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06 May 2015

AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2015 Recap

AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2015 exceeded expectations, as it had new producers of unmanned systems, as well as companies that have so far been in the shadows of the unmanned market.  With an abundance of air vehicles (especially quadcopters, which enjoy a very saturated marketplace), few companies were exhibiting ground vehicles, and even fewer were showcasing maritime systems, amongst these were Teledyne and subsidiary Seabotix, Textron (only with a model of their Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV)), robonation TV, and Lockheed Martin (AN/WLD-1 remote minehunting system, MARLIN AUV, and their common broadband advanced sonar system (CBASS) heavyweight torpedo).

(All Photos: DPM)

One of the very few maritime unmanned systems at the show. 

Shenzhen Grepow Battery from China, with a German and US office, is a high-tech lithium polymer battery specialist, who is capable of providing fully integrated battery solutions to power a wide range of applications. With the growth of the unmanned systems market worldwide, Grepow batteries are, according to the company, proven to deliver good durability and reliability, outstanding performance, and long life.

Another new system was Rapid Composites’ BULLRAY VTOL tricopter UAV, which is said to be amphibious (water take-off and landing), manportable, rugged, and has an endurance of 30-45 minutes at 4.4kg with no payload. All fuselage components can be rapidly customized to support the most demanding customer needs and requirements. The BULLRAY was constructed using Quantum’s advanced quasi-isotropic composite materials throughout its airframe.

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Aerialtronics exhibited their ALTURA ZENITH ATX4 and ATX8, two Quadcopter multirotor UAVs in a flat, compact, and lightweight design. The ZENITH carries a 20,000mAh battery, which facilitates up to 45 minutes of flight-time with a total payload of up to 2.9 kilogrammes. The UAV is equipped with four or eight brushless motors to enable optimal torque, rpm, and energy efficiency ratios; and these motors combined with efficient 16in propellers exert over 16kg of vertical thrust.  The company also offers the NUCELO+ daylight camera. Belgium Police MidLim announced in April that they will be using a new LTURA ZENITH UAS to complement their operations in the Limburg region. They praised the UAS for its reliability, stability and versatility after deploying it 70 times to search for missing persons, monitor traffic and use for crowd control.

TEKEVER Autonomous Systems is a Potoguese hi-tech company focused on the research, development, sale, delivery, and maintenance of autonomous air, ground and maritime systems, with offices in the US, Brazil, and China. At AUVSI 2015, Tekever has introduced a new quadcopter: The Vertical Ray 1 (VR1) COLIBRI, which is the latest addition to the company’s family of unmanned vehicles. This quadcopter made its first appearance at IDEX 2015. The VR1 COLIBRI can be transported in a 40l backpack (e.g., CamelBak BFM), and has an operational flight time of 30 minutes at a range of 2km, and an operational ceiling of 250 metres.

On the ground, Harris’ RedHawk family is a modular, expandable system composed of wireless haptic controllers, precision manipulators, advanced ground platforms, and accessories that can be adapted for specific mission profiles. Based on the ongoing input from hundreds of active duty operators, RedHawk was developed from the ground up to support the demanding requirements of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technicians; first responders, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives personnel. RedHawk Manipulator Payload Retrofit (MPR) is a bolt-on modifier for existing unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) currently deployed, while RedHawk advanced ground system (AGS) is a highly integrated system based on an advanced mobility platform. Both systems provide intuitive haptic control, enabling human-like dexterity and precision.

Harris’ RedHawk EOD robot

Away from actual vehicles, Australia’s UAV Vision’s CM160 is a rugged multi sensor gyro stabilised gimbal, which has been specifically designed for use on large UAVs and small manned aircraft. Various EO, IR, and laser sensors allow fully customised solutions.

Patria showcased their CANDL compact airborne networking link that is designed for communications requiring high reliability such as UAS payload data and C2. CANDL provides 8Mbps data rate with additional safety features for C2, dynamic IP networking communication, motion video and digital voice capability all integrated in one SDR based compact airworthy terminal. CANDL enables long range air-to-air and air-to-ground networking as well as relaying for BLOS capability. Covering both NATO IV C-band as well as WRC 2013 defined civil UAS C2 frequency band it is suitable for both military and civil UAS applications.

Next to their very interresting looking SNOWGOOSE BRAVO, MMIST from Canada showcased the SkyLink Parachutist Navigation and Situational Awareness System, which, according to company officials at the show, enhances the air/ground operational capabilities of military freefall by augmenting the individual parachutist’s environmental, geographic and team situational awareness. SkyLink improves safety during poor-weather/night insertions and also provides important new team dynamic re-tasking abilities (while in-flight for both personnel and guided cargo systems). “Optionally linked with MMIST’s DropSonde system and LaunchPADS Mission Management system, users can benefit from the latest advances in techniques, tactics and procedures for insertion of Special Forces and for resupply and logistics support of ground forces both mounted and dismounted,” according to the company.

MMIST from Canada showcased the SkyLink Parachutist Navigation and Situational Awareness System

On the simluation and training front, AEgis Technology Group showcased their VAMPIRE mission planning and rehearsal environment training application for Aerovironment’s RAVEN, WASP, and PUMA family of UAV systems. Developed by AEgis for US DoD UAV operators, this embedded training system runs completely on a fielded Panasonic TOUGHBOOK. Working with Presagis solutions, the Simulation Development Engineering & Geospatial team at AEgis were able to maximise visual output for the application despite the limited computing power and CPU space available to run the training. In particular, the team used Terra Vista Probuilder, Creator, and Creator Pro to develop these realistic terrain databases and 3D models, including cultural features, human characters, and vehicles for the VAMPIRE.  Presagis was showcasing its suite of software solutions for UAS development. In addition, NAVMAR and CAE were demonstrating a TigerShark XP UAS Mission Trainer at the NAVMAR booth that features Presagis' STAGE and FlightSIM software tools that were used in the development of the simulator.

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