Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
19 Nov 21. ZALA AERO to Deliver 7 UAS to Latin America. Russian company ZALA AERO (part of the Kalashnikov group of companies), one of the largest domestic manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles, has signed a contract to supply seven unmanned aerial vehicle systems to Panamanian company UAV LATAM.
“ZALA AERO and UAV LATAM have signed a contract to supply seven UAS produced by ZALA AERO in 2022-2023,” the press service of the Panamanian company said. The contract also calls for the promotion of ZALA AERO-developed UAVs and UAV countermeasures in the eight Latin American countries where UAV LATAM is present.
ZALA AERO will also provide training for UAV operators, the press office said.
“Under the contract, ZALA AERO will assist UAV LATAM in building a training center for UAV operators with simulators and virtual reality technologies. The parties also agreed to execute a project to create an artificial intelligence technology center for data processing and analysis,” the company said
by ZALA AERO since 2017.
ZALA AERO GROUP
Since 2004 ZALA AERO GROUP is the leading Russian developer and manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems, unique payloads and mobile systems. Starting from January 2015 ZALA AERO is part of Concern Kalashnikov.
The main products are reconnaissance unmanned systems and digital solutions. Currently, more than 2000 of ZALA UAS operate within Russia. Areas of application are the protection of state borders, reconnaissance and rescue operations, monitoring of high-risk facilities, and emergencies.
ZALA AERO is the leader in the provision of air monitoring services in the gas and oil sectors in the Russian Federation. Every year ZALA AERO UAVs survey more than 5 million kilometers of oil and gas infrastructure performing more than 30,000 flights.
ZALA AERO specialized licensed training center for UAV operators. There are also individual courses on software training and tactics for specific application of systems. (Source: UAS VISION)
16 Nov 21. Martin UAV Kicks Off MTUAS Increment 2 Effort with Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. Shield AI, the defense-technology company using self-driving software to enable collaborative teams of unmanned aircraft to operate in GPS- and RF-denied environments, announced today that Martin UAV (a Shield AI company) kicked off its Multi-Mission Tactical UAS Increment 2 (Mi2) prototype effort with Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) on Oct. 19. The company’s goal is to deliver the full Mi2 prototype version of its V-BAT Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to the U.S. government for operational testing and acceptance. V-BAT in flight during U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Task Force 59’s Exercise New Horizon. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Dawson Roth, U.S. Navy.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the partnership with NAWCAD on MTUAS. Our aim is to knock it out of the park and make the warfighter proud our team was selected. We think this program will be an accelerant for V-BAT in maritime, contested domains — especially as we think more broadly about V-BAT operating with U.S. forces in many areas of operation — and the value that organic Group 3 VTOL UAS can bring to all Navy ships. It’s humbling to see V-BAT emerging as the combined-joint Group 3 of choice, and we just want to continue to delight the warfighter as we scale,” said Brandon Tseng, former Navy SEAL and cofounder of Shield AI.
The successful completion of this agreement will provide Martin UAV a possible opportunity to enter into an official Program of Record with the Government to continue improving the V-BAT 128 based on warfighter input and relevant battlefield capability gaps. Each system delivered will follow the pattern of equipment delivery, personnel training, and a government test event, supported by Martin UAV personnel.
Martin UAV (a Shield AI company) specializes in building wholly unique, unmanned aircraft systems and associated flight control software. The company’s systems are commercially developed to fill critical operational needs in tactical and confined operational environments. Its V-BAT series aircraft is the only single-engine ducted fan VTOL that can launch and recover from a hover, fly up to 11 hours in horizontal flight, and make mid-flight transitions to “hover and stare” at any time throughout a given mission set. U.S. and international customers view the V-BAT as a flexible platform capable of performing Group 2 UAS to Group 4 UAS missions and beyond. (Source: PR Newswire)
16 Nov 21. Mind-Controlled Drone Prototype. British defence company Ultra Electronics unveiled a working prototype of a mind-controlled drone at the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE) in Malvern, England, on 4 November. All the pilot has to do is to focus their attention and eyes on specific circles on a computer screen.
This new technology was developed by Ultra Electronics, a British company working in the defence and security industry. The drone and the brain sensor were already available on the market, so Ultra Electronics designed a software to make the two devices work together. Although the laptop does have a webcam, it is not used to look at the user — the focus of the mind on the circles instructs the drone what to do via the brain sensor worn on the user’s head.
“So what happens is that we create some icons, we call them tags, and they have like a signal within them,” explains Tony White, CTO of land systems at Ultra Electronics. “And when you stare at that, your eye responds to it in a particular way. The way in which the eye response occurs is a signal that we pick up on the visual cortex of the brain, at the back of the brain. So the sensor is looking for the signals we create here that come through the eyeball through the brain and then onto the visual cortex. Once we’ve got it there as a signal, we can grab that, we understand what that signal looks like and we can turn that into a command for whatever we’re trying to control.”
There are four circles on the computer screen in total: two big ones for take-off and landing, and two small ones for spinning left and right. The advantage of this technology is to reduce the number of hand-held controllers for soldiers.
“So this device is all about providing control of other devices the soldier might carry. And when you think about what a soldier does, most of his time he wants his hands on a weapon. And each time I’ve got to take my hands off the weapon to do something, I may, may, be vulnerable. So by having this device, it allows him to be in control of things once he’s still got his hands on the weapon,” says White.
The prototype was designed in partnership with Neuro8, a neuroscience consultancy company founded by Ellen Kay. She led trainings for Ultra Electronics employees and helped the drone project by helping the pilots focus.
“So what happens is, is that having gone through the training, the organisation had a much better understanding of the individual and how the brain and body communicate. And from a soldier’s wellbeing and welfare that’s just as important as them optimising their performance. So how this worked for us is that they developed the technology and I used all of the techniques that I’ve learnt through the training and through the coaching to use the technology to show how the human can improve their performance and reduce their cognitive burden, to use this technology better,” explains Kay.
The drone was demoed at the Three Counties Defence and Security Expo (3CDSE) in Malvern, England, on 4 November. This mind controlling is an example of a brain-computer interface (BCI), meaning a technology that is able to understand the brain and translate what the user thinks into actions.
On stage and in front of an audience, the drone was also used by a person who had never used it before. After a 2-minute calibration process, the new pilot was able to control the drone, make it take off and land on a table, and rotate it in the air. (Source: UAS VISION)
14 Nov 21. Emirati conglomerate unveils two drones and a weapons system. Emirati conglomerate Edge Group has unveiled a series of vertical-takeoff-and-landing drones as well as a precision-guided munition system. The first day of the Dubai Airshow featured the QX-5 and QX-6 UAVs introduced at the company pavilion with Faisal Al Bannai, the CEO and managing director of Edge, and Ali Al Yafei, the CEO of the subsidiary Adasi. Al Bannai said the first prototypes of the QX drones and the Rash 2-H weapon system were launched nine months ago.
What can the drones do?
The QX-5 an upgrade of the QX-4 kamikaze drone unveiled at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference held in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi earlier this year. The QX-5 is designed to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as well as perform border security missions, among other military operations. It is a fixed-wing aircraft that the company says has a 16-hour endurance with a 25-kilogram payload capacity. It also features autopilot and communications systems.
The QX-5, an upgraded version of the QX-4 kamikaze drone, is a fixed-wing system with a 16-hour endurance. (Agnes Helou/Staff)
Muhammed Al Nuaimi, senior business development manager with the manufacturer, told Defense News that the QX-5 was designed to meet the requirements of its customer — meaning the UAE’s armed forces.
“The system is under development, at the preliminary design review stage, and the production unit is expected to come out in the first quarter of 2023,” he said.
The QX-6 also features autopilot and communications systems, and can autonomously perform missions without the need for a remote control. It is guided using set coordinates or a camera to attack its target. It has an extended payload of 150 kilograms to enable it to deliver cargo to remote locations. Depending on its payload configuration, the system has an endurance of up to 4 hours and can be leveraged for both military and commercial applications.
What about the munition system?
Adasi’s Rash 2-H is touted as a cost-effective, highly precise guided munition system capable of swiftly engaging small to medium-sized threats.
The Rash 2-H precision-guided munition system was unveiled at the 20210 Dubai Airshow. (Agnes Helou/Staff)
Rash 2-H has the highest payload in the Rash family, and can perform patrol missions, provide border security and target threats. The Rash 2-H uses its laser designation system to find and track targets during both day and night operations.
“Rash was made through converting a conventional cheap munition to a guided munition. We started by developing Rash 1, based on 60mm mortars, then we moved to Rash 2 based on 120mm mortars and further upgraded to Rash 2-H” Al Nuaimi told Defense News.
Rash 1 weighs 3.5 kilograms, whereby Rash 2 comes in at about 13.5 kilograms; the difference is mainly the explosive warhead.
“This munition is tested in the UAE with the armed forces and can be integrated to manned or unmanned systems,” Al Nuaimi said. (Source: Defense News)
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.