Sponsored by The British Robotics Seed Fund
31 Aug 23. Dentons Publishes Second Edition of ‘Drone Laws Around the World.’ Now expanded to include 17 different regions, this second edition of Dentons’ ‘Drone Laws Around the World: a Comparative Global Guide to Drone Regulatory Laws’ provides detailed accounts and analysis of regulations that impact operations around the globe.
This second edition of the Guide includes analysis and comparison of the regulations, sanctions and liability, privacy and future regulatory and innovative developments for the following regions:
- EU Member states:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Drones are a disruptive technology that accelerate new approaches and opportunities in a variety of industries. Great strides have been made toward regulating autonomous and beyond the visual line of sight operations of drones. This new frontier of disruptive technology has generated many ingenious new solutions to old problems and promises more for those willing to embrace the technology.
The increasingly complex regulatory environment for drones makes for more difficult compliance obligations but also expands the opportunities for companies operating in this space. This second edition of the Guide focuses on practical applications and considerations in real estate, oil and gas, and in the counter-drone/security industries.
The 54-page guide can be accessed here: https://www.uasvision.com/2023/08/31/dentons-publishes-second-edition-of-drone-laws-around-the-world/ (Source: UAS VISION)
31 Aug 23. Thales and Schiebel Successfully Conduct FAT for UK MOD’s Peregrine Programme. Thales and Schiebel have announced the successful completion of the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) for the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) Peregrine Programme. The FAT, a pivotal milestone in the programme’s development, marks an important step towards the final delivery of the cutting-edge CAMCOPTER S-100 UAS Peregrine System, the game changing rotary wing Uncrewed Air System (UAS) which aims to provide a protective ‘eye in the sky’ capability for Royal Navy warships.
During the testing phase, Thales and Schiebel showcased the Peregrine’s exceptional capabilities to the specified requirements. The results have been outstanding, highlighting the program’s steadfast adherence to schedule and the unwavering commitment of both companies to excellence.
With the FAT approval in place, the Peregrine Programme is now set to commence its first deliveries, ahead of schedule signifying an important advancement in strengthening the UK MOD’s operational capabilities. The innovative technologies incorporated into the CAMCOPTER S-100 such as the Thales I-Master radar are poised to elevate reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence-gathering missions to higher levels for the Royal Navy.
Moreover, in a parallel development, the Royal Navy is gearing up to commence their comprehensive operator and maintainer training on the Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100. This training will empower the Royal Navy personnel with increased UAS expertise, ensuring seamless integration and optimal utilisation of this state-of-the-art system.
“We are immensely proud of the successful Factory Acceptance Test and the progress achieved in the Peregrine Programme,” stated Hervé Hamy, Vice President ISR Business Line at Thales.“Our unwavering dedication to precision engineering and collaboration with Schiebel has resulted in a cutting-edge solution that will undoubtedly strengthen the UK MOD’s operational capabilities.”
We have achieved a significant milestone in the Peregrine Programme,” commented Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group. “The S-100’s advanced features and proven performance ensure it will be a game-changer in the field of unmanned aerial systems, providing the Royal Navy with an invaluable asset.”
The joint effort between Thales and Schiebel, in conjunction with the UK MOD’s support, has led to this resounding success. The completion of the Factory Acceptance Test and impending training for the Royal Navy demonstrates our shared commitment to delivering exceptional and mission-critical solutions. (Source: UAS VISION/YouTube)
30 Aug 23. uAvionix and Choctaw Nation Complete First US Flights Exercising FAA and FCC Approvals for Aviation Protected C-Band and BVLoS Operations. uAvionix, operating at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) Emerging Aviation Technology Center, completed the first true Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight in non-segregated airspace using aviation protected C-Band in the United States.
Serving as the Command and Control Communications Service Provider (C2CSP), uAvionix completed the historic flights for CNO, FAA and industry leaders to demonstrate the effectiveness of combining Command and Control (C2) link management and situational awareness for Detect and Avoid (DAA) through the company’s SkyLine software service offering. The flight, a culmination of a multi-year effort involving engineering, operations teams and regulatory review, heralds a significant advancement for UAS operators and businesses seeking to commercialize scalable UAS operations such as medical and package delivery, linear utility inspection, and emergency management.
“The SkyLine software provides link management and detect and avoid services across multiple frequencies and data inputs to form the cornerstone of an FCC and two FAA BVLOS waivers,” said Paul Beard, founder and CTO of uAvionix. “It is the only C2CSP service designed to RTCA DO-377A and DO-362A standards for aviation, and enables us to fly without chase vehicles, visual observers, or requiring other nearby aircraft to have their own detect and avoid sensors on board. It is truly a brilliant piece of engineering and operations by the uAvionix team.”
uAvionix recently received FCC approval, coordinated with the FAA, to operate its airborne and ground radio stations on C-Band for command and control during BVLOS flights. Managed by the SkyLine cloud-based software service, the SkyLink airborne and SkyStation ground-based radios assured uninterrupted and optimized communication with the aircraft across the largely unimproved terrain of the CNO UAS test site which is similar to conditions often found by businesses performing utility inspections or long range medical and cargo delivery.
The C2CSP system for the Super Volo aircraft used in the flight included the uAvionix muLTELink5060 airborne radio and four SkyLink5060 ground radios deployed across the 44,500+ acre UAS test site. The SkyLine system continuously monitored each link between the ground stations and aircraft to optimally determine the best link for reliable command and control. When needed, the system proactively completed make-before-break connections to switch between available ground stations, while detect and avoid data from terrestrial sensors deployed in the UAS test range delivered situational awareness to the Remote Pilot in Command.
“The forethought, innovation, and technical knowledge of uAvionix are evident throughout this historic operation,” noted James Grimley, Executive Director for the Choctaw Nation Oklahoma Emerging Aviation Technologies Center. “Our purpose at the test site is to derive value for the CNO by enabling businesses to see and evaluate UAS technologies that will meet their operational needs for BVLOS flights. With uAvionix, we are able to demonstrate a complete system for C2 and DAA that is aviation-grade, approved by regulators, easy to deploy, doesn’t rely on third-party communication networks, and infinitely scalable.
Together we have created a technical and operational system that is the foundation for others to safely operate UAS for a variety of safety critical, long range and higher altitude missions that will deliver economic and cultural value in our communities.” (Source: UAS VISION)
30 Aug 23. Shield AI Demonstrates AI-piloted, Teaming V-BATs with AFWERX; Transformational Capability to Be Fielded in 2024. Shield AI, a defense technology company building the world’s best AI pilot, today announced the successful completion of an autonomous teaming demonstration featuring three V-BAT Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). This accomplishment was the final milestone of an AFWERX autonomy effort under their Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) program and collaboration with the AFRL Sensors Directorate.
This work with AFWERX sets Shield AI on a path to deploy V-BAT teaming capabilities in GPS- and- communications-denied environments in the next year.
Shield AI showcased its Hivemind AI pilot by launching a team of three V-BATs to monitor and surveil simulated wildfires. The multi-agent, coordinated team conducted Detect, Identify, Locate, and Report (DILR) missions in a contingency scenario with dual-use applications. This work with AFWERX sets Shield AI on a path to deploy V-BAT teaming capabilities in GPS- and- communications-denied environments in the next year.
“Intelligent, affordable mass that can see everything on the battlefield, execute the mission even when GPS and comms are denied or degraded, and put all our adversaries’ military assets at risk at all times is the holy grail of deterrence. This milestone brings us closer to achieving that reality,” said Brandon Tseng, Shield AI’s President, Co-founder and former U.S. Navy SEAL. “We had many customers from across the DoD enterprise attend the event and my favorite customer quote was ‘Wait, you’re flying those three aircraft, doing the recon, and at the same time briefing us?!’ The customers genuinely appreciated that this isn’t merely talk, or just computer simulations, or a science project leading nowhere. This represents real autonomy on actual aircraft that, most importantly, will be deployed imminently.”
Hivemind can be trained for a variety of missions and its modular open systems architecture enables portability to other aircraft. It has flown quadcopters, V-BATs, and jet aircraft. Hivemind can be trained to undertake a broad range of missions, including integrated air defense breach, SCUD missile hunting, zone reconnaissance, counter-air, beyond-visual-range strike, maritime domain awareness, and communications-contested operations.
“Autonomy on V-BAT directly supports our autonomy efforts on uncrewed jet aircraft. Beyond our autonomy stack being leveraged across different aircraft, what sets this autonomy effort apart from others is that it was deployed on a program-of-record aircraft and will be a fielded capability next year. Many DoD-funded efforts, unfortunately, never reach the hands of a warfighter. However, Shield AI and AFWERX decided from the start that we would field this capability within the DoD. The great thing is all our DoD customers — the Army, the Navy, the Marines, SOCOM, and the Air Force — will benefit from this AFWERX effort. Autonomy is a joint capability,” said Ryan Tseng, CEO and Co-founder of Shield AI.
“What’s exciting to us is not just the capability that teaming V-BATs can bring to the table or how it’s on a great path for fielding with DoD partners, but how autonomy stacks can be leveraged across different aircraft and programs. The continual application of autonomy from small systems, now V-BAT, and onto larger platforms provides paths for industry progression and autonomy maturation. The criticality of autonomous capabilities for future programs of record within the DoD was the driver for this Shield AI – AFWERX effort,” said Col. Tom Meagher, AFWERX Prime Division Chief.
About Shield AI
Founded in 2015, Shield AI is a venture-backed defense technology company whose mission is to protect service members and civilians with intelligent systems. In pursuit of this mission, Shield AI is building the world’s best AI pilot. Its AI pilot, Hivemind, has flown a fighter jet (F-16), a vertical takeoff and landing drone (V-BAT), and a quadcopter (Nova). The company has offices in San Diego, Dallas, Washington DC and abroad. Shield AI’s products and people are currently in the field actively supporting operations with the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. allies. For more information, visit www.shield.ai. Follow Shield AI on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
About Air Force Research Laboratory
Sole organization leading the planning and execution of U.S. Air Force & U.S. Space Force science & technology programs. Orchestrates a world-wide government, industry & academia coalition in the discovery, development & delivery of a wide range of revolutionary technology. Provides leading-edge warfighting capabilities keeping air, space and cyberspace forces the world’s best. Employs 10,800 military, civilian and contractor personnel at 17 research sites executing an annual $4B budget. For more information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.
The innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory brings cutting edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. Employs approximately 215 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4B budget. Since 2019, has executed 4,671 contracts worth more than $2B to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability. For more information, visit: www.afwerx.com. (Source: PR Newswire)
29 Aug 23. Morocco negotiates the acquisition of the Turkish drone Akinci. Morocco has begun talks with the Turkish company Baykar to acquire the Akinci combat drone, as reported by Hespress. This unmanned aircraft entered service in 2021 and is considered the ‘jewel’ of the Turkish military arsenal. Due to its capabilities, other countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have already acquired several units.
According to the description of the company that manufactures it, Turkey’s Baykar, Akinci is a high-altitude unmanned combat aerial vehicle with extended endurance, equipped with artificial intelligence and capable of carrying out operations with combat aircraft in air-to-ground and air-to-air strike missions.
The drone, which weighs 4.5 tonnes, is capable of deploying a payload of 1,500kg, including 400kg of internal cargo and 950kg of external cargo, with an airframe equipped with two turboprop engines. It also has electronic support that will allow it to carry satellite communication systems, air-to-air radar, obstacle detection radar, synthetic aperture radar.
The Akinci is capable of reducing the payload of fighter aircraft, and can also carry out aerial bombing. According to the Moroccan media, it could also be used by Morocco for air-to-air missions.
In 2021, the Kingdom has already acquired 19 units of Bayraktar TB2 drones from the Baykar company. In this regard, last June, the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces (FAR) also acquired SPY-X kamikaze drones manufactured by the Israeli company Bluebird Aero Systems, following negotiations that began in 2021. Rabat has also acquired unmanned aircraft from other countries such as China and France. It has even positioned itself as the leading drone manufacturer in Africa.
As reported late last year by The Wall Street Journal, Rabat has reportedly reached an agreement with two leading Israeli companies in the manufacture of both attack and defence drones to build two drone factories in Morocco, which would make the Kingdom the continent’s leading drone manufacturing nation.
Morocco’s new military capabilities come at a time of tension in the region, with reports of Iranian drones in the area in the hands of the Polisario Front, something Rabat has warned about and denounced on several occasions. (Source: Google/https://www.atalayar.com/en)
29 Aug 23. Pentagon unveils ‘Replicator’ drone program to compete with China. The Pentagon committed on Monday to fielding thousands of attritable, autonomous systems across multiple domains within the next two years as part of a new initiative to better compete with China.
The program, dubbed Replicator, was announced by Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Emerging Technologies conference here.
“Replicator will galvanize progress in the too-slow shift of U.S. military innovation to leverage platforms that are small, smart, cheap and many,” Hicks said.
Hicks and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Christopher Grady will oversee the program, with support from Doug Beck, director of the Defense Innovation Unit. Further details, Hicks said, will be released in the coming weeks.
