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Archive for the ‘UAS’ Category

DroneShield Enters C-UAS Training and Simulation Market

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

DroneShield Ltd (ASX:DRO) (“DroneShield” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce the release of DroneSim, a lightweight and rapidly deployable UAS/drone simulator that is able to mimic common drone signals for the purpose of C-UAS system testing and validation. The device is capable of generating aerial (UAV), ground (UGV) and water surface (USV) drone signals.

Constructed within a ruggedized hard case with MIL-SPEC connectors, DroneSim is durable and requires minimal training to install and operate. When connected to a network, DroneSim can be operated remotely. This allows for faster system testing and system testing in environments where drones may be unable to fly. An easy-to-use GUI allows the user to select between different drone/UAS protocols and requires minimal training to use. The product was developed in response to customer demand.

DroneShield’s CEO Oleg Vornik commented, “We are excited to launch DroneSim as our entry in the important market for training and simulation systems. As a global leader in the C-UAS space, DroneShield is well positioned to expand its solution ecosystem into this area”.

The product is expected to be of significant interest to a range of DroneShield customers globally across military, law enforcement, and Government agencies.

Robotic Research Awarded SBIR Phase II Contract from Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

CLARKSBURG, Md., August 18, 2021–Robotic Research, LLC, a global leader in autonomous technology and solutions, announced today that it was awarded this summer a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

As part of the two-year contract, Robotic Research will increase the capacity of its Pegasus Mini, the smallest of the company’s transforming drone/ground robot systems, which DTRA plans to incorporate into the Modular Autonomous Counter-WMD, Increment B (MACS-B) program.

Planned upgrades include changes to the airframe, battery, and computing and sensing capabilities.

“Early on, DTRA recognized how the warfighter could benefit from a hybrid unmanned system that both flies and drives. With their support, we created an initial Pegasus Mini prototype, and we now are advancing it further,” said George McWilliams, Director of Advanced Programs at Robotic Research.

Pegasus Mini weighs just four pounds and is the size of a football when folded up and carried in a backpack. Deployed in the field, it can change back and forth between modes as required by the user and the environment. This gives it access to areas that might stymie a standard ground robot or drone.

“Pegasus Mini can fly into three-story windows. It can perch and stare. It can autonomously navigate, explore and map enemy tunnel systems,” McWilliams said. “We see it as being a critical element in DTRA’s family of robotic systems as well as a powerful tool in the hands of other users.”

The SBIR Phase II, which will include demonstrations in operationally relevant environments, is set to end in June 2023. After that, company officials say Pegasus Mini’s design will be further refined based on user feedback. In the meantime, Robotic Research’s Pegasus line of hybrid unmanned vehicles has garnered interest from allied countries, and Pegasus Mini has received industry accolades.

In May, it was nominated by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) as an XCELLENCE Award finalist.

Counter-UAS: Going Beyond “Selling Boxes”

Saturday, August 14th, 2021

Small drones or small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) moved from a novelty to an everyday presence over the past decade across civilian day-to-day life, and also finding a place supporting nefarious uses such as contraband smuggling, airport disruption, terrorist attacks, and military conflicts. Rapid improvements in maneuverability, autonomous flight capabilities, flight endurance, camera technology and more, make small and cheap drones an appealing platform for reconnaissance and payload delivery.

The counterdrone (also known as counter-UAS, c-UAS) industry has also been rapidly growing to keep pace.

Early Days of Counter-UAS

Early efforts (mid 2010s) are viewed as mostly “garage work”, a combination of repurposing existing technologies for a new objective of detecting drones (such as the use of traditional ground-based radars to now monitor the skies for drones). Both counter-UAS manufacturers and customers experimented and learned at this stage, what worked and what didn’t, while often exploring exotic concepts including hunting drones with eagles, using barking dogs to detect drones, and leveraging other emerging technologies.


Image: Early days of counter-UAS

Maturation of an Industry 

By the late 2010’s, Radio Frequency (RF) started to emerge as a single sensor winner, owing to its ability to accurately detect and track drones without the very substantial false alarms produced by standalone radar sensors, as well as its ability to detect hovering drones, significant range advantage (up to 10km for best of breed sensors), and superior cost-to-covered area ratio.  As an example of this cost per coverage difference, most radars, even today, cannot detect small drones more than 1-2km away, and those that can, often cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more. Additionally, RF systems can pick on Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), and Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) on the water, as those tend to use largely similar RF protocols without getting caught in the ground clutter that would influence the radar or call for a completely different radar to perform the job effectively. In the counter-UAS industry the threat shifted to a UxS threat (UAVs, UGVs and USVs) and RF sensors were more easily adapted to support the multi-domain threat.

Sophisticated customers have started to adopt a multi-sensor approach, such as systems including RF, radar, cameras, acoustics and more. The concept behind a layered system is essentially two-fold – either increase the likelihood of any stealth/rare drone being detected by setting the system to “alarm if any sensor type triggered” mode or reduce false alarms through seeking multiple sensors to confirm the alert prior to alerting the user. Higher end systems enable a setting of value ranges for the multi-sensors, optimizing the probability of detection, minimising the false alarms, and tailoring the system performance for a particular installation.

Present Day

The counter-UAS industry has grown from a small handful of companies in mid 2010s, to hundreds globally today. While many counter-UAS providers are resellers or suppliers of early-stage prototypes, the list also includes few dozen OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers), with a few of them also integrating third party technologies.

This evolution of the threat and need for a more comprehension solution, creates a challenge for end customers, many of whom realize they need to move beyond “buying boxes” as in the early counter-UAS days (“boxes” being individual counter-UAS products, such as a jammer or single detection devices). 

Users now seek a streamlined counter-UAS capability. This includes:

• utilisation of any counter-UAS equipment they may have already purchased previously through enhanced signal processing from those sensors,

• augmenting with complementary sensors and effectors, and

• stitching the whole solution together into an intuitive, low cognitive burden on the user, complete system, which is interoperable with other systems they may already have in place.

Appropriate deployment advice and post-sale service including regular software upgrades, is part of the picture.

End users of counter-UAS equipment increasingly want their problem of airspace control and awareness solved, rather than having to “buy yet another box” to address the latest threat. Solution providers who will continue to win in this space, will be focused on understanding and solving (often via a custom solution) the customer’s capability gap, rather than forcing the customers to buy their wares.


Image: Counter-UAS customers are looking to solve their airspace control and awareness issue, rather than purchase more “boxes”

Future of the counter-UAS industry

The early “cowboy” days of small, single product firms are starting to come to an end for the counter-UAS industry, with customers requiring tailored solutions to address their gaps in a unified and complete counter-UAS security system, which communicates with other broader systems, rather than a collection of individual products. Some of the largest customers of counter-UAS are starting to consolidate their approach to counter-UAS procurement. The set-up of the Joint Counter-UAS Office (JCO) by the US Department of Defense and the Centre for Protectional of National Infrastructure (CPNI) in the UK are two examples of this consolidation of effort by customers. Solution provides need to take a similar approach in providing consolidated, multi-faceted capabilities that address the problem and capability gap, rather than just adding their box to the shelf of disparate equipment.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) software is becoming an increasing part of the requirement, both at an individual sensor and multi-sensor fusion level. As new types of drones continue to evolve, AI-based solutions can enable detection of never-seen-before threats, whereas the library-based systems of the early years are limited to detecting only the threats defined in their static list.


Image: AI and Machine Learning software is increasingly becoming a part of counter-UAS requirement

As the use of UAS continues to rise in military operations, where they have become highly visible assets in Greyzone and Asymmetric warfare, as recently seen across the Middle East, in the Azerbaijan/Armenian conflict, and the Ukraine/Russian conflict, counter-UAS equipment will continue to mature and integrate into the broader Electronic Warfare (EW) and Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) space. For that, again, selling “boxes” won’t do, and the challenge becomes about solving specific customer capability gaps.

Schiebel Camcopter S-100 Successfully Completes US Navy Flight Trials

Monday, August 9th, 2021

Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 9 August 2021 – Schiebel Aircraft and Areté Associates, successfully showcased the CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) combined with Areté’s Pushbroom Imaging Lidar for Littoral Surveillance (PILLS) sensor to the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR).

