Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
23 June 21. Pegasus Imagery, Kongsberg Geospatial sign MOU to advance the development of Safe Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft. Kongsberg Geospatial’s IRIS UxS combines real-time data from multiple sensors to create a real-time, 3D picture of the airspace where drones are operating.
Kongsberg Geospatial will be providing IRIS UxS airspace awareness capabilities for Canadian drone manufacturer Pegasus Imagery
Kongsberg has a deep history delivering mission-ready solutions like IRIS UxS for enhanced airspace management in the most challenging environments” — Cole Rosentreter, CEO of Pegasus Imagery
Kongsberg Geospatial, developers of the TerraLens Geospatial Software Development Kit (SDK), and Pegasus Imagery Ltd. an aerospace company developing advanced autonomous aircraft and sensor systems, announced today that they have signed an MOU to work together to advance the development of safe, autonomous Unmanned Aircraft.
Pegasus designs, manufactures and operates autonomous Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to deliver Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) solutions at scale for industry and government. Equipped with proprietary Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) sensor systems, Pegasus aircraft are able to safely operate in shared airspace with manned and unmanned aircraft to collect and deliver scalable, on-demand, data solutions.
Pegasus Imagery’s technology includes the Autonomous Airspace Awareness System (A3S) – a Detect and Avoid sensor system that uses airborne radar and other sensors to autonomously avoid potential hazards like birds, other drones and manned aircraft; a Moisture & Icing Detection Alert System (MIDAS) that provides early detection and pilot notification of icing conditions and buildup for manned aircraft; and their own autonomous aircraft, the PV-02 Eos.
Pegasus Imagery also conducts Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) flight operations, providing photogrammetry, LiDAR and enhanced Full-Motion Video (FMV) surveys for government and industrial clients. Their flight missions range from infrastructure surveys of power transmission lines, to surveillance of forest fires.
Pegasus will be implementing Kongsberg Geospatial’s IRIS UxS airspace situational awareness system as a navigational system for their Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight flight operations, and as part of their PV-02 Eos autonomous aircraft system.
“Kongsberg has a deep history delivering mission-ready solutions like IRIS UxS for enhanced airspace management in the most challenging environments”, said Cole Rosentreter, CEO of Pegasus Imagery. “Integrating these capabilities with our aircraft and onboard DAA systems will expand the safety and situational awareness essential for routine operations in integrated airspace.”
The Kongsberg Geospatial IRIS airspace visualization technology enables multiple drones and sensor feeds to be monitored simultaneously by a single remote operator and provides real-time calculation of aircraft separation and communications to enable BVLOS operations. Built on Kongsberg Geospatial’s industry leading TerraLens SDK, IRIS provides advanced real-time 2D and 3D visualization of all airborne track and weather data, as well as cues, alerts and warnings to enable a single operator to monitor the complex airspace environment.
Kongsberg’s IRIS UxS has been deployed in a wide range of applications for BVLOS flight operations, including drone delivery and oil and gas infrastructure surveys.
“We’re very pleased to be working with an industry innovator like Pegasus” said Ranald McGillis, President of Kongsberg Geospatial. “We’ve worked closely with them to integrate our technology with their PV-02 Eos platform.”
22 June 21. CAMCOPTER S-100 Supports Finnish Border Guard. The Finnish Border Guard is once again operating the CAMCOPTER S-100 for implementing coast guard functions in the Baltic Sea. The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) service is offered by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). Based at a coast guard station in Hanko, Finland, the CAMCOPTER S-100 is supporting the Finnish authorities in carrying out Coast Guard functions, such as maritime border surveillance, search and rescue, monitoring and surveillance, ship and port security, vessel traffic monitoring, environmental protection and response, ship casualty assistance, as well as accident and disaster response. The information collected in the Baltic Sea from the on-board RPAS system is shared in parallel with multiple Member States, allowing for a common maritime picture and more comprehensive coordination. The operations will continue until end of July.
The S-100 will execute these 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.
This deployment comes on top of two other CAMCOPTER S-100 operations for EMSA currently being carried out in Estonia and Romania conducting maritime surveillance. It is also the third deployment for the Finnish Border Guard, after a trial in 2019.
Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said: “Another great example of enhanced maritime surveillance and information sharing capabilities of our CAMCOPTER S-100. Since contract begin, we have conducted operations all over Europe and are proud to play such an important role in EMSA’s services for its member states.” (Source: UAS VISION)
23 June 21. ANRA and Swiggy to Start BVLOS Drone Delivery Trials in India. ANRA Technologies Private Limited, a supplier of integrated airspace management systems, and Swiggy, India’s leading on-demand delivery platform, announced that stakeholders from the India Ministry of Defense (MoD), Directorate General of Aviation (DGCA), and Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA), awarded final clearances for the ANRA Technologies led consortia to commence trials for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations in India.
Months of planning, risk assessments, air traffic control integration, training, equipment preparation, and coordination culminated with ANRA’s flight team launching its first sortie on June 16, 2021. For the next several weeks, the flight team will conduct BVLOS food and medical package deliveries with ANRA designed and built drones in the Etah and Rupnagar districts using ANRA SmartSkies technology.
Out of the selected participants in the program, ANRA is the only UAS technology provider approved by the Government of India MOCA to lead two consortia as part of this pioneering initiative. One consortium consists of ANRA, along with their partners Swiggy, renowned Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, and BetterDrones, a drone service provider which will focus on food delivery. The second consortium includes ANRA and the Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, and will focus on medical deliveries.
“ANRA’s deep roots in India and my personal family ties make me especially proud to have contributed to this historic moment for India, government stakeholders, and our partners. Knowing our technology may soon help deliver food and medical packages to underserved populations are what motivates and unifies our team,”
stated Amit Ganjoo, Founder and CEO of ANRA.
The BVLOS delivery operations are enabled by ANRA SmartSkies CTR and SmartSkies DELIVERY platforms. A coordinated, scalable, and highly adaptable family of software services, SmartSkies provides execution and management of drone operations in controlled and uncontrolled airspace, ensuring the safety of the Indian National Airspace and seamless integration into the country’s legacy Air Traffic Control systems.
“As a pioneer in investing in technology and logistics with a dedicated delivery fleet, Swiggy has built a robust presence in hyperlocal delivery moving beyond food to offer convenience to consumers. With an increasing number of technological innovations taking place to smoothen and fasten the last mile journey, it only becomes natural for us to explore the latest avenues available to maximize the benefit to our consumers. We are excited about the potential that Drones offer and look forward to the trials on BVLOS operations for the use case of food delivery. Through our association with ANRA, we aim to put the long-range proficiencies of drone technology to best use and accomplish some ground-breaking trials” said Shilpa Gnaneshwar, Principal Program Manager, Swiggy.
ANRA Technologies and its partners intend to leverage gathered data and key learnings from the flights to support the development of India’s nationwide operational UAS Traffic Management (UTM) platform called Digital Sky. The outcomes will enable industry, government, and regulatory stakeholders to determine the necessity to support interaction and data exchange between UTM services suppliers while assessing the suitability and applicability of existing technology capabilities.
“IIT Ropar is proud to be associated with the initiative taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), India, which has granted permission to operate drones for BVLOS operations in the country. IIT Ropar will partner with ANRA Technologies leading two consortia aimed at package delivery. The recent COVID 19 has shown that remote and unmanned delivery of essential items can not only be a usual business proposition but can be a life-saving endeavor aimed at restricting infections under such emergencies. IIT Ropar has already started efforts in this direction. I’m sure the present collaboration will bring out products and services of significant business and social impact”,
stated Prof. S S Padhee, Head, Corporate Relation Cell, IIT Ropar.
“The Better Drones team is excited about this upcoming opportunity, the team is ready to perform their best to make sure that in the near future we all can utilize this breakthrough technology for multiple purposes. We look forward to using our best endeavors to make sure that we will succeed in this challenge with flying colors” said Kanav Kumar, Director, Better Drones
Additionally, the consortia will seek to understand any trade-offs between interoperability and open implementations and specific technical integration requirements for functionality while determining acceptable performance envelopes for latency, reliability, availability times, and ‘near real-time’ aspects of communications. It will also seek to establish how other key emerging standards, including Remote-ID and Detect and Avoid (DAA), may be integrated as part of an overall Digital Sky UTM framework.
India is looking at the operations to fast-track its policies and prepare the local industry for a significant push into the drone services segment globally. ANRA is honored to lead the consortium in conducting flight operations with our partners to develop India’s drone program with innovative thought leadership and global experience. (Source: UAS VISION)
22 June 21. Ocius christens three new Bluebottle USVs. The Sydney-based technology firm has christened three additional Bluebottle USVs ahead of a six-month test and evaluation process. Ocius Technology has achieved a new milestone in the development and delivery of its Bluebottle uncrewed surface vessels (USV), christening the last of its current five-member set at a ceremony held on Friday (18 June) at its facility on the UNSW’s Randwick campus.
‘Bluey’, ‘Beacon’, and ‘Brizo’ were christened by Royal Australian Navy Rear Admiral Pete Quinn, senator for NSW Holly Hughes, and longstanding Ocius shareholder Michelle Moulos.
The newly-christened vessels will now join sister USVs ‘Beth’ and ‘Bonnie’ in Darwin, before engaging in a series of maritime border operations over the next six months.
“We’re looking forward to having five of them in a network, doing a job that we think can fill a capability gap,” Ocius CEO Robert Dane told Defence Connect.
“It’s a great culmination of a lot of work and now we’ve got a high-quality product that we’re going to be out there testing in the next six months.”
