RUAG Defence, a strategic partner of international land forces, is continuing to invest in and develop its robotics technology. Already the company’s retrofitable VERO system contains all the electronic components and sophisticated sensory equipment needed to convert any existing vehicle to perform with supervised autonomy .To further enhance the capabilities of the system it took part in field tests in early May relating to obstacle recognition using lasers.
Robustness is the cornerstone of RUAG’s approach to robotics. For UGVs to finally take their rightful place in operations they must be able to function with no exceptions. This relies on the security and effectiveness of the communications link. Thanks to RUAG’s experience in secure communications, through the company’s wider applications, it is able to guarantee that the link to the vehicle will be maintained.
Cameras and sensors, used in conjunction with RUAG software, allow any vehicle fitted with the VERO system to learn a route to drive or alternatively the route can be programmed using a simple interface. The vehicle will then drive the route at the request of its operator, constantly scanning the area around it for obstacles and threats and relaying that information to a central control station and the operator. Alternatively the vehicle can be operated simply using remote control. The dual operation modes have been developed to provide maximum flexibility during deployment.
Vehicles fitted with the VERO system operate with supervised autonomy, the highest level of autonomy currently available on the market and that most desired by forces. This autonomy state keeps a human “in the loop” always knowing what the vehicle is doing and able to intervene if necessary. This operator is constantly fed with information and can sit either within sight of the vehicle or kilometres away.
UGVs are set to play an ever increasing role as part of forces deployed into a combat theatre, with studies suggesting investment will break the one billion U$ mark by 2021. RUAG remains committed to further invest in, develop and test unmanned vehicle technology.
Recently, Insitu released ICOMC2 2.0, the company’s innovative, small-footprint common C2 system. Since its introduction in 2012, ICOMC2 has redefined the UAS control concept. It enables a single operator to control multiple unmanned vehicles using small-footprint, mobile hardware and features an open-architecture design that users can customise with plug-ins and new applications. ICOMC2 2.0 includes a mission commander mode, which increases situational awareness and integrates with other C4ISR systems, enabling ICOMC2 to provide or receive tasking between ISR systems. ICOMC2 2.0 features a high-performance, lightweight mapping engine, a full-featured Software Development Kit, lower memory footprint for mobile usage, and new video formats.
“ICOMC2 2.0 represents how Insitu is leading the way with small-footprint technology that is flexible and scalable,” said Ryan Hartman, Senior Vice President, Insitu Programmes. “This technology signifies a quantum leap for customers by providing a UAS system that can task, process, exploit and disseminate information and effects to end users.”
Through the ICOMC2 Registered Developers Program, third parties receive support developing plug-ins for the system’s core. The program also supports the University Partnerships Program, a cost-effective solution for colleges and universities that want to offer courses or degrees in unmanned technology.
Aydin Displays is a leading provider of display manufacturing technology, servicing the industrial, military and air traffic control industries. With over 40 years experience manufacturing high quality, high reliability displays, the company understands the specific requirements of long life cycle, customer support, and demanding image fidelity unique to rugged environments. Collectively, Aydin has installed over 150,000 display units in their ongoing support of many government contracts, including the US Navy’s CDS programme and the rapidly growing C2 logistics market for UAS. Aydin Display’s COTS Military Series offers a range of Flat Panel displays (LCDs) specifically designed for the COTS military marketplace. These displays are designed to operate in extreme environmental conditions because of the lightweight, power efficient and durable structures. The feature rich product line offers options for specific applications; including ground mobile, airborne, and shipboard (submarine and surface warship). Aydin’s variety of Flat Panel and Rack Mount Military displays for this series range from 12.0" to 57.0." The company also makes custom displays to match the customer’s specifications. Some models are capable of displaying ECDIS MAPS & Radar images. Other models are rated to MIL-S-901D, Grade A shock, MIL-STD-167 for vibration, and MIL-STD-461 for electromagnetic compatibility. Also on offer are displays with Sunlight Readable, Full Range Dimming (compatible with Night Vision Goggles), 12 and 24VDC operation, and a variety of Touch Screens.
In March 2014, Thales has signed an MoU with the Qatar Armed Forces to assist in the development of an Optionally Piloted Vehicle – Aircraft (OPV-A), a high performance ISTAR system, and the delivery of a full end-to-end training solution. The OPV-A airframe, to be selected by the Qatar Armed Forces, will be integrated with a mission systems capability to enable the optionally piloted capability. The OPV-A to be developed is a hybrid between a conventional aircraft and an UAS. They are able to fly with or without a pilot on board the aircraft. Unimpeded by a human's physiological limitations, an OPV is able to operate under more adverse conditions and/or for greater endurance times. Retaining on-board controls, the OPV can operate as a conventional aircraft during missions for which direct human control is preferred or desired as an immediate option.
Sky-Watch designs and manufactures quad-rotor UAVs for military, law enforcement, security, firefighting, and SAR applications. Based in Denmark, Sky-Watch has integrated a FLIR Systems QUARK 640 longwave IR thermal sensor into their HUGINN X1 drone to give customers a thermal vision option. Originally, the X1 was designed to manage a single payload. But due to QUARK’s compact size, Sky-Watch has been able to design a dual-payload version that is capable of simultaneously operating a QUARK thermal camera core and a visible spectrum camera. Necessity, Mother of Invention.
“No question about it. The reason we chose QUARK was because of size and form factor. It has a very good centre of rotation; because our camera is front-mounted, it was easy for us to recommend QUARK,” Michael Messerschmidt, Sky-Watch Business Development Manager said. “Because it’s so small, we can actually place a daylight and thermal camera next to each other, enabling dual sensor capability which is unique on this small platform.”
The small UAV market is still in its infant stage, but there are hundreds of four-rotor systems available. However, the competition narrows for defence and security applications due to the rigorous design requirements. QUARK gives Sky-Watch a competitive edge because it increases flight time. X1 is the one of the only platforms of its size that weighs less than 1.5kg and has dual sensor capability. That’s a major selling point and another reason Messerschmidt always brings his QUARK on sales calls to perform demonstrations. “I would say that a year from now, 60% of our orders will include the QUARK option, either as a dual mount or a single mount. It’s simply what customers want; they want this thermal capability and ask me to quote it right away.”
The new Russian TAIFUN-M mobile security robot, designed to provide security at strategic missile facilities, has recently been unveiled on a Russian news programme. The combat robots, which have no foreign analogue, will be used to secure YARS and TOPOL-M missile sites and can be operated remotely by a secure wireless connection and in the future with an autonomous artificial intelligence (AI) system, according to the programme. A spokesman for the Russian MoD explained that some of the robots, which feature laser-targeting and a cannon, will be deployed at five sites by the end of the year, part of an upgrade of existing automated security systems. The official said the robots will carry out reconnaissance and patrol missions, detect and destroy stationary or moving targets and provide fire support for security personnel at the guarded facilities.
Gichner Systems Group, a part of Kratos Defense Modular Systems Division, is displaying an electronics equipment van at the show. The shelter solution is configured for C3 operations and integrated with specialised ground control station electronics and communications equipment. Gichner's turn-key electronics enclosures provide users with a secure, transportable, and scalable environment for housing computer systems, sensitive communications equipment, and other electronic components. Gichner can custom design unique shelters or leverage from an expansive array of inhouse designs to provide a quick response to containerised system needs.
Aeronautics group, an Israel based developer and manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) focusing in the Mini, Tactical and MALE UAS categories, together with its subsidiaries, Orion, Commtact, RT, and Controp, offers the ORBITER Mini-UAS , which is an electrical powered field deployed Mini-UAS offering long range and endurance, as well as other real tactical UAS capabilities in a mini aerial platform body. The ORBITER, operating in service of over 20 users in 15 countries on five continents, has accumulated dozens of thousands of operational hours. RT offers the SKYSTAR system in the exhibition. RT is a world class designer, developer and manufacturer of the SKYSTAR family of aerostats for use in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and communications applications. Skystar systems are customised for a range of operating conditions worldwide in various military and civilian missions, and are currently deployed in countries such as Israel, Afghanistan, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, Africa, and Russia.
UAV Solutions displays the fixed wing TALON 120 and TALON 240 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) multi-rotor ALLERION 25, PHOENIX 30 and PHOENIX 15 UAS. All of these affordable, high quality systems are applicable for military and commercial use. The company features its Tactical Airborne Ground Surveillance System (TAGSS), a small footprint tethered balloon system that can be deployed in less than 30 minutes. This tethered system provides day-into-night operations for true persistent surveillance. The standard configuration for all UAS is a guided GPS system and a combined electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) stabilised sensor payload. Alternate payloads can be integrated with the various air vehicles. UAV Solutions also displays its ground control system (GCS) products: The Tactical GCS and the Portable GCS. Both systems provide the user with command and control of the payloads, mission planning capabilities and real time video. The Portable GCS is ideal for multiple crewmembers operating larger air vehicles. The addition of a tracker antenna enables autonomous tracking of the air vehicle and extends the search range.
UAV Solutions is a woman-owned small business that manufactures, designs and delivers innovative unmanned systems. State-of-the-art facilities allow the company to rapidly design, assemble, integrate and test high quality production systems. Helping its public and private sector customers fulfil their most important missions is UAV Solutions’ passion.
Argon's products are widely used in Unmanned Systems. Argon’s rugged displays can be used in deployable ground control systems and shelters; while their computer bricks are used on board of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The company can design and develop a customer’s handheld pilot and visualisation systems as well.
UAS Europe is exhibiting at booth 2249, performing live product demonstrations and show their SKYVIEW GCS software and their easy to use autopilot, EASYPILOT 3.0, for small unmanned aircraft systems. For the first time UAS Europe shows the robust full-composite SPY OWL 200 (Edition 2.0) UAV and their brand new UAS Simulator for operator training. SKYVIEW GCS is a cost efficient, flight proven ground control station software. It is constantly adopting evolving standards, making it the perfect choice for future collaborations. SKYVIEW GCS is an evolution of a previous flight proven GCS, the PRST software. SKYVIEW GCS enables seamless control integration of stationary sensors as well as unmanned vehicles and their sensors. The system is highly modular and flexible; it uses a distributed network architecture which allows for any kind of sensor to be dynamically be controlled, merged and visualised on the fly in geo-referenced 3D Maps. Examples of common sensors are daylight camera, infrared camera, laser range finder and radar.
TORC Robotics is located in booth 1737 and has a CAT 299D CTL on display, which is fully equipped with TORC systems and components to allow it to operate autonomously. On Monday, 12 May 2014, TORC’s Senior Research Scientist, David Conner gave a 30 minute presentation titled “A Domain-Specific Modeling Approach to the Rapid Design and Prototyping of Autonomous Vehicle Software and Systems.”
Corsair Engineering is displaying the latest that they are working on in the areas of courseware, simulation, training, logistics, and technology. In addition to demonstrations of interactive courseware, virtual training systems, and logistical products, Corsair Engineering have the new IM3PUT (Integrated Multi-Mission Multi-platform UAS Trainer) system on display and available to test at booth 512.
The X-47B unmanned combat air system is gearing up for shore-based flight test activities in preparation for the next round of sea trials this summer. The programme’s test team will conduct various test events with the X-47B over the next few months in an effort to mature air traffic control and ground support standard operating procedures for co-use of airspace between unmanned and manned aircraft during day and nighttime operations.
“Continuing to fly the X-47B in the Patuxent River air space will further exercise the research, test, development and evaluation (RDT&E) infrastructure with an unmanned air system,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, Programme Manager for Unmanned Carrier Aviation at Patuxent River. “These tests are a build-up for the next carrier event this summer.”
As the first unmanned aircraft to take off and land from a modern aircraft carrier, X-47B will once again embark on USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in the August timeframe. This time, the test team will focus on perfecting flight deck operations and integrating the X-47B with manned carrier aircraft.
“We are working toward a new set of firsts for the X-47B,” said Matt Funk, X-47B Lead Test Engineer. “We’ll test the new capabilities of the X-47B wing-fold and tailhook retract system, and will demonstrate compatibility with a carrier jet-blast deflector on the flight deck for the first time.”
The proven use of these functions will allow the air vehicle to take off, land, and hold in the same pattern as manned aircraft, the next step toward UAS operations aboard aircraft carriers without disruption to normal carrier flight deck operations, he said.
“This at-sea period will mark the first time manned aircraft and the X-47B will operate together on the flight deck,” Duarte said. The goal is to clear the deck within 90 seconds after landing and demonstrate deck handling on par with manned aircraft. The Navy will conduct X-47B flight operations over the next year to mature technologies for the future Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system and refine the concept of operations to demonstrate the integration of unmanned carrier-based aircraft within the carrier environment, Duarte said.
TORC Robotics, in booth #1737, is currently working on development of an Autonomous Internally Transportable Vehicle (AITV), which is a continuation to our very successful Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS) project. The Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Division, Virginia Tech, and TORC Robotics were selected by the US Marine Corps (USMC) Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) to design, develop, and test another off-road performance vehicle as a continuation to the original GUSS effort to support on-going USMC experimentation with autonomous ground vehicles. GUSS AITV is designed to reduce the dependence of dispersed ground combat elements on external resupply, reduce the loads carried by the dismounted soldier, and aid casualty evacuation. The major evolution of this project is the change of the platform, to an M1161 GROWLER, or the ITV-LSV (Internally Transportable Vehicle – Light Strike Variant). The GROWLER was designed specifically as a light, fast attack vehicle that can be transported by the V-22 OSPREY tiltrotor aircraft. The ITV platform also has unique capabilities such as rear wheel steering and pneumatically controlled tire inflation and suspension controls, which made the platform a unique DBW integration challenge. GUSS AITV can easily switch between teleoperation and autonomous modes, but the platform can also be driven manually at any time. The main goal of the GUSS AITV project is to replicate the original features from GUSS on a different vehicle platform. During this process, it was important to integrate the unique features found only on the new platform. This project is a good example of how all of the Robotic Systems offered by TORC come together to build a fully autonomous vehicle. The platform is capable of Tele-Operated or Autonomous control by utilizing a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) sensor suite composed of an Inertial Navigation System (INS), cameras, and Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR). On-board perception and autonomy software receives the inputs from this sensor suite and both plans and controls the vehicle’s movement. Operators can control and monitor the performance of the system from multiple wireless Operator Control Units (OCUs). Additionally, both the SAFESTOP and PINPOINT components were used. The SAFESTOP provides the primary safety system for the vehicle. This wireless emergency stop system will allow operators to immediately pause or disable the vehicle if it enters a dangerous or damaging situation. It can be triggered remotely from a safe location, allowing the operator or an experiment observer freedom to remain untethered to the vehicle location itself, and remain at a safe distance. The PINPOINT provides the ability to move beyond the limitations of GPS and accurately track vehicle motion and orientation with dual GPS receivers. Pinpoint extends its navigational approach to multiple metrics, allowing for better positioning, orientation, velocity, and time measurement of the vehicles in question. No matter the reliability of the area in regards to GPS technology, PINPOINT will not stop updating to ensure reliable navigation and positioning. The GUSS AITV is also integrated with the WAYSIGHT, a multi-functional handheld operator control unit used as a supplemental operator interface. Using the 1lb WAYSIGHT, the dismounted soldier can easily command the vehicle in various modes depending on the missions being executed. The WAYSIGHT modes include “Target Mode” for rapid path planning using its sight-and-click waypoint tagging, “Follow Me” mode in which the vehicle follows autonomously at a predetermined distance, and “WE Mode” which allows for tele-operation of the vehicle. With a few button presses, the operator can quickly switch between modes and use the most appropriate method of robotic control as the situation changes. Ultimately the GUSS AITV’s main purpose is to assist dismounted units by providing autonomous logistic resupply, acting as a small unit “Mule," expediting casualty evacuations and enabling limited reconnaissance. This vehicle will lighten the load of each Marine, increase the duration units can operate independently and enhance units ability to evacuate casualties to casualty collection points or landing zones. As part of the autonomous solution, the vehicle can also be autonomously returned to base without any assistance from a driver.
Ultra lightweight, mobile, quick to deploy and fitted with a camera with two fields of view ... this little flying machine that is literally shot from a tube, like a cannon, is not short of qualities. The GLMAV (Gun Launched Micro Air Vehicle) drone was developed by the Research Institute of Saint-Louis (ISL) for observation missions. This is a miniature UAV, weighing about 1kg is launched from a dedicated tube. At launch, the drone is encapsulated in a protective envelope that has a diameter of 8 centimetres. Once the projectile reaches its ballistic peak, two counter-rotating rotors are deployed, turning it into a drone without any loss of components. The machine is then braked and enters the hover. It is piloted from its ground station. When deployed, the drone has a diameter of 35cm and is 4 cm high. The GLMAV is equipped with a camera that transits its images in real time. It also is able to film in two different directions at the same time, thanks to its splitter prism. So there are two distinct fields of vision: a vertical view of the ground and another, horizontal, to view ahead. For whom? The police should find it useful as it is particularly well-suited for urban areas, and it can move easily on the street, or even enter buildings ... well, that’s what we’re working on. With this innovation, we are also targeting military operations. The system has a range of 500m, so it can easily be sent in front of friendly troops to scout their advance, and very quietly, too, because it is very small. The GIGN (an élite SWAT unit), DGA, and MBDA France are represented on the steering committee.
The latest addition to SKELDAR’s ISR-capabilities is its integration with another fielded Saab product, the Multi-Sensor Intelligence Cell (MSIC), which is a flexible ground-based system developed bySaab to collect, process, analyse and report intelligence data; providing the functional layers layers between airborne surveillance units and C4I systems. By integrating the MSIC, SKELDAR adds a proven tactical capability that has been in service since 2005 with the Swedish Armed Forces. MSIC has been used for Swedish UAV operations in Afghanistan and for GRIPEN reconnaissance missions over Libya, during Operation "Unified Protector" in 2011. The powerful combination of SKELDAR and MSIC gives users a tool that can close the ‘ISR loop’ by delivering real-time sensor analysis for the mission commander to evaluate. Additionally, MSIC also gives users a vital ‘sensor-to-shooter’ capability as it can provide precise, CAT 1 targeting coordinates from the sensor data.
“The MSIC has always been able to handle data from multiple ISR sources by acting as a stand-alone intelligence centre. Now we also have a system that enables us to scale-up the functionality of MSIC into a more integrated part of the ground control station (GCS) of a UAS system like Skeldar,” explained Björn Klerestam, MSIC Product Manager at Saab.
The SKELDAR and MSIC integration work was undertaken in-house by Saab’s development teams. The full combined functionality was verified during a series of Skeldar flights at Saab’s Motala test facility in February 2014. Along with its basic features of a modern heavy fuel engine, small logistic footprint and multi-payload capability, each Skeldar system provides customers with a full support solution; including training, documentation, spares, logistics and maintenance schedules. 2013 was an intense year for Saab’s SKELDAR VTOL UAS system. It was put to the test in the humidity and salty winds of the Indian Ocean, the sand and heat of American deserts and the unforgiving cold of a Nordic winter. Thanks to its Swedish roots the system is inherently able to cope with operations in harsh sub-zero temperatures, but last year SKELDAR also saw action in the desert heat of southwestern USA when live trials were performed in New Mexico and Utah. SKELDAR’s first operational deployment came last autumn when the Spanish Navy deployed SKELDAR aboard a ship in the Bay of Aden, as part of Operation Atalanta.
