Role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Continues to Expand

The US military continues unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research, with a focus on reconnaissance and surveillance to combat-ready systems 

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a controversial topic that the U.S. military and lawmakers are currently discussing on a more frequent basis.

Despite the controversy, there is still a large amount of global development for the popular new aircraft, capable of being used for a number of different campaigns.

The United States Marine Corps is testing the small and portable RQ-11 Raven UAV to scout out local geography and surveillance for M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks – and tank-UAV pairings could become more commonplace on the battlefield.

Here is what Cpl. Peter Richter, Scout and TOW platoon, 2nd Tanks, Raven operator noted to: 

“The Ravens give you a good birds-eye view, they receive reconnaissance that can be too far out to see. They also are very good for locating and navigating bad terrain such as swamps.”

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Drones ready to fight fires – if allowed

CyberQuad Maxi UAA LACK of regulation is delaying the use of drone aircraft for low-level aerial surveillance of Australian bushfires and their potential to save lives.

With NSW having one of its worst bushfires in spring and a foreboding, hot summer to come, a company that makes drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as some call them, said the technology was well-developed to have large, remotely controlled drones combing troubled skies right now.

“Drones or UAVs are ready to support those types of operations,” said Brisbane-based Insitu Pacific business development manager Richard Aplin.

Remotely controlled UAVs flying above bushfires could pinpoint where fire lines were, assess heat pockets using infrared technologies, assist in identifying where fires were going, and help decide where evacuations were needed.

They also could monitor from above vehicle and fire fighters on foot, and relay communications to those on the ground.

Some larger UAVs could carry small amounts of water, too, but generally unmanned aircraft were too light to do this now, Mr Alpin said.

In August, Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) began trialling two CyberQuad Maxi and two CyberQuad Mini quadcopters developed by WestAustralian UAV firm Cyber Technology.

MFB commander Will Glenn said they were controlled up to optimally 100m away within sight and the Maxis already had proved “extremely useful”.

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NC State steps up drone testing ahead of 2015 launch

The state that was once home to the world’s first aviators is now launching efforts to use pilotless planes in agriculture and other industries.

Unmanned aerial vehicles – commonly known as drones or UAVs – are widely used in the military. But as their civil applications become clear, N.C. State University and its transportation research centers are working to make the state a leader in UAV technology before 2015, the year UAVs may officially assume their place in the nation’s airspace.

Civil UAVs are far smaller and much less destructive than military drones.

With wingspans of just a few feet, they’re often launched by hand and outfitted with remote sensing equipment designed to collect detailed data from the air. UAVs are able to produce nuanced images of large land areas, rendering them particularly useful for commercial agriculture and geographic surveys.

Army asks Norwegian company to design Black Hornet pocket UAV helicopter for foot soldiers

U.S. Army researchers are asking a Norwegian company to develop a pocket-sized helicopter drone to provide a personal reconnaissanceunmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for infantrymen and Special Forces warfighters.

Officials of the Army Contracting Command in Natick, Mass., are awarding a $2.5 million contract to Prox Dynamics AS of Nesbru, Norway, to develop the Black Hornet Personal Reconnaissance System (PRS) — a one-pound force-protection micro UAV for soldiers and small infantry units.

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Lockheed Martin links ground sensor network and unmanned aircraft systems to protect personnel, assist in border surveillance

lockheed_spanThe Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network (SPAN), a wireless ground sensor system from Lockheed Martin in Bethesda, Md., will soon be able to connect with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) to provide pervasive coverage and persistent surveillance of designated areas.

“SPAN is essentially a network of unobtrusive sensor nodes small enough to fit into the palm of your hand. Linking SPAN sensors with UAVs provides a cost-effective solution that can support many types of missions including force protection, border surveillance and regulatory and treaty compliance,” describes Macy W. Summers, vice president with Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions.

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Aerial vehicles take off

Up and away: Glenn Fitzgerald (left) and Russel Argall show UAV at the Birchip Cropping Field Day.

RESEARCHERS say unmanned aerial vehicles have developed to a point where they could be commercially viable in agriculture.

Farmers are unlikely to rush out and buy a remote-controlled plane or helicopter in large numbers, but Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries senior scientist Glenn Fitzgerald said crop consultants and agronomists would soon be able to use the technology to provide an extra service to clients.

Dr Fitzgerald said the scientific community had been working on remote sensing systems for more than 30 years, since the advent of satellites.

As well as refining the technology, they have focused on making it practical for agricultural research and farm management.

“We’ve developed a lot of ways to combine imagery and data into something useful for the farmer,” he said.

“We’re at the point of being able to bring together the research and technology to produce a map of nitrogen stress, water stress, and detect pests, diseases and weeds.

“It’s very close to someone making a business out of it.”

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Drones that can launch repeatedly from an unmanned skiff are here

Recently a few of the folks over at Aerovel woke up in the wee hours of the morning, packed up their gear, hitched up their skiff to their truck and headed out for a nice day on the lake. For most of us, that would likely mean a bit of fishing or water skiing, but Aerovel had bigger plans. From their tiny boat, their Flexrotor UAV just outdid the most advanced drones in the world.