Replicator rests on two assumptions. The first is that China’s core advantage is mass — “more ships, more missiles, more people,” as Hicks said — and that the United States’ best response is to innovate, rather than match that pound for pound.
The second is that attritable, autonomous systems are the right form of innovation. Hicks pointed to the war in Ukraine, in which cheap, often commercial drones have proven indispensable on the battlefield for reconaissance, targeting, and attacks. Russia too, she said, appeared to have a similar mass before launching its invasion last February.
However, this program is squarely focused on China. Hicks called this moment a “generational challenge to American society.”
”We’ll counter the [People’s Liberation Army’s] mass with mass of our own, but ours will be harder to plan for, harder to hit, and harder to beat,” she said.
Even so, Hicks noted the Pentagon will remain focused on its core systems. “America still benefits from platforms that are large, exquisite, expensive, and few,” she said. Instead, she said, Replicator is particularly focused on accelerating DoD’s recent investments in autonomous systems.
Replicator’s goal of fielding small drones in high numbers and on a rapid timeline echoes calls from former DIU director Mike Brown for the Pentagon to better leverage commercial innovation to deliver capability at scale — an approach he called a “hedge strategy.”
House appropriators have backed that idea in their fiscal 2025 defense spending bill. The legislation would allocate $1 bn toward establishing a DIU-managed hedge portfolio made up of low-cost drones, agile communication and computing modes and AI capabilities.
The Department of Defense requested $1.8 bn for artificial intelligence for fiscal 2024 and was overseeing more than 685 related projects as of 2021. Replicator is intended to pull those investments together and further scale production, Hicks said.
“It’s a reorganization of largely existing funds, and expected to cost in the range of the hundreds of ms,” wrote Eric Pahon, a spokesman for Hicks, in an email.
This is far from the first Defense Department innovation program, and Hicks invoked several past ones near the top of her speech. Such initiatives, in the past, were referenced so often they nearly became buzzwords.
Hicks is betting against that outcome today. “We know we can do it,” she said. “It doesn’t mean it’s without risk. We’ve got to take a big bet here.” (Source: Defense News)
23 Aug 23. Integer Technologies Completes At-Sea Testing on UUV Digital Twin Architecture Prototype as Part of a DARPA SBIR Phase 2 Award. -Integer Technologies announced today that it has successfully completed at-sea testing as part of its SBIR Phase 2 Award—Defining and Leveraging Digital Twins in Autonomous Undersea Operations (DELTA)—with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Integer, along with its subcontractors at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Rite-Solutions, Inc., have been investigating the implementation of digital twins for unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) missions. The team integrated the digital twin architecture, software, and communication systems on a REMUS 100 vehicle, which were validated during at-sea tests.
“Observing and communicating with undersea assets is challenging and thus forecasting what might happen on missions is very important, but also very difficult to do with any accuracy,” said Integer Technologies’ Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Josh Knight. “We are developing digital twins of all size classes of UUVs to overcome the sparsity of data, simulate missions, and adapt the mission plan before something goes wrong. We want to turn ‘What ifs’ into ‘What wills.’”
The SBIR Phase 2 program aims to define and demonstrate digital twin use cases for individual UUVs as well as multi-UUV missions with the goal of helping operators overcome undersea communication challenges and UUV mission interruptions. The developed “operational” digital twins are digital models of a physical thing, a process, or a system that also use historical mission data logs, sensor data, and faster-than-real-time simulations “at the edge” to inform operational decisions, leading to better mission outcomes.
Integer has a track record of success with prime contracts in the maritime space and is leveraging its expertise to test the feasibility of translating digital twins to the undersea environment, which has not yet been deeply explored.
The research program included developing and performing in-water testing on a split onboard/offboard digital twin prototype architecture. This architecture enables the prediction of mission success likelihood and provides alternative achievable missions in real time to the operational commander based on environmental and UUV subsystem past, present, and forecasted states.
Although providing a mission commander with real time mission performance data from undersea assets remains challenging, Integer’s digital twin architecture holds the potential to drastically reduce communications bandwidth requirements and increase the accuracy of system health and mission performance data displayed to the operator. Further demonstration events are planned in 2023.
About Integer Technologies
Integer is a science and technology company founded to support U.S. national security customers by equipping them with world-class technology. This is done by providing subject matter expertise, research and development services, consultation, and software products for both crewed and uncrewed vessels. Visit www.integer-tech.com for more information. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
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.
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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.