“There is a great interest in the naval market, as proven by the Spanish deployment, but there is also a growing interest in Skeldar from customers in other domains,” said Björn Palmér, Director of Saab’s Product Area Tactical UAS.
Curtiss-Wright's latest rugged space, weight and power (SWaP) optimised commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processing and networking solutions for unmanned aerial platforms is displayed at booth #653. Featured products for UAVs on display in Curtiss-Wright’s booth include:
Parvus DuraCOR 80-40 Rugged Modular Core i7 Mission Computer: The DuraCOR 80-40 is a rugged Commercial-Off the Shelf (COTS) tactical mission computer LRU subsystem based on the high performance Intel Core i7 processor with a high-speed, stackable PCI-Express bus (PCIe/104) architecture for I/O card expansion. Optimally designed for SWaP-sensitive unmanned vehicle applications, the DuraCOR 80-40 combines powerful graphics and multi-core processing with ultra-reliable mechanical robustness and modular I/O expansion for extreme environmental and EMI performance per MIL-STD-810G (thermal, shock, vibration, dust, water, humidity) and MIL-STD-461F.
Parvus DuraMAR 5915 Rugged IP Router: This rugged Cisco IOS-managed mobile router LRU is integrated with Cisco’s 5915 Embedded Services Router (ESR) card in an ultra-rugged chassis optimized for harsh unmanned vehicle installations. This COTS solution is ideal for IP networking technology refresh and situational awareness applications, including those seeking a migration path for previous generation Parvus rugged networking subsystems deployed in unmanned surface vehicles. It features dual WAN uplinks and is available as either a standalone 5-port network router or with an integrated Gigabit Ethernet switch for a total of 19 Ethernet ports.
Parvus DuraNET 20-10 GbE Switch: This new Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) Switch LRU subsystem delivers double the port count of Curtiss-Wright’s previous DuraNET GbE Switch products, while drastically reducing power consumption ~50% per port and reducing the unit’s volume size by ~26%. Ideal for adding high speed networking to platforms such as legacy and new naval aircraft, the fully featured SWaP-optimized subsystem provides true carrier-grade Ethernet software Layer-2 management features, including support for the IEEE-1588 Precision Timing Protocol (PTP).
MPMC-9310/9321 Mission Computers: The MPMC-9310 and MPMC-9321 are fully integrated rugged Application Ready COTS systems that feature LRM backplane-based processing. They provide all the elements required of modern mission computers, vetronics systems, and avionics computers for use on unmanned vehicles.
Compact Network Storage 4 (CNS4): New scalable Compact Network Storage (CNS4) system supports up to 8TB of solid state storage with four removable memory modules, supports variety of encryption levels, and provides flexible I/O front-end. This rugged, high-capacity storage solution was designed for SWaP constrained military applications that require cryptography to ensure the integrity of critical “data-at-rest” in demanding military environments such as those endured by UAVs.
Vortex Data Transport System (DTS): This SWaP-optimised, rugged network file server supports industry-standard storage protocols (NFS, CIFS, HTTP and FTP) through 4 1GbE ports. To protect critical data-at-rest, the Vortex DTS network attached storage (NAS) system offers an AES-256-bit encryption option or special encrypted SSDs. The DTS allows scalable storage with 3 rugged Removable Memory Cartridges (RMC) for unmanned vehicle data.
Multi-Purpose Flight Recorder (MPFR): The MPFR provides unmatched flight recorder versatility, in a highly compact package, fully approved for current and anticipated requirements. On-aircraft download is achieved in less than two minutes and can be networked directly to a remote operational base for diagnostics and fault reporting. The MPFR is packaged as a compact unit ideal for the small/medium unmanned aircraft. Importantly, this compact unit may be attached directly to the airframe without requiring bulky equipment racks or anti-vibration mounts, thus permitting optimum aircraft performance to be attained for lower operating costs.