Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
11 Jul 19. Paragon VTOL Aerospace Leverages Siemens’ Startup Program. Paragon VTOL Aerospace, a global vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft provider for numerous industries, has adopted solutions from Siemens Digital Industries Software for its product development process. Paragon produces industry-specific drone hardware ranging from security applications for agricultural theft and commuter law adherence to human passenger drones. Paragon is also partnering with Aerotropolis Jamaica, a national project spearheaded by the Hon. L. Michael Henry in the Office of the Prime Minister, to build an ecosystem for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The company plans to reduce the time and cost of its product development and testing through implementation of key technology from Siemens.
“Our vision is to provide a portfolio of intellectual property, industry specific drones, human passenger drones, and virtual highway platforms in Jamaica,” said Paragon VTOL founder and oil executive Dwight Smith, a native Jamaican and American citizen. “We currently have plans to implement software and hardware programs in 2019 and begin testing their two to four passenger drones by year-end 2019.”
Paragon has been developing their platform and much of the technology through collaboration with Siemens Digital Industries Software, major American universities, Silicon Valley experts, and ex-military personnel. Siemens Digital Industries Software is providing an integrated set of software solutions for Paragon to design, test, produce, and monitor its extensive range of drone systems, as part of Siemens’ new Aerospace Startup Program.
The goal of this program is for Siemens to partner with new businesses in Aerospace emerging technology markets, provide market-leading CAD and CAE software solutions, and help startups embrace digitalization in product development.
This can ultimately help disruptive startups bring products to market faster, with less cost and decreased risk, while leveraging the Siemens ecosystem.
“The Aerospace industry is changing rapidly,” said Bobby Blackmon, Director of Aerospace & Defense at Siemens Digital Industries. “Companies like Paragon are bringing new, emerging technology to market and changing the way we view the world. Siemens is proud to provide solutions from our market-leading Digital Innovation Platform to Paragon as part of our Aerospace Start-up Program.” (Source: UAS VISION)
11 Jul 19. Airobotics New Payload for Inspection and Security. Airobotics, has unveiled a highly drone-stabilized payload for inspection and security applications at ADS’ 2019 Warrior Expo East. Named Trion, this payload marks Airobotics’ first in-house developed and manufactured sensor for the market—available both with and independent of—its leading automated drone hardware and data insights platform.
Weighing less than 1.2 kg and small in dimension, Airobotics’ Trion is a high-definition, Electro-Optical and InfraRed gyro-stabilized payload. Trion pushes the limits on existing and competing capabilities of stabilized payloads available today. Designed for superior performance, Trion carries a unique set of advanced capabilities for object identification, real-time tracking and comprehensive data harvesting.
“At ADS, we actively seek out innovative, quality and cost-effective solutions for our customers,” said Ryan Angold, ADS’ Vice President of Markets. “Additionally, we believe that our partnership with Airobotics will greatly enhance the customer experience and provide a market-leading solution for critical security and inspection applications.”
“We look forward to having ADS as a strategic partner and are confident in the results we can achieve,” added Ran Krauss, CEO and Co-Founder at Airobotics. “We are pleased to offer Airobotics’ powerful and highly stabilized Trion payload to the broader market that will grant professionals with the ability to capture more accurate data for fast decision-making in the most demanding circumstances.”
The highly advanced Trion payload provides day-and-night observation, surveillance, and targeting capabilities at long ranges and in adverse conditions. Integrated with Airobotics data insights platform, additional features include tag and tracking of security incidents, allowing for real-time insights to fuel informed decision-making. Additionally, Trion offers a high-resolution HD day camera with powerful continuous optical zoom and continuous 360-degree panoramic capabilities.
Designed for maximum versatility, Trion can be seamlessly integrated into Airobotics’ automated drone platform, or other UAS, vehicles, platforms and ground applications, enabling increased flexibility for data collection, detection and analysis to obtain valuable insights. (Source: UAS VISION)
10 Jul 19. Flottille 36F to become French Navy UAV parent squadron. The French Navy will make Flottille 36F, based at Hyères, near Toulon, its first shipborne unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) squadron.
The move will see Flottille 36F operate the Schiebel S-100 Camcopter UAVs, which will be deployed onboard the navy’s Mistral-class landing helicopter dock ships. The squadron currently operates the AS565SA Panther helicopter. The decision to form a dedicated UAV parent squadron reflects the French Navy’s desire to concentrate unmanned aviation expertise into a single specialised entity. Previous internal studies had explored a number of options, ranging from the creation of a brand new dedicated UAV unit to the formation of flights within Flottilles 31F, 35F, or 36F (all of which are based in Hyères). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Jul 19. These super-small drones no longer need a battery. To be a fly on the wall, an observer must be ubiquitous, unobtrusive and quiet. What if, instead, the observer was just a tiny fly-sized robot, independently powered, able to travel like its insect inspiration? That’s one possibility from the long line of work on the RoboBee series of miniature flying machines, the latest of which recently flew independently under its own photovoltaic power.
