Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
06 Feb 20. IAI signs MoU with two Indian companies on unmanned aerial vehicles. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has signed a strategic collaboration memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian companies Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Dynamatic Technologies (DTL) to focus on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The MoU will reflect IAI’s existing UAV capabilities over the years and would promote the production of Indian UAVs, in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ policy.
Under the partnership, the Indian companies will implement solutions for local customers based on their specific technologies and requirements.
Israel Aerospace Industries Military Aircraft Group executive vice-president and general manager Moshe Levy said: “We are delighted to sign the strategic agreement with our partners, HAL and DTL.
“India is an important strategic partner for UAVs and I’m confident the combination of IAI’s extensive experience and the technological capabilities of HAL and DTL will lead to significant advancements in the field.”
The collaboration will focus on the sharing of new technologies for upgrading UAV capabilities and provide advanced systems that comprise integrated local technologies to Indian customers.
Additionally, IAI signed an MoU with Navratna Defence PSU Bharat Electronics (BEL) for establishing a centre to provide product lifecycle support, including repair and maintenance services for the air-defence systems in the country. The Indian airforce, navy and army will get the required technical and maintenance support from the centre.
As part of the collaboration, the synergetic capabilities of IAI and BEL will be leveraged.
Bharat Electronics Marketing director Anandi Ramalingam said: “BEL provides comprehensive product lifecycle support solutions for the products and systems delivered by BEL to the defence customers.
“The collaboration with IAI and establishment of a new centre to offer repair and maintenance services will enhance BEL’s service offerings and help to provide an immediate and optimised maintenance solution for the air defence systems.” (Source: airforce-technology.com)
06 Feb 20. UK Drone Delivery Group makes urgent ‘call to action’ for property owners and influencers to provide testing areas for drones – to prevent ‘bottleneck to growth.’
One of the UK’s leading drone experts today urged British property owners and business leaders to leverage the opportunity of their under-used land for drone testing, to help accelerate the rate of growth of the UK drone industry, in the face of what he described as ‘an emerging ‘bottleneck’ to growth’.
Robert Garbett founder of the UK Drone Delivery Group, which is the first industry initiative to provide guidance on the steps required to enable accelerated commercialisation of the UK Drone Industry, stated “There is a current unnecessary ‘bottleneck’ in the evolution of the drone industry and this primarily lies in the lack of controlled testing locations which can provide trial areas and safe environments to accelerate the development of drone technology, help to shape its standards, and ensure appropriate but non constricting regulations”.
He commented “The British Government has played a constructive role to date and the UK is a world leader in drone technology… but to stay ahead in this fast moving game, then business, local authorities, police, fire & rescue services and even members of the public, must work together in a partnership of participation and cooperation.
Examples of desirable drone technology testing locations include not only large airports and aerodromes that may already be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, but also forests, remote coastal areas and ports, through to residential areas and other dense urban environments. Testing will need to include everything from simple potential drone tasks such as parcel delivery, to much more complex applications such as smart motorway monitoring, law enforcement rapid response and search and rescue.”
The economic benefits offered by drone technology are estimated to be massive, with significant growth expected to accelerate across surface, underwater, air and space, as well as emerging hybrid drone applications. In November 2019, analysts at Barclays predicted that the commercial drone market could grow tenfold from $4bn in 2018 to $40bn in five years, resulting in efficiency cost savings of some $100bn… and these predictions relate to solely air drones. If you add on the fast-growing possibilities for surface, underwater or space drones then the potential growth is substantially greater.
“However,” says Robert Garbett “these predictions of the astonishing potential for growth, are dependent upon the business community and wider public recognising the important part they can play regarding potential testing locations and trial areas.
“The opportunity for the commercial drone market is vast, but with such a fast-growing emerging technology we have to ensure we act quickly, lest our ambitious international competitors overtake our lead.
“My ‘call to action’ is to say that I’d like to hear from those who feel they can contribute to this aspect of this exciting fast growth industry, which is expected to be of vital future importance to UK plc.”
