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06 Nov 20. Robots support Navy rescue training exercise. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has congratulated the collaboration between Defence and defence industry in the Autonomous Warrior Genesis – the first of Navy’s flagship events exercising robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI).
Autonomous Warrior Genesis saw unmanned vehicles (UxVs) deployed by air, land and water to respond to a fictional humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) scenario on the Brisbane River.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the exercise demonstrated Defence working with Australian industry to integrate emerging technologies with Navy platforms to rapidly respond in emergency situations.
“Australia’s commitment to maintaining a strong and secure region is predicated on ongoing modernisation of Defence capability as new and disruptive technologies emerge,” Minister Reynolds said.
“As announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, the government recognises the exploration of autonomous and un‑crewed systems will further safeguard Australia’s capability and achieve expanded reach across the region.
“Using autonomous systems to respond to disaster scenarios is a potential game‑changer for Defence by providing the agility and technological edge to rapidly support our region in times of crisis.
“Navy’s recently launched RAS-AI Strategy emphasises the importance of strengthening Defence’s relationship with Australian industry to ensure together, we develop innovative new capabilities to respond to an evolving geostrategic environment.”
Autonomous Warrior Genesis took place at HMAS Moreton in Brisbane in a COVID Safe manner, in partnership with Emesent, Boeing Australia and EPE. (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Nov 20. Elistair Unveils Long-Endurance Orion 2 Tethered Drone. Elistair, a provider of tethered drone solutions, has announced the development of its new Orion 2 tethered unmanned system for military, government, and industry users. Unlike other multi-rotor drones, the Orion 2 hexacopter delivers round-the-clock surveillance for up to 24 hours at a time, making it a true persistent surveillance platform.
“Small, unmanned multi-rotor systems are great if you want a hover-and-stare capability, but they’re also notoriously short on battery life,” said Timothée Penet, CTO and co-founder of Elistair. “Powered tethering stations, like our Safe 2 and Ligh-T 4, offer a solution by increasing a platform’s time in the air—and that’s great for many missions. But what if you need to be on station for a whole day?”
That is where Elistair’s own Orion 2 comes into the picture.
A lightweight yet extremely durable hexacopter, the Orion 2 is designed as a quick-deploy system (automated push-button takeoff and landing) that can stay in the air for 24 hours—something that, previously, could only be done by a helium-filled tactical aerostat, which was a much larger platform and came with a very complicated logistical train.
“We developed redundancies at every level to ensure that the Orion 2 could stay up that long,” said Pierre-Moana Levesque, R&D Director at Elistair. “For example, we made it IP54; we optimized the lifespan of the components, including the motors; and we added a safety battery that could recharge in the air.”
The new Orion 2 is an improvement over the original Orion drone, which has already proven itself with international customers. The Orion helped secure the Ryder Cup in September 2018, flying over crowds of 300,000 attendees for 8 to 11 hours a day, and has been employed by the French police, British military, and Singaporean government.
With its micro-tether of 330 feet (100 meters), the Orion 2 flies higher than its predecessor and surveils more ground. It can also carry up to 2kg (4.5 pounds) of payload, so it can serve simultaneously as an ISR and telecom platform. The Orion 2 can also stream georeferenced electro-optical and infrared imagery at the same time, and it can deploy 4G/5G communications nodes thanks to a new fiber optics cable option.
“The Orion 2 tethered drone is a clear advance over the very capable Orion in terms of persistence, logistical footprint, and data control. We are thrilled by this product launch.” said Guilhem de Marliave, CEO and co-founder of Elistair. (Source: UAS VISION)
04 Nov 20. UAV Factory Announces the Penguin C Mk2 System. UAV Factory has announced the release of the Penguin C Mk2 system – the company’s most advanced small tactical UAS. The Penguin C Mk2 has successfully completed its validation flight program and the company has started deliveries to customers.
The Penguin C Mk2 is available in Group 2 or Group 3 configuration and has an increased payload capacity, endurance and capabilities compared to the Mk1 aircraft. The aircraft is optimized for up to 8-inch diameter payloads with the weight of around 4 kg. Improved aerodynamics and increased fuel capacity of Mk2 boosted its flight endurance capability – flights of 25.5 hours have been successfully demonstrated with Epsilon 140 LC day/night payload.
The Penguin C Mk2 is natively compatible with the entire range of Epsilon payloads, including state-of-art Epsilon 175 and Epsilon 180 gimbals. Penguin C Mk2 has a unique swappable nose concept which allows the field replacement of payloads within seconds. The swappable nose has an integrated motor that adds additional roll stabilization to the payload as well as protects the payload during recovery. The swappable payload concept allows customers to conveniently integrate custom payloads into the Penguin C Mk2.
The Penguin C Mk2 uses advanced Silvus 2×2 MIMO datalinks with the radio link range of over 120 kilometers. Advanced features such as MESH, beamforming, various encryption options, integrated spectrum analyzer as well as Interference Avoidance are available as well. The Datalink Interference Cancellation functionality is available for US customers. The Penguin C Mk2 is also operational in GPS-denied environment.