RoboBee is a long-running project of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The end goal is ultimately controlled swarms of insect-sized flying machines, with visions of these swarms performing everything from plant pollination to surveillance. These are ambitious aims, and all have been hindered to this point by a fundamental constraint on the form: the robots are too small to carry batteries.
Much of the flight design uses a tethered power supply, allowing the designers to craft Piezoelectric motors that expand and contract as electrical current passes through the muscle-like membranes. This created wings that could flap and propel the robot upward, but it wasn’t until recently that the robot could do it on its own power supply.
RoboBees are smaller than any drone currently employed by the U.S. military, minute enough to make the palm-sized Black Hornet feel gargantuan. Without a sensor payload, it’d be a novelty, but the military has already invested in cheap, expendable sensor-carrying drone gliders for tasks such as meteorological data collection. Should this power supply enable RoboBees to support a meaningful sensor package, they could be used in a similar fashion, scattered as sensors that can flap their way into a new position.
Holding six solar power cells on a stick, and with a second set of wings, the vehicle successfully flew under its own power, even if only for the briefest of moments. The researchers’ documentation of their project was published in scientific journal Nature June 26, appearing under the title “Untethered flight of an insect-sized flapping-wing microscale aerial vehicle.”
The whole RoboBee weights 259 milligrams, or less than a paperclip, and under special lights was able to generate enough lift to support an additional payload of 70 mg, which could be used for lightweight sensors, control electronics, or larger power supply in the future. Fitting sensors to a craft the small is likely a challenge, but also essential for the promise of the device.
There is also the small matter that, even using photovoltaic cells, the robot needs an alien sun to fly.
“The Robobee X-Wing needs the power of about three Earth suns to fly, making outdoor flight out of reach for now,” stated the summary from Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Instead, the researchers simulate that level of sunlight in the lab with halogen lights.”
Should the sensors exist, and the device become capable of outdoor flight, microrobotics could become a ubiquitous part of modern life, performing functions alongside insects and relaying sensor information back as an unseen intelligence platform. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
08 Jul 19. Aurora indefinitely delays first flight of Odysseus ultra-long-endurance UAV. Key Points:
- Aurora is delaying the first flight of its Odysseus solar powered high-altitude UAV
- The company unveiled the aircraft in November
Aurora Flight Sciences has indefinitely delayed the first flight of its Odysseus solar-powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology demonstrator nine months after unveiling the platform to the public.
“Odysseus is an active development programme that offers a unique capability, which is why we are taking more time to explore customer use cases before pursuing first flight,” Aurora spokesperson Luisa Guerra said on 21 June. “Our holistic approach to prototyping enables us to provide efficient, safe, and future-forward solutions for customers, which, in the case of Odysseus, represent a wide variety of needs and industries.”
Aurora twice delayed Odysseus’ first flight before delaying it indefinitely. The company predicted at Odysseus’ unveiling that first flight would take place in the second quarter of 2019. Guerra later said on 15 April that the aircraft’s first flight was scheduled for mid-2019. Guerra and Aurora-parent Boeing on 8 July declined further comment on Odysseus. Although Aurora announced Odysseus in November 2018, the aircraft is far from a new effort. It was one of three conceptual designs awarded one-year Phase 1 development contracts by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in April 2008 for the agency’s Vulture programme. This was for a ‘pseudo-satellite’ unmanned aircraft able to remain on station for extremely long periods. The idea behind these ultra-HALE UAVs, or high altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS), is to act similar to on-orbit spacecraft. These aircraft are envisioned to provide voice and data communications to users at a lower cost because they are much cheaper to launch and operate than communications satellites. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Jul 19. US Navy declares IOC for MQ-8C Fire Scout. The MQ-8C Fire Scout will make its first LCS deployment in FY 2021. The US Navy (USN) has declared initial operating capability (IOC) for the Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system (UAS), the service announced on 8 July. The milestone, which was reached on 28 June, comes about six years after flight trials were commenced in mid-2013 and clears the way for fleet operations and training for the unmanned sensor platform.
With IOC now declared, the MQ-8C will soon join its smaller MQ-8B Fire Scout-stablemate aboard the USN’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)-class vessels. The first such MQ-8C deployment is set for fiscal year 2021.
