Unmanned Systems Technology 027 l Hummingbird XRP l Gimbals l UAVs insight l AUVSI report part 2 l O’Neill Power Systems NorEaster l Kratos Defense ATMA l Performance Monitoring l Kongsberg Maritime Sounder

52 Dakota.” Robot Aviation conducts its BVLOS tests in Norway. With the FX20, Skyskopes aims to fly with a longer endurance and range than the multi-rotor systems that most aerial inspection companies offer, but BVLOS capability is key to that, in terms of legislation, enabling technologies and in-house training with those technologies. The FX20 is electrically powered and capable of flying for up to 4 hours, depending on payload. The battery pack is made by a fellow Norwegian supplier. To further enable BVLOS integration, a Mode-S transponder is installed on the UAV, as is a pilot-view camera to provide a live feed of what is ahead of the aircraft. The data and video comms link has a 40 km range, with an optional 200 kbit/s satellite link for BVLOS comms. Defence Sikorsky has successfully converted and flown one of its UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters as an OPV (optionally piloted vehicle), by applying an automation kit the company refers to as its Matrix technology. The kit was developed and tested on a helicopter called the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft, with more than 300 hours of flight tests achieved so far. “In a military space, you can still have missions such as bridge inspections, carrying loads and others that aren’t as sophisticated as attack or reconnaissance missions,” explains Igor Cherepinsky, the company’s director of autonomy. “In such cases, it makes sense to have just one pilot and to offload work to an autopilot to reduce their burden, or perhaps fly with no pilot at all.” The Matrix technology consists of various software and hardware components that are selected and applied according to each vehicle’s requirements, to accomplish these relatively simple operations without the need for data links or a ‘man in the loop’. To convert the manned helicopter to an optionally unmanned vehicle, the engineering team at Sikorsky first removed all the mechanical controls and replaced them with a fly-by-wire architecture, before adding more perception sensors for greater safety in navigation and obstacle avoidance. They included various optical cameras, Lidars and radar systems, with embedded sensor fusion algorithms to stitch the data together. Although the aim has been to develop full autonomy, data links for line-of- sight and BVLOS operations are still maintained and operators can, where necessary, input commands of their own from the cockpit, rear cabin or a GCS. “You can also have complex cargo logistics or other operations where you benefit from sharing information and control between the air and the ground, where logisticians direct the OPV from the ground, rather than having the pilot try to figure out where to put crates or pallets,” Cherepinsky adds. August/September 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology Varying degrees of autonomy could be employed by UH-60A Black Hawk OPV pilots, from partial automation to lessen the burden on the pilots to full autonomy for operations such as bridge inspections (Courtesy of Sikorsky) Testing BVLOS capabilities is problematic for US-based pilots, so European airfields such as that used by Robot Aviation are critical for development (Courtesy of Robot Aviation)