Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
14 Aug 19. Skyfront Perimeter Drone Performs First BVLOS Flight under FAA Part 107. Skyfront’s Perimeter 4 long-range hybrid gas-electric drone successfully performed the first civilian beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight without visual observers under the FAA’s Part 107 rules. This flight is a significant step toward the safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace.
During the round-trip flight, the Perimeter UAV flew over mountainous, rugged terrain along a four mile stretch of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. The UAV maintained a constant above-ground altitude of 400 feet with multiple ascents and descents of 1000 feet on 45 degree slopes. Radio-based telemetry, command and control of the vehicle was uninterrupted during the flight.
FAA representatives observed all aspects of the mission, including planning, system setup, and ground station operation. The Perimeter “did [the flight] safely, effectively and efficiently. It accomplished a beyond-visual-line-of-sight mission, and it was approved by the FAA,” said Robert Huber, Program Manager for the Integration Pilot Program (IPP) of the FAA.
“Today’s flight was a milestone in the unmanned community. We at Skyfront are excited to be pushing the limits of unmanned aerial vehicles here in the United States,” said Troy Mestler, CEO of Skyfront.
The Perimeter UAV was integrated with Iris Automation’s Casia collision avoidance system and was observed by Echodyne’s ground-based detect and avoid systems. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration purchased the UAV and organized the flight over the pipeline, with the approval of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. (Source: UAS VISION)
14 Aug 19. Atlas secures military customers for AtlasPRO MESH multi-UAV system. Key Points:
- Atlas has military customers under contract for its AtlasPRO MESH UAV system
- This system uses multiple aircraft to provide “eye in the sky” capability
Atlas has secured military customers in Europe and Israel for its autonomous AtlasPRO MESH multi-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system, according to a company executive.
The AtlasPRO is a small UAV approximately 50 cm in diameter that weighs 1.7 kg including battery and payload. The aircraft enables fully- and semi-autonomous missions with 50 minute flight time and 10 km range.
Atlas’s MESH multi-node communication capability enables a single operator to command and control (C2) a UAV network from a unified ground control system (GCS) or smartphone. This technology enables the operator to divide missions among several UAVs and maintain constant “eyes in the sky” using autonomous hot-swap capabilities. Once the first aircraft runs out of battery, a second AtlasPRO aircraft replaces it above a point of interest, according to a company statement. Guy Cherni, company co-founder and chief management officer (CMO), told Jane’s on 13 August that he believes this hot-swap capability can make flight endurance irrelevant for a system operator. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Aug 19. Five Finalists Named for AUVSI Innovation Challenge. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has named five startup companies as finalists in the Innovation Challenge at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems – Defense. Protection. Security. conference taking place at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. The competition identifies small, start-up and early stage companies operating in the commercial, defense and non-traditional unmanned systems or autonomous systems sectors. The companies will present their technology to government and industry representatives at USDPS. The five finalists that will participate in the competition are:
- Blue Vigil, a company that makes power tether systems, compatible with most commercial grade drones up to 10 kilograms, that can keep drones in the air for an unlimited flight duration.
- FLITE Material Sciences, a New York-based company that works across different industries to reshape the surface layer of materials.
- HyALTA Aeronautics Inc., a veteran-owned, small business that has developed patents to provide a unique combination of attributes of both a fixed wing aircraft and an LTA craft to allow for indefinite mission durations, low energy station keeping, and the ability to dash at relatively high velocities.
- Pierce Aerospace, a Remote ID UAS Service Supplier (RID-USS) focused on practical and robust integration of Remote ID services into the UAS ecosystem The company has developed Flight Portal ID, which provides a secure authentication system for remote ID for both civilian and military applications.
- VyrtX, an Ohio-based company that is localizing the world through custody-chain logistics and autonomous systems.
Each participating company will have the opportunity to pitch their technology to a panel of government officials and an audience of defense experts. The grand prize winner will receive a prize package valued at more than $35,000.
During the Innovation Challenge, five finalists will present their technology to the USDPS audience and Advisory Panel. Following a six-minute pitch, each finalist will have four minutes to answer questions from the Advisory Panel. The panel will provide feedback and guidance, but the winner will be selected by the USDPS audience.
These are the industry leaders comprising the advisory panel:
- Moderator: Bill Thomasmeyer, Consultant, National Advanced Mobility Consortium
- Chris O’Donnell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Platform and Weapon Portfolio Management, OUSD A&S
- Reid F. McAllister, Director, Integrated Unmanned Maritime Mobility Systems, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division and Co-Lead, NAVSEA WFC Unmanned Vehicles and Autonomous Systems Working Group
- Helen Greiner, Army HQE Robotics, Autonomous Systems, and AI, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology)
- Paul Decker, Deputy Chief Roboticist, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Ground Vehicle Systems Center
- Kristen R. Hajduk, National Capital Regional Director, NSIN – National Security Innovation Network, Department of Defense
Registration to attend USDPS is complimentary for military and government personnel. (Source: UAS VISION)
12 Aug 19. Elbit Signs UAV Production Deal with Kazakhstan. As part of the state defense order, Kazakhstan Aviation Industry LLP entered into a long-term contract with the company Elbit Systems Ltd. (Israel) for the assembly, production and maintenance of UAVs. Also, a License Agreement was signed to transfer exclusive rights to use the Elbit Systems Ltd. Trademark in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan Aviation Industry is a jointly developed enterprise of Kazakhstan Engineering, JSC and Kamkor Management LLP, which provides maintenance, repair and modernization of aircraft.
“This project will allow us not only to implement UAVs, but also to reduce dependence on other countries regarding repair and maintenance of drones. In addition, this will give us the opportunity to form domestic qualified personnel and create new jobs, ”said Kuanysh Bishimov, Chairman of the Management Board of JSC NC Kazakhstan Engineering.
A survey of potential consumers of UAV products in Kazakhstan (Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan, SS KNB of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, CoES of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as companies in the oil and gas sector) showed that there is interest in these products provided that domestic production and local maintenance are established.
At the same time, international market analysis in the field of development and export of drones indicates a steady growth in the UAV market.
As K. Bishimov noted, the enterprise should become a major center for maintenance, repair and modernization of aircraft in the country. In the future, it is planned to export Kazakhstani products.
Until the end of this year, the first delivery of equipment, components and assemblies for the production of UAVs is expected. (Source: UAS VISION)
09 Aug 19. UK pursues low-cost unmanned combat aircraft. Three Phase I contracts have been awarded under the LANCA programme. Industry teams led by Blue Bear Systems Research, Boeing Defence UK, and Callen-Lenz have been awarded contracts by the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) to complete the preliminary design of a low-cost unmanned combat aircraft that can operate alongside manned fast jets as part of future air power mix. The Lightweight Affordable Novel Combat Air (LANCA) technology demonstrator initiative, which is known as Project Mosquito, is intended to generate evidence in order to inform a potential future ‘Loyal Wingman’ requirement. As well as exploring the utility of an unmanned adjunct capability to inform the UK’s Combat Air Strategy, the LANCA initiative is also intended to grow understanding of methods to radically reduce the cost and time of fielding a combat air capability of this class compared with traditional combat air systems.
LANCA emerged from the 2015 studies undertaken by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to understand how innovative combat air technologies and operating concepts might offer radical reductions in system cost and development time. Subsequently, LANCA was brought into the RAF RCO as part of the wider Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI): apart from LANCA, the FCAS IT initiative also encompasses the Next Generation Combat Air System (being developed under the umbrella of Team Tempest).
The acquisition strategy for Project Mosquito is split into two phases: Phase I, which lasts for 12 months and covers preliminary system design, and Phase II, which will see a downselect to one or two teams to further mature their designs, complete manufacturing of the technology demonstrator, and complete a limited flight-test programme.
Up to two contracts will be awarded for Phase II. Initial flight tests of the demonstrator air vehicle could take place as early as 2022. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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.