins maritime unmanned systems project. NATO has announced that France has joined a multinational effort to cooperate on the development of maritime unmanned systems. Launched in October 2018, the project aims to support the implementation of NATO’s reinforced maritime posture, as endorsed at the 2018 Brussels Summit. The initiative will allow Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US to field more flexible and interoperable maritime unmanned systems at lower expense.
The unmanned systems will provide manned assets support in areas such as the detection and clearing of mines and finding and tracking of submarines.
Camille Grand, assistant secretary general for defence investment, NATO, said: ‘Today, we are operating crew-dependent platforms with constrained operational awareness, but tomorrow we will increasingly use integrated autonomous systems, able to work together and complement existing manned platforms.’ (Source: Shephard)
17 Apr 19. Kratos Defense and Oklahoma Leaders Announce Future Production Home of XQ-58A Valkyrie. State and community leaders today joined Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq:KTOS) executives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to unveil the first MQM-178 Firejet target drone aircraft produced at the new Kratos Unmanned Aircraft production facility. At the event, Kratos Defense CEO, Eric DeMarco, announced that the Oklahoma City production facility will also be the future home of the XQ-58A Valkyrie, which successfully completed its maiden flight on March 5, 2019.
Eric DeMarco, CEO of Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc., said, “Kratos is excited to announce that Oklahoma will be the future home of the XQ-58A Valkyrie. Kratos and the state of Oklahoma share a commitment to supporting our armed forces. As our company continues to grow and develop and build high-performance, low-cost technologies like the Firejet and the Valkyrie, we are proud to be doing so here. Oklahoma’s skilled workforce will help us keep America safe.”
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. is an industry leader in the rapid development, demonstration, and fielding of technology leading systems and products for National Security at an affordable cost. With primary customers including the United States Air Force, Navy, and Army, as well as foreign ally militaries, the Kratos Unmanned Systems Division opened this new production facility in November 2018 to accommodate the existing and increasing demand for its newest line of high performance, jet-powered unmanned aerial tactical systems. Additionally, Kratos is currently under contract on multiple high-performance unmanned aerial target systems.
Steve Fendley, President of Kratos Unmanned Systems Division, said, “As demand for Kratos’ target and tactical unmanned aerial systems continues to increase, so too does our need for additional and parallel production capacity. The Oklahoma facility provides us the added bandwidth necessary for sustained growth, and with the Firejet now in production here, achieves a key and exciting milestone. The Kratos team is grateful for the incredible support from the Oklahoma leaders and community that made this goal a reality in record time.”
The Kratos Unmanned Aircraft production facility in Oklahoma City is home to production of Kratos’ Tactical UAS and MQM-178 Firejet unmanned aerial target systems. The XQ-58A Valkyrie, a runway independent UAV capable of long-range flights at high-subsonic speeds developed in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), will also be produced at the facility. Kratos expects to employ more than 350 employees in Oklahoma in the high-skilled engineering, design, and manufacturing fields to support the production contracts for these aircraft.
Senator Jim Inhofe(R-OK) said, “Oklahoma has a highly-skilled workforce and an unwavering commitment to our men and women in uniform—a perfect match for Kratos. As this industry-leading company continues to pioneer new drone technologies for our military in our backyard, Oklahomans welcome their growth and will continue to be a partner in their success.”
“I am glad to join with the Oklahoma City community to welcome Kratos Defense,” said Senator James Lankford (R-OK). “Oklahoma is a national leader in aerospace and technology and an excellent home for the production of the unmanned Valkyrie and Firejet. We are grateful for Kratos’ commitment to our national defense, and we welcome another great employer to the state.”
“Oklahoma has a long legacy of aerospace innovation, and our highly skilled workforce stands ready to build upon this history with Kratos as one of our newest partners. Their technologies will undoubtedly have a significant, positive impact on both the security of our nation and the Oklahoma economy,” said Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-3).
Congressman Tom Cole(OK-4) said, “Kratos is leading the industry in bringing high-tech value and affordability to national security. As home of the Firejet and now the Valkyrie, Oklahoma is proud to be a playing a role in the next generation of technologies that will keep our homeland and our warfighters safe.”
“Oklahoma has a proven workforce with the skills necessary to partner with a company like Kratos, which is leading the industry in the rapid development of cutting-edge national security technologies. We are thrilled to have them as an addition to our state’s prominent aerospace industry,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2).
Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-1) said, “Kratos’ innovations will be the future of safety for the warfighter and the nation; Oklahomans are proud to be building them. I look forward to seeing this facility continue to benefit our economy and our armed forces.”
“High-tech innovations like the Firejet and the Valkyrie need a high-tech workforce,” said Congresswoman Kendra Horn (OK-5). “Oklahoma’s 5thCongressional District is the ideal home for Kratos’ expanding unmanned aerial systems production, and we are proud to partner with Kratos as the company continues to grow.”
Governor Kevin Stitt(R-OK) said, “Oklahoma is proud to be home to a growing list of aerospace companies, who are continuing to bring high-skilled jobs to our highly patriotic and educated workforce. Kratos is a critical to our growth, and we are grateful that Kratos continues to invest in the Sooner State.”
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of growth announced by Kratos in recent months, including the acquisition of a new division—Kratos Turbine Technologies. The company also recently announced the expansion of facilities in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Kratos’ Space Communications products, and in Orlando, Florida, for the manufacturing of Training & Simulation Systems. These expansions are in addition to the opening of international offices in Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Singapore, allowing Kratos to capitalize on and meet the growing global demand for the company’s advanced technologies. (Source: ASD Network)
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