Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

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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38  June/July 2019 unmanned systems inside helped fight wildfires and supported the abatement of natural disasters. Tyler Sibley, senior pilot with Insitu, believes that the success of its ScanEagle UAV in the commercial sector is largely due to its military lineage. ScanEagle was deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the First Marine Expeditionary Force, operating as a forward observer to monitor enemy concentrations, vehicle and personnel movement, and buildings and terrain. Sibley added, "We have hundreds of thou- sands of hours of experience operating in difficult spaces, which has given agencies such as the FA A conf idence to support UAV-enabled research and development for commercial business." He was referring to the NASA's Marginal Ic e Z one Ob s er v at ion s a nd O c e a n Experiment in 2013, where the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Sensor Integrated Environmental Remote Research Aircraft, the ScanEagle UAS (University of Alaska Fairbanks), and the Data Hawk UAS (University of Colorado) effort worked to advance UAS- enabled mapping. That same year, the FAA authorized ConocoPhillips to use Insitu's ScanEagle for marine mammal and ice surveys—which included specialized be- yond visual line of sight (BVLOS) surveys. Since then, the Insitu team has put the ScanEagle solution to work performing ag r icultura l a ssessments, conduc ting search and rescue operations, and sup- porting f iref ighters during catastrophic wildfires. BVLOS AND BEYOND A key challenge to integrating UAS into the national airspace is the development of de- tect-and-avoid operating requirements ap- plicable to UAS—with particular emphasis on performance standards for UAS operat- ing BVLOS. The FAA's goal, at least in the near-term, is to develop system definitions and performance levels with an emphasis on f light demonstration of various sensor modes, including electro-optic/infrared, radar, traffic alert and collision avoidance systems, and automatic dependent surveil- lance—broadcast (ADS–B). The FA A and others are looking to the aerospace industr y for help and some answers. Collins Aerospace, a company that was historically largely focused on defense-re- lated manned and unmanned solutions, is realizing new opportunities in the emerg- ing UAS space. In fact, the defense leader's strategic plan specifically outlines a paral- lel line of development between commer- cial and military advancements in a range of development directions. Braxton Rehm, Col. (Ret.) USAF, is now principal marketing manager for the Missions Systems, Unmanned Aircraft Systems Division, Collins Aerospace in the Washington, D.C., area. It wasn't that long ago, he noted, that commercial UAS was an emerging technology area. "That's not the case anymore. Today, our avionics business is split 50/50 between commercial and military activities, with the commer- cial side growing considerably, particularly in the areas of urban air mobility and OEM integrations." Rehm pointed to the company's long his- tory of providing UAS solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense as a key component of the firm's expansion on the commercial side. He continued, "We see our expertise on the military side—our ability to develop solutions faster because of a lack of nation- al airspace regulations for combat opera- tions, and the work ongoing to accelerate technology to meet the next threat—natu- rally migrates from defense perspective to the commercial side." Case in point is the company's recent work w ith A meren, a St. Louis-based electric and natural gas company that sees the military-to-commercial technol- ogy transfer as a powerful way to move from reactive response to proactive pre- dictions in the utility market. In 2018, Ameren partnered with Black & Veatch and Collins Aerospace to conduct a non- stop, 60-mile-beyond-BVLOS UAS f light to inspect transmission lines. Critical to the capabilities' development plan and that test f light was the experiences gained in UAV-based theater activities. As James Pierce, BVLOS program man- ager and lead of Ameren's Central UAS Department, explained: "The long-dis- tance capabilities that defense UAS have achieved is impressive, and we are looking to leverage that experience into a commer- cial application." Ameren is also focused on adopting and adapting new sensors and equipment that provide value in manned operations and through ground-based operations such as infrared, cameras, LiDAR, near infrared and hyperspectral sensors. Pierce added, "The bigger challenge will be learning how to manage that data over wide-scale opera- tions that BVLOS would facilitate. We're looking to piggyback and push the envelope to further integrate technology into a pilot project to simulate BVLOS working in a production environment." The militar y's success and continu- ing development of UAS-based BVLOS technology is an integral and important stepping stone for future FA A certifica- tions and standards. Already, commercial BVLOS authorizations have been issued to support emergency management within a temporary f light restriction. In 2018, Vigilant Aerospace Systems of Ok la homa Cit y par ticipated w ith Oklahoma State University in the first BVLOS drone f lights authorized under a new FA A Certificate of Authorization, which allowed UAS f lights along a 13-mile long corridor in central Oklahoma. As well, COLLINS CONSIDERS CIVILIAN Largely due to indicators in the commercial/civil UAS space, Collins Aerospace, during its fi ve-year strategic planning eff orts, looked further to 10 years, with considerably more emphasis on civilian applications than previously anticipated. The company assesses the civilian market for medium-to-large UAS pushing upwards of $14 BILLION IN THE U.S. ALONE BY 2030. Applications DEFENSE COMMERCIAL NEXUS

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