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iRobot sells defence business - News - Shephard

UV ONLINE iRobot sells defence business 10th February 2016 - 12:00 by the Shephard News Team Arlington Capital Partners has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire iRobot’s defence & security business, [...]...

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Robot Warfare: New Russian Battlestation Can Control 10 Drones at Once - sUAS News

Robot Warfare: New Russian Battlestation Can Control 10 Drones at Once - sUAS News | robotique & simu |
A state-of-the art system capable of simultaneously controlling ten drones and ground-based robots has reportedly been unveiled in Russia. Russia’s Vega Radio Engineering Corporation has presented a modernized system capable of simultaneously controlling ten unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ground-based robots, Leonid Khozin, spokesman for Russia’s United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying. The system…Read more →
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Kraken Sonar Receives Funding from Canada to Develop KATFISH Prototype Platform

Kraken Sonar Inc., a developer of Synthetic Aperture Sonar (SAS) technology, has announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Kraken Sonar Systems Inc., will receive a non-refundable financial contribution of up to $495,000 from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP).

In addition to technical and business advisory services provided by NRC-IRAP, the funding is being used to develop the Kraken Active Towed Fish (KATFISH) for high speed, high resolution seabed mapping. The system will enable real-time seabed imagery, bathymetry and advanced 3D digital terrain models of the seabed. KATFISH will enable seabed mapping missions optimized for both manned and unmanned surface vessels.


Karl Kenny, Kraken’s President and CEO, said, “We are very grateful for the continued support from NRC-IRAP. Their assistance enables us to continue to innovate our seabed survey solutions. We’ve stated on many occasions that cost effective and high resolution seabed mapping is mission-critical for many military and commercial applications. Placing a survey sensor – such as Kraken’s Miniature Synthetic Aperture Sonar – closer to the seafloor will result in the acquisition of much higher resolution data. When the sensor is integrated onto a high speed, intelligently stabilized towed platform such as KATFISH, better quality data is acquired at a faster rate, thus improving efficiency and lowering both operational and data acquisition costs. In fact, we believe that KATFISH provides the highest resolution seabed pixels at the lowest cost compared to any other competing survey sonar platform.”

The business case for the KATFISH system involves two clearly identified and distinct markets: commercial seabed survey and underwater defence.


In the commercial seabed survey market the offshore oil and gas production industry has increased the need for surveys of existing infrastructure (such as pipelines and subsea installations). Presently, this process is completed with slow moving (1-2 knots) Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles (ROV), or passively stable sonar systems at medium (3-4 knots) speeds. KATFISH operates at speeds up to 8 knots.

Offshore exploration and production companies require comprehensive, high-resolution surveys to ensure the integrity of these pipelines, as well as the engineering and development of underwater facilities. The results of these surveys must show detailed bottom topography, surface features such as boulders, outcrops, debris, pockmarks, drag marks, and gas vents, as well as sub-bottom features such as faults, shallow gas pockets and sediment structure.

Reducing the cost and complexity of marine survey operations can profoundly impact the economics of many marine industries. Driven by lower revenue and energy prices, today’s oil and gas sectors are now seeking new technologies and tools that could lead to higher productivity, increased cost efficiencies and improved business models that rely less on expensive conventional manned systems. In fact, the offshore energy survey and mapping community may be on the verge of profound disruption, similar to that brought about by aerial drones. Next generation low-logistics / high-performance “ocean drones” are offering new options for improved productivity at lower costs, and changing old business models in the process.


In the defense market, there is a growing global requirement for modernization of mine countermeasures solutions. The previous generation of single-role minehunting vessels were designed and built between the 1970’s – 1990’s and many are now being withdrawn from service. A major drive is to replace these manned systems with multi-mission unmanned systems, such as Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs). While AUVs provide a valuable tool in the mine warfare toolkit, they are typically too slow (3-4 knots) to support in-stride, mine countermeasures. This leaves a growing requirement for high resolution, high speed seabed imaging platforms.

Until recently, conventional side scan sonars and multibeam echo-sounders have been the leading technology for detailed mapping and imaging of the seafloor. However, Kraken’s new sonar technology called AquaPix Miniature Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Sonar (MINSAS) is now available, and is especially well-suited for both military and commercial seabed surveys. MINSAS delivers ultra-high seabed image resolution (3 cm), simultaneously co-registered 3D bathymetry and superior area coverage rates. This underwater technology is similar to Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) that’s used for mapping the Earth’s surface, but InSAS uses acoustic energy waves instead of InSAR’s radio waves.


MINSAS not only delivers co-registered imagery and topography maps for very detailed site survey or infrastructure inspection (i.e. pipelines) but, using repeated surveys of the same area, enables detection of changes in seabed texture due to oil spills and even minute changes in the topography (e.g. reservoir subsidence). This repeat-pass survey technique is again analogous to the one used in InSAR to detect topographic changes such as landslides, etc. The ability of the KATFISH platform to generate centimetre-scale sonar resolution in all three dimensions can provide significant improvement in the detection, classification and identification of small seabed objects for both military and commercial seabed survey missions.


From a platform perspective, towed sonar systems have the benefit of providing high speed sonar data to operators in real-time, which is a critical feature for search and survey operations requiring earliest possible identification and classification of seabed targets. Onboard real time processing of sonar data also allows for real-time online quality monitoring of sonar data.

Passive towfish are the standard for most towed sonar surveys, however passive towfish have a number of limitations. The depth (or altitude) of a passive towfish is achieved by controlling the amount of cable payout (cable scope), and the speed of the surface vessel. A passive towfish does not have any active control surfaces or intelligent control system, therefore cannot actively control its attitude, heading, depth or altitude. The lack of active control means that a passive towfish is unable to compensate for any motion disturbances introduced by the surface ship, as a result of ship motion or environmental conditions such as sea state. This can yield insufficient platform stability to support onboard sonar and acoustic sensors.


However, actively controlled towfish provide a superior platform for seabed survey, particularly when using SAS. An actively controlled towfish can compensate for input disturbances, greatly improving the platform stability and the overall image quality. In addition, intelligently controlled active towfish can control their depth and altitude using intelligent bottom following and bottom avoidance routines.


The actively control towfish technology being developed for the KATFISH provides a number of significant market advantages over conventional passively stable systems:
• Improved image quality
• Enables single-pass classification
• Enables higher tow speeds, which dramatically improves Area Coverage Rate
• Reduces size and deck footprint on ships of opportunity
• Lowers risk of damage through bottom following and bottom avoidance

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China commissions Type 082 II-class MCMV | IHS Jane's 360

China commissions Type 082 II-class MCMV | IHS Jane's 360 | robotique & simu |

China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has commissioned a new Type 082 II Wozang-class mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV). The ship entered service with the North Sea Fleet on 25 January at the Dalian naval base, North East China.

Named Rongcheng (pennant number 811), the vessel is the fourth of the class; the lead ship was commissioned in July 2005. The first two are thought to be operated by the East Sea Fleet, with the third being part of the South Sea Fleet.

The Type 082 II displaces around 600 tonnes, has a length of 55 m, and a beam of 9.3 m. A hydraulic crane is installed aft to deploy a variety of towed or tethered bodies, including a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which has some resemblance to the Italian Pluto system. Equipped with cameras for identifying mines, the vehicle has four thrusters for accurate manoeuvring and appears to have the capability to lay explosive charges to destroy mines on the sea bed.

TV footage also showed that, in addition to the new MCMV, three substantial craft, displacing around 100 tonnes with a length of 30 m, have been delivered as well. The US Office of Naval Intelligence designates these craft as Wonang-class inshore minesweepers, which can be remotely operated as unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). At least six others of the class are in service, which have been photographed being operated by other Type 082 II MCMVs.

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WPI Robotics Team to Train Autonomous Firefighting Robot

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has announced that one of its professors has received nearly $600,000 from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop motion planning algorithms for humanoid robots that are designed to fight fires aboard U.S. Navy ships.

With the award, Dmitry Berenson, PhD, assistant professor of computer science and robotics engineering at WPI, will develop software for a firefighting robot built by Virginia Tech engineering students. The project has also been supported by University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University robotics teams. Dubbed SAFFiR (short for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot), the robot is designed to fight fires and perform other maintenance tasks. SAFFiR — which stands 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds — has already been put through an initial firefighting exercise on a ship and will undergo more specialized tests with WPI’s help.

“By using autonomous humanoids, we’re hoping to reduce the need for Navy personnel who have to perform a whole host of tasks and to also help mitigate the risks to people in fire suppression scenarios,” said Berenson.

