Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2016

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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50 unmanned systems inside August/September 2016 ugust/Septe August/September 2016 August/September 2016 be August/September 2016 0 August/September 2016 6 August/September 2016 MARINE NEW TECHNOLOGY stationary. So if you were to return to 'home' it might go well behind the boat and it will land there—that won't go well." "GPS doesn't solve the problem," added Wells, "so you need a level of guidance above and be- yond GPS—and that's what we're building now." New Payload Planck plans to meet these challenges via a so- phisticated payload that can be added to any platform, Wells said. "We're sort of hardware agnostic in the sense that we're not building aircraft." Wells told Inside Unmanned Systems. We are buy- ing aircraft off-the-shelf. We are building essentially a payload of sensors, with some proprietary software, to enable us to do what we need to do." To make it practical for everyday fishermen to use, Planck has set design parameters aimed at keeping things simple and cost effective. "We want to have no dedicated operator on the boat, no installed hardware and be adapt- able to really any size of boat," Wells said. That last parameter, to serve even small boats, has led Planck to focus exclusively on drones that takeoff and land vertically—that is rotorcraft. "Although it makes for a harder control problem on our end," Wells said, "(vertical takeoff and landing) opens up more possibili- ties in terms of the user. With a vertical takeoff and landing platform you can go to a smaller boat than with a fixed-wing." Though the firm will use a range of sensors on the final payload, the engineers are not planning to build any "new or novel sensors," Wells said. "We're focusing on sensors that al- ready exist." It's likely those sensors will also be doing double duty, McLain said. "I think some of the ideas would be to try to not have, at least on board the aircraft, not to introduce new sensors to make this possible," McLain said. "In other words, use part of the Photo courtesy of Planck Aerosystems regular inertial measurement unit and cam- eras onboard the aircraft—cameras that you would be using for the fish spotting portion of the mission; use them for the landing part of the mission as well." Real-Time Insights Though a Planck payload should be able to identify marine mammals, Wells said, the most likely target will be tuna and kelp beds, where desirable fish may be found. "We're working primarily with the tuna fishing industry for a few reasons," Wells said. "Number one, it's sort of a proven model. They use aerial surveillance in the form of manned aircraft today—and also because we have good access to them here locally." "The tuna and swordfish industry have used manned aircraft for locating fish stocks," Fisi- chella said. "In that sense it has been proven and I think the next logical step is to utilize an unmanned system to do the same thing, which can be done cheaper over a greater segment of the fishing industry at a much lower cost." "Tuna generally live in water that's relatively clear, added Wells, "and then they swim a por- tion of their time towards the top of the water column, which also helps." Finding the tuna will require some form of object detection," Wells said. Change detection is not all that worthwhile, he said, because the ocean is constantly chang- ing. "It's more about looking for a specific ob- ject," he explained, and then getting that infor- mation back to the ship quickly. That need for rapid results has shaped the way the new payload will handle the data gath- ered by the sensors—faster is better. "We are focused less on really rigorous, in- depth analysis of the imagery and more on speed," Wells said. The biggest difference between precision fishing and precision agriculture, Wells ex- plained, is that in agriculture, the unmanned aircraft system, has to be capable of delivering "THE TUNA AND SWORDFISH INDUSTRY have used manned aircraft for locating fi sh stocks. In that sense it has been proven and I think the next logical step is to utilize an unmanned system to do the same thing." David Fisichella, manager scientifi c shipboard services for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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