The Flexrotor UAV took off, landed, refueled and then took off once more — all on its own. In the air, the Flexrotor also transitioned from its vertical take-off orientation to a horizontal flight mode and back again. It even went so far as to take a couple surveillance photos of its own launch-boat while airborne.

Incidentally, the Flexrotor UAV didn’t need to refuel quite as quickly as it did during the test. It can actually stay airborne for up to two days, covering a range of up to 1,865 miles while aloft. Whether you view this as an incredible step forward in unmanned flight or another nail in humanity’s eventual coffin (oh crap, they can refuel now!), watching the process itself is pretty amazing. Thankfully, Aerovel has edited together the entire event for your viewing pleasure. They’ve even set it to The Blue Danube Waltz, the better to keep your mind off of that impendingrobopocalypse.

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Ryerson’s Game of Drones

IMAG0521-droneWhen people think of drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), faceless assassins in wars come to mind. Secondyear electrical engineering student Klever Freire hopes to change the perception with Intelli Quad One, a multi-rotor UAV that can scan environments and landscapes in 3D.

Freire is the chief executive officer and lead designer at DreamQii Inc., a recent DMZ startup that creates software and hardware products, combining artificial intelligence and robotics.

While drones are mostly associated with military destruction, Freire said that this is not the purpose of the Intelli Quad One.

“We’re promoting our units as industrial and commercial applications. At first, we will be targeting this to photographers and filmmakers who want to take shots and clips from the air. This can be expanded for more humanitarian and agricultural work, by helping farmers look at crop conditions from above, and can also help in spotting landmines from conflict zones,” Freire said.

Before taking electrical engineering, Freire graduated Ryerson’s aerospace engineering program in 2008.

An interest in intelligence and robotics inspired Freire to make his own UAV.

“I started working on a UAV in August 2008. That meant that I had to find the parts myself, assemble it, program it and receive training for it all by myself,” Freire said. “I’m interested and have a background in this, so I kept going, but I want to provide the out- of-the-box solution for those who want to know more about this, but don’t have the background in it.”

As of Aug. 17, the Department of National Defence passed laws allowing civilian aviation agencies to fly drones and other UAVs in civilian areas. This is creating a new market for the use of these devices for commercial purposes, such as the Intelli Quad One.

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New Arizona: Unmanned aircraft could be boost

Boeing's camcoptr

Pilots are optional for a new breed of aircraft from Boeing Defense, Space & Security in Mesa.

The aerospace giant developed its Little Bird H-6U helicopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle or drone, at its Mesa plant. The unmanned aircraft completed 14 takeoffs and landings from a ship off the Florida coast last year.

Boeing also has a partnership with Schiebel Aircraft Industries of Austria to modify a smaller unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. That rotor aircraft, the Camcopter S-100, weighs 243 pounds and can fly for six hours carrying a 75-pound payload.

The focus for Boeing’s two UAVs has primarily been on military operations to carry cargo to the battlefield, but there is growing interest in the commercial sector.

“Boeing is looking to see where our capabilities best fit with both the military and commercial needs that are out there,” said James Brooks, Boeing director of its unmanned-helicopter programs in Mesa.

Boeing’s UAVs are just one example of the work being done in Arizona by the aerospace and defense industry.

Though much of the work is for military purposes, there is growing interest in civilian use of the technology.

In the case of the UAVs, commercial applications include monitoring wildfires, search and rescue, communication relays, border protection, agricultural uses and remote cargo delivery, Brooks said.

“Those are the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs that are difficult to perform with manned systems,” he said.

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – Overview, History and Market

Introduction

Throughout their long history, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have played very limited roles in warfare. However, with the advent of information warfare and net-centric systems, UAVs are undergoing significant growth in the aerospace industry.

According to a defense and aerospace market analysis firm, Teal Group, UAVs have generated a great deal of interest from the US Military. Over the past four years, the overall UAVinventory of the Pentagon has grown from 217 aircraft to more than 3,428. Previously, UAVs were mainly just used for surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance, but now they are being used for other missions as well.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

In the past, UAVs were known by many different names, such as robot plane, drone, pilotless aircraft, and remotely piloted vehicle (RPV). Later, the Federal Aviation Administration implemented a generic class name for them, unmanned aircraft system (UAS), to indicate that these aircraft systems also comprise a datalink, control systems, ground stations, and other related support equipment. However, they are generally known as UAVs .

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Kiln offers discounted cover for unmanned aerial craft

The solar-powered Boeing SolarEagle droneKiln has partnered with aviation training specialist Resource UAS to offer reduced pricing on hull and liability covers for remote piloted aerial crafts.

The insurer will provide a 15% discount on combined cover, and a 10% discount on standalone hull and liability products to clients holding a remote pilot qualification for small vehicles from the UK-based training company, which is accredited by the UK’s civil aviation authority to assess pilot competency.

Originally designed for military purposes, Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems are increasingly being used for commercial purposes, including filming, aerial inspection and surveying.

Jay Wigmore, aviation underwriter at Kiln said: “We recognise the value proficient training brings to underpin the safe operation of RPAS, which are increasingly being used within a broad range of industry sectors.

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