Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2017

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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AIR NEW APPLICATIONS 48 unmanned systems inside   June/July 2017 The Drone Hopper UAS also will be mod- eled after bio-inspired behaviors, Hussein said, whether there's a queen bee the others follow or they act more like ants working to- gether as soldiers. The systems will be simpler than the high-end options you see on the mar- ket today, but because each drone can carry a different sensor and share data over a wireless network, they'll still have the ability to gather the same information. "Our strategy is to start including some kind of coordination intelligence in the drones, al- ways subordinated to the human pilot, as a starting point to gain confidence and progress on a future swarm-controlled f leet operation on agriculture and f iref ighting missions," Drone Hopper CEO Pablo Flores Peña said. "I believe we will not need a very complex logic; of course you can make it as sophisticated as you can think, but for our operation I see no major issue in terms of feasibility. However, the hard part is how to ensure and demon- strate safety." Collaboration among multiple drones also can improve mapping capabilities, Smith said. Today, single UAS typically f ly a lawn mow- er pattern to efficiently cover the entire area they're mapping. While this is a great time saver over traditional, non-UAS methods, col- laborative mapping missions could save com- panies even more time and money. "Instead of starting at one corner then doing the lawn mower pattern, what if the drone could start in the center of the area or another corner, and instead of f lying one drone to cover the entire area you send two, or three or four. They could go to all four cor- ners and work together to f ly inward," pod- cast host Smith said. "That would cut down on the time it takes to cover that area by 75%, and would also cut down on the amount of battery changes needed during the mission. It would greatly increase the efficiencies of the entire operation." Communication Challenges Regulations limiting the ability of one pilot to de- ploy multiple drones and to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) without a waiver are among the challenges researchers and manufacturers face. Another is finding a way to optimally manage the swarming behaviors, said Souma Chowdhury, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University at Buffalo. That comes down to un- derstanding the principles of swarming behav- iors in nature, which again means looking at in- sect colonies and birds and then modeling that behavior in a mathematical way. Swarms won't be controlled by centralized agents, Chowdhury said. Instead, the simple drones will collectively exhibit high levels of Three UAS prototypes from Drone Hopper. The startup is developing drones for agriculture and fire fighting applications. Photos courtesy of Drone Hoopper and MIT.

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