Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
08 Sep 22. DARPA looks to ANCILLARY for ‘leap-ahead’ VTOL UAS. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is planning to apply innovation and technology from the commercial electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) sector to a next-generation VTOL unmanned aircraft system (UAS). DARPA’s AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY (ANCILLARY) X-Plane programme intends to develop and flight-demonstrate critical technologies required for a ‘leap ahead’ in low-weight, high-payload, long-endurance VTOL capabilities. The eventual objective is to build a tactical UAS that can operate from ship flight decks and small austere land locations in adverse weather without launch-and-recovery equipment.
Announcing the launch of the ANCILLARY research and development programme, DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office said on 7 September that it was planning to tap into the “large non-traditional commercial industry base [which] has fuelled recent VTOL research investments and advanced controls, leading to innovative vehicle configurations spanning size, weight, power, and cost”. “Advancements in small propulsion systems, high-capacity low-weight batteries, fuel cells, materials, electronics, and low-cost additive manufacturing can now enable new architectures and designs to be explored in this trade space,” it added. (Source: Janes)
09 Sep 22. MSPO 2022: Poland to begin receiving redesigned Orlik UAS in 2023. Poland is to begin receiving the PGZ-19RA Orlik unmanned aerial tactical short-range reconnaissance system with a redesigned unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in 2023. Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa’s (PGZ’s) Wojskowe Zaklady Lotnicze (Military Aviation Works: WZL) 2 displayed the redesigned system at the International Defence Industry Exhibition MSPO 2022 being held in Kielce from 6 to 9 September.
Each system consists of five UAVs and a ground control station (GCS) and deliveries are to be completed in 2025.
The redesigned UAV is larger and has a greater maximum take-off weight than the PGZ-19R: 150 kg compared with 90 kg for the original Orlik ordered in November 2018 by Poland’s then Armament Inspectorate (Armaments Agency since January) for PLN780 m (USD164 m). This enables the UAV to carry a larger payload, including a synthetic aperture radar carried internally, a WZL 2 representative told Janes at MSPO on 8 September. (Source: Janes)
08 Sep 22. COPTRZ and Tomahawk Announce Partnership. COPTRZ Ltd of the UK and Tomahawk Robotics have announced a formal and strategic partnership for the defence and public safety markets in the UK. The revolutionary growth in unmanned technologies and AI has created a complex maze of robotic platforms and solutions with closed architectures. Tomahawk Robotics is changing this and have built Kinesis – a platform and communications agnostic control software solution that transforms how humans work with robots and unmanned systems in the most stressful and harsh environments.
Kinesis unlocks the power of 20+ unmanned systems from over a dozen manufacturers. Viewable on a single “pane of glass” and controllable from a common UI – all upgraded with new AI capabilities and connected to the tactical network.
COPTRZ Ltd, was established in 2016 to revolutionise organisations using drones, with defence and public safety emerging as two of the most important sectors for the organisation. COPTRZ is now established as the leading drone solutions provider in the UK based on an impartial 360° eco-system of best in world UAS, payloads, accessories, software and training.
CCO and co-founder Steve Coulson commented, “We’re delighted to partner with Tomahawk Robotics as the world leader in Manned- Unmanned Teaming, that provides transformational capabilities in UAS deployment.”
Jack Humphrey, International Business Development Manager based in the UK commented, “As we grow our international network, Tomahawk Robotics are proud to partner with COPTRZ who continue to support the Defence and Public Safety markets in the UK with innovative market-leading uncrewed, autonomous solutions. COPTRZ delivers value and success through effective collaboration with their customers and the strength of their relationships with OEMs.” (Source: UAS VISION)
07 Sep 22. ISS Aerospace Unveils the Sensus 8 Multimodal Autonomous UAS. ISS Aerospace (www.issaerospace.com), a leading UK innovator of cutting-edge Uncrewed Aerial Systems, is pleased to announce the unveiling of the Sensus 8 multi-sensor UAS. This product brings to market a truly flexible drone platform that integrates, in a modular nature, multiple, large, industrial sensors to be able to gain rapid fused mission data, utilising edge computing.
Several configurations of the Sensus 8 platform will be on display at Drone X, Excel London, on the 7th and 8th of September.