The USV fleet is built to navigate “freely and indefinitely” across all ocean environments, providing data gathering and communication services.
According to Dane, the USV’s radar technologies are capable of monitoring activities as far as six nautical miles over the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and can leverage active and passive arrays for underwater detection.
“There’s a huge future for autonomous systems because of the vast area that we have to patrol and Bluebottles have a unique application in this space,” Dane added.
The Ocius CEO revealed that the firm has received several enquires from international customers, but would primarily on focus on filling capability gaps in Australia.
The development of Ocius’ Bluebottle USVs was partly supported by a $5.5m Defence Innovation Hub contract, awarded to the firm in June 2020. (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Jun 21. French Armed Forces Ministry details UAV roadmap. The French Armed Forces Ministry provided elements of the roadmap for its medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during a press briefing on 17 June at Cognac Air Base 709, where France’s Reaper UAVs are based. The three Reaper Block 5 UAVs deployed in Mali will be armed with GBU-12 laser-guided bombs in July, according to Commander Mickaël, operations chief of the 33e Escadre de Surveillance, de Reconnaissance et d’Attaque (33rd Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Attack Wing, ESRA), formerly a Mirage F1CR combat aircraft wing. “Other weapons” (Hellfire missiles and GBU-49s) will be operational “at the end of the year”. The Reaper Block 5’s first flight in Mali took place on 25 March, and as already reported by Janes, its first operational flight was on 14 May. Airbase commander Colonel Nicolas Lyautey said new buildings will be available in 2026 to accommodate the 33rd ESRA, with hangars that can fit the future European MALE Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). The 33rd ESRA now has 30 crews and 120 mechanics, for a total of 12 Reapers (six Block 1 and six Block 5). The European MALE RPAS will be delivered to Cognac in 2029, he added. (Source: Jane’s)
18 June 21. US Navy Seeks to Unleash the Potential of Unmanned Systems.
The Department of the Navy (DoN) is producing an after-action review of the U.S. Pacific Fleet-led Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem 21 (IBP21), an exercise held April 19-26 in San Diego, California.
“Advancements in technology have created the opportunity to provide our military with an operational advantage by developing improved manned/unmanned command and control capabilities,” said Dorothy Engelhardt, director of unmanned systems for the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Ships. “This enables our military to be more agile, lethal and decisive.”
During IBP21, numerous multi-domain unmanned platforms—including unmanned aerial, surface and underwater vehicles (UAVs, USVs and UUVs, respectively)—were put into real-world, “blue-water” environments, working in sync with manned platforms in actual combat drills designed to support Pacific Fleet objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.
“Large-scale exercises such as IBP21 are critical for the Navy and Marine Corps to make the transition to a hybrid manned-unmanned force in the future,” said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby. “These demonstrations ensure what works in theory will work in the fleet—in an environment that is messier, dirtier and wetter than a lab. They also allow us to get valuable feedback from the Sailors and Marines themselves.”
Many of the platforms tested in IBP21 were supported by the Naval Research Enterprise (NRE), which Selby commands. Comprising the Office of Naval Research (ONR), ONR Global (the command’s international arm) and the Naval Research Laboratory, the NRE is tasked with providing the capabilities and long-term vision ensuring U.S. naval dominance today and into the future.
The purpose of IBP21 was to explore a variety of questions about how unmanned systems can be incorporated into fleet operations. For example: How can unmanned and manned systems work together effectively in diverse warfighting scenarios? How can you integrate unmanned systems seamlessly into existing platforms? What is the best way to train Sailors and Marines to use such complex, evolving technologies?
So far, major takeaways from IBP21 include: Unmanned systems are resilient, enable better beyond-line-of-sight targeting, and improve battlespace awareness and command and control. They also provide significant advantages in ISR (intelligence, survival, reconnaissance) and Targeting and Fires capabilities, without creating additional risks to the mission or warfighters. The result—more effective offensive and defensive postures.
The testing of new unmanned technologies reflects the Navy and Marine Corps’ commitment to rethinking concepts of operations, as noted in the widely publicized naval document “Unmanned Campaign Framework,” which was recently released by the DoN.
The Unmanned Campaign Framework notes autonomy will complement, not replace, manned assets, and will provide warfighters far more options in combat.
Since the completion of IBP21, naval leaders, scientists and engineers have assessed what worked, what didn’t and future actions for accelerating unmanned capabilities to the fleet and force.
These future steps include:
- Continuing to leverage fleet experimentation exercises to execute the DoN Unmanned Campaign Plan
- Creating a more iterative experimentation process to tighten the “test fast, operate, learn fast” concept
- Improving industry partnerships and participation in fleet experiments and exercises
- Improving the integration of secure communication networks to maximize effectiveness of manned-unmanned teaming
- Developing concepts of operation and employment to quickly operationalize unmanned systems (Source: ASD Network)
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