Tag Archives: VTOL

Army reconnaissance

Northrop Grumman Corporation and Martin UAV (a Shield AI company) have completed successful flight testing of a V-BAT Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) with new features including GPS-denied navigation and target designation capabilities.

V-BAT
Northrop Grumman and Martin UAV conduct flight testing of Martin UAV’s V-BAT aircraft for the US Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System effort in Camp Grafton, North Dakota

«The enhanced V-BAT offers a near zero footprint, flexible Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capability that is based on a platform deployed operationally today, to address the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) mission», said Kenn Todorov, sector vice president and general manager, global sustainment and modernization, Northrop Grumman. «The team brings more than 30 years’ experience in the production, delivery and sustainment of unmanned aircraft systems to support this critical mission today and into the future».

For FTUAS, the U.S. Army is seeking a rapidly deployable, GPS-denied navigation-capable, expeditionary VTOL system capable of persistent aerial reconnaissance for U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams, Special Forces, and Ranger battalions.

The offering is based on the industry leading Martin UAV V-BAT UAS. It is compact, lightweight, simple to operate, and can be set up, launched and recovered by a two-soldier team in confined environments. The V-BAT also is designed with sufficient payload capacity to carry a range of interchangeable payloads, including Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and Electronic Warfare (EW) payloads, depending on mission-specific requirements. Additionally, Shield AI’s recent acquisition of Martin UAV will enable rapid development of GPS-denied and autonomy capabilities for V-BAT through the future porting of Shield AI’s autonomy stack, Hivemind onto V-BAT.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Autonomous Guidance

In line with its strategy of innovation for the future of vertical flight, Airbus Helicopters is developing an experimental on board image processing management system aimed at performing automatic approaches and landing in challenging conditions, as well as paving the way for future sense & avoid applications on autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems.

Project Eagle aims at improving safety and automation capabilities for existing and future platforms
Project Eagle aims at improving safety and automation capabilities for existing and future platforms

Codenamed Eagle, for Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension, this system federates the entire helicopter’s image processing functions and feeds them into the avionics system, thus improving the crew’s situation awareness and reducing the pilot’s workload by automating and securing approaches, take-off and landing in the most demanding environments. Ground tests of Eagle have been ongoing since May this year and initial flights tests on a testbed helicopter will begin shortly.

«While existing missions such as search and rescue and offshore transportation will benefit from Eagle’s capabilities, the system will also help address future requirements for operations in urban environments», said Tomasz Krysinski, Airbus Helicopters Vice-President Research & Technology. «Ultimately, thanks to its ability to provide increased situation awareness, Eagle will also contribute to improve the safety, autonomy and performance of future unmanned vehicles».

The system, which could be embedded in a variety of existing and future Airbus VTOL vehicles, relies on a gyro-stabilized optronics package, which includes three high resolution cameras and state-of-the-art processing units, as well as on-board video analytics providing advanced functionalities such as object detection and tracking, digital noise reduction as well as deep learning.

Future versions of the Eagle system will also integrate a laser, which combined with the high processing capability could open the door to other applications such as a new generation of search lights, obstacles detection and 3D terrain reconstruction.