Developed to provide an enhanced capability compared with the smaller MQ-8B that is based on the Schweizer Aircraft 330 helicopter, the Bell 407-based MQ-8C features improved sensors, has a range of about 150 n miles, endurance of 12 hours, and a payload capacity of more than 317 kg.
The USN’s total planned Fire Scout inventory is 30 Schweizer Aircraft 330-based MQ-8Bs and 38 MQ-8Cs. These 68 air vehicles will include 59 that are production funded, and nine that are research, development, test, and evaluation funded. As noted by the USN, the MQ-8C has flown more than 1,500 hours with in excess of 700 sorties to date. Over the next few years, Northrop Grumman will continue MQ-8C production deliveries to the Navy to complete a total of 38 aircraft. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
08 Jul 19. FAA Restricts Drone Operations over Additional Military Facilities. The Federal Aviation Administration has announced new airspace restrictions effective July 11, 2019 on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) attempting to fly over national security sensitive locations. The FAA has been cooperating with federal partners to address concerns about malicious drone operations by using the agency’s existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations Section 99.7 (14 CFR § 99.7), Special Security Instructions, to establish UAS specific flight restrictions over select, national security sensitive locations.
The FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), FDC 8/3277, defines these special security instructions. The FAA published a NOTAM, FDC 9/3332, which alerts UAS operators and others in the aviation community of this change and points to FDC 8/3277.
The additional 12 restricted locations requested by the U.S. Department of Defense are identified below.
- Raven Rock Mountain Complex in Adams, PA
- Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, MO
- Pine Bluff Arsenal in White Hall, AR
- Tooele Army Depot in Tooele, UT
- Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne, NV
- Pueblo Chemical Depot in Pueblo, CO
- Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in Middletown, IA
- Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, NY
- Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, KY
- Letterkenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, PA
- Rivanna Station in Charlottesville, VA
- Maui Space Surveillance Site in Maui, HI
UAS operators, in particular, are urged to review the special security instructions prescribed by FDC 8/3277 and the important supporting information provided by the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery System (UDDS) website. The UDDS website provides easy access to the text of FDC 8/3277 and other UAS-specific security NOTAMs; a current list of the airspace to which these special security instructions have been applied, supported by an interactive map and downloadable geospatial data; and other crucial details. A link to these restrictions is also included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app.
The new UAS flight restrictions highlighted above and by FDC 9/3332 are pending until they become effective on 07/11/2019. UAS operators should keep in mind that access to the airspace identified by FDC 8/3277 and UDDS is strictly controlled. Operators who violate these flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.
The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests by eligible Federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the agency’s 14 CFR § 99.7 authority as they are received. The FAA will announce any future changes, including additional locations, as appropriate. (Source: UAS VISION/https://www.uasvision.com)
08 Jul 19. USAF MQ-9 Presence in Eastern Europe Shifts South. The US Air Force has shifted the eyes of its newly stood up MQ-9 detachment in Europe south, temporarily moving the small number of deployed Reapers from Poland to Romania. The 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Det. 2, moved from Miroslawiec AB, Poland, to Campia Turzii, Romania, on July 3 because of construction on the Polish base, but the new operating location gives the contractor-owned, contractor-operated Reapers a closer look at the Balkans.
“The endurance of the plane is pretty much a key factor, and the fact that we have [contractor-owned] and rotational forces, that allows us to have the agility to move if needed,” said Lt. Col. Clayton Sanders, commander of the detachment, in a recent interview at the Polish base.
The detachment reached initial operational capability at Miroslawiec on March 1. The unarmed Reapers—the official number of which is classified, though it is small—are flown and maintained by contractors, with a small detachment of airmen doing jobs such as communications, intelligence analysis, security forces, etc.
The operation is overseen by US Air Forces in Europe. The Air Force detachment sits in a dozen blue mobile containers serving as offices, fenced in from the rest of the base, next to a modern NATO-built hangar and the Block 30 ground control station for the Block 5 Reapers.
“It’s a small presence, but a big enough presence that it assures our Polish partners and our Baltic partners … of that postured and ready force,” Sanders said during an interview in Poland before the Reapers moved.
Gen. Tod Wolters, former USAFE commander and current US European Command boss, told Air Force Magazine in a March interview that having the Reaper in that region allows USAF “to improve our understanding of the battlespace in the vicinity of Poland plus the Baltics. That’s the whole purpose, to improve our indications and warnings so that if tasked we can respond quicker than we ever have in the past, and the MQ-9 addition will do exactly that.”
