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6 Mission-critical info for UST professionals Platform one Embention has developed a tether station for its NM& M600 UAV, to enable persistent mission applications such as long-range comms relay or wide-area lighting (writes Rory Jackson). The TS150 tether station, so called for its cable’s 150 m maximum length (the company is planning a 300 m version), supplies power to the UAV, which nominally consumes 1500 W, up to a peak power consumption of 2400 W. Video and data are also transmitted back to the base station through the cable, which is protected in a polymer composite-reinforced housing. “A key issue was to send high- bandwidth HD video and thermal data on the same cable used to power the drone, while keeping the cable light,” said Javier Espuch at Embention. “The more altitude and therefore power consumption we allow for the UAV, the more length and therefore weight a cable will take up.” The company developed and tested several iterations of the cable in pursuit of a balance between strength and weight, until settling on the current 1.65 kg, fibre- reinforced version. The TS150’s base station integrates a GNSS module to enable a ‘follow me’ capability for the UAV, which uses its own GNSS unit, IMU and RTK positioning to estimate the relative altitude and position between the station and itself. Embedded software on the UAV identifies and tracks targets. “It includes algorithms for recognising elements including cars, boats and people, and upon detection it will display a message indicating the type of element, plus its position and distance,” said Espuch. “The operator can also command the camera to follow a designated target.” The UAV can be operated by computer or tablet over a direct Ethernet connection with the base station (if data interception or jamming are a concern), or via a 2.4 GHz wi-fi link, with power still coming via the cable. Airborne vehicles Tether gives persistence Embention’s TS150 tether is designed to provide power to its UAV, and receive back high-speed video and data June/July 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology