Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
14 June 19. Robotic Skies and Trumbull Unmanned Partner on Global UAS Operations. Robotic Skies Inc., the only global maintenance network for commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and Trumbull Unmanned, a leader in data and automation in energy and government, announce their partnership to support Trumbull’s global UAS operations through the Robotic Skies service center network.
As both organizations continue to expand, they are forming partnerships with key players in the commercial UAS industry to ensure they can provide a best-in-class service offering to meet the increasing demand in the energy and government sectors. The companies have a shared view of building a holistic and secure offering, founded in the best practices from their collective aviation experience.
“At Trumbull, our aim is to ensure we maintain the highest quality fleet possible as we grow. As a trusted name in aviation maintenance, we are excited to partner with Robotic Skies,” said Dyan Gibbens, CEO of Trumbull Unmanned.
Together Trumbull and Robotic Skies will provide a complete and reliable UAS package for their customers including world-class pilots and aircraft that are maintained by trained and certified technicians.
“We’re excited to partner with Trumbull,” says Brad Hayden, CEO of Robotic Skies. “Founded by aviators with decades of flight operations experience, Trumbull’s safety-based approach allows them to successfully fly the most complex UAS missions in nearly any environment. Our support offerings are an excellent complement to their data solutions portfolio, keeping their fleet of UAS operating as efficiently as possible.” (Source: UAS VISION)
12 June 19. What’s so sweet about sugar cube-sized robots? If there is anything the future is lacking, it’s robots the size of Chiclets. Draper Labs, working under a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is creating centimeter-sized robots, for future use in rescue work. The project is named “SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms,” or “SHRIMP” for short.
And short is the nature of the game. SHRIMP is based on the 4 cm long, 1.5 g Harvard Ambulatory MicroRobot (HAMR), and wants to shrink it down to a single cubic centimeter. That will require microelectromechanical systems, 3D printing, piezoelectric actuators and, this is crucial, low-power sensors. Once all of that is in place, Draper claims the microbot will be able to jump, sense, navigate and control itself. The design will rely on feet inspired by living creatures to give it extra friction on rough and vertical terrain, and inertial measurement to detect where it is on the ground.
“The microrobotic platform capabilities enabled by SHRIMP will provide the DoD with significantly more access and capability to operate in small spaces that are practically inaccessible to today’s state-of-the-art robotic platforms,” declared DARPA in the proposer’s day note. “Such capability will have impact in search and rescue, disaster relief, infrastructure inspection, and equipment maintenance, among other operations.”
The exact “how” of what these robots will do in disaster relief, inspection, maintenance or other operations is yet to be determined, and will largely hinge on the sensors that can be fit to the platform. The most useful thing a small robot can do is get into a space and send information back to humans about that space, but that’s hardly the only metric to evaluate the platform.
As part of the SHRIMP program, DARPA will have the robot designs compete through a series of events modeled after the Olympics. These include high jump, long jump, weightlifting, shot put, tug of war, rock piling, steeplechase, biathlon, vertical ascent — all ways to find out what useful tasks tiny robots can do.
There’s a world of speculation between a dime-sized robot that can pile rocks and a useful military tool, but the fact that DARPA is invested in the technology as a platform suggests that, should the technology get there, the design will have some unexpected utility. In the meantime, DARPA’s interest suggests there’s good odds on a future market for sensors designed for dice-sized robots. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
13 June 19. US Army and industry experts discuss UAS propulsion technologies. The US Army Future Command’s Army Research Laboratory (ARL) collaborated with industry and academic experts at a recently held event in Chicago, US, to discuss advances in unmanned aircraft system (UAS) propulsion technologies.
Issues were discussed at the Center for UAS Propulsion (CUP) programme review in April and Industry-Academia Connection Days last month at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Supported by ARL, the centre leads a research programme to address the needs of the US Army for current and future advances in UAS propulsion systems.
Participants at the event involved researchers from the ARL, its university partners, Department of Energy partners, and industry.
Focus areas of the UAS propulsion systems research included reliability, payload, reduced detection by opposing parties, and increased operational range.
A range of technical challenges related to small engines featured in the discussions.
These include non-conventional and gas turbine engines, hybrid-electric applications, energy storage technologies to enable lighter weight, higher power and energy densities, as well as power and thermal management technologies.
The CUP programme is seen as a foundation to accelerate the US Military’s future UAS power and propulsion capabilities.