The Pentagon’s European Deterrence Initiative provides about $40m to fund the MQ-9 detachment, which has brought new life to a Polish base that only has a permanent presence of small hand-launched UAVs. Poland is now planning extensive renovations, which will include upgrades to the base’s tower and maintenance facilities, in addition to the flightline.
Poland has been a “very stable ally and partner,” which provides a “very strategic location” for the USAF to fly the Reapers, said Lt. Gen. Steve Basham, deputy commander of US Air Forces in Europe, in a recent interview. This presence gives the Air Force the ability to “understand the environment you’re operating in” in addition to having forces in place to be able to spin up quickly if needed.
While day-to-day operations are handled by contracted operators, the Air Force brings in USAF MQ-9 operators for training exercises with allies or other US military units in the region, Sanders said. The presence in both Poland and Romania means MQ-9 operators can fly in a much different environment than they have during the past 20 years of combat in a desert setting.
“There’s a lot of different considerations that we have to take into account for launch, recovery, and even airspace wise,” Sanders said.
The move south to Romania means the MQ-9s, which were already to reach to the Baltics, are now a shorter flight to a hotbed of activity. At the base, the Reapers are now flying alongside F-16s deployed to Romania as part of a theater security package.
Daily Reaper operations give the US the ability to watch for “any adversarial threat in the region,” Sanders said. “The ISR provides that key foundation for us and our NATO partners and allies in the region, we maintain those ready and postured forces. It gives us that force protection data we need.”
Wolters said the deployment helps the US and its allies ensure that “nobody will ever consider violating the sovereign skies, lands, and seas of NATO countries in the region.” (Source: UAS VISION/Air Force Magazine)
05 Jul 19. New York -Israel Partnership to Create UAS Center of Excellence. Three Israeli companies will use a new Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Research and Testing Center of Excellence being created in the Mohawk Valley in conjunction with the drone test corridor between Syracuse and Rome, state officials said.
The initiative was announced Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo among several economic development partnerships between New York state and Israel resulting from Cuomo’s recent trip to Israel. The specific location for the new center has not been announced yet.
The Empire State Development (ESD) agency will provide a $250,000 planning grant to establish the new drone research and testing center of excellence, Cuomo’s office said. Three Israeli tenant companies — Vorpal Flytrex and CivDrone — “have already committed to working with NUAIR and utilizing this new Center of Excellence,” the announcement said. It also noted that this week, the parachute system equipped on Flytrex’s package delivery drones was validated as compliant with industry standards for parachutes, after testing completed by NUAIR at the New York UAS Test Site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome.
NUAIR (Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance) is the organization overseeing the drone-testing corridor between Griffiss and Syracuse.
The initiative for the new center of excellence with three Israeli tenants “builds on the state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicle test corridor between Syracuse and Rome,” according to Empire State Development board member Eric Gertler. He observed the corridor “was created with a $300,000 investment from ESD and…has already attracted drone companies from all over the world.”
Griffiss is one of seven UAS test sites across the country that have been designated by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Cuomo said of the recent trip to Israel that “we focused on key areas that present real opportunities for collaboration with Israeli companies because when Israeli startups choose New York, there is tremendous potential for growth for both economies….”
The series of partnerships that were announced Monday “build on the agreement signed last week between Empire State Development and the Israel Innovation Authority for a $2m partnership that will further strengthen economic development ties between New York and Israel,” the state noted. The agreement includes cooperation on the co-development and commercialization of innovative solutions in the fields of cybersecurity, supply chain, smart cities, energy, unmanned aerial vehicles, life sciences and other areas. (Source: UAS VISION/Rome Sentinel)
05 Jul 19. Raytheon and Northrop Grumman Boost Karem’s FARA Bid. Karem Aircraft’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competitive prototype bid has received a big boost, with the addition of Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to its team. FARA is the US Army’s proposed new armed scout aircraft, which will serve as a replacement for its retired fleet of Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warriors.
Karem has proposed a tilt-rotor concept for FARA and is touting its proprietary variable-speed rotor technology. The Southern California-based company was founded by Abraham Karem, who invented the Gnat 750 unmanned air vehicle (UAV), which evolved into the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-1 Predator.
The company says its team will be boosted by Northrop’s manned and autonomous military aircraft development, system integration, production and support expertise. Northrop manufactures UAVs including the MQ-8 Fire Scout, RQ-4 Global Hawk and optionally manned Firebird. It also makes the fuselage for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Karem adds that it will also be aided by Raytheon’s systems architecture, mission equipment, and weapons capabilities. Raytheon makes a number of avionics, communications and sensor products, as well as munitions including the Talon laser-guided rocket, which is certified for use on the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. (Source: UAS VISION/FlightGlobal)
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.
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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.