In a combined demonstration sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) on a commercial vessel off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Schiebel and Areté demonstrated the CAMCOPTER® S-100 and its capabilities, as well as Areté’s Push- broom Imaging Lidar for Littoral Surveillance (PILLS) system.

PILLS enables hydrographic mapping of ocean littoral spaces with a low size, weight, and power (SWaP) sensor that easily integrates into the S-100. PILLS has multiple military and commercial applications.

Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, said: “We are proud that we could successfully showcase the outstanding capabilities and data-gathering features of our CAMCOPTER® S-100 to the US Navy. Globally, we operate extensively on land and at sea and we are confident that our unmanned solution is also the right fit for the US Navy.”

www.schiebel.net

GeoLanes Distributes Microdrones Surveying Equipment in Austria, Switzerland, and South Tyrol

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Rome, NY – GeoLanes, an Austrian company in the construction industry and the digitization of construction machinery is now an official distributor of Microdrones integrated systems, offering drone surveying products and solutions to their surveying, engineering, and construction customers throughout Austria, Switzerland, and South Tyrol.

The GeoLanes team, who have more than 10 years’ experience, will now offer the full portfolio of drone surveying equipment that a commercial user needs to get started using drones for surveying, mapping, 3D modeling, and creating digital twins. The integrated systems from Microdrones reinforce GeoLanes’ focus on enabling their customers to make the construction industry more efficient, economical, and safe by implementing digitization solutions.

“Adding the integrated systems from Microdrones really completes our product portfolio,” explains Christian Tschann, CEO of GeoLanes. “We specialize in sales and consultation for high-quality excavating assistance systems. The Microdrones LiDAR systems and data processing modules from mdInfinity work together seamlessly and help strengthen our mission to provide added value and benefits for our customers in order to save costs and promote efficiency.”

Samuel Flick, the Central European Sales Manager for Microdrones, sees great potential for the partnership in this region. According to Flick, “GeoLanes is now ready to help further the advance of drones in the construction sector, where professionals are putting Microdrones systems to work monitoring progress, measuring materials, and surveying sites more efficiently. The customers of GeoLanes will find the Microdrones as a Service sales model affordable and convenient to use for both the drone surveying hardware and software processing modules.”

AeroVironment Introduces Standardized Modular Payload Interface Kits for RQ-20B Puma Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems; Kits Under Order by USSOCOM

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

• Enables third-party payload manufacturers, as well as U.S. DoD and international partners, to develop and integrate payloads onto RQ-20B Puma

• Utilizes the Modular Payload Standard initiated by USSOCOM to create a modular architectural standard for payloads on unmanned aircraft systems Groups 1 through 3

AeroVironment’s standardized modular payload interface kit enables customer-driven payloads to be quickly and easily integrated into RQ-20B Puma (Photo: AeroVironment, Inc.)

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 4, 2021 – AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in intelligent, multi-domain robotic systems, today announced the introduction of its standardized modular payload interface kits for RQ-20B Puma™ tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The Modular Payload Standard was established by U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in order to create a modular architectural standard for a wide variety of payloads on Groups 1 through 3 UAS. The kits enable third-party payload manufacturers, as well as United States Department of Defense and international partners, to quickly and easily develop and integrate payloads onto RQ-20B Puma. AeroVironment’s standardized modular payload interface kit is a self-contained unit that provides all of the mechanical and electrical interfaces required to enable RQ-20B Puma to mate with new payloads, regardless of whether or not they were developed specifically for the RQ-20B Puma platform. This interface kit not only allows for more rapid integration of new payloads, but it also reduces time and complexity for operators to swap them on the flight line and reduces government cost for new integrations.

“AeroVironment’s standardized modular payload interface kits enable customer-driven payloads to be rapidly and effortlessly integrated into the thousands of digitally enabled Puma systems already deployed, resulting in a more capable solution that is adaptable to more mission sets at a fraction of the cost of a new system,” said Trace Stevenson, AeroVironment vice president and product line general manager for small UAS.

AeroVironment received an initial firm-fixed price order for modular payload standard kits from USSOCOM on May 12, 2021. Delivery of the kits is anticipated by November 2021.

AeroVironment’s family of tactical UAS comprises the majority of all unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) inventory, and its rapidly growing international customer base of more than 50 allied governments. To learn more, visit www.avinc.com.