The flagship model integrates Ground Penetrating Radar, LiDAR, Thermal, and Multispectral sensors. It utilises a universal central payload bay, complimented by fore and aft modular sensor rails. Thanks to its 25kg maximum payload capacity and efficient design, the system is well suited to take large LiDAR sensors such as the ASTRALiTe EDGE topo-bathymetric scanner and Yellowscan Voyager/Explorer (pictured).
Data is recorded and Edge-Processed onboard reducing the need for large bandwidth RF links to a ground control station. Processed data is fused in the onboard Intel I9 workstation allowing for easy to interpret data sets, which support critical decision making in a timely manner.
System architecture networks the autopilot, avionics and Intel workstation with an onboard Nvidia Xavier AI board. This gives supercomputer level processing opportunities in flight and in real time. A natural evolution of the architecture is for autonomous operations based on collected sensor data. As the system generates and records vast amounts, it can be used in real time for navigation, avoidance and on the fly tasking.
The technology was proven earlier this year as part of the UK MoD/Dstl “Map the Gap” challenge – a 6-month rapid R&D cycle to produce a robotic and autonomous system survey capability to enable military bridging of wide, wet gap crossings.
Ryan Kempley, Founder and CEO of ISS Aerospace said “It has been a long-term goal to produce a truly universal and modular UAS solution capable of delivering data from multiple sensors, in real time, to aid critical decision making in both the commercial and defence sectors. Sensus 8 now achieves this with its multi-modal, data fusion capabilities. Open architecture allows the onboard processing and universal sensor integration to be accessed and exploited by the end user.”
06 Sep 22. China’s Solar-Powered HAPS Makes Maiden Flight. China’s near-space solar-powered large unmanned aerial vehicle has recently carried out its maiden flight successfully, with analysts saying on Sunday that the drone can assume the role of a satellite for reconnaissance, monitoring, surveying and communications relay missions when satellite services are not immediately available in emergencies.
The Qimingxing-50, or Morning Star-50, China’s first large drone with solar energy as the only power source, successfully made its maiden flight on Saturday, the Global Times learned from its developer, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
According to AVIC, the large solar-powered drone took off in Yulin, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province on Saturday, and landed smoothly after 26 minutes airborne, successfully completing its maiden flight with all systems operating normally.
The Qimingxing-50 is the first high-altitude low-speed drone with an ultrahigh aspect ratio developed by the Chinese aviation industry, the first large drone to use a twin-fuselage configuration, and also the first all-electric large unmanned aerial vehicle platform with solar energy as the only power source. Using efficient, clean, and green solar energy, it can stay in the air for a long time to perform high-altitude reconnaissance, forest fire monitoring, atmospheric environment monitoring, geographic mapping, communications relay and other tasks, AVIC said.
Qimingxing 50, or Morning Star 50, drone flying in the air in Yulin, Shaanxi province, on Sept 3, 2022. Photo: Liu Feng/chinadaily.com.cn
Thanks to its capability to conduct very long endurance flights in near space, the Qimingxing-50 drone can essentially become a substitute for satellites, a Chinese aerospace expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.
Satellite services are not always available due to the limited numbers of satellites and relatively fixed schedules of overhead passes. For time-sensitive missions, near-space drones can offset those disadvantages, the expert said, noting that satellite services could also get sabotaged in wartime, so near-space drones can replace them in that scenario. An aerial drone is also cheaper than a satellite, the expert said.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force has already publicly displayed the WZ-7 high-altitude reconnaissance drone capable of near-space flight at high speed but with short endurance. The Qimingxing-50’s long endurance and low speed characteristics could be a good complementation, observers said.
The successful maiden flight of the Qimingxing-50 lays a solid foundation for the development and type establishment of large solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles in China’s aviation industry, which will further promote the development of key technologies in the country’s new energy field, composite material field and flight control field, and enhance China’s ability to perform tasks in near space and over far oceans and seas, according to AVIC.
The Chinese aviation industry will seize the opportunity to increase investment in innovative research and development, accelerating the development of large solar-powered unmanned aircraft, as well as continue to lead the development of independent innovation in related industries, AVIC said. (Source: UAS VISION/Global Times)
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.