Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
06 Sep 19. US Army studying potential of swarming technology for small units. The US Army has revealed that it is planning to incorporate robotic swarming technology in its operations to enhance its capabilities. Army Futures Command (AFC) is currently exploring the potential of using robotic systems in swarming formations to improve army small units’ mission command capabilities. The project is looking at studying the feasibility of deploying autonomous systems such as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) as part of a swarm. Swarming technology involves bringing together multiple autonomous systems to coordinate with each other in military operations and act as a cohesive unit. The US Army small units would be able to use the swarms to deploy a combination of manned and unmanned systems in support of a range of missions. The technology would also facilitate information exchange between the swarms and soldiers, mounted or dismounted.
AFC Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center chief engineer Osie David said: “The army is looking to swarming technology to be able to execute time-consuming or dangerous tasks.
“The army wants robustness, flexibility and persistence, so we’re moving away from controlling through tele-operating and trending toward commanding.”
David added that autonomous swarms will support teaming with humans to enable soldiers to make the right choices on the battlefield.
The C5ISR Center is exploring how much support commanders and their staff would be able to draw from the technology during mission command.
C5ISR Center Command, Power and Integration Directorate systems engineer RJ Regars stated that a ground force commander can make use of swarming technologies to conduct mission sets based on the reconnaissance requirements.
Regars said: “Swarm technology, with a potential combination of unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, is ideally suited for difficult-to-manoeuvre environments like cities, forests or caves.
“The swarms could move quickly and quietly while tracking specific targets in locations where a traditional army formation cannot quickly manoeuvre while sending data to units several miles away. The ability to continuously patrol an area or route and quickly convey that data back to the unit is extremely valuable.” (Source: army-technology.com)
06 Sep 19. Cyberhawk, Curtiss-Wright to Provide Visual Asset Management for Nuclear Assets. Curtiss-Wright’s Nuclear Division (Curtiss-Wright) and Cyberhawk Inc, a subsidiary of Cyberhawk Ltd, announced that they have signed an agreement to provide visual asset management using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and software to the North American nuclear power market.
As part of the agreement, Curtiss-Wright will market and deliver Cyberhawk’s services to customers that require visual inspections of their critical assets.
As an international engineering inspection and survey specialist and world leader in end-to-end visual data management, Cyberhawk digitalizes clients’ assets and helps them make informed decisions using drones and software. Their services include site visualization and surveying; close visual and thermal inspections; and detailed digital inspection reports via their cloud-based visual asset management software, iHawk.
Cyberhawk has direct experience in the nuclear market having conducted inspections at several North American sites including the Cook Nuclear Plant. Their teams completed ASME code-compliant inspections using drones, providing significant cost savings while drastically reducing safety risks and interruptions to operations. The UAS can be utilized inside and outside of containment structures, buildings, cooling towers, tanks, security perimeters, and other important assets requiring periodic inspection.
Commenting on the new agreement, Brian Dassatti, General Manager of Curtiss-Wright’s Outage and Fuel Management Solutions group, stated,
“This agreement is an important step in the achievement of our strategic plan to transform plant processes by increasing our portfolio of products and services through partner relationships and while continuing to deliver value to our customers. We are extremely excited to enter the nuclear market with a UAS service offering to advance our customers’ inspection needs.”
Commenting for Cyberhawk, Chris Fleming, Chief Executive Officer, said, “The agreement with Curtiss-Wright is another great achievement for the Cyberhawk brand and continues our on-going success within the nuclear market. We strive to lead the global market in end-to-end visual data management and will provide the same high-quality service for Curtiss-Wright as we do across our estate of world-class customers.” (Source: UAS VISION)
05 Sep 19. DHS Selects Planck Aerosystems for Small UAS Testing. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) awarded Planck Aerosystems, Inc. of San Diego, California, $200,000 to begin testing its autonomous small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) in operational settings, the agency said in a statement.
The contract to Planck is part of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) in which S&T partners with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to accelerate innovative technologies.
Planck’s portable, ruggedized detection system will provide real-time situational awareness to CBP agents in the field, through a combination of integrated technologies, including full-motion video, automatic target detection and geolocation. Agents will be able to launch and land a sUAS from a moving vehicle. The solution includes fully autonomous navigation, securing mechanism, advanced computer vision and customized communications interfaces, according to the DHS announcement.
“S&T is looking for technologies to enhance the efficacy of CBP patrols while simultaneously increasing the safety of patrolling agents,” said SVIP Managing Director Melissa Oh. “We look forward to the ways Planck will further refine its technology in support of this homeland security mission.”
In this fourth phase of SVIP, Planck will focus on functional usability improvements, such as improving user interfaces and increasing nighttime functionality, DHS stated.
The agency reminded interested companies that participating in the SVIP means eligibility for up to $800,000 of non-dilutive funding over four phases to adapt commercial technologies for homeland security use cases. (Source: UAS VISION/Signal)
04 Sep 19. Turkey’s High-Speed UAV to be Deployed in Kazakhstan. Turkey’s domestically developed high-speed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Şimşek will be used in tasks abroad, starting with a military drill in Kazakhstan that will last until Sept. 11.
The aerial vehicle developed by TUSAŞ Engine Industries Inc. (TEI) was initially produced as a result of a research and development project to meet the Turkish Armed Forces’ air defense training needs.
Şimşek made its maiden flight successfully on Aug. 4, 2012, and will now support Kazakhstan armed forces as part of the Military Cooperation- 2019 international military exercise as the domestic aerial vehicle’s first task abroad.
The domestic vehicle was used in major military trainings including the Sea Wolf (Denizkurdu) 2019 military exercise, which was launched by the Turkish Navy simultaneously in three seas, Blue Homeland 2019, a joint military drill conducted with the attendance over 100 vessels on all three seas surrounding the country, the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, and Deniz Yıldızı (Sea Star), the Turkish navy’s military exercise in the Sea of Marmara and Black Sea.
The aerial vehicle, which is used in monitoring and shooting training of air defense systems, can take off from land or ship platforms without the need for a runway with a pneumatic launcher and can land with parachute or land for re-use when not being hit.
The acoustic score recorder system measures the distance between the gun and the Şimşek aircraft and transfers the real-time information to the ground control station. Thanks to this system, the success of the shooting training can be monitored instantly.
The endurance time of the vehicle is above 45 minutes and it can reach a speed of 650 kilometers per hour. (Source: UAS VISION/Daily Sabah)
03 Sep 19. US Army again seeking ‘suicide drone’ proposals. The US Army is once again looking to equip small tactical units with a shoulder-launched loitering munition, also dubbed a ‘suicide drone’, to kill human targets and light-duty vehicles. In late August, the service posted a request for information on the Federal Business Opportunities website for a Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) to meet an urgent requirement. Accordingly, the service is asking industry to submit their proposals for existing, “low cost” LMAMS hardware solutions.
“The LMAMS is envisioned to be a precision-guided system, organic at the small unit level that enables engagement of enemy combatants without exposing the warfighter to direct enemy fires,” the army wrote. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Sep 19. Tehran Unveils Kian ‘High-Precision’ Attack Drone. Iran publicly unveiled yet another new drone on Sunday, part of its growing arsenal of locally produced drones and munitions. The Islamic Republic has been on a surge recently in terms of showing off new military technology. It showed off a new radar on August 10 and a new missile defense system on August 22.
The new drone is called Kian and is supposed to be able to carry out precision strikes against “distant targets.” In an apparent threat to Israel or other countries, Iran’s Army Air Defense commander Brig.-Gen. Alireza Sabahi-Fardand said that it was capable of hitting targets “far from Iran’s borders.”
State media claim that the Kian can also climb to an altitude of three miles (5000m). News agency IRNA report that Mr Sabahifard said the jet-propelled drone comes in two models of “surveillance and reconnaissance missions and continuous flight for precision missions”.
Mr Sabahifad believes the aircraft was designed, produced and tested by experts of the Iranian air defence force within about a year.
Oddly, the drone announcement was made in English – but Farsi media downplayed its importance. This likely means that ISNA and PressTV were given orders to push this information to make Western audiences aware of it. (Source: UAS VISION/The Jerusalem Post; Twitter)
03 Sep 19. Russia eyes nimble quadcopter for a warming arctic. In the not-too-distant past, it was the impossibility of the arctic that gave it a tantalizing appeal. Northwest passages were imagined and then smashed to smithereens. The 20th century saw the arctic utilized as a hiding place for submarines or the ground underneath the planned flight paths of nuclear warhead carriers. Now, as the world warms, militaries that ring the once-icy domain are building tools for potential conflict among whatever remains of the ice caps.
Russia, for example, is building a quadcopter that can operate from chilly seas.
Designed to operate with a hybrid gasoline and electric engine, this new SeaDrone quadcopter is built for the kinds of missions understand by small drones across the world. With a goal of flight times between 40 minutes and three hours, a combat radius of roughly 60 miles, the drones’ payload will be primarily its cameras, capable of both electro-optical and thermal imaging, and a radar system.
“Today, Russian military and the merchant fleets are investing in capabilities that would allow them to see beyond the horizon in unpredictable Arctic conditions, and control the Arctic waterways and territories,” said Samuel Bendett, an adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses. “The Russian military has already upgraded, modernized and even built new bases, airports and facilities up north, and ISR for that region is very high on the Ministry of Defence’s agenda.”
What sets SeaDrone apart is a waterproof body, allowing it to operate from vessels that would not normally have the deck space for even a small vertical takeoff vehicle. An ability to launch from, land in, and be recovered out of the water could make it a valuable naval tool, and not just a nautical novelty.
