Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
17 Feb 21. SparkCognition readies AI-powered cyber protection for UAVs. A new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered cybersecurity solution for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) aims to protect platforms against attacks during flight, with developers SparkCognition and Skygrid seeing potential military applications in expeditionary missions.
AI specialist SparkCognition and SkyGrid, a joint venture between SparkCognition and Boeing, announced the new solution in mid-January.
The concept combines DeepArmor – an AI-based cybersecurity software tool developed by SparkCognition, with SkyGrid’s airspace management system – allowing DeepArmor to be deployed directly onto UAVs, as well as in ground stations and other infrastructure.
UAVs face a wide range of threat vectors in cyberspace while they are in flight, Logan Jones, SparkCognition’s general manager, told Janes . These threats include the potential for an adversary to take physical control of the platform through Wi-Fi or disabling it using malware.
Through conversations with military operators, Jones said “the number one use case that I have in mind … is that expeditionary mission where [the UAV] fits in a backpack”.
He explained that it has significant implications in terms of size, weight and power (SWAP) demands because the cybersecurity solution is operating directly onboard the system.
While this would be particularly useful for smaller UAVs, it also could complement existing cybersecurity solutions on larger platforms, Jones added, becoming “another arrow in their quiver … those systems being so complicated and expensive, there’s no one solution onboard that solves the threat vectors that come through the cyber domain”. (Source: Jane’s)
18 Feb 21. AAIB Report: Alauda Airspeeder Mk II, loss of control resulting in a fly-away and eventual crash. Control of a prototype unmanned aircraft, an Alauda Airspeeder Mk II, was lost resulting in a fly-away and eventual crash, Goodwood Aerodrome, West Sussex, 4 July 2019.
Whilst performing a demonstration flight at Goodwood Aerodrome, West Sussex on 4 July 2019 the remote pilot lost control of the 95 kg unmanned aircraft, an Alauda Airspeeder Mk II scale demonstrator.
After the loss of control had been confirmed by the remote pilot, the safety ‘kill switch’ was operated but had no effect. The unmanned aircraft then climbed to approximately 8,000 ft, entering controlled airspace at a holding point for flights arriving at Gatwick Airport, before its battery depleted and it fell to the ground. It crashed in a field of crops approximately 40m from occupied houses and 700m outside of its designated operating area. Fortunately, there were no injuries.
The AAIB found that the Airspeeder Mk II was not designed, built or tested to any recognisable engineering or airworthiness standards, and that its design and build quality were poor. The operator’s Operating Safety Case contained errors and inaccuracies. The Civil Aviation Authority’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Unit had assessed the operator’s application and, after clarification and amendment of some aspects, issued an exemption to the Air Navigation Order to allow demonstration flights in accordance with the operator’s Operating Safety Case. The Civil Aviation Authority did not inspect the Airspeeder Mk II before doing so.
The Civil Aviation Authority and the organisation which designed and operated the Airspeeder MK II have subsequently introduced measures to address a number of issues identified during the course of the investigation. In addition to the actions already taken, this investigation report makes 15 Safety Recommendations regarding airworthiness standards, safety management and the regulatory oversight of unmanned aircraft systems.
Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents said: “The innovative development of unmanned aircraft systems continues to be rapid, and the exploitation of these technologies in a wide variety of novel applications is remarkable. However, this is not completely without risk to the general public. Thankfully there were no injuries caused by this accident but the potential for a more serious outcome was clear. This accident demonstrates why it is so important that manufacturers, operators and regulators of unmanned aircraft ensure they are airworthy and operated in a safe and appropriate manner. The investigation has provided a rich opportunity to learn and many safety actions have been taken or recommended to improve the safety of unmanned aviation.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
18 Feb 21. AAIB Report: DJI Matrice 200 V1 unexpected launch of ballistic parachute recovery system. Two separate routine flights of a DJI Matrice 200 V1 unmanned aircraft terminated prematurely when the ballistic parachute recovery system activated unexpectedly, 21st September 2019 and 29th November 2019, Inverness.
Two separate routine flights of a DJI Matrice 200 V1 unmanned aircraft unmanned aircraft terminated prematurely when the ballistic parachute recovery system activated. The first accident (21st September 2019) most likely occurred due to excessive vibration as a result of the parachute system not being securely attached to the airframe. The investigation was unable to establish the cause of the second accident (29th November 2019).
The investigation was limited by the availability of recorded flight data for the first accident. Without additional information from the UAS manufacturer it was not possible to establish if there were any common factors between the two accidents.
Safety action has been taken by the parachute manufacturer. One safety recommendation has been made as a result of the investigation, that DJI introduce an effective system for providing timely technical support to State safety investigations. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
15 Feb 21. Drone Surveillance System to be Tested on Canadian Coast Guard Vessels. Kongsberg Geospatial announced that it has been selected by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) to conduct trials of a new long-endurance UAV surveillance system for the Canadian Coast Guard. The MartinUAV V-BAT aircraft was selected to provide the unique ability to combine take off and landing from the small confines aboard ship with the long endurance of a fixed-wing aircraft while carrying multiple sensors.
The aircraft will communicate with the Kongsberg Geospatial sensor data management system, called MIDAS, which allows a range of sensor data, including full-motion video from unmanned systems to be processed and exploited in near real-time by analysts on board Canadian Coast Guard ships. MIDAS provides the capability to compare historical and live data from the mission area, and to examine sensor data with a variety of tools, including motion and object detection, in near-real time. This near real-time analytical capability can greatly enhance the effectiveness of UAVs for a variety of mission types.
The V-BAT Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) provided by Martin UAV is a fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft specifically designed to operate from very small spaces on ships, land, and nearly any environment. The V-BAT is a long-endurance aircraft capable of carrying multiple sensors, including land and maritime wide area surveillance.
Kongsberg Geospatial’s MIDAS is derived from technologies created for the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance project which required the storage and retrieval of vast amounts of intelligence data for Intelligence Analysts. The system directly addresses the problem that the vast majority of UAVs have no standards-compliant capability to process, exploit, and distribute (PED) their sensor data where it is being used. MIDAS provides a fully standards-compliant system that allows intelligence analysts to view, process, and analyze sensor data in near real-time, from where the drone is being operated. MIDAS has packaged these capabilities into a tactical and portable form factor to enables those surveillance capabilities to be deployed as a portable system on board a ship, or in a temporary command post.
CINTIQS Military Technology Consulting will be providing consulting services for the planning and conduct of the flight trials and sensor employment to validate systems performance.
The combination of the Martin UAV V-BAT and the Kongsberg MIDAS sensor data management system will allow Coast Guard vessels to significantly expand their surveillance range for search and rescue missions, and for the surveillance of the movement of icebergs, without requiring the use of manned aircraft.
“UAVs are a useful tool, but they only truly effective if they can collect sensor data that results in actionable intelligence,” said Ranald McGillis, President of Kongsberg Geospatial. “Our MIDAS system allows users to fully exploit raw sensor data, and derive useful intelligence at the tactical edge where the UAV is being used. In a search and rescue context, that could mean using infrared sensors, or near real-time motion detection to locate a subject when visibility or weather conditions are poor.” (Source: UAS VISION)
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.