ARL versatile tactical power and propulsion essential research program manager Dr Mike Kweon said: “The objectives of the programme review on day one were to ensure accountability for the success of the soldier and in pursuit of technical excellence.
“Focus areas of the research included reliability, payload, reduced detection by opposing parties, and increased operational range.”
“The entire multi-fuel capable hybrid propulsion programme team was able to learn other technical areas, actively engage and interact among the team members. We received lots of positive feedback.”
The programme review was followed by learning about the current advanced technologies and technical challenges in power and propulsion for UAS.
Kweon added: “The objective of this event was to develop strong partnerships among industry, academia and government to develop power and propulsion technologies for future UAS that will deliver more reach, lethality and protection for the multi-domain operations and for the future soldiers.”
Research will focus on advances in technologies such as extreme fuel-ignition characterisation, variable energy assisted compression ignition, and high-pressure compact air management. (Source: army-technology.com)
10 June 19. Malaysia to deploy donated ScanEagle UAVs with navy.
- Malaysia will deploy all 12 ScanEagle UAVs it is receiving from the US with the Royal Malaysian Navy
- The UAVs will be deployed to assist with maritime surveillance operations
All 12 units of the ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that Putrajaya is receiving from the US will be assigned to the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), the country’s defence ministry confirmed on 10 June.
“The RMN will receive these assets in stages beginning in 2019 till 2022, and the first batch of six ScanEagle UAV units are expected to be handed over in mid-November”, said the ministry.
Malaysia is one of the beneficiary countries under Washington’s Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) programme, which was first announced by then US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at the 2015 iteration of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 June 19. Elbit Systems’ HermesTM 45 Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) will be making its first appearance at the Company’s static display area (A-8) in the upcoming Paris Airshow 2019. Hermes 45 offers a unique combination of extended range and duration with point launch and recovery, to and from land and maritime platforms thus enhancing Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities at the brigade and division levels and also for naval squadron units. Hermes 45 features flight range of 200km or an extended Beyond Line of Sight range (via Satellite Communication) and an internal payload bay that supports multi-payload operation, including EO/IR, Marine-Radar, Terrain Dominance, Electronic Warfare (EW) and communications. The Hermes 45 is operated by a two-person crew, launched from a short onboard platform rail, and is recovered by an automated spot landing system.
Elad Aharonson, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR Division, commented: “The Hermes 45 is important addition to our wide portfolio of UAS ranging from MALE to multi-rotor. The exceptional level of operational experience together with continuous innovation, enable us to enhance our customers capabilities in every domain of engagement.”
10 June 19. Leonardo launches new drone ahead of Paris Air Show. Italy’s Leonardo announced Monday the launch of a new 24-hour endurance surveillance drone, as it seeks to extend its Falco range of drones. The new unmanned aerial vehicle, which will be unveiled at this month’s Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, will weigh slightly more than a ton and carry a 300-350 kg sensor payload, Leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumo told reporters in Rome.
The drone is the third evolution in the Falco family, which includes the Falco and the larger Falco EVO, which offers 15 hours endurance and half the payload of the new version.
“It overlaps with the Predator A [and] would be a new product for Predator A customers,” he said.
The name of the drone will be announced at the air show.
Experimental flights are due to start in Italy imminently, with the new Falco set to reach operational capability in 2020.
The European Union’s frontier protection agency Frontex is among existing customers of the Falco. In a service contract offered by Leonardo, the drone is flown from the Italian island of Lampedusa, with pilots from Italy’s tax police at the controls.
At Le Bourget, Leonardo will be displaying its M-345 jet trainer, which undertook 40 test flights in January and February ahead of planned certification by the end of 2019 and deliveries to its launch customer, the Italian Air Force, in the first half of 2020.
The firm will also be showing off the fighter version of its M-346 jet trainer, which it aims to have ready for sale in 2021, as well as its Hero unmanned helicopter, which it aims to certify by end 2019.
Another new platform in the works is the AH-249 helicopter, a larger upgrade of the Italian Army A129 Mangusta. With a prototype due by 2024 and deliveries to the Italian Army scheduled for 2025, the Army is now due to pick either Safran or GE for the propulsion supplier.
Leonardo has signed up to work on the new U.K.-led fighter program Tempest, though the Italian government has yet to commit. At his briefing on Monday, CEO Profumo said, “Time is passing — we hope the country joins the program.”
Asked about the announced fusion of United Technologies and Raytheon, Profumo said this: “In the U.S. we are second tier and the progressive concentration of tier one companies increases the value of second tier companies.” (Source: Defense News)
10 June 19. InstantEye rolls out Mk-3 small unmanned aerial systems. Physical Sciences division InstantEye Robotics has unveiled new versions of the InstantEye Mk-3 family of Group I small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS). The latest additions to the InstantEye Mk-3 series include Mk-3 GEN4-D1 (ISR) and Mk-3 GEN5 system. The new variants offer an extended range, endurance, and payload capacity. A long-endurance variant of the Mk-3 GEN4D aircraft platform, the InstantEye Mk-3 GEN4-D1 (ISR) has demonstrated flight endurance of more than 50 minutes. The sUAS system is capable of providing either the tactical standoff (640px x 480px thermal and 4x electro/optical [E/O]) or close area target reconnaissance (10x E/O) payloads in its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) configuration. The folding prop design of the ISR variant offers a packable 12in by 12in footprint and its high-rate charger helps maintain operational readiness.
During the Joint Interagency Field Experimentation (JIFX 19-3) in April, the system demonstrated communications at a 7.5km effective range and supported covert surveillance operations from a standoff distance of 500m with over 30 minutes on the station.
Meanwhile, the InstantEye Mk-3 GEN5 system serves as a more compact soldier-borne asset when compared to the Mk-3 GEN4D systems while offering the same organic thermal and E/O capability.
This system has an operational range of 4.5km and endurance of 27 minutes.
It can operate safely in wind conditions exceeding 20mph and has the ability to reach an altitude of more than 6,000ft above ground level. InstantEye Robotics Defense Technology Operations director Mike Mackiewicz said: “This capability allows the user to continuously observe named areas of interest, prosecute fire missions, and actionably influence wide (>100km²) areas of the battlespace, day or night, from a rucksack, without relying on low-density, high-demand, and high-cost assets.
“With an ability to operate in all weather and locations, it is an unmatched tactical enabler with operational effects.”
The company rolled out the Mk-3 GEN4-D1 sUAS in January.
Mk-3 GEN4-D1 is an all-digital system equipped with real-time visible and thermal video, as well as still imagery to support standoff reconnaissance of any target set.
In November, the firm secured a contract to supply its Mk-3 GEN5-D1 systems to the US Marine Corps. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
07 June 19. MTSI Announces Rapid Aerial Extraction System. Modern Technology Solutions, Inc. (MTSI), a 100% employee-owned engineering services and technology solutions provider for the defense industry, intelligence community, and commercial markets, has announced the introduction of its latest capability, Rapid Aerial Extraction System (RAES), a tethered deployment system that dramatically increases the range and speed for payload handling. RAES provides vertical lift hoist-like capability to a fixed wing aircraft, making traditional aircraft equal to a helicopter without having to land.
“RAES gives you the speed, range, and economy of a fixed-wing aircraft and the vertical lift hoist-like capability of rotorcraft,” said Ben Bosma, MTSI Principal Engineer. “The system is scalable and can be mounted on a wide variety of aircraft from fighters to transports.”
“The recent RAES demonstration points to a cost-effective and highly adaptable solution to combat search and rescue in the contested domain,” said Mike Hostage, Gen. (ret), United States Air Force. “The concept may also offer a rapid and covert means of precision insertion and extraction for special operations. The MTSI team is well on its way to producing a game-changing family of capabilities.”
“With the MTSI team’s background in innovative design, rapid prototyping, autonomous systems, military operations, and experimental test, we were able to rapidly integrate existing technologies to move from design to successful demonstration in under four months,” said David Solomon, MTSI Senior Project Manager. “This significant milestone marks the first ever simulated vertical extraction of an isolated person and autonomous return (under chute) from a fixed wing aircraft. We are excited about the possibilities this technology opens up to augment existing rescue and special cargo missions for the civil and defense markets.”
MTSI Senior Consultant Peter “Pepe” LeHew added,
“As a prior Rescue and Special Operations Pilot having flown fixed wing, rotary wing and unmanned aircraft, RAES® is a game-changer. What was previously denied – cargo and mobility operations due to time to respond, threats or detection of my aircraft, as well as an embedded rescue capability for a strike package allowing for response times before our enemy or traditional rescue could even respond – are now possible.”
RAES consists of a stabilizer, winch, and tether package that is platform agnostic for the intended aircraft, removing the need for any modification. It expands the reach for rescue operations that may have previously been dismissed as it combines the benefits of a helicopter’s agility and a fixed wing aircraft’s speed, range, and stealth ability. (Source: UAS VISION)
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.