Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
12 Feb 21. ECA GROUP unveils upgrades on its CAMELEON UGV – Get ready for the MK3 version. ECA GROUP unveils the latest upgrades brought to its CAMELEON E Unmanned Ground Vehicle. This MK3 version enhances its capabilities for Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and Ordnance Explosive Devices (OED) clearance missions, ease of use and compatibility with ECA GROUP UGV range.
Explosive devices are a cheap and easy way for terrorists and foes to launch a large-scale attack. These threats are numerous and in constant evolution, becoming evermore difficult to detect, access or neutralize. It is particularly true when dealing with IED/OED devices or Chemical, Biological, radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) hazards. Therefore, robotic systems must be versatile enough to adapt to these threats.
Commonality with ECA GROUP UGV and UAV range
Having a versatile and efficient UGV can be achieved through constant innovation, accompanied by technical evolutions and expansion of performance, functions or integration of payloads. Compatibility is another characteristic that many UGV users are looking for when managing multiple UGV platforms – sharing the same command and control interface or when it comes to sensors plug-ins.
Leveraging on the cutting-edge technologies implemented on its latest IGUANA UGV, ECA GROUP has also upgraded the CAMELEON E robot. ECA GROUP now offers the CAMELEON E MK3, a new version with enhanced performances, with an intuitive user interface that is now compatible with ECA GROUP’s entire and wide range of UGVs.
Typical mission’s modules such as the manipulator 6 axis arm, the Pan&Tilt zoom camera, the X-Ray system, gripper jaws, disrupters, COFDM transmission, fiber optic transmission, CBRN…are fully compatible with the IGUANA UGV range.
As well, CAMELEON MK3 is fully compatible with the UAV IT180, which can be used in collaborating mode on the battlefield in order to give tactical feedback to the operator.
Enhanced capability for improved on-field efficiency
Increased arm capacities
One of the main upgrades concerns its 6-axis manipulator arm, enhancing its performance. The arm is now compatible with the IGUANA UGV to reduce the logistic foot print and spare additional costs.
This major upgrade has been designed to facilitate articulated manipulation and offers more possibilities to on-field users, whichever the mission at stake.
Technical improvements implemented allow several advantages, including:
- An increased lifting capability of 4kg when the arm is stretched-out and a double-batched folded arm capacity of 15kg, to handle the manipulation of heavier loads. With this extended capacity, the CAMELEON E can lift the equivalent of the weight of a mid-sized microwave oven;
- An increased range of jaws and claws accessories adapted for several manipulations – grab, move, wire cutting, windows breaker, dropping explosive charge, additional mast camera – allowing, for example, breaking car glass, opening doors (car, building), inspection of suspended ceilings, collecting cylindrical ammunition, etc;
- Capabilities to fit up to 2 disruptors on the arm, gaining critical mission time by neutralizing several threats in one mission without the need to re-equip the robot in between;
- 3 additional cameras can be equipped on the arm to maximize the visibility over the operation (1 on the turret, 2 on the wrists).
11 Feb 21. Kazakhstan’s ‘Shagala’ Drone Completes Test Flights. Test flights of the new ‘Shagala’ reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system have taken place. The UAV was developed by military scientists of the National Defense University named after the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy (NDU).
The practice of using UAVs in modern military conflicts has proven the need to develop its own analogue. The NUO analyzed the use of not only reconnaissance drones, but also strike drones as an effective weapon against enemy armored vehicles and manpower.
The prototype of the Shagala reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle is equipped with a hardware and software communication channel, its own cryptographic protocol and secure communication channels.
“I appreciate the desire to provide the troops with domestic developments in the field of UAVs. However, it should not be a blind copy of foreign counterparts, it is necessary to take into account all the needs of the Kazakh army, our geographic features for defensive purposes when developing the tactical and technical characteristics of domestic vehicles.” said Deputy Defense Minister Lieutenant General Timur Dandybaev.
During the field tests of the experimental model, military scientists tested the latest design of the power supply resistant to low temperatures. The unique rechargeable battery is one of the latest developments of the specialists of the National Defense University.
The Deputy Minister of Defense drew attention to the fact that the production of Kazakh UAVs presupposes deep integration of the capabilities of the domestic defense industry, minimizing the import of components and assemblies not produced in Kazakhstan. For the serial production of the Shagala UAV, taking into account the capabilities of the domestic military-industrial complex, programs for servicing and training technicians and operators have been developed, as well as a course for combat training for UAV operators for implementation in educational institutions and units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
According to the head of the military research center, Colonel Kuandyk Akshulakov, the Shagala unmanned aerial vehicle is not inferior in technical characteristics to foreign counterparts, but on the contrary has certain advantages.
