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Archive for the ‘UAS’ Category

AeroVironment Collaborating with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to Build First Drone – the Mars Helicopter – to Fly on Mars

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

• New space endeavor draws on company’s unique and diverse history of innovation and high-altitude drone flight experience

• Drone prototypes have passed rigorous tests in simulated Mars atmosphere

• Final Mars-bound helicopter now in production at JPL

MONROVIA, Calif., July 3, 2018 – What does a company do when its trailblazing and diverse innovations for nearly half a century have redefined how the world drives and flies?  When its many technological “firsts” include the first practical electric car, flying the Nano Hummingbird drone, record-setting, solar-powered aircraft flights in near space, and reshaping the battlefield with portable, hand-held, tactical drones and loitering munitions?

It takes on another world.

At a briefing held Wednesday at New York City’s NASDAQ Marketsite, AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) revealed its critical role in collaborating with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. to build the drone helicopter recently selected by NASA/JPL’s Mars Exploration Program, and displayed a model of the Mars Helicopter, which is planned to fly on Mars in less than three years.

“AeroVironment’s deep, rich and diverse history of innovation combined with our experience with near-space aircraft like Pathfinder and Helios make us uniquely suited to collaborate with NASA and JPL on this historic, interplanetary venture,” said AeroVironment President and Chief Executive Officer Wahid Nawabi.

Flying at nearly 100,000 feet on Earth is much like flying on the surface of Mars – same air density – so AeroVironment used airfoil design principles and simulation tools the technology company learned from record high-altitude flights and incorporated them into the Mars helicopter design.

“The Mars Helicopter effort also benefits from the ultra-lightweight and ultra-high-precision methods integral to our nano projects that have been developed in our MacCready Works laboratory, where we’ve assembled a dedicated team of the industry’s brightest and most experienced thinkers to solve some of today’s greatest technological challenges,” Nawabi said.

AeroVironment first developed subscale Mars helicopter prototypes to test and demonstrate the feasibility of lift in the thin Martian atmosphere.  Then in May 2016, AeroVironment delivered to NASA/JPL a Mars Helicopter rotor and landing gear prototype that was integrated with a JPL-developed controller and demonstrated free flight in a simulated Mars atmosphere, proving that it is possible to fly on the Red Planet.  Next, AeroVironment delivered major helicopter subsystems in the fall of 2017 for integration into Mars-representative engineering development models.  JPL built two Engineering Development Model Mars Helicopters, integrating the AeroVironment rotor, landing gear, fuselage shell and solar panel substrate together with JPL-developed fuselage composed of flight avionics, onboard power, telecom, flight control and sensors into two models.

One of the development models was used for flight demonstration in JPL’s large 25-foot space simulator, and the other for environmental testing, including thermal tests to ensure the vehicle can endure the frigid Mars nights, and vibration tests to make sure it is rugged enough to survive launch.  Both vehicles passed the rigorous tests, paving the way for the development and fabrication of the final, Mars-bound version.

AeroVironment is currently building the flight versions of their subsystems which will be integrated with other subsystems into the vehicle that JPL is building. The plan is for JPL to then install the finished Mars Helicopter into the Mars 2020 rover for its ride to a Martian landing site, still to be determined.

The Mars Helicopter project is led by NASA JPL with team members across JPL, AeroVironment, NASA Ames and NASA Langley. The AeroVironment team has worked closely with NASA rotorcraft experts at the NASA Ames and Langley research centers and with JPL electrical, mechanical, materials, vehicle flight controls, and systems engineers. AeroVironment’s contributions to the first Mars drone include design and development of the helicopter’s airframe and major subsystems, including its rotor, rotor blades, hub and control mechanism hardware. The company also developed and built high-efficiency, lightweight propulsion motors, power electronics, landing gear, load-bearing structures, and the thermal enclosure for NASA/JPL’s avionics, sensors, and software systems.