Thomas McKenna, PhD, a program officer for ONR, said the program was developed to support Navy personnel. “Substantial losses occur when you have a major fire on a ship and can’t suppress it at an early stage,” said McKenna, who added that ships often carry ordnance and other flammable systems.

Naval officials also noted that it can be difficult to keep sailors up-to-date on resource training, but that a robot could be continually reprogrammed with the latest processes.

Berenson said he believes WPI was chosen for this project because of its leadership in motion planning research. “We could contribute our unique experience with motion planning for humanoid robots, which must perform in complicated scenarios,” he said. “Our focus on motion planning for autonomous robots, and not just those that are controlled by tele-operation, also helped us secure the grant.”

Berenson said humanoid robots are not particularly adept at moving in constrained quarters such as a Navy submarine, where they may have to navigate tight corners and stay upright despite rocking decks. “These robots are not good at locomotion in complex environments right now,” he noted.

With that in mind, WPI is testing its algorithms in a simulation of a complex, constrained environment using a virtual model of the SAFFiR robot. The team can plan a variety of movements for the robot and then see if it is able to walk correctly or if it falls down. “Of course,” he said, “just because it works in the simulator doesn’t mean it will work in the real world.”

The WPI team will test its algorithms in the actual robot in controlled conditions within a ship environment mock-up at Virginia Tech. The robot will walk up stairs and perform other locomotion tasks “to ensure the algorithms are generating the correct motion,” Berenson said.

In a later phase of the research, the robot’s capabilities will be tested again aboard the USS Shadwell, a decommissioned U.S. Navy landing ship docked in Mobile Bay, Ala.

In November 2014, Virginia Tech engineering students conducted a three-day demo aboard the Shadwell, culminating in an exercise that positioned the SAFFiR robot in front of a fire. At that time, engineering students said the tethered robot managed to locate and walk toward the fire, grab a fire hose, and blast the flames with water.

With the advanced motion capabilities provided by WPI’s algorithms, Virginia Tech’s robotics leaders hope the robot will be able to demonstrate even greater capabilities.

“The combination of a whole body controller developed by Virginia Tech and the WPI planning software will allow the robot to conduct more complex motions for navigating through the ship and effectively manipulating complex objects like firefighting hoses,” said Brian Lattimer, PhD, affiliate professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech and vice president of research and development at Jensen Hughes, who advised students in the 2014 demo.

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Singapore Airshow: All aboard the Skylark - News - Shephard

The Skylark 3 mini-UAS from Elbit Systems will make its first public appearance at the Singapore Air Show next week.

In addition the company has announced that the system has already been selected by an undisclosed customer.

According to Elbit the autonomous Skylark 3 has been developed from its predecessors to have a larger range of over 100km, a flight endurance of up to six hours and a 10kg payload capacity. The platform is launched from a pneumatic catapult, mounted on the ground or a vehicle.

The improved payload is said to deliver better target detection, classification and surveillance capabilities, according to the company. The Skylark 3 has a service ceiling of 15,000ft.

Elad Aharonson, general manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR Division said in a statement that the system was well suited in carrying out complex ISTAR missions and provides ground force commanders ‘unrivalled situational awareness and enhanced force protection capabilities’.

Through a shared ground control station, two Skylark 3 vehicles can be assigned to the same mission simultaneously, enabling target acquisition from two aspects and the extension of mission endurance by UAS-top swap.

In 2014 Shephard gained details of the use of small UAS, which included the Skylark 2, by the Israeli Defence Force in surveillance missions over Gaza and the West Bank.

Two years earlier Elbit Systems revealed the Skylark 1-LE, a derivative of the legacy Skylark 1, had obtained clearance to fly in French national airspace following the issue of a Military Aircraft Type Certificate by the French Ministry of Defence.

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Russia vs. America: The Race for Underwater Spy Drones

Russia vs. America: The Race for Underwater Spy Drones | robotique & simu |
Russia is developing a family of unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, a high-ranking official in that country’s navy said this week. While the U.S. Navy has been developing naval drones for more than a decade, this is the first indication that Moscow is working on similar capabilities.
“Work will be continued in 2016 to develop unmanned boats that can be based both on ships and on the shore," Vice Adm. Alexander Fedotenkov, deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy told the TASS news agency on Jan. 21.
The Russian developments include autonomous long-range reconnaissance vehicles. But it’s not clear if the Russian navy is developing an autonomous underwater vehicle or a surface vessel. It is possible that the Russians are developing both—but a long endurance unmanned underwater vehicle would make more sense from a military standpoint for its ability to avoid detection. Fedotenkov said that Russia is also working on developing tethered unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) that could undertake complex operations at great depths.
While both the U.S. Navy and Russia are developing naval drones, the technology is in its infancy. The U.S. Navy is relying on commercially available drones until the technology matures. USS North Dakota (SSN-784)—a Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine—launched and recovered a Norwegian-built Remus 600 while submerged for the first time during the summer of 2015. “This was something they thought we could go do. We went out, and we proved that,” North Dakota’s commanding officer, Capt. Douglas Gordon, said at the time.
While the technology is still in the early years, UUVs show great promise for the future. A few months I ago I asked naval expert Bryan Clarke, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, what the potential applications are for such systems might be. This what he e-mailed me:
“The Department of Defense (DoD) has pursued a large variety of UUVs during the past decade, mostly for mine clearing and ocean surveillance and launched from surface ships or shore. These applications did not require particular sizes of UUVs. As UUVs become more integrated with submarines as part of a family of systems, the Navy should focus on UUVs that can use the submarine’s ocean interfaces and conduct the most likely UUV missions. Specifically, the Navy should pursue the following UUV types as part of its undersea family of systems:
“Micro UUVs (about 6” or less in diameter) are inexpensive and improving in their endurance and on-board power. They could be procured and deployed in large numbers or swarms as weapons, to survey the ocean floor, or interfere with enemy ASW operations.
“Small UUVs (about 12” in diameter) are commonly used today for surveys and minehunting, such as the Navy’s Mk-18 UUV. They will be able to take on other surveillance or attack missions as part of the Fleet Modular Autonomous Undersea Vehicle (FMAUV) program and operate from submarines as well as surface ships and aircraft.
“Medium UUVs (about 21” in diameter) are the size of the Navy’s Mk-48 submarine-launched torpedo. And while the Navy is not operating UUVs of this size today, the Modular Heavyweight Undersea Vehicle (MHUV) program plans to make the torpedo of the future able to be configured to conduct a range of missions, from mining and long-range attack to electronic warfare.
“Large UUVs (about 80” in diameter) such as the Navy’s Large Displacement UUV (LDUUV) are designed to use the planned Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes in Block V Virginia-class submarines. The LDUUV will provide a way for submarines to increase their sensor reach, expand their payload capacity, or deliver payloads into areas that are too risky or constrained for the submarine to reach.
“Extra-Large UUVs (More than 80” in diameter) would be designed to launch from shore or very large ships with well decks or “moon pools.” They could be used for long-endurance surveillance missions or primarily as “trucks “ to deliver other payloads and UUVs. Experience with LDUUV will help inform concepts for using XLUUV.”
Essentially—once perfected—unmanned underwater vehicles could revolutionize naval warfare. But only time will tell.
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Drone GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Researchers at Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, also called DLR, put "optical markers" on the landing platform on the roof of a car. They outfitted a 10-foot, 44-pound electric drone, is travelling the same speed as the car, with a tracking system that "recognises the landing platform and performs a highly accurate calculation of its position relative to the ground vehicle," the researchers write.


Then, the drone uses an autopilot-like system to land.


There are quite a few practical reasons for developing the technology to land a drone on a moving target.

According to the researchers at DLR, this allows unmanned vehicles to be made without landing gear. This not only reduces the weight of the craft to allow it to fly faster, at higher altitudes, and for longer periods, but also provides room for a bigger payload.

Such a landing system could be outfitted on ultralight solar-powered aircraft that are used with satellite systems as well as on drones that study climate change, assess the aftermath of natural disasters, or provide communications networks, the researchers write.

Even though you need a person to drive the car now, the researchers say that in the future, it could be used with autonomous vehicles. 

The team from DLR also writes that it "simplifies landings in adverse weather conditions including crosswinds or wind gusts."

A few weeks ago, Ford and the drone maker DJI announced the DJI Developer Challenge, a $100,000 prize that will be awarded to someone who can build a system for a drone and Ford truck to communicate in real time, essentially allowing a drone to take off from a truck and then return to it even if the truck has moved. The idea is that it would allow UN first responders to deploy drones to do surveillance on areas hit by natural disasters.

The team from DLR seems like a good candidate for the prize.

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Geo Oceans Supports Pipeline Decom Project

Geo Oceans Supports Pipeline Decom Project | robotique & simu |

Perth-based Geo Oceans has completed a six-week contract for 24/7 ROV support over 40 days of subsea pipeline decommissioning operations for Vale in New Caledonia.

The project involved operating from a construction barge ROV visual guidance for crane operators using a pipe grab to remove a subsea pipeline in 40 – 60m of water.

The ROV teams also provided visual guidance and touchdown monitoring for an additional scope to lay approximately 300 concrete stabilisation blocks on an existing pipeline.

Geo Oceans had two ROV teams in the field managing and operating the Seabotix vLBV ROVs 24 hours per day.

According to the company. the campaign was executed successfully within budget and on time.

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Drone flies in crevasse

Grâce à une cage en fibres de carbone fabriquée par impression 3D, le drone Gimball est capable de résister aux chocs. Une caractéristique qui lui permet d'intervenir pour des opérations d'inspection dans des milieux difficiles, mais aussi de sauvetage, comme le montre cette nouvelle vidéo. 

Le drone Gimball de la start-up suisse Flyability se distingue des autres engins du marché : il n’a pas besoin d’éviter les obstacles. Issu de recherches menées au sein de l’EPFL, il résiste aux chocs lorsqu’il se heurte à son environnement grâce à une cage en fibres de carbone fabriquée par impression 3D. Une caractéristique qui devrait lui ouvrir de nombreux débouchés pour l’inspection et la surveillance de sites industriels complexes. Mais les fondateurs de la start-up ont identifié un autre domaine d’application : les opérations de sauvetage.

Récemment, un drone de la société est parvenu à inspecter une crevasse située à une altitude de 3 500 mètres et à remonter à la surface en ramenant des images inédites. Cette expérience a été effectuée dans le cadre d’un partenariat noué avec les équipes de secours de Zermatt. A terme, le drone Gimball pourrait donc être utilisé par les équipes de secours de haute montagne afin de localiser des victimes.

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UDT Asia: Saab goes underwater

UDT Asia: Saab goes underwater | robotique & simu |

Saab showcased two UUV designs – the Sea Wasp (pictured above) and MuMNS – during UDT Asia in Singapore. 

The Sea Wasp is designed to tackle seaborne improvised explosive devices (IED) planted in harbours or to ship hulls, for example. Saab has developed the Sea Wasp in conjunction with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) in the US. 

Carl-Marcus Remén, Saab’s sales director of underwater systems, said three critical aspects for such a craft are that it be ‘strong, manoeuvrable and adaptable’. The Sea Wasp, weighing in at less than 90kg and measuring 1.7m in length, is designed to be land-portable by a two person team. 

The Swedish company leveraged its commercial and oil/gas industry remotely operated vehicle (ROV) experience during its development.

The Sea Wasp possesses a five-function manipulator arm with an attached camera. Six thrusters powered by brushless motors allow the ROV to operate in currents of 2.5 knots. It is designed to operate at depths of up to 60m on a 160m-long tether.

Operator tests in Sweden have been completed and the platform is currently performing tests and demonstrations in the US. There has been ‘good user feedback’ so far, according to Remén, and an evaluation will follow.

The Multi-shot Mine Neutralisation System (MuMNS), meanwhile, is Saab’s contribution to the joint Maritime Mine Countermeasures (MMCM) contract between France and the UK that was awarded to a Thales-led consortium in March 2015. Saab signed a contract with BAE Systems for the mine neutralisation component last September.

Compared to systems such as the Atlas Elektronik SeaFox that have a one-shot capacity, the MuMNS carries three disruptors to neutralise mines, depth charges, torpedoes and IEDs. ‘The speed of operation is faster,’ Remén pointed out.

The mine disruptor is a non-magnetic shaped charge with a typical 1kg explosive load.

The new ROV is designed to be unmanned from detection to engagement, including deployment from an unmanned surface vessel (USV) and the project is currently in the first phase of design. Saab had been working on similar designs already, development of which has funnelled into its work now.

ASV is also involved in the MMCM project with responsