Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
05 Aug 21. Advanced Aircraft Company Launches with Gas-Electric Hybrid UAS. Advanced Aircraft Company (AAC), a developer of long-endurance hybrid-electric unmanned aircraft systems designed for a wide range of commercial, defense and public safety applications, has announced the launch of its Hybrid Advanced Multirotor Unmanned Aircraft System (HAMR).
The company also announces its latest round of funding, led by Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors.
AAC’s highly versatile designs incorporate a multi-rotor configuration with a hybrid gas-electric propulsion system for extended endurance and multiple, simultaneous payload capabilities. The company was founded in 2017 by Bill Fredericks, a former NASA aerospace engineer and US Marine Corps veteran.
“After four years of development, testing and validation, we are proud to announce our entry into the unmanned systems market with HAMR,” said Bill Fredericks, founder and CEO of AAC.
“Our high-performance gas-electric hybrid propulsion system and aerodynamic airframe designs enable long-endurance operations. This provides a significant competitive advantage to our customers by doubling the productivity of their pilots.”
This funding round of $850,000, led by Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors with investment from CIT Gap Funds, brings the company’s total funding to over $2M. The oversubscribed round also saw the participation of several new strategic investors. This new investment will enable AAC to scale up manufacturing, accelerate research and development, and expand its team as it prepares to expand into the global market.
According to Shenandoah Valley Angel Investors Founder George Pace, their initial investment in AAC and subsequent support during the second seed round is based on three core beliefs. First, AAC has developed a hybrid drone solution that brings great value to the commercial drone sector by significantly increasing flight time,” said Pace. “Second, company Founder Bill Fredericks, a former NASA aerospace engineer and Marine Officer who served in Afghanistan, brings deep knowledge, leadership, and energy, which are critical for success.”
Pace also notes that AAC has delivered on their products, “which is why we supported this second seed round,” he added.
About the HAMR
The HAMR UAS has been optimized for a wide range of commercial, defense and public safety applications. These include surveying & mapping, critical infrastructure inspection, precision agriculture, public safety and defense applications, including long-endurance ISR, and search and rescue missions. The HAMR UAS also serves as a force multiplier, providing a significant increase in ISR capabilities relative to DoD’s incumbent tactical ISR UAS to better protect our warfighters.
The HAMR utilizes a series hybrid gas-electric propulsion system that incorporates an electronic fuel injected and computer-controlled 35cc single-piston engine driving an integrated generator producing up to 2000W to power six independent brushless DC electric motors and a backup battery. This configuration allows for up to 3.5 hours of flight time, six times longer than a conventional battery-powered multirotor aircraft. Multiple redundant systems, remote engine starting, and onboard batteries ensure the aircraft can operate with a high margin of safety. In the event of an engine failure or an electric motor failure, the craft can abort and land safely.
Architected and built to the standards of crewed aircraft to enable ISO AS9100 certification as production rate scales, the systems employ line replaceable units (LRUs), ensuring rapid in the field servicing with minimum downtime, while a continuous development program lengthens aircraft service life and increases its capabilities as new technologies get integrated over time. This means no customer is left behind and every aircraft produced is upgradable as new features come out in the future.
The HAMR’s dual cargo bays allow for multiple payload options or increased fuel capacity. An open modular architecture allows for rapid payload reconfiguration depending on application and mission. Operators can choose from a range of commercially available optical or infrared cameras and Lidar systems. HAMR can carry standard Group 2 payloads for defense applications, including electro-optical (EO), infrared (IR) laser, and communications systems.
Additionally, the HAMR is highly portable and can be launched within minutes without the need for ground support infrastructure. The system can be disassembled and stored in a single case and easily transported in a conventional passenger or small military vehicle.
The HAMR has been operational with select customers over the last year and AAC is now accepting additional production orders. Sales include on-site training and a limited warranty. Additional maintenance and service packages are available. (Source: UAS VISION)
05 Aug 21. Wingtra Launches WingtraOne GEN II. Wingtra has launched WingtraOne GEN II—a next-generation VTOL drone with an oblique payload and advanced reliability algorithms.
After six years in development and 100’000 flights, Wingtra is launching WingtraOne GEN II, a next-generation VTOL drone that offers industrial reliability and mapping versatility with a new oblique camera configuration for high-quality 3D drone mapping data capture.
WingtraOne GEN II features:
- Brand new oblique payload for exceptional 3D map quality
- PPK on every drone, including with multispectral payloads
- Self-diagnosis, fail-safe algorithms and services for dependable operations (Source: UAS VISION)
04 Aug 21. Boeing conducts first manned-unmanned teaming event with MQ-25 tanker. Boeing conducted its first manned-unmanned teaming test of the MQ-25A Stingray paired with U.S. Navy aircraft, demonstrating the unmanned tanker can take commands from pilots midair and adjust as the mission changes.
The MQ-25 was designed to primarily communicate with a ground-based air vehicle operator, or AVO — likely located on an aircraft carrier — but that could change as the drone’s mission set and concept of operations evolve.
The drone flies autonomously, but it’s nearly always in contact with the an AVO and flies a mission plan it’s given ahead of time, Boeing’s MQ-25 advanced design leader BD Gaddis told reporters Aug. 3 at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference.
But when the UAV sees its first action in combat, “what happens when those communication links are either degraded, denied or prohibited?” Gaddis questioned. “That’s why manned-unmanned teaming is essential to MQ-25, because we can’t be talking to the AVO all the time.”
Gaddis said communications between the MQ-25 and the aircraft carrier could be cut off if an adversary jams or otherwise disrupts the network, or if the ship’s crew halts its communications as a means of hiding from an adversary.
“We’re building an airplane that goes to war, so we want that airplane to be robust and capable when it goes to war. We already know there will be eras and times that the carrier will decide it wants to shut its radios down and move, and our airplane can’t just say: ‘I have to go home.’ That’s not OK. We know that; the Navy’s told us that; we’re working that,” Dave Bujold, Boeing’s MQ-25 program director, said at the event.
During the demonstration, which took place in a virtual environment, the MQ-25 was given a mission plan and launched from the carrier. Then, once airborne, a Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and a Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye sent messages via the Link 16 tactical data link network to the drone, asking it to deviate from the mission plan and refuel them in a different location with a different quantity of fuel, among other alternate conditions.
Gaddis explained one vignette: when a Super Hornet needs to refuel but is in a hurry to fly to a target. The fighter doesn’t want to radio back to the carrier and announce that it’s heading to a target, ruining the element of surprise. So the jet messages the Stingray to leave its orbit around the carrier and meet the jet in a new location en route to its target.
The challenge in this scenario is that the MQ-25 must first recognize it’s receiving orders that override its preplanned mission. Then it must understand that a manned plane in the air is giving it orders, not the carrier-based operator. And then it must translate the order into autonomous behaviors and act accordingly.
“We don’t want the MQ to do nothing, we don’t want the MQ to do only what it was mission-planned to do — that strike leader has the responsibility at that moment and made a decision” to change the plans, Bujold said, and the MQ-25 must appropriately respond.
The virtual demonstration took place in an F-18 Super Hornet trailer, where Boeing installed the MQ-25 and E-2D simulation software, and operated the tanker drone alongside the manned planes. The company spent about three hours at the Pentagon showing nearly 80 Navy leaders the manned-unmanned teaming event.
Gaddis said the demonstration showed no updates were needed to the E-2D to conduct this manned-unmanned teaming, and the Super Hornet would need what Boeing believes will be small software updates to allow new kinds of messages to be sent over Link 16. The message types already exist and are in the E-2D’s Link 16 library, but they’d have to be added to the Super Hornet.
The Navy is now looking at where this funding could be inserted into upcoming budget cycles, potentially fielding the Super Hornet software update ahead of the first MQ-25 deployment.
Later this year Boeing will do a similar demonstration with a different internet protocol-based data link. Gaddis said Link 16 is ubiquitous throughout global naval fleets, making it a good starting place, but that the data link would eventually be replaced with something more secure. Boeing also wants to prove the manned-unmanned teaming concept works on any kind of network.
Next year, the company will perform more tests in a lab setting and write the extensive autonomy code for the drone to convert commands from a plane into actionable tasks. In 2023, MQ-25 will undergo live flight tests.
Bujold said the demonstration both showed basic manned-unmanned teaming in action and the state of autonomy in software development as well as where improvements must be made for more sophisticated missions, regardless of the platform or the defense companies involved. (Source: Defense News)
02 Aug 21. Blue Bear demonstrates drone logistics technologies as part of UK Future Flight programme. Drone operator Blue Bear has successfully completed a flight demonstrated its Air Druids medical delivery programme as part of the UK government-funded Future Flight programme.
The Air Druids programme used Blue Bear’s Centurion C2 swarming drone control system and drone logistics technologies. According to the Blue Bear press release, the programme demonstrated seamless integration of medical payloads into Blue Bears existing modular open architecture. This provided the ability to have a real time, fully monitored, temperature-controlled payload tightly coupled to the broader command and control system. The payload is monitored for vibration, temperature, and anti-tamper/exposure to light.