Robert Garbett’s ‘call to action’ and expansion of Drone testing in the UK comes a few days before the House of Lords debates a Government bill on Monday 10 February to update the licensing regime for airspace use, together with greater police enforcement power to ensure safe and responsible use for drones.
Those interested in participating in the UK Drone Delivery Group’s initiative to provide testing areas for drones should contact: https://www.dronemajorgroup.com/drone-delivery-group
06 Feb 20. Yates to Launch Wide-Body Silent Arrow at Farnborough. Yates Electrospace Corporation (YEC) has announced the design completion and specifications of a wide-body version of its successful GD-2000 cargo delivery drone, with unveiling set for July 20-24, 2020 at the Farnborough International Airshow, UK.
Developed by YEC based on real-time demand from U.S. and allied foreign government Special Operators including the U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), the new wide-body is 60% larger than the standard Silent Arrow GD-2000, with a 140cu/ft cargo bay that accommodates five times more life-saving supplies, medicines and tactical cargo.
“The YEC engineering team used current flight data from the inaugural GD-2000 product line along with extensive computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to optimize the aerodynamics and glide ratio of this rather massive cargo delivery platform,” said Chip Yates, YEC’s founder and CEO. “With two launch customers on hand, our accelerated schedule delivers development units by the end of March 2020 and 10 flight test units throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2020.”
- Specification highlights of the new Silent Arrow GD-2000 WB include:
- Gross Weight: 2,000lbs (907 kg)
- Cargo Weight: 1,250lbs (567 kg)
- Cargo Volume: 140cu/ft (4 cu/m)
- Glide Ratio: 7.63:1
- Standoff: 36 miles (58km)
- Logistics: 48ft wingspan (4 spring-deployed wings) stowed in 3.5ft x 3.5ft x 13ft fuselage
A full scale, flight-ready Silent Arrow GD-2000 cargo delivery drone was unveiled on September 10-13, 2019 at the Defense & Security Equipment International (DSEI) show in London, co-hosted by The MEL Group, whose Silent Arrow contract manufacturing license has been extended to include serial production of the GD-2000 WB, and who will support YEC at Farnborough 2020.
Designed for immediate air response and emergency relief, Silent Arrow’s tightly integrated packaging with its unique spring-deployed wing system transported inside the fuselage, high standoff distance and low cost has received enthusiastic reception from both the tactical resupply and the humanitarian / disaster relief markets. Silent Arrow is designed for fixed-wing and rotorcraft deployment of critically needed supplies, cargo and fuel under austere operating conditions and timelines.
Silent Arrow was named one of six “Unmanned Cargo Aircraft to Watch” by Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine in their Aerospace & Defense 2020 issue. (Source: UAS VISION)
04 Feb 20. Inzpire Limited to Support UK Maritime Coastguard Agency Flight Trials. Inzpire Limited will be providing planning and operational management to the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) during its UK flight trials of unmanned aerial systems. The trials will demonstrate the advantages of using long-range unmanned capabilities in civilian airspace.
Inzpire Limited will provide subject matter experts who will be responsible for planning the Search and Rescue (SAR) missions for the platforms as specified by the MCA, and will manage all planning and operational aspects of the demonstration. Working alongside the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Inzpire’s experts will design missions which can be delivered safely inside the bounds of the CAA’s approvals. During the planning phase, Inzpire Limited will produce a detailed flying schedule in coordination with the airfield operations department. This schedule will build in complexity, taking a measured approach to achieving the MCA’s desire to operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight of the operator in uncontrolled and unsegregated airspace. In support of the safe operation in the UK, Inzpire Limited will also produce supporting documents including Standard Operating Procedures and Concept of Operations to assist in continued development of the capability. After the demonstration, Inzpire will also be responsible for capturing all data and lessons identified, providing a detailed report to the MCA of the findings.
Paul Rolfe, Inzpire’s head of unmanned and ISTAR experts, said “This is a huge opportunity for Inzpire and we are delighted to be involved in this ground breaking demonstration. The vast operational experience of the Inzpire personnel will enable the team to meet all of the MCA requirements and enable the demonstration of a significant number of “firsts” for the UK and Inzpire which we hope will aid in the delivery of the safe use of large UAS in the UK service delivery domain”.
Maritime Minister, Nusrat Ghani said: “Drone technology has enormous potential for our search and rescue teams, who save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This ground-breaking project will not only hope to boost the capabilities of our already fantastic teams but will also boost our ability to spot pollution hazards and protect our precious marine environment.”
Inzpire’s Unmanned and ISTAR Experts Division
Inzpire’s unmanned and ISTAR experts team have amassed over 50,000 flying hours on both manned and unmanned aircraft. The unrivalled understanding and expertise of the team encompasses everything from sensor and mission payload operators to imagery analysts, intelligence fusion specialists, maintainers, pilots and operators and training needs analysis experts.
Inzpire’s unmanned subject matter experts deliver the full range of unmanned, manned and ISR requirements, including comprehensive training services, research material and the development of concept of employment documents.
The team have successfully completed programmes all over the globe and in many environments from the Middle East to Northern Canada from small scale ventures to large scale programme integration.
04 Feb 20. Boeing [NYSE: BA] and the U.S. Navy successfully flew two autonomously controlled EA-18G Growlers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as unmanned air systems using a third Growler as a mission controller for the other two. The flights, conducted during the Navy Warfare Development Command’s annual fleet experiment (FLEX) exercises, proved the effectiveness of technology allowing F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers to perform combat missions with unmanned systems.
“This demonstration allows Boeing and the Navy the opportunity to analyze the data collected and decide where to make investments in future technologies,” said Tom Brandt, Boeing Manned-UnManned Teaming demonstration lead. “It could provide synergy with other U.S. Navy unmanned systems in development across the spectrum and in other services.”
Over the course of four flights, 21 demonstration missions were completed.
“This technology allows the Navy to extend the reach of sensors while keeping manned aircraft out of harm’s way,” Brandt said. “It’s a force multiplier that enables a single aircrew to control multiple aircraft without greatly increasing workload. It has the potential to increase survivability as well as situational awareness.”
03 Feb 20. The Pentagon Is Spending Millions on Hunter Drones With Nets. After an F-22 Raptor nearly collided with a cheap drone in 2017, the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command received permission to shoot down unmanned flying objects that get too near its airbases. But shooting down drones over cities is a less-than-ideal solution to a growing problem. The Defense Innovation Unit, or DIU, is contracting with Utah-based Fortem Technologies for its SkyDome anti-drone system, which marries net-armed drones called DroneHunters with a radar system dubbed TrueView. While other anti-drone systems look for the radio signals that connect drones to their operators – and then try to jam or home in on them — SkyDome can discard the assumption that an incoming drone is emitting anything at all.
“It’s very easy to program a drone to fly completely autonomously. It can be done with a commercial, off-the-shelf drone,” Fortem’s CTO and co-founder Adam Robertson.
The SkyDome combines radar, sensors aboard the DroneHunters, and even other sensors. It’s an ensemble approach that mimics, somewhat, the way an animal or human might hunt in the wild, using a variety of data sources to make targeting determinations. “It allows us to take from any source all of the intelligence that’s available. We have ground-based radar systems that are excellent at detection,” Robertson said. “I have camera systems where I can use the radar to point a camera and look at things.”
Once the system detects something, SkyDome uses image recognition and AI to classify the object and its intent. “Is it a bird? Is it a drone? Is it a friendly drone or an unfriendly drone?” Robertson said. “It uses the intelligence gained from each of its sensors combined, much as your brain would, and makes a call and says, ‘that’s a threat.’”
Launched automatically upon detection or at a human’s command, the DroneHunter climbs to altitude and then uses onboard radar to track the enemy drone. Up in the air, there is very little to interfere with the DroneHunter’s ability to lock on target. “It can see these drones from hundreds of meters away,” said Robertson.