“The UAV’s flight range is up to 30 kilometers. It can stay in the air for up to two and a half hours, it behaves steadily when the wind increases up to 14 meters per second. In the future, we plan that it will be put into service with the troops at the level – from platoon to battalion, ” said Colonel Kuandyk Akshulakov, head of the military research center.
In the program of test flights, various stages of preparation and operating modes of the Chagall drone were presented. The results of scientific work have been patented and upon completion of the experimental military operation, all developments will be transferred to the defense-industrial complex of Kazakhstan. (Source: UAS VISION/Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Kazakhstan Press Release)
12 Feb 21. RAN team develops drone for critical incident support. A robotics team of the Royal Australian Navy has developed a drone prototype, designed to improve critical incident response times.
HMAS Cerberus’ Robotics Club has developed a drone prototype — referred to as a Marine Evolutions Response Vessel (MERV) — which can be used to provide Royal Australian Navy warships with live video footage during a critical incident, helping to boost response times.
According to Defence, the drone — a scaled-down version of the RAN’s current seaboat — can autonomously patrol incident areas, with the video footage streamed in real-time to a ship for viewing by command.
The drone is designed to be used for a range of critical incident responses, including a man overboard incident, patrolling naval waters, intercepting and interrogating trespassing vessels and towing targets for live firing.
The land-based prototype is made from plywood and fibre-glass and propelled by a 3D-printed water-cooled brushless motor, made at the Centre for Innovation at Fleet Base East.
“Being able to produce these components through these emerging technologies has allowed the robotics club to test designs in conjunction with safety considerations and refine the final product,” head of the robotics club, Chief Petty Officer Electronics Technician Allan Winning, said.
“This has allowed us to move forward in implementing this system to display at this year’s Autonomous Warrior event.” (Source: Defence Connect)
11 Feb 21. French ministry for Armed Forces selects Airbus Survey Copter Aliaca fixed-wing drone systems to equip its ships. Airbus Defence and Space mini UAS subsidiary SURVEY Copter signed a contract with French DGA Armament general directorate to provide the French Navy with 11 systems, (22 aircraft), of the electrically powered fixed-wing Aliaca maritime version UAS (officially called SMDM / “Systèmes de Mini Drones aériens embarqués pour la Marine” by French authorities), including training and integrated logistic support. First deliveries are expected in 2021.
“We are honored to contribute to the missions of the French Navy which we will support with the highest standards of quality and reliability. This new contract strengthens SURVEY Copter’s position as a global key player for maritime mini UAS”, said Nicolas Askamp, Head of Survey Copter / Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems.
The Aliaca maritime UAS is a high endurance versatile system allowing up to 3 hours missions over a 50 km (27 Nm) range, perfectly adapted to maritime missions with high gyro stabilized EO/IR payload performances and qualified to operate in severe environmental conditions. Launched by catapult, the Aliaca maritime UAS concludes its flight by landing automatically using a dedicated net landing solution. With a length of 2,2m and a wingspan of 3,6m for a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg, the Aliaca maritime UAS benefits from a powerful yet silent electric motor. The system can be deployed easily and rapidly in less than 15 minutes by 2 operators only.
Similarly, the “user-friendly” ground control station enables the operator to constantly monitor the automatic flight of the UAS while receiving in real-time day and night images and AIS (Automatic Identification System) data gathered by its on-board sensors.
It is designed to conduct several types of missions around the ships, including increasing the understanding of the tactical situation, control of illegal operations at sea, search-and-rescue, traffic monitoring, pollution detection, tracking of any suspicious behaviour in the ship environment and coastal surveillance.
This light on-board aerial solution gives the opportunity to vessels, traditionally not equipped with aerial assets, to enhance their tactical ISR capabilities, support decision making and reactivity in operations.
The Aliaca maritime UAS can easily be integrated on board any ships, with or without helicopter landing-deck, and its small logistic footprint enables operations and storage on board smaller sized ships. Its integration does not require heavy on-board modification nor storage of specific fuel.
The result of 10 years of R&D investments and on-board experimentations, SURVEY Copter’s “off the shelf” Aliaca maritime UAS is a robust and resistant system to the corrosive maritime environment, an adapted solution to the electro-magnetic constrains on board, and benefits from an efficient net recovery system, fully automated, meaning that no human action is required during the recovery phase.
09 Feb 21. Kazakhstan trialling indigenously developed reconnaissance UAV. Kazakhstan announced on 5 February that it has begun trialling an indigenously developed surveillance/reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for use by the Kazakh Land Forces.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Nur-Sultan said in a statement that the catapult-launched Shagala UAV, which was developed by researchers at the National Defence University, is currently undergoing field trials, after which the platform is expected to enter series production and be fielded by Kazakh army units from “the platoon to the battalion level”.
The MoD said that the prototype currently undergoing testing has been fitted with a secure communications payload and a locally developed re-chargeable battery capable of operating at low temperatures. The UAV, which was shown fitted with a chin-mounted, electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret, is equipped with two propellers.
The series-production Shagala UAV is expected to have a range of up to 30km and an endurance of 2.4h. No details were provided about the UAV’s dimensions or when trials are set to be completed. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Feb 21. Skydio poised to supply first tranche of short-range recon drones to US Army. The U.S. Army has chosen California-based drone manufacturer Skydio to continue in a final prototyping phase, which should lead to the company supplying the service’s first tranche of short-range reconnaissance unmanned aircraft systems.
The Short-Range Reconnaissance system is a platoon-level, small quadcopter unmanned aircraft that will provide enhanced situational awareness, a spin-off from the Army’s earlier efforts to develop a rucksack-portable UAS.
The Skydio X2D SSR system was one of six SRR prototypes the Army was evaluating against its program requirements. In a competitive downselect, the service chose two systems to enter a limited user test conducted by the Army Test and Evaluation Command.
“Based on data from this LUT event, and previous milestone evaluations, the Army selected the Skydio system to remain in the prototyping phase,” an Army spokesman told Defense News.
The Army will now evaluate Skydio’s final prototype in early April. Once the follow-on evaluation has been completed successfully, the Army’s program office for UAS will request approval from the Program Executive Office Aviation to enter into production with the Skydio system for the first tranche of systems.
Once approved for production, the Army will begin fielding within 90 days, the spokesman added, which is expected to start this summer.
The overall acquisition strategy for the SSR is to conduct a series of three competitive tranches. The first will be fielded to approximately one third of the Army’s SRR requirement.
Competitive prototype evaluation for the second tranche is expected to begin later this year, the spokesman said.
“We are proud to have been selected by the U.S. Army for the final integration in the SRR program,” Adam Bry, Skydio’s CEO, said in a Feb. 9 statement. “The Army has done incredible work to ensure our soldiers have access to cutting edge drone technology. This milestone is the result of years of research and development in autonomous flight and core technologies. It is a testament to the breakthrough capabilities of the Skydio X2D and our world-class team.”
Skydio’s X2D comes with “the world’s leading AI-driven flight autonomy software,” according to the company statement. It is a foldable and portable system “that leverages hyper-strength composites to withstand the most demanding environments,” the statement adds.
The UAS comes with a color FLIR thermal sensor and a GPS-based night flight capability and strobe lighting. It can also fly for up to 35 minutes on a single battery, the company details.
In August 2020, the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit chose five American-manufactured drone companies as trusted small UAS. Those manufacturers are Altavian, Parrot, Skydio, Teal and Vantage Robotics.
The drones available to the Pentagon through the program are required to be assembled in two minutes or less and have an operational range of over 3 kilometers, flight endurance greater than 30 minutes and can fly through dust and rain and other degraded environments. (Source: Defense News)
08 Feb 21. Design Gets Underway on DARPA’s ‘LongShot’ Drone. Development of a new breed of unmanned aircraft is now underway, as three major defense companies earned contracts to start designing a future system known as “LongShot.”
The LongShot program wants to create an unmanned weapons porter that can be shot from another plane before firing multiple air-to-air missiles itself, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which runs the effort.
DARPA announced Feb. 8 it has funded General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman to start design work in the project’s first phase, but did not disclose how much money is part of those contracts.
“The objective is to develop a novel [unmanned air vehicle] that can significantly extend engagement ranges, increase mission effectiveness, and reduce the risk to manned aircraft,” DARPA said in a release. “It is envisioned that LongShot will increase the survivability of manned platforms by allowing them to be at standoff ranges far away from enemy threats, while an air-launched LongShot UAV efficiently closes the gap to take more effective missile shots.”
The project first appeared in DARPA’s fiscal 2021 budget request as a prospective addition to the Air Force and Navy’s inventories. The budget called for a plane that uses “multi-mode propulsion” to tackle multiple airborne threats at once, Air Force Magazine previously reported.
The program called for $22m in its first year.
“LongShot will explore new engagement concepts for multi-modal, multi-kill systems that can engage more than one target,” DARPA wrote. “LongShot can be deployed either externally from existing fighters or internally from existing bombers.”
Last year, the research agency suggested the aircraft could fly slowly toward its target at first to save fuel, then speed up once it gets close.
“This approach provides several key benefits,” DARPA said. “First, the weapon system will have a much-increased range over their legacy counterparts for transit to an engagement zone. Second, launching air-to-air missiles closer to the adversary increases energy in terminal flight, reduces reaction time, and increases probability of kill.”
The Pentagon hasn’t said what weapons LongShot would carry, or how autonomous its software might be. On paper, LongShot appears similar to other efforts like the Air Force’s previous Gray Wolf missile program, which looked to create a munition that could carry other weapons inside. That was discontinued in favor of the service’s Golden Horde swarming bomb project.
Later in the LongShot program, DARPA said, the companies will fly a full-scale prototype that is “capable of controlled flight before, during, and after” it is fired. The agency did not immediately answer how long the initial design phase will last.
The fiscal 2021 budget also called for a new program entitled “Gunslinger,” a new air-launched missile armed with a gun that would be designed for Air Force and Navy missions. But that appears to have a murkier future than the LongShot.
“The Gunslinger program has yet to formally launch and, at this time, we have no information on when that may happen,” DARPA spokesman Jared Adams said in December. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.airforcemag.com/)
08 Feb 21. Elbit Systems to Market Duke Robotics Armed Quadcopter Globally. UAS Drone Corp. announced that its wholly owned Israeli subsidiary, Duke Airborne Systems Ltd. and Elbit Systems Land Ltd. signed a Collaboration Agreement for global marketing and sales, and the production and further development of Duke’s developed advanced robotic system mounted on an UAS armed with lightweight firearms, or TIKAD.
According to the main terms of the Collaboration Agreement:
- Duke has granted Elbit a worldwide exclusive license for the use of Duke’s know how and intellectual property, and for the marketing, sales, production, and further development of the TIKAD for military, defense, homeland security and para-military uses.
- The parties will also cooperate in continuing a project that has already started with a customer in the Asia Pacific region. Elbit has agreed to invest, at its discretion and pursuant to certain milestones, in the further development and setting up of serial production lines of TIKAD and may elect to increase such investment subject to the satisfaction of certain criteria, including Elbit’s right to terminate the Agreement if, for example, the Project is cancelled by the customer. Such investment amounts will be made into Elbit’s owned assets and production lines of TIKAD. Elbit will recoup fifty percent of its investment amount, up to $6m, by offsetting fifty percent of royalty payments that may be due to Duke.
- In addition to the cooperation in the Project, Elbit will pay Duke royalties from revenues received from world-wide sales of TIKAD, with royalty rates ranging from low to mid-double figure percentages, depending on the tiers of the selling price of TIKAD. Revenues to be received from the Project will entitle Duke to a higher payment and rate of royalties. Elbit will pay Duke royalties on sales of TIKAD units for a period starting from the date of the Agreement until 15 years following receipt of US $50m in cumulative revenues from sales of TIKAD units.
- Duke to pay Elbit similar rates of royalties for revenues received by Duke from sales of its advanced robotic system for civil use, if such systems will include new know-how developed by Elbit.
Elbit Systems Land is a subsidiary of Elbit Systems Ltd., an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world.
We believe that this collaboration represents a significant opportunity for UAS Drone Corp. to expand its global business and sales of its TIKAD product. There is no guarantee that UAS Drone Corp., via Duke, will recognize any royalties or that the further development or future sales of the TIKAD will be successful. (Source: UAS VISION)
05 Feb 21. Aero India 2021: HAL’s loyal wingmen break cover. The state-owned company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has revealed the Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) family of ‘loyal wingmen’ or ‘manned-unmanned warriors’, with mock-ups showcased at the Aero India 2021 exhibition in Bangalore. As displayed from 3 to 5 February, CATS comprises a manned ‘mother ship’ Tejas Mk1 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and a set of unmanned platforms, namely CATS Warrior, CATS Hunter, and CATS-Air Launched Flexible Asset (ALFA). In development from mid-2018, the prototypes of all the unmanned vehicles in the integrated form were revealed along with the capabilities.
CATS Warrior is an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) which is intended to operate alongside/ahead of the LCA to increase its situational awareness and survivability in contested environments. Warrior can take off and land autonomously from a runway on land or from a ship’s deck. The Warrior is primarily envisioned for Indian Air Force use and a similar, smaller, version will be designed for the Indian Navy.
“Warrior will serve as a ‘sensor amplifier’ for the LCA, flying out ahead of the manned aircraft and using its sensors to feed information back to LCA,” HAL test pilot Retd Group Captain H V Thakur told Janes . He added that the low radar cross-sectional area, internal payload carrying capability, and composite structure allows the UAV to operate in stealth mode. The Warrior is equipped with an electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) payload, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, inertial navigational unit, and a jammer for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and combat operations. It can carry two new-generation short-range or beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles externally, and the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) internally. (Source: Jane’s)
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