“This is not the first drone designed for the Arctic,” said Bendett, who has documented several other Russian arctic specimens. “Key for all of them is the ability to navigate in the fast-changing and often-dangerous Arctic conditions.”
One confounding variable of arctic operations is that drone magnetometers can falter at northern latitudes, as documented both by hobbyist experience and independent research. The SeaDrone makers promise the drone itself has software that understands this discrepancy and accounts for it automatically.
As the seas warm, and the arctic becomes not a barrier to travel but a shifting ocean of ice-laden paths between nations, drones are likely to accompany the vessels put forth into those rising seas. Magnetic oddities, once a modest problem of wildlife photographers or climate researchers, could take on greater significance, and require drones that can adapt through it. Or at the very least, drones that can float instead of sinking. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
02 Sep 19. Blue Bear completes another UK first in 5G. Blue Bear recently completed its first long range control test flight over 5G at Blue Bear’s Twinwoods flight test centre in Bedford. The Blue Bear team, part of the 5G Rural Integrated Test-Bed (5GRIT) project, flew an Agristart UAV under control of an operator 50km away. A local safety pilot was always in Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) and supervised the take-off and landing. Once airborne, control was handed over to the remote operator based at Kingston University. The remote operator was connected to the internet via WiFi into Kingston University’s local network, and then via the internet to Blue Bear’s 5G network.
This further demonstrates that the control of a drone can be technically from anywhere in the world over multiple types of communications link. In 2018, Blue Bear demonstrated one of its drones flying at its Bedford headquarters, whilst being controlled by an operator in India using a cloud-based system for requesting and permitting the operation of a drone.
Ian Williams-Wynn, Blue Bear’s Managing Director said, “this is another exciting UK first for Blue Bear, and the success of these demonstrations, combined with Blue Bear’s drone swarming technology and autonomy is another step towards operations centres being able to control large fleets of remotely located drones.”
Gavin Goudie, Blue Bear’s Operations Director said “use of robust and secure communications technologies is key to the development of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations, these tests have shown the potential of 5G for this requirement and demonstrated the capability of transferring significant volumes of data in real time”
02 Sep 19. Steadicopter, a leader in the Rotary Unmanned Aerial Systems (RUAS) industry, will present its next generation Black Eagle 50 advanced lightweight unmanned robotic helicopter at DSEI. New capabilities include an inertial navigation system with no dependence on GPS, as well as support for naval missions.
Steadicopter’s Black Eagle 50 unmanned helicopter has been upgraded with several additional new features and is tailored for naval missions with its robust mechanical and electronic capabilities that support flight in maritime environmental conditions. The company also recently signed a cooperative agreement with Israel Shipyards for the marketing of the Black Eagle as part of the defense, intelligence and surveillance systems installed on its OPV Family.
The Black Eagle 50 features a special inertial navigation system capability, based on input from the system’s inertial and other sensors. Through a unique and smart navigation algorithm, this input enables the continuation of the flight and the mission, without relying on GPS. This allows the Black Eagle 50 a significant advantage in GPS-denied areas.
According to Noam Lidor, Sales & Marketing Director at Steadicopter, “In recent months, we have invested considerable resources in improving and equipping our unmanned helicopter in order to adapt it to a wide range of missions both on land and at sea. We have also developed cooperation with a number of Israeli companies ‒ each a leader in its field ‒ so that we can equip our helicopter with the highest quality and most advanced payloads.”
The Black Eagle 50 is a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) robotic observation system. It is an ideal solution for tactical maritime and land Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions.
A data link connects the aircraft with the ground controller, enabling the transmission of live video and data between the two. The system has a steady hovering endurance of up to 3 hours and flight endurance of up to 4 hours. At only 27kg, the Black Eagle 50 is extremely lightweight and compact, with a maximum take-off weight of 35Kg, and payload capacity of 5Kg. It has a communication range of up to 150km, depending on the client’s requirements, and a service ceiling of up to 10,000ft. Its total length is just 2540mm, while its maximum air speed is 70 knots (126Km/h) with a cruising speed of 45 knots (81 Km/h).
30 Aug 19. Chinese CH-4 UAV arrives in Surabaya for demonstration flight. A single Chinese-made CH-4 medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has arrived in Indonesia for demonstration flights, the Indonesian Navy’s (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut: TNI-AL’s) aviation squadron confirmed to Jane’s on 30 August.
Although the service has declined to provide further details of the airframe, Jane’s understands from images provided that the location at which the aircraft is parked is the Juanda airbase in Surabaya, the headquarters of the TNI-AL’s aviation squadron.
Jane’s also understands that the TNI-AL is assisting the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara: TNI-AU) in arranging the series of demonstration flights. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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