MQ-9 Agile Combat Employment: A Big Step Closer to Reality

Saturday, July 31st, 2021

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) —

The 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron proved the MQ-9 Reaper’s Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) is ready as of July 8, enabling crews to divert to airfields without traditional launch and recovery infrastructure or personnel. This capability is a key enabler for MQ-9 Agile Combat Employment and, combined with the MQ-9’s next software upgrade and receipt of the portable aircraft control station, will change how it will be employed in theaters worldwide.

Previously, all MQ-9 takeoffs and landings required a specialized launch and recovery crew located wherever the Reaper intended to land. But this time, with aircrew controlling the MQ-9 via satellite from their operating location at Nellis Air Force Base, the MQ-9 taxied to the runway and took off from Creech AFB, 55.6 miles away from the crew controlling it. The 556th TES recently proved this concept and landed at Creech AFB using ATLC while under satellite control from the aircrew at Nellis AFB, but this week’s sorties pushed the envelope much further.

On the first day of the two-day test, the 556th TES flew the MQ-9 from Creech AFB to Cannon AFB, New Mexico, landed, taxied, and took off again before returning to Creech AFB —  all under satellite control. In this instance, the aircrew used imagery in the cockpit to generate the reference points for the automated landing system. On the second day, the destination changed to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and the team again proved the capability, this time using the targeting pod to survey the runway, feed the ATLC system the data needed to fly an airport traffic pattern, land, and take off again.

Initially published ATLC procedures required an MQ-9 to be at the airfield of operation to taxi down the runway and have the aircrew electronically mark reference points when the aircraft was physically in position on the runway. The sorties proved that requirement obsolete. The technology and 556th TES-derived tactics are ready today for the aircraft to divert to a foreign field where an MQ-9 has never been before, and there is no longer a requirement for specialized infrastructure to land the unmanned aerial vehicle.

“We’re taking up the chief of staff of the Air Force’s charge to accelerate change,” stated Lt. Col. Michael Chmielewski, 556th TES commander. “This is a clear win and I couldn’t be prouder of the team that put this test together, this quickly, to include the support we received from Air Force Special Operations Command and the 27th Special Operations Wing at Cannon (AFB), as well as Air Education and Training Command and the 49th Wing at Holloman (AFB). Their support and patience made the impact of this test what it needed to be and we are grateful for the opportunity to work with them.”

According to Chmielewski, the ATLC capability will shift the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Enterprise’s mindset. It sets the enterprise up to become more agile with the next scheduled software release in spring 2022.

556th Test and Evaluation Squadron

Photos by photo by A1C Jessica Sanchez

ALTI Selects Silvus StreamCasters as Primary Radio for All Medium and Large Aircraft

Friday, July 30th, 2021

Silvus Chosen for Ability to Provide Reliable Video Feed and Flight Data from Extended Ranges
Los Angeles, California (July 21, 2021) – Silvus Technologies, Inc. (“Silvus”) today announced the company has been selected as ALTI UAS’ (“ALTI”) primary radio, providing high-quality video and flight data for all medium and large unmanned aircraft. The radios were selected for their proven performance at extended ranges and their ability to reliably maintain a data link in austere environments – an essential requirement due to the surveillance and security applications of ALTI’s aircraft.

“As a leading VTOL unmanned aircraft manufacturer, we are constantly improving the quality of our platforms,” said Duran De Villiers, Director of ALTI. “After extensive testing, Silvus radios excelled at greater ranges than all other radios that we tested. Silvus’ performance, coupled with the hardware quality and functionality of the radios, is a critical addition to our platform and brings tremendous value to our customers,” added Development Manager Jaco Horn.

StreamCaster radios, which ALTI has previously used for demonstration and development platforms, were also selected for their sophisticated eigen beamforming technique. As ALTI continues development of their largest aircraft and corresponding data link, StreamCaster radios will be essential to maintaining the same level of performance and reliability at extended ranges.

“We strive to provide a single-radio solution for the toughest unmanned systems communications scenarios,” said Jimi Henderson, Silvus Vice President of Sales. “ALTI is a leader in the unmanned space, and we are proud to be selected as the primary radio for their aircraft, delivering unrivaled performance and unmatched range.”