Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
10 Mar 21. ePropelled Launches Comprehensive UAV Product Line. ePropelled, the Massachusetts-based technology company offering leading-edge electromagnetic systems, unveiled the next-generation family of power generation and propulsion products for UAV and other aviation applications. The ePropelled UAV product line consists of starter generators, intelligent power systems, DC supplies, and electronic engine starters that operate with internal combustion engines, and electric propulsion motors and air motor controllers for eVTOLs, full electric and hybrid aircraft.
The entire family of products is the smartest and most comprehensive product line for UAVs and drones on the market due to its software control and advanced data and analytics capabilities. The power systems are modular and offer UAV designers the unique option to add hybrid technology for power assist or range extension.
“Our systems are fully integrated and allow aircraft designers the time to focus on other aspects of their job. All of our products come in various sizes to meet hundreds of possible applications and pairing products together gives aircraft designers added flexibility and capabilities,” said Nabeel Shirazee, CTO of ePropelled. “Our innovative solutions are upwards of 50% lighter, have high energy efficiency, and our patented technology enables continuous operating temperatures approaching 205°C/400°F enabling aircraft to fly smarter and farther.”
Power and propulsion systems are critical to the success of ever-changing and complicated UAV mission profiles. Considering both during the design can contribute to lighter and more efficient aircraft. Built-in software enables the operator to receive real-time data monitoring, device information, connection status, event-based alerts, engine starter functionality, and acknowledgment of transmitted messages. This critical information can alert the pilot to fuel and other device emergencies allowing them to land the aircraft safely.
Nick Grewal, CEO of ePropelled, explains, “ePropelled recognizes the importance of high-performance electric propulsion and power systems in the commercial and defense UAV markets. These markets are poised to revolutionize how people and goods move, how companies collect data, and how security is ensured. ePropelled is the only company that has both UAV power and propulsion systems. These products were designed with the customer in mind using quality materials, state-of-the-art engineering and testing, and real-world applications.” (Source: UAS VISION)
09 Mar 21. US Navy plans to buy 120 submarine-launched Blackwing UAVs.
The US Navy (USN) plans to acquire up to 120 AeroVironment Blackwing unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for its submarines. The first drone is expected to be delivered as early as August 2021, says the service in a sole source notice it posted online on 9 March. The last UAV is scheduled to be delivered by May 2023.
AeroVironment Blackwing UAV
The Blackwing can be launched into the air via a submerged submarine. The UAV is packed into a canister that is ejected from an underwater submarine, the canister then floats to the surface and shoots the Blackwing into the air.
In order to fit inside a canister, the small UAV has two pop-out wing sets. It has a wingspan of 68.6cm (27in) and is powered by an electric motor-driven pusher propeller. On its nose, the UAV carries electro-optical and infrared sensors. It also carries GPS and inertial navigation systems. Those sensors combined with a tactical data link allow the UAV to pass back targeting information to a submarine.
The service has been experimenting with the Blackwing for several years. After several demonstrations in 2019 and 2020, initial operational capability for the Blackwing was declared in September, said Rear Admiral Dave Goggins, programme executive officer for submarines, reported Seapower magazine last November. The USN has demonstrated launching the Blackwing from the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Annapolis, he said.
As part of those tests, the service practiced launching the UAV from periscope depth, and controlling the drone out to “tactically significant ranges – well beyond the line of sight”, Goggins said. “By doing so she was able to target and conduct a rapid simulated torpedo attack against a participating surface ship, in this case the USS Charleston, pretty much at near-maximum effective range of that torpedo, by flying that UAV to obtain a fire-point solution after gaining that initial sonar gain.”
Using UAVs to find and target ships helps submarines avoid detection and attack by remaining further away from an adversary. AeroVironment has not disclosed the range of the Blackwing. However, it is based on the Switchblade 300 loitering munition, which has a range of 5.4nm (10km).
(Source: News Now/Flight Global)
08 Mar 21. USAF seeks Next Gen Multirole UAS capabilities. The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for information (RFI) for its Next-Generation Multirole Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Family of Systems (FoS) requirement. Posted on the beta.sam.gov US government procurement website on 5 March, the ‘Next Gen Multirole UAS FoS’ RFI is in support of a USAF effort to field a family of attritable but reusable unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on behalf of the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance/Special Operations Forces (ISR/SOF) Directorate.
“The Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) in support of the ISR/SOF Directorate is seeking information to inform the establishment of a new capability development pipeline for integration on current and Next-Gen Multirole UAS FoS with reduced operating costs and greater persistence, survivability, and range. These Next-Gen Multirole UAS FoS may be comprised of attritable, expendable, survivable and reusable attributes, which can attain desired effects in various operating environments,” the RFI stated.
In the RFI, the USAF sets out three key focus areas for the required capabilities, namely Air Domain Awareness to provide early warning and fire control quality track/identification of enemy air operations in highly contested and contested environments; High Value Airborne Asset Protection (HVAAP) to protect high value airborne assets, such as tankers and airborne early warning and control platforms, from long-range enemy fighters and other kinetic and non-kinetic threats; and Platform Multi-Role UAS FoS solutions to include attritable, expendable, survivable, and reusable concepts. (Source: Jane’s)
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.