Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
23 Apr 20. Radiation-Detecting Drones without GPS. The Czech company ADVACAM and the Laboratory of Multi-robot Systems of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of CTU (MRS) in Prague have teamed up to develop a drone that will search independently for radiation. The advantage over the systems currently in use is the combination of small size and flexibility of the drones that can reach even inaccessible sites such as a forest or factory, with state-of-the-art detection technology that allows drones to find a radiation source up to 100 times more efficiently than today and at an incomparably lower cost. The detectors will be provided by ADVACAM, a developer of state-of-the-art imaging technology, supplied even to NASA.
The drone development is the responsibility of MRS, an internationally recognised team of experts in robotics and autonomous drone movement. The device will serve the police, the military, the rescue services, and nuclear power stations. The prototype should be ready in the autumn. The product should enter international markets in about a year and a half.
The advantage for movement in hard-to-reach locations will be not only the small size of the aircraft (one, maximum two kilogrammes), but mainly the ability of autonomous flight.
“We don’t need what most drones need today, and that’s a GPS signal. The drone only needs sensors that it carries itself on board, thanks to which it recognizes even complex obstacles and can move even where GPS navigation is not possible. Simultaneously, our system will be small, which will allow it to fly into an environment with obstacles, and so smart that it will be able to fly in that environment,” says Saska.
“Development of this device is possible not only thanks to excellent experts from CTU, but also thanks to detectors from ADVACAM. The latest detector to be used here is not only powerful, but also small and lightweight, allowing it to be used on a drone or even in space,” says Jan Sohar, CEO of ADVACAM. “The detector operation in the monolithic Compton camera mode is quite unique, which will allow determination of the direction of radiation for several captured particles. The drone no longer needs to search the entire space, point by point, but thanks to the knowledge of the direction, it heads straight to the source. The search speed thus increases significantly. Another advantage is the high mobility that allows it to get close to the source and identify it very quickly. Combining all the benefits will increase search efficiency by about 100 times over conventional methods,” says Jan Jakůbek, CSO of ADVACAM and the project creator.
“The innovative principle offers higher utility value compared to today’s competing products at multiple times lower costs and opens up interesting market opportunities,” says Jan Sohar.
The equipment can be used in the market in particular for monitoring of security risks – checks at borders, ports, airports, in places of accidents, municipal waste repositories, regular isotope supplies for nuclear medicine, etc.. (Source: UAS VISION)
23 Apr 20. AeroVironment Unveils Quantix™ Recon, Fully-Automated Hybrid Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aircraft System for Defense Applications.
- Quantix Recon delivers on-demand, georeferenced aerial imagery, providing quick visibility for on-site mission planning and verification
- Fully-Automated, hybrid vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) design and radio frequency silent mode enable aircraft to conduct missions undetected
- Powerful onboard processing delivers high-resolution imagery immediately on the included operating tablet upon landing – no other devices, internet or software required
AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced the availability of Quantix™ Recon, a lightweight, rapidly deployable, fully-automated reconnaissance solution that delivers high resolution, georeferenced terrain, vegetation and infrastructure imagery, providing ground forces with on-demand actionable intelligence.
With its unique hybrid VTOL design, Quantix Recon combines the vertical takeoff and landing advantages of a multirotor drone with the range, speed and efficiency of a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft. Featuring fully-automated flight operation, Quantix Recon surveys up to 1.6 square kilometers (0.6 square miles), or 20 linear kilometers (12.4 miles) per 45-minute single battery flight. Multiple automated reconnaissance mode options allow users to choose between line (route), area and waypoint targeted data capture. Collected aerial imagery data is compatible with a wide range of available geographic information system (GIS) analytical tools to facilitate further analysis.
“AeroVironment’s Quantix Recon is a low-cost reconnaissance solution that can be in the air within minutes, capturing high-resolution georeferenced imagery of hard to access areas or dynamically changing environments.” said Rick Pedigo, vice president of sales and business development for AeroVironment. “Because it does not rely on radio signals during flight, Quantix Recon offers greater stealth for concealed operations and is unaffected by radio frequency jammers, providing greater protection for frontline troops while reducing cognitive load.”
Powerfully simple to use, Quantix Recon is fully-automated and hands-free with five optional flight altitudes, ranging from 150 feet to 800 feet. Simple, automated operation makes Quantix Recon easy for users to vary the coverage area and image resolution to suit their aerial reconnaissance needs.
Quantix Recon is equipped with dual 18-megapixel cameras that can capture both high resolution true color and multispectral georeferenced imagery. Powerful, on-board processing allows users to immediately view the high-resolution geospatial imagery on the included operating tablet as soon as the aircraft lands, requiring no other devices, internet or software. And, through the operating tablet’s Quick-Look™ HD app feature, users can pinch and zoom navigation down to centimeter-level ground sampling distance, enabling them to pinpoint and react to critical issues with precision and speed.
To learn more, visit www.avinc.com/Quantix-Recon, or view the recorded Quantix Recon Press Briefing at https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1301973&tp_key=30b0e82b7b, using the password “QuantixRecon.” (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
22 Apr 20. Covid-19: Leonardo confident of Falco Xplorer certification, despite coronavirus. Leonardo is confident that it can meet its end-of-year goal for certification of the Falco Xplorer unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), despite restrictions imposed on the test team under Italy’s wider counter-coronavirus measures. Speaking to Jane’s on 21 April, Fabrizio Boggiani, SVP Airborne Systems, Leonardo Electronics, said that military certification of the latest iteration of the Falco UAV is the programme goal for 2020 despite the current health crisis.
“There is some impact now [from coronavirus], but we are moving forward along our plan,” Boggiani said. “All of 2020 will be focused on getting the first stage of certification – military certification – from the [Italian Military Airworthiness Authority – ITA MAA]. (Source: Jane’s)
22 Apr 20. Russian MoD accepts Orion MALE UAS for operational evaluation. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has accepted the first Orion unmanned aerial system (UAS) with three Orion medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and a ground control station from the Kronstadt Group for operational evaluation, the company’s designer general, Nikolai Dolzhenkov, told the TASS news agency on 20 April.
“The technical acceptance and handover have already been signed off, with only some financial issues awaiting finalisation. The technical nuances have already been dealt with: the UAVs have been flight tested and their components have been checked,” said Dolzhenkov.
This is the first delivery of the Russian-made MALE UAS, according to Dolzhenkov. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Apr 20. Iran unveils armed Ababil-3 UAV. Iran now has armed versions of its Ababil-3 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), it was revealed during an 18 April ceremony held to mark the delivery of three types of unmanned aircraft to the military. The Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics released photographs showing a hangar at the Aerospace Industries Organisation facility in Isfahan with 11 Ababil-3s, one of which was carrying a television-guided munition on a hardpoint under a wing. This appeared to be a member of the Ghaem family of small-guided bombs that has previously been seen on Mohajer-6 UAVs.
Iranian television showed an Ababil-3 with a different livery apparently carrying out a precision air strike against an old tank using a munition labelled as a Ghaem.
The MODAFL cited Defence Minister Amir Hatami as saying the Ababil-3 has a range of 150km. The two other types of unmanned aircraft were identified as the Karrar and the ‘multi-role jet’. Resembling an aerial target drone, the Karrar has been displayed before and is supposedly capable of carrying and releasing a standard aircraft bomb over a target. Two were displayed carrying bombs during the ceremony, with at least one labelled as a Karrar-3. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Apr 20. DARPA awards nine new contracts to foster drone swarm technology. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has issued nine new contracts to companies developing drone swarm technologies, the agency announced April 13. Through the agency’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics program, or OFFSET, it hopes to foster technology developments that will enable 250 small unmanned air or ground robots to work together in support of the war fighter.
The program works in five main areas: swarm tactics, swarm autonomy, human-swarm teaming, virtual environment and physical test bed. The agency has hosted multiple swarm sprints to encourage rapid innovation in one or more of those areas. The nine awards mark the fifth such swarm sprint, with this one focused on swarm tactics and physical test beds in an urban environment.
“The urban environment presents compelling challenges such as tall buildings, tight spaces, and limited sight lines,” Timothy Chung, the OFFSET program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said in an agency news release. “Enhancing the Swarm Physical Testbeds that tackle those unique challenges is a desired goal of the OFFSET program.”
Four of the participants will be tackling the swarm tactics portion of the sprint, where they will be asked to solve problems such as “disrupting the opposition’s decision making, obfuscating swarm intent, updating maps of a dynamic environment, and maintaining the swarm’s communications indoors.”
The remaining five performers will work on the physical test bed thrust area, which includes reducing deployment times, utilizing new navigation sensors, incorporating fixed-wing aircraft into the swarm and enhancing mobility for robotic, wheeled vehicles in urban settings.
Participants will incorporate their technologies into the OFFSET swarm systems architecture to demonstrate their respective solutions, with field tests taking place in December 2020.
The recipients are as follows:
Thrust area: Physical test bed
- Michigan Technological University/Michigan Tech Research Institute
- Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
- HDT Expeditionary Systems, Inc.
- Sentien Robotics
- Texas A&M University
Thrust area: Swarm tactics
- Michigan Technological University/Michigan Tech Research Institute
- Charles River Analytics, Inc.
- Soar Technology, Inc.
- Northwestern University
(Source: C4ISR & Networks)
20 Apr 20. Skyguide and AIRSEAIR RPAS Team on CNS UAS services. Skyguide, the Swiss air navigation service provider, and AIRSEAIR RPAS, a remotely piloted aircraft systems operator and provider based in Montréal (Canada) with active presence in the Latin American region, are collaborating to establish CNS (Communication, Navigation, Surveillance) Drone Services in Central- and South America.
The Canadian operator will purchase a specially equipped drone developed by skyguide to measure and calibrate air navigation equipment in above-mentioned regions for airport operators and ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers).
“We look forward to improving techniques and possibilities of the Air Traffic Safety Electronics Personnel (ATSEP), and bringing efficiency, effectiveness, reduction of cost and CO2 emissions of Skyguide’s high quality CNS drone to our CAR/SAM Region,” says Sofanor Pallares, CEO of AIRSEAIR RPAS.
The Airseair RPAS team, consisting of ANS engineers and specialist in the aeronautical field, is proud to be part of the possibility to benefit Latin-American States with this service. Especially in times of crisis, this is a welcome opportunity to save costs in the aviation industry.
Skyguide’s drone for CNS maintenance is a key contributor to simplifying flight checks with more accurate data results and reducing operational disturbances, costs and the environmental impact.
In Switzerland, the CNS drone is regularly deployed at Geneva and Zurich international airports for ILS maintenance. The use of drones for measuring flight navigation instruments reduces the number of calibration flights in Switzerland significantly: today by 50% and from 2023 on by 70%. Skyguide, thus, reduces CO2 emissions by 142 tons and energy consumption by 541 MWh per year. (Source: UAS VISION)
15 Apr 20. SUGUS invites respondents to take part in survey investigating drone regulation needs. The European Solution for E-GNSS U-Space Service (SUGUS) project is inviting respondents to participate in a survey to identify and analyse needs to achieve safe drone integration. The survey is available until 15 May 2020 at: https://projectsugus.eu/survey/
Results of the survey will help to define a new EGNSS-based Application Programming Interface (API) and contribute to the development of drone standardisation and regulation.
SUGUS is an 18-month EUR485,000 European Commission project to promote European GNSS services (EGNOS and Galileo) for the effective and safe integration of drones in the airspace. Among objectives, SUGUS aims to demonstrate the benefits for drone operations of measures implemented at service-provision level, and the new EGNSS API to be implemented in the project. These benefits will include the mitigation of operating risks, improvement of preparation processes and clearance of the operator’s mission. The measures are expected to ease future urban aerial mobility (UAM) operations, such as aero taxis or parcel delivery. As the first step in this endeavour, SUGUS is carrying out the present survey to identify, capture and understand the U-space stakeholders’ needs and improve the user experience of E-GNSS in complex operations and built-up areas. (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
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.