Linking the payload data directly into the UAS as opposed to having a separate system such as LTE allows for operation where there is no mobile phone coverage with no data black outs. This enables real time tracking for the entire flight path. This is particularly important for disaster relief where phone networks might have gone down, or for simply flying at higher altitudes where there is no mobile coverage.
Blue Bear’s open architecture, coupled with their SmartConnect technology allows for a fully scalable solution for routine and emergency medical logistics. SmartConnect technology enables multi domain unmanned systems including UAVs, UGVs and USVs to all work together collaboratively and be simultaneously tasked from a single location/operator.
Blue Bear also recently demonstrated the scalability of this same technology and how it can be utilised on swarms of larger logistics drones carrying up 60kg of payload for the Royal Marines.
The flexible system design allows drones from any manufacture to be utilised, as the technology is agnostic to the airframe. Thus, the swarming control system will be able to run a logistics flight control hub, tasking, scheduling and monitoring large numbers of drones in real time. For more information visit: www.bbsr.co.uk (Source: www.unmannedairspace.info)
02 Aug 21. SCHIEBEL CAMCOPTER S-100 Completes Successful Trials for Hellenic Navy. Schiebel demonstrated the outstanding capabilities of its Unmanned Air System (UAS) CAMCOPTER S-100 to the Hellenic Navy.
Stationed on board of the Elli-Class Frigate Aigaion (F-460) in the Mediterranean Sea west of Crete, the S-100 showcased in a one-week trial its range, endurance and speed, as well as its maritime surveillance and detection capabilities, to the Hellenic Navy. For the demonstration flights, the CAMCOPTER S-100 was equipped with a Trakka TC-300 EO/IR sensor and a Shine Micro Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver.
The scenarios alternated day and night take-offs and landings. They included cooperation with other Hellenic Navy vessels, maritime traffic monitoring and coast observation.
Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said:
“Our CAMCOPTER S-100 is the only UAV of its class with extensive flight experience. It is operated by 14 navies worldwide and we are very proud that we had the chance to successfully showcase our system to the Hellenic Navy.” (Source: UAS VISION)
02 Aug 21. TKMS aims to demonstrate MUM XLUUV prototype from mid-2024. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) is planning to build a large unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) demonstrator in the second phase of its Modifiable Underwater Mothership (MUM) project, which is expected to enter trials from mid-2024. MUM is a modular UUV being developed for various applications such as deep-sea exploration, scientific research, and maritime security. The modular design of the UUV supports the integration of third-party modules and other customisations to address a range of mission requirements. The seaframe comprises individual base modules that can accommodate specialised mission modules to expand its size and capabilities. The combination of base and mission modules enables MUM to fulfil different types of missions and scale its capabilities in endurance or payload capacity. Both the base and mission modules are enclosed by a hydrodynamic casing and designed as 3 or 6 m standard containers that facilitate transportation and assembly. The base modules include the trim, control and hovering system, the fuel cell and propulsion system, as well as the communication and control system. These can be augmented by reusable modules that can deploy and recover hydrophones and other sensors, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and devices such as drills and manipulator arms for underwater interventions. The UUV is equipped with an emission-free and air-independent fuel cell propulsion (AIP) system powered by hydrogen fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries. According to TKMS, the AIP system enables the vehicle to perform long-endurance missions at depths of up to 5,000 m. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Jul 21. Indian Navy bans passage of drones around several of its installations. A similar warning was issued recently for the Indian Navy’s bases in Mumbai and Goa. An area of 3km radius from the perimeter of naval installations is strictly off-limits. Credit: Ellen Macdonald.
The Indian Navy has placed a ban on flying uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones without prior permission in and around its installations in Gujarat and other places in the country.
In an official release issued on 28 July, the Indian Navy said that that an area of 3km radius from the perimeter of naval installations falls under ‘No Fly Zone’.
According to the release, individuals and civil agencies are not allowed to fly any drone in the region.
The service was quoted by PTI as saying: “The Indian Navy reserves the right to confiscate or destroy any aerial drones or UAVs found flying within these areas without prior approval.
“Operators found violating these guidelines will be liable for prosecution under relevant provisions of law.”
A similar warning is currently in effect at its bases in Mumbai and Goa.
The latest move follows the recent drone attack that took place at the Indian Air Force’s base in Jammu.
If there is a scheduled flying operation, approval to fly drones should be taken from the Director General of Civil Aviation a week before operation. (Source: naval-technology.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.