|Quadrotor unmanned aircraft in the news||- Quadrotor News|
By Chris Hooper
Salisbury Journal Thursday, 1 November, 2007.
CRIME fighting will be taking to the skies soon, thanks to the technological efforts of a Harnham-based businessman.
Salisbury's Mark Lawrence, a former police officer, runs Rotorcams UK, a company based in East Harnham which specialises in aerial photography and surveillance and is in talks to provide state-of-the-art equipment to police forces up and down the country.
Originally developed in Germany, the cutting edge AirRobot utilises a battery-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), controlled by a hand-held device, to transport cameras providing crystal-clear images and even moving pictures.
Mr Lawrence said: "Although this is high-tech kit, the principles behind it are very simple. The machine flies with spinning carbon-fibre rotator blades, which makes it hover in the same way as a helicopter.
"Attached to the machine are its battery pack, a device which enables someone to steer it from the ground with a hand-held control unit, and then the camera which beams back images to a computer located with the pilot."
"They are so simple to use and so effective that after we unveiled it at a trade fair recently, word spread about what we could do and we have been inundated with enquiries.
"We have had interest from MI5 and other security agencies, and we are putting on demonstrations for the Ministry of Defence's top procurement officers, and also for various police forces up and down the country."
Wiltshire Police are one of the many forces who have expressed an interest in acquiring the technology.
A spokesman for the force said: "We are always on the look out for ways to help us fight crime.
"On a local level, having something like this set up in a car would save us having to wait for a helicopter to give us aerial support. The possibilities for a piece of equipment like this are endless."
However, it is not only police forces who are keen to acquire the equipment.
Mr Lawrence explained: "Having a camera which can see into places where others cannot, such as over walls and beyond inhospitable terrain, has obvious uses for both the armed forces and the police, but there are many ways this technology can be put to use.
"We have had enquiries from companies who carry out aerial surveys and aerial photography, property companies have expressed an interest in taking a look, and there is also a link to the fire and rescue teams who would find this kind of thing very helpful."
Sky-Eye in flight inside the IDEX 2007 exhibition halls
DATE: 26 FEB 2007
SOURCE: Flightglobal.comSIM also says it is examining a scaled up version of the electrically powered UAV to pursue emerging opportunities in the global law-enforcement sector. Total sales of the existing system, including the Chinese orders, have exceeded 30 units according to Yves Degroote, Brussels account manager for the firm. Speaking to Flight Unmanned at last week’s IDEX 2007 exhibition in Abu Dhabi he said other firm customers were located in Belgium, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands.
The Chinese sale occurred “recently” Degroote says, but he declines to provide further details. Sim is currently working on an eight week turnaround on orders for standard configuration systems Degroote said.
Sky-Eye is near identical to the Diehl BGT Defence SensoCopter system, with both craft based on an underlying design from a still to be identified German partner company. Diehl is authorised to pursue the military market while SIM is restricted to commercial sales.
Diehl unveiled a fully autonomous version at the May 2006 Berlin Air Show with this incorporating a hybrid navigation suite incorporating both GPS and INS system. First flights of that version occurred in late 2005 and the system last year participated in funded German Army mini-vertical-take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV trials.
The SIM variant is only available in a remotely operated configuration with indoor demonstrations flights being carried out inside the IDEX exhibition halls for the duration of the show.
Both versions of the UAV feature the same moulded carbon fibre airframe and have a maximum take-off weight of 1.1kg. The UAV itself weighs 900g, allowing 200g for payloads. Both versions have 20min endurance and an effective operational radius of some 500m.
The original SensoCopter design featured four half-loop carbon struts stretched between each rotor head and the central battery and sensor housing to serve as an undercarriage.
That landing gear has now been replaced with both Diehl and SIM using IDEX to display current production configuration craft equipped with a traditional helicopter twin strut undercarriage made from machined composites. The new gear incorporates clip-in mounts beneath the central air vehicle fuselage dome to support a variety of commercially available sensors, ranging from mini CCD video cameras to standard production series Sony digital cameras.
The SIM version uses a commercially available 14.8v lithium-polymer battery but ongoing discussions are being held with manufacturers about longer life alternatives Degroote says. The four brushless and gearless engines used by the craft are individually controlled to provide air vehicle steerage. Flight operations are restricted to wind speeds of below 6m per second. The craft generates a noise signature of below 65db at 3m.
Degroote says that some 10h of training is needed for unskilled operators. The flight control unit is similar to that for a model aircraft with the operator using visual sight of the UAV to provide guidance. For long-range operations Sim are offering a set of video goggles which allows the operator to use direct imagery from a CCD camera payload to provide the necessary level of situational awareness to safely navigate the craft.
SIM is headquartered near Neustadt in western Germany. German-headquartered SIM Security and Electronic System says it has sold an undisclosed number of its Sky-Eye quadrotor UAVs into China for use by a civilian police organisation.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ( PRWEB ) February 26, 2007 -- MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is using the Draganflyer RC helicopter in their UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Swarm Health Management Project, which is focused on surveillance and monitoring of ground based objects or vehicles. The goal is continuous monitoring using multiple autonomous vehicles in swarms, with distributed intelligent computer control and minimal human supervision. The multi-vehicle testbed developed by MIT uses several Draganflyer four rotor electric RC helicopters and a computer tracking and positioning system to monitor and control multiple unmanned aerial vehicles. The components of the system communicate with each other through Ethernet connections.
Even though the vehicles used are unmanned, each one would normally require its own ground based pilot, operating it by remote control. What MIT's system does is place multiple UAVs under computer control. This removes the need for constant human attention and piloting. Not just one, but multiple UAVs, can be directed with MIT's system via a remote connection. A swarm of unmanned aerial vehicles could be used to monitor a convoy or keep watch over a border. This could be especially useful to the military. The use of multiple UAVs would allow constant aerial surveillance, with new vehicles launched to take the place of ones in need of recharging or those that have been damaged.
The aerial vehicles used are quad-rotor miniature electric radio control helicopters called Draganflyers, measuring about two feet across, manufactured by Draganfly Innovations Inc. These electric RC helicopters are unlike standard model helicopters, because they use 4 rotor blades (one on each corner) to generate directional thrust which is used to maneuver. The use of four rotor blades makes the Draganflyer RC helicopter simpler and more reliable than a standard helicopter, eliminating the need for all of the mechanical linkages required for maneuvering using a conventional single main rotor. The Draganflyers used in MIT's project are the same radio controlled helicopters used by many hobbyists, and are available from Draganfly Innovations' Web site and on-line store. The specific models used by MIT are the Draganflyer V Ti RC Helicopter , and Draganflyer V Ti Pro Video RC Helicopter . " We are extremely pleased that MIT has chosen our Draganflyer RC helicopters for use with this ground breaking project" says Zenon Dragan, president of Draganfly Innovations Inc.
MIT's system makes it possible to have a number of aerial vehicles flying completely under computer control, able to do tasks like surveillance or tracking, all while keeping each individual vehicle from colliding with any of the others. (We highly recommend watching MIT's Swarm Project Videos to better understand MIT & Draganfly Innovations' technology.) The vehicles can all be coordinated on the same task, or be used in groups or individually. The computer control allows for a swarm of UAVs to be flown at once. This removes the necessity for teaching pilots how to manually fly each aircraft, allowing the entire swarm to be directed remotely by a single person. The swarm of Draganflyer RC helicopters are able to launch, land, and recharge, all under computer control. MIT has even demonstrated the ability to land a Draganflyer on a moving object while completely under computer control.
MIT's UAV SWARM Health Management Project is being developed by Professor Jonathan How, with graduate students Mario Valenti, Brett Bethke, Daniel Dale, Xiaojie Hu, and administrative assistant Kathryn Fischer. They are working with Boeing's Phantom Works research unit. There is a large amount of interest in this project, and in UAVs in general. The worldwide UAV market is currently worth billions of dollars, and is expected to expand by a factor of three in the next decade.