The Penguin C Mk2 underwent a major propulsion system upgrade program. The reliable and mature 28cc EFI engine has been complemented with a new high-reliability fuel pump system. As a result of the upgrade the engine is now capable to operate continuously over 55° Celsius ambient temperatures. (Source: UAS VISION)
02 Nov 20. Turkish armed USV development breaks cover. Turkish companies Ares Shipyard and Meteksan Defence have unveiled the country’s first indigenous armed unmanned surface vehicle (USV) development in a joint press conference on 28 October. The ULAQ USV has been under development using private funding from both companies since 2018. The principal design studies and concept definition was completed in 2018 and 2019, respectively, with work on the prototype commencing in June.
The design of the prototype USV, which measures 11 m long and can carry a payload of up to 2,000 kg, was finalised in the first quarter of this year. It will also be capable of reaching a stated maximum speed of 35 kt and an operating range of 215 n miles. The vehicle is scheduled to launch in December and expected to enter live firing trials in early 2021.
The prototype will be armed with a four-cell Cirit launcher and a pair of L-UMTAS missiles. The Cirit is an infrared (IR)-guided 70 mm missile with a maximum range of 8 km, which is designed to engage soft-skinned stationary and mobile targets. In contrast, the L-UMTAS is a long-range, laser-guided missile intended to defeat armoured threats out to a comparable range. Both weapons are supplied by Roketsan.
The ULAQ USV can also be equipped with different payloads including electronic warfare, communications and intelligence-gathering systems to meet other operational requirements such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, mine countermeasures (MCM), and reconnaissance and surveillance.
Besides the 11m variant, the companies are also planning to develop a smaller platform for dedicated MCM operations, as well a third version featuring an enlarged hullform to carry long-range, anti-ship missiles. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Oct 20. Wary of security issues, Japan’s government moves to shut China out of its drone supply chain. Japan may effectively shut off China from supplying drones to its government to protect sensitive information, according to six people in government and the ruling party familiar with the matter, as part of a broad effort to bolster national security.
FILE PHOTO: An unmanned flying boat named ‘HAMADORI’, developed by Japanese company Space Entertainment Laboratory and is equipped with various sensor options for survey, enabling safe operation on the open sea, is displayed at Japan Drone 2020 exhibition at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, east of Tokyo, Japan September 30, 2020. Picture taken September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Izumi Nakagawa/File Photo
The primary concerns, those people said, centred on information technology, supply chains, cyber security and intellectual property – worries that have been rising outside Japan as well.
But Japan must balance such fears – particularly Beijing’s growing push to export sensitive technologies such as commercial drones and security cameras – against deep economic dependence on China.
It must also navigate increasingly choppy waters between China and Japan’s closest ally, the United States, which is at odds with Beijing over many things, including technology.
“China is a big market and it is important for Japan,” one of the senior government officials said. “On the other hand, there are worries that advanced technologies and information could leak to China and could be diverted for military use.”
The defence ministry has several hundred drones, including some made by Chinese companies; the coast guard has about 30, and most are Chinese. Both said they were not using Chinese drones for security-related issues. Other government entities also use such drones.
It’s unclear whether all would need to be replaced, but the new drones, used for sensitive work such as criminal investigation, infrastructure work and emergency rescues, would have to be secured against data leaks and go through stricter vetting procedures, the revamped policy says.
The tightened rules, set to come into effect in April 2021, don’t mention any country by name. But the senior government and ruling party sources told Reuters they were created with China in mind.
The initiative includes fresh investment rules for foreigners enacted last year; ruling party lawmakers are also preparing a proposal on an all-encompassing law to promote economic security that will be unveiled this year.
Separately, Japan’s National Security Council set up a unit in April to examine how economic matters, such as advanced technologies, could affect national security.
Domestic drone makers expect to benefit from the changes, as they mean government ministries will most likely do their drone shopping at home.
A Japanese drone manufacturer, Tokyo Aircraft Instrument Co., Ltd., developed a camera drone that can fly in high winds – making it ideal for surveying damage after a disaster – and the company is talking potential applications with the government.
“The drone platform, flight-control system and radio communication equipment are all domestic-made, and it is our unique model based on our years of experience in avionics components,” said Kazuya Sumida of the company’s drone division. “We plan to further enhance the security of the drone’s information and communications functions.”
To be sure, government sales make up a small part of the nation’s drone business market, which stood at 140.9bn yen ($1.35bn) in the fiscal year to March 2020, up 51% from the previous year, according to Impress Research institute. The market is expected to grow to 642.7bn yen in the fiscal year to March 2026.
But the aim isn’t to boost local drone makers, the measure’s backers say – it’s to keep Japan secure.
“Japan will keep diplomatic ties with China but we will be more carefully respond to sensitive technologies and information,” said another senior government official.
Analysts say the U.S. can’t fully cut off China either because it would hurt the U.S. economy.
“I think allied nations will discuss critical technologies, especially information and technologies which could give military advantage to China,” said Tsuneo Watanabe, senior fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
Japan has already set aside around 300bn yen to diversify its supply chains and reduce reliance on China by bringing production home or locating more in Southeast Asia. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
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.