Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
14 Apr 21. Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters expands VSR700 flight envelope ahead of sea demo. Naval Group-Airbus Helicopters has expanded the flight envelope of the VSR700 unmanned helicopter demonstrator during recent trials on behalf of the French Navy.
Airbus announced on 13 April that the VSR700 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had achieved 60 kt, “entirely opening its flight envelope at low speed”.
In 2018 the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) French defence procurement agency contracted Naval Group and Airbus Helicopters to build a VSR700 VTOL UAV demonstrator for eventual trials from a French Navy vessel under the SDAM (Navy Airborne Drone System).
Airbus noted that the latest trials bring the current number of flight hours logged to 10, and bring the programme closer to its goal of operating from a French Navy vessel at sea. “After reaching a speed of 60 kt, VSR700 swiftly moves toward the threshold needed to perform the 2022 sea demonstration for the French Navy,” the company said.
As previously revealed by Airbus Helicopters, the VSR700 is essentially a Hélicoptères Guimbal Cabri G2 light helicopter that has been fitted with autonomous technologies that include a sense-and-avoid capability. While no performance specifications for the VSR700 have been disclosed, the Cabri G2, on which it is based, is powered by a 180 hp Lycoming O-360 piston engine (derated to 145 hp), has a gross weight of 700 kg, a maximum speed of 185 km/h, a range of 700 km, and a service ceiling of just under 13,000 ft. Being autonomous, the VSR700 operator supervises the flight plan rather than flying the aircraft itself. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Apr 21. RotorX demonstrates Palledrone heavy-lift UAV at US Army AEWE. RotorX has developed a fully autonomous heavy-lift unmanned hexacopter called the Palledrone that participated in the last two US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWEs). The Palledrone is a 3.2m diameter autonomous resupply aircraft in the prototyping stages that is designed to carry up to 45kg of cargo 8km, and loads under 4.5kg as far as 34km. The aircraft can lift a payload of 36kg for five minutes, and can fly with a full 45kg payload for five minutes.
Jeremy Epps, RotorX co-founder, told Janes on 6 April that the company is looking to increase the Palledrone’s payload capacity to 68kg. RotorX, he said, has tested the Palledrone carrying around 48kg.
RotorX designed the Palledrone for set-up within seven minutes. The Palledrone’s motors are designed to snap into place while the aircraft has foldable and retractable landing gear. After assembly, a user would only have to programme the aircraft’s flight path to be flying the Palledrone within seven minutes.
The Palledrone’s six-rotor design provides redundancy in case of motor failure as Epps said the aircraft can fly with four motors. This was tested at AEWE 2021, which took place from 5 February to 5 March at Fort Benning in Georgia. Dmitry Bershadsky, RotorX lead engineer and CEO, told Janes on 6 April that the aircraft lost an arm during the event and that the RotorX team did not have enough spares to replace it. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Apr 21. The Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) is performing maritime surveillance for the Romanian Border Police. The Romanian Border Police operates the CAMCOPTER S-100 for maritime surveillance purposes. The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is delivered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and is also extended to Bulgaria.
Stationed in Mangalia, the CAMCOPTER S-100 supports the Romanian authorities in carrying out general Coast Guard functions, conducting day-to-day monitoring and surveillance of all shipping including port security, as well as responding to any search and rescue, accident and disaster needs. The S-100 executes these various tasks equipped with an L3 Wescam Electro-Optical / Infra-Red (EO/IR) camera gimbal, an Overwatch Imaging PT-8 Oceanwatch, a Becker Avionics BD406 Emergency Beacon Locator and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver.
Operations in Romania and Bulgaria are part of the EMSA awarded multi-year maritime surveillance contract for a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) RPAS, awarded to Schiebel in November 2018. In the execution of this contract, Schiebel provides simultaneous maritime surveillance services to several EU member states and EU bodies. Most recently, the CAMCOPTER S-100 was operational in France, Denmark, Finland and Croatia.
Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said: “Once more, we are supporting local authorities with our ‘eye in the sky’. The CAMCOPTER S-100 has proven its outstanding capabilities numerous times and we are proud to be working with EMSA on supporting EU member states with these vital tasks.” (Source: joint-forces.com)
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.