The press briefing featured high-impact visuals and models of many of AeroVironment’s innovations, including the Snipe™ nano drone – the latest tactical UAS innovation from AeroVironment that provides today’s defenders with critical information whenever and wherever it is needed – and the Switchblade® Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS).  AeroVironment recently received Switchblade orders from the U.S. Army and U.S. Marines Corps through Urgent Needs Statements.

SNC and Partners Invited to SOFWERX ‘Game of Drones’ Demo

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

X-MADIS Mobile Drone Defeat System Advances in Counter UAS Exercise
SPARKS, Nev. (May 22, 2018) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and its partners, Ascent Vision and RADA Technologies, will participate in the SOFWERX ThunderDrone Rapid Prototyping Event (RPE) III demonstration at Nellis Air Force Base next month. SOFWERX is a Partnership Intermediary Agreement between Doolittle Institute and the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), created to investigate new technology in an effort to put the most advanced capabilities into our warfighters’ hands.

SNC and its partners will participate in the demo, also being called “Game of Drones,” using X-MADIS (eXpeditionary Mobile Aerial Defense Integrated System), which is a self-contained, fully mobile and integrated counter-unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS) capability. The C-UAS, radar and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) equipment is integrated into a commercial off-road vehicle that can detect, locate, identify, track, exploit and defeat an enemy UAS (also known as drone) to protect airports, no-fly zones and other high-value infrastructure.

The SOFWERX RPE demonstration events began in June 2017 and have evaluated more than 450 technological capabilities aimed at bringing sea-, land-, and air-based UAS, tactical swarms, payloads (kinetic/non-kinetic/sensors), and their associated data science applications to the Special Operations Community. ThunderDrone RPE III is the culmination of the events, and X-MADIS is one of just 30 remaining entrants. Only warfighters, interagency partners, and select contributors from industry and academia may participate in RPEs, which are formally evaluated by a government assessment team.

X-MADIS performed flawlessly in the previous RPE II held at Ft. Bragg North Carolina. This event evaluated operational setup time and the system’s capability to detect, locate, identify, track, exploit, defeat, and assess effects on threat representative small unmanned aerial vehicles. The top three participants for the upcoming exercise, called “Game of Drones,” will be awarded prize money based on system performance.

For more information, see the SOFWERX website. X-MADIS will be on display at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Fla., May 22-24, booth #1624.

SOFIC 18 – X-MADIS

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

The eXpeditionary Mobile Air Defense Integrated System by Ascent Vision Technologies is being displayed in the Darley Defense Booth.

About a year ago, the Marines identified six critical technologies for Counter UAS.

Hardware

RADAR – detection, tracking and location by RADA Technologies

Optic – Tracking and positive ID by Ascent Vision Technologies

Mitigation – EW jammer by Sierra Nevada Corp (Skycap)

Software

CUAS suite integration software

Graphic User Interface

Operator Assist – video content analytics, detects change, alerts user

Together, these technologies accomplish the following functions : Detect-locate-track-identify-mitigate-analyze

The system works on the move. This pickup is the technical demonstrator. Operational variants are integrated into MRAZRs.

Widget Wednesday – PTX RQ-11B Raven Austere Power Solutions

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

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The AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven® is the most widely-used low-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) asset among US and Allied Forces today. On a single battery charge, the Raven® can typically fly up to 6.2 miles (10.0 km) at speeds of 28–60 mph (45–97 km/h). Now, thanks to the PTX SPM-622 Squad Power Manager and ABC-812 Adaptive Battery Charger, RQ-11B Raven® operators can unplug themselves from the wall socket charger, harvest / scavenge power from any available source, and keep flying for longer – anywhere.

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Drawing power from solar panels / blankets, vehicle power outlets, vehicle batteries, and military or commercial rechargeable batteries, Raven® operators are able to maintain full, constant operational capability in even the most undeveloped environments.

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And thanks to our ground-breaking smart cable technology, Raven® aircraft batteries can also be connected to the SPM-622 as a power source to run other essential equipment such as radios, GPS devices, tablets – or even medical equipment for casualty treatment. This not only helps units simplify logistics and reduce their battery burden, it could even save a life.

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The SPM-622 RQ-11B Raven® Austere Power Kit includes a Squad Power Manager, a flexible solar blanket, vehicle and battery power scavenging cables, and all connectors and accessories needed to charge the aircraft battery, Ground Control Station, and Toughbook® simultaneously.

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The ABC-812 RQ-11B Raven® Bulk-Charging Kit enables users to charge up to 8 Raven® aircraft batteries in dual battery adapters simultaneously.  Alternatively, users can charge 2 Raven® batteries and up to 6 other batteries as needed.  The ABC-812 also incorporates 4 USB ports for concurrently charging Smart Phones, Tablets and other end-user devices.

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Come see the PTX team at SOFIC next week at booth #2232 to learn more about the full range of PTX Power Management Solutions – or visit the website anytime at www.ptxnomad.com

Darley Defense Days 18 – InstantEye Robotics

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018

The Mk 2 GEN-5-D1/D2 sUAS is InstantEye Robotics’ entry for the US Army Soldier Borne Sensor program.

It offers a fully encrypted digital signal for command (GPS or manual) as well as real-time video. The EO/IR sensors are internally gimbaled. The aircraft weighs just 8.8 oz and will fly for about 15 min per sortie. Its service ceiling is 12,000 MSL with a max Speed of 20 mph and will hold station in winds up to 20 MPH. Max video Range is 1km (LOS).

The system includes 2 aircraft, a Tactical Sensor Control, Video Display Tablet, 4 Aircraft/TSC Batteries, Battery Charger, Spares and Transport Case.

www.instanteyerobotics.com

Warrior West 18 – Lockheed Martin Indago Payloads

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

During last Fall’s UAS + Counter UAS Industry Day by ADS, I mentioned Lockheed Martin’s Indago 2 UAV and payload. The Noctus Dual IR payload is now available.

Featuring Dual FLIR Boson IR cameras which provide 640×512 video and 32 deg to 2 degree Field of View zoom, with seamless transition between cameras. Additionally, it incorporates an IR laser pointer. Finally, the payload is paired with real-time Geo location and Geo pointing capability as well as object tracking.

DroneShield Protects NASCAR

Friday, April 13th, 2018

DroneShield Ltd (the “Company” or “DroneShield”), a leader in the emerging industry of drone security solutions, is pleased to announce that the Fort Worth Police Department has today confirmed that DroneShield’s products were utilised by the Texas State Department of Public Safety, the Denton County Sheriff, the Fort Worth Police Department, the Texas Forest Service, and the Texas Rangers for the protection of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the Texas Motor Speedway.

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the 70th season of professional stock car racing in the United States, and is a top tier global racing event with substantial security requirements. Texas Motor Speedway is located in Fort Worth, Texas, and is one of the key tracks for the NASCAR events.

Monitoring of drone activity at high profile mass events has become an important component of event management, similar to perimeter access control or participant credentialing. DroneShield’s products DroneSentinel (drone detection), DroneSentry (integrated detect and defeat) and DroneGun (drone interception) were deployed in co-ordination with the Texas State Department of Public Safety, the Denton County Sheriff, the Fort Worth Police Department, the Texas Forest Service, and the Texas Rangers to determine where drones may be operating and intercept them accordingly.

Oleg Vornik, DroneShield’s Managing Director and CEO, said, “2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a high security profile event, designated code orange by the relevant US federal government agencies. We are proud to be able to assist a high-profile event like this. Every NASCAR event is complex, and the selection of DroneShield as the sole provider of counterdrone products for the aerial protection of NASCAR is a testament to the quality and capability of our product suite.

We also believe that this is significant for DroneShield in that this is the first known live operational use of all three of our key products – DroneSentinel, DroneSentry and DroneGun – by U.S. law enforcement.”

Officer Eric Skinner of Fort Worth Police said, “We selected DroneShield’s products for drone security at the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series following extensive considerations of the effectiveness, features and costs of the various alternatives. We are grateful to DroneShield for providing our numerous attendees and us as the organizers with peace of mind in the aerial domain.”

Unmanned Technology: Breaching the Battlefield

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — U.S. Soldiers, Marines, Department of Defense civilians, and troops from the United Kingdom observed and tested a series of unmanned, remote-controlled ground vehicles during a combined training event at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 2, 2018.

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A M58 Wolf is remotely controlled to release a cloud of smoke during a multinational joint equipment U.S. military training exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, April 2, 2018 in preparation for a Robotic Complex Breach Concept demonstration.

The training event was conducted in preparation for a larger demonstration of unmanned capabilities, called the Robotic Complex Breach Concept, scheduled for later this week.

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Ray Moldovan (left), a senior product management specialist with General Dynamics, explains to a group of U.S. Army Soldiers how to remotely control a M58 Wolf during a multinational joint equipment training exercise.

“Being able to take Soldiers out of harm’s way and accomplish the mission is very an attractive option to any commander,” said Curry. “It’s a capability that the enemy will not know how to counteract when we implement it. This type of technology enables us to stretch further while conserving resources,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jesse Curry, commander of the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

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An automated direct and indirect mortar system is operated from a distance by U.S. Soldiers during a multinational joint equipment training exercise with the U.S. military.

The military-vehicle mounted Automated Direct and Indirect Mortar, the M58 Wolf Smoke Generator, and the ‘Terrier’ armored digger were some of the existing technologies used throughout the exercise. All were outfitted with new technology that allows them to be remotely controlled.

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An automated direct and indirect mortar system is operated from a distance by U.S. Soldiers during a multinational joint equipment training exercise.

“This has been a great opportunity to show each other how to work on new systems, as well as each other’s systems,” said U.K. army Staff Sgt. Joe Ferries, a combat engineer with the U.K. 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade. “All the lessons learned here are going to have massive benefits for our armies and the next mission.”

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Mike Mackiewicz (right), demonstrates to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jesse Curry (left), the commander of the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, the capabilities of an automated direct and indirect mortar system.

Ferries, the U.K. soldier who supervised a portion of the training, said he believes this kind of training is a natural part of improving any military.

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A “Terrier” armored digger from the United Kingdom’s 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade is remotely controlled to secure an area.

“This training its quite relevant,” said Ferries. “We will always have to compare and improve our procedures and technologies.”

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U.K. army Staff Sgt. Joe Ferries, a combat engineer with the 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade, instructs a group of U.S. Soldiers, Marines, and Department of Defense civilians on how to remotely control a Terrier armored digger.

The U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, the 82nd BEB, and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, and the U.S. Marine Corp’s Engineer School were among some of the units observing the training. Each unit’s service members got a chance to test the equipment and provide feedback to developers.

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U.K. Lance Cpl. Tom Alexander (center), a combat engineer with the U.K. 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade, shows U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jesse Curry (left) and Capt. Nick Hyde, both with the 82nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, how to remotely operate a Terrier armored digger.

The Robotic Complex Breach Concept exercise will further test the capabilities of the new equipment, which is designed to enhance existing intelligence, suppression, obscuration, and reduction capabilities for breach operations.

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A “Terrier” armored digger from the United Kingdom’s 22nd Engineer Regiment, 8th Engineer Brigade, is remotely controlled during a multinational joint equipment training exercise with the U.S. military.

“This was testing of genuine and unique technology, partnered with cutting-edge development to address a complicated problem,” said Curry, who has served in the military for over 20 years. “Our potential enemy’s goal is to counteract what we have in our inventory, so we need to incorporate additional technology to enable our Soldiers to be successful in their jobs.”

Story and photos by SPC Hubert Delany
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment