Deploying Next-Generation UAS Platforms with 3U VPX

More powerful. Lighter. Cooler. These are the key criteria for the design of Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) in next-generation Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platforms, which continue to grow in importance to military organizations worldwide. The ability of these platforms to provide persistent surveillance of targets while eliminating the need to put warfighters in harm’s way makes them indispensable assets to commanders. The effectiveness of these platforms in the field is governed by their sensor payload and their processing systems. Next-generation UAS designs, such as the Navy’s Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D), require high levels of processing power for multiple onboard sensors, and all that power must be delivered in a lighter, cooler configuration that minimizes the size, weight and power (SWaP) envelope of onboard electronics subsystems.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Military vehicles and equipment, Unmanned aerial vehicles

UGVs — On the Cutting Edge of Thermal Management

Thermal management of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) is more complex than other electronic equipment because they have to operate in harsh environments such as humid tropical rainforests or sandy deserts where moisture as well as dust and sand can compromise the reliability of the control electronics. Regular open enclosures are certainly not an option; instead they need sealed and ruggedized enclosures to also withstand hard shocks and vibrations.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Electronic control systems, Thermal management, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Controlling the Seas: Introducing a New Concept in Autonomous Surface/Underwater Vehicles

The boundary between the sea and sky is an important place to be. It’s the critical connecting layer for commercial and military information exchange between the undersea world to aerial, space and shore. Being present at this boundary between sea and sky, with cost-effective endurance in challenging conditions, requires the use of autonomous surface vehicles.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Autonomous vehicles, Marine vehicles and equipment

Connectivity in Robotic Systems

While many think of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or space probes and planet rovers when they think of unmanned systems, the field of robotics covers every environment known to man: sea, ground, air, and space. Beyond UAVs, unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and unmanned surface vessels (USVs) have begun to capture headlines, primarily in the role of security and defense. Likewise, terrestrial unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are now gaining their share of the limelight. The U.S. Navy is even experimenting with a humanoid robot (SAFFiR) to help fight shipboard fires as a first responder.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Defense, Robotics

Anti-Hacking Software for UAVs

Portland, OR

To address growing evidence that commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), automobiles and other vehicles are vulnerable to hacking and sophisticated cyber security attacks, Galois developed and successfully demonstrated what has been called “the world’s most secure UAV software.” Galois, a company that specializes in protecting information, devices, networks, and vehicles, recently conducted a successful demonstration for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) program. Galois is part of a team that produced provably correct and secure software that runs on commercial UAVs.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Defense, Computer software / hardware, Cyber security, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Unmanned Naval Helicopter

Northrop Grumman Corporation
Redondo Beach, CA

The U.S. Navy has been conducting ship-board flight testing of the first operational MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter delivered by the Northrop Grumman Corporation. After more than a year of land-based testing conducted at Point Mugu, California, the MQ-8C took its first flight off the deck of the guided-missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109), off the coast of Virginia in mid-December last year. It marked the first time an unmanned helicopter had ever operated from the deck of a U.S. Navy destroyer. All told, the new Fire Scout made 22 takeoffs and precision landings during its first sea trials, all while being controlled from the ship’s ground control station. According to George Vardoulakis, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for medium range tactical systems, the test program will run throughout the summer of 2015 and if all goes well, the aircraft should be operational by the end of the year.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Defense, Military vehicles and equipment, Rotary-wing aircraft, Unmanned aerial vehicles

UAV Circuit Boards

Sunstone Circuits
Mulino, OR

Miki Szmuk is an aerospace engineer with big ideas for building better unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). As a doctoral student from the Controls Lab for Distributed and Uncertain Systems (C-DUS) of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas (UT) in Austin, Szmuk specializes in the engineering of small, sophisticated UAVs.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Defense, Electronic equipment, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Infrared Stereo Calibration for Unmanned Ground Vehicle Navigation

Many challenges still persist in the area of autonomous (and even semi-autonomous) vehicle navigation for unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). One challenge is in detecting and classifying obstacles for avoidance and path planning. The use of laser-based sensors, such as lidar, has become quite common for assisting in such a task; however, lidar systems may be too expensive for certain applications, and are active, not passive sensors, so they may not be desirable in some missions. Lidar is adversely affected by smoke, dust, fog, and rain. Therefore, the use of passive camera sensors, such as typical color and infrared (IR) cameras, has become an important research topic in UGV navigation.

Posted in: Briefs, Defense, Sensors, Imaging, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Vibration

Simultaneous Vibration Suppression and Energy Harvesting for a Multifunctional UAV Spar

The goal of this work was to investigate using harvested energy to directly control the vibration response of flexible aerospace systems. Small, lightweight, flexible Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) operate near flutter, providing both harvesting opportunities and vibration suppression requirements. The possibility that ambient energy might be harnessed and recycled to provide energy to mitigate the vibrations through various control laws was investigated. The goal was to integrate harvesting, storage, control, and computation into one multifunctional structure, and illustrate its benefits.

Posted in: Briefs, Aerospace, Vibration, Unmanned aerial vehicles

Development and Evaluation of the Stingray Amphibious Maritime Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Every year, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps conduct thousands of Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIOs) to enforce embargoes, intercept contraband, prevent drug and human smuggling, and fight piracy. These operations are usually conducted by Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) teams using rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) or helicopters. Key performance parameters were developed for a portable, throwable robot that can best support their missions. This robot can be used for advanced reconnaissance as the team is about to board a target vessel, to assist in compartment clearing, and for inspection of flooded compartments and bilges.

Posted in: Briefs, Defense, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Product development, Autonomous vehicles, Marine vehicles and equipment