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.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 51 of 59

52 unmanned systems inside   August/September ugust/Septe   August/September   August/September be   August/September 2016 0 2016 6 2016 MARINE NEW TECHNOLOGY PLANCK AEROSYSTEMS is building a vision-guided payload with specially developed software aimed at making rotorcraft a practical tool for small fishing boat operators. The new payload, which can be flown from a variety of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) platforms or rotor copters, will enable automated launches and landings of fish-finding drones from small fishing vessels. Boat captains using the drones will be able to efficiently locate tuna and other fish while using less fuel and less bait—doing for fishermen what precision farming does for farmers. The system consists of a programmable landing pad and a payload with a variety of commercially available sensors, said Dave Twining, who built satellite payloads before cofounding the firm with former Navy helicopter pilot Josh Wells. "We're not fabricating any silicon," he said. "We're using a combination of various cameras—available off- Planck is currently operating on a 21-foot fishing boat with a man-portable, surveillance drone originally built for the Army. The drone had to be made more rugged and optimized for the marine environment—something Wells called 'marinizing.' "It's usually much windier in a marine en- vironment because there're less obstacles to slow the wind down," Fisichella explained. "So you're usually confronted with higher PLANCK PAYLOAD USES EXPERIENCE-BASED SOFTWARE, OFF-THE-SHELF SENSORS the-shelf—inertial sensors and then some RF (radio frequency) sensors that kind of augment the vision guidance." Though he declined to give specifics on the type or make of the sensors being used, Twining emphasized that it was "a vision-guided system." "There's actually electronics on the vessel side and on the aircraft side," he said. "They work in conjunction. The vision (capability) does most of the heavy lifting on determining exactly where to land." That's true even if the boat is in rough waters. "If you're really good with your camera and your computer vision you can figure out how the boat is pitching and rolling from the aircraft," Twining said. "...You can do everything onboard and you don't have to rely on it (the boat) telling you how it's moving at all." The payload includes at least one inertial measurement unit (IMU) and a navigation receiver, the later of which incorporates signals from both the GPS and the GLONASS satellite navigation constellations, said Twining. The navigation accuracy of the system is half a meter or better—and they generally get quite a bit better accuracy, he said, which is essential to landing accurately on their one-square- meter landing pad. The IMU in the payload indicates how the aircraft is moving. "It tells you about pitching and rolling, up or down, forward or back—it's more on the control side," Twining explained. "You need to know what the aircraft is doing at all times. If you don't then you can't control it." The payload, which weighs well under the aircraft's maximum capacity of 2 kg, also can do all the necessary data processing onboard, Twining said. "We're fortunate," he told Inside Unmanned Systems, "...that we get to leverage a lot of the existing technology that has really pushed the envelope—even five years ago you wind velocities. There's also the altitudes at which these aircraft will be operating—from the surface to 400 feet or so. There's usually a lot of salt spray, there could be a lot of salt in the air, which is going to lead to increased corrosion and problems with electronics. Ob- viously it's a very wet environment that needs to be considered." It's also important, he said, to evaluate the potential for electromagnetic interference and

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Inside Unmanned Systems - AUG-SEP 2016