After snaring a drone in its net, the DroneHunter brings it back. Nabbing a drone out of the sky offers a few advantages over attempting to jam it or blowing it up. You avoid bringing laser-riddled drones crashing down on urban crowds. You don’t foul up cellular communications networks. And you get more out of forensic analysis, which can show who launched the drone and from where.
Robertson said the DIU contract was worth multiple millions of dollars, though he declined to specify further. DIU did not immediately respond to request for comment. Several combatant commands are interested, Robertson said. (Source: Defense One)
04 Feb 20. DOTE cites need for further Knifefish development. Based on recent tests, the US Navy’s (USN’s) Surface Mine Countermeasure (SMCM) Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV), or Knifefish, needs more development work, the Pentagon Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOTE) said in its annual report, released on 30 January.
The USN recently conducted an operational assessment to evaluate the system’s capability to detect, classify, and identify naval mines that are moored in the ocean volume and that lay on, or are buried in, the ocean bottom, the DOTE noted.
“Test results show that Knifefish requires further development to provide an operationally effective and suitable capability for its intended use,” DOTE reported, pointing out the navy plans to incrementally upgrade and test Knifefish capability to meet operational needs prior to Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) and fleet introduction to the system.(Source: Jane’s)
04 Feb 20. Elbit Systems UK has been selected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to conduct maritime demonstration flights in the UK using a number of its unmanned aerial systems (UAS) including the Hermes 900. The demonstration flights are designed to demonstrate the advantages of using long-range unmanned capabilities in civilian airspace, with the ability to utilise multiple sensors on a single platform. Elbit Systems UK will collaborate closely with the UK Civil Aviation Authority, supported by additional UK companies, including Inzpire and Aviation Systems Group.
Martin Fausset, CEO of Elbit Systems UK commented: “We are proud to partner with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency on this valuable demonstration of the wide range of unmanned capabilities Elbit Systems UK can offer. We look forward to providing the best possible support for the lifesaving work of the MCA. This is the latest example of how Elbit Systems UK is delivering proven technologies to support operational needs of UK customers”.
With a wingspan of 15 metres, the 1.2 Ton Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol is a long-range maritime surveillance system tailored for littoral and blue water operations. It features maritime radar, an Electro Optic payload, Satellite Communication, an Automatic Identification System receiver and an Emergency Position-indicating Radio Beacon receiver. The Hermes 900 Maritime Patrol enables persistent monitoring of vast swathes of sea and long coastlines with effective advanced search capabilities to support with valuable search and rescue work as well as the identification of potential hazards. Elbit Systems’ Skylark I-LEX will also be taking part in the demonstration flights.
This will support the MCA in their existing efforts, providing a 24-hour maritime search and rescue service around the UK coast and in the international search and rescue region through HM Coastguard.
Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said: “Drone technology has enormous potential for our search and rescue teams, who save lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
This ground-breaking project will not only hope to boost the capabilities of our already fantastic teams but will also boost our ability to spot pollution hazards and protect our precious marine environment.”
31 Jan 20. UAVOS advances unmanned VTOL UAV developments. UAVOS has expanded its product portfolio of vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicles (VTOL UAVs) with the UVH R22 platform, which is derived from the Robinson R22 single-engine light utility helicopter.
According to company specifications, the UVH R22 has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 635kg, measures 8.8 m long and 2.7m tall, and has a main rotor diameter of 7.7m. The air vehicle is powered by a 4-stroke Lycoming O-320-A2B engine that produces up to 124hp, enabling it to cruise and sprint at speeds of up to 160 and 189km/h, respectively, and attain a service ceiling of 13,779ft (4,200m) at a nominal climb rate of 6 m/s.
The UVH R22 is also equipped with a 270 litre fuel tank that supports an operational range of 1,020km or a flight endurance of up to six hours, and can carry 40 kg of stores when carrying a full fuel load. Possible payloads include a light detection and ranging or synthetic aperture radar (LIDAR/SAR), or electro-optical sensors and scientific measurement devices.
The company intends to pitch the all-weather air vehicle – which allows it to be capable of taking off and landing on a level surface 15 × 15m in size and in wind speeds of up to 14 m/s – to customers that require the ability to perform mission critical deliveries in austere environments, with possible applications including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR). UAVOS chief executive officer and lead developer Aliaksei Stratsilatau told Jane’s that the conversion programme commenced in May 2018 under a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) with first flight achieved in April 2019 in the kingdom. (Source: Jane’s)
31 Jan 20. DARPA pushes ahead with Assured Autonomy programme. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Assured Autonomy programme has concluded its first phase, with progress made on air, land, and underwater demonstration platforms, the agency announced on 29 January. The Assured Autonomy effort aims to develop formal safety assurances for the rapidly developing autonomous domain. While there have been huge advances in the modelling, sensing, computing, and other technologies needed for autonomous systems to operate, DARPA noted that there has not been similar progress in assuring their safe and correct operation due mainly to a reliance on data-driven machine learning (ML) technologies, which DARPA states “are inherently unpredictable and lack the necessary mathematical framework to provide guarantees on correctness”.(Source: Jane’s)
31 Jan 20. NUAIR Partners with DroneResponders. Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) has partnered with DroneResponders, the world’s fastest growing nonprofit program supporting the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – commonly referred to as “drones” – by public safety and emergency services professionals.
NUAIR has helped over 25 state, county and local municipality emergency responders implement UAS programs, enhancing their operations and helping save lives. This new partnership will enhance UAS educational services and training programs for public safety organizations.
Public safety organizations are quickly realizing the life-saving potential of drones. Search and rescue, situational awareness/live streaming, and reconnaissance are the top three UAS missions ranked in order of importance according to public safety UAS professionals. The lack of educational activities, training, programs and awareness of useful drone technology are some of the key issues NUAIR and DroneResponders plan on addressing in their new partnership.
“NUAIR continues to enhance its services to New York State agencies, partnering with DroneResponders will help us within the public safety sector,” said Michael Hertzendorf, chief executive officer of NUAIR. “NUAIR’s technological expertise, flight experience and training, paired with DroneResponders’ network of public safety officials and their specific needs, will help accelerate the adoption of drone technology in emergency response organizations.”
“Our partnership with NUAIR will help accelerate the adoption of UAS by first responders across New York State and beyond to help save lives and property,” said Charles Werner, director of DroneResponders and retired fire chief from Charlottesville, VA. “Our DroneResponders Major Cities Working Group members will also be working closely with NUAIR to conduct research and testing on the use of public safety UAS in large urban and metropolitan areas.”
This new partnership compliments NUAIR’s “NYFLY” program – a New York UAS public-private partnership program being developed to spur the adoption of UAS into state and local government operations to help solve problems and increase effectiveness and efficiency of operations. The NYFLY program is open to all New York State agencies looking to enhance their operations including public safety, the energy sector (powerline, pipeline, windmill inspections), environmental conservation and more. (Source: UAS VISION)
31 Jan 20. IAI develops new Heron MK II UAV. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced an improved version of its Heron medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on 29 January, saying it will be displayed during the Singapore Airshow in February.
Avi Blesser, vice president of marketing at IAI’s Military Aircraft Group, told reporters that the Heron MK II has a wider body and new engine that increases the original Heron’s rate of climb by 50%, its maximum speed from 120 kt to 140 kt, and maximum take-off weight from 1,200 kg with a 450 kg payload to 1,350 kg with a 470 kg payload.
The wider body “gives us the possibility of adding more sensors and more payloads on the same platform and to get many more layers [of intelligence] to the battlefield,” Blesser said.
He listed possible payloads as SAR radars, electro-optical sensors, electronic and signals intelligence sensors, and sonar buoys for detecting submarines.
The Heron MK II also comes with more automation, Blesser stressed, including the ability to land and take-off from airstrips that do not have ground stations capable of controlling the UAV and flying itself to its mission area. (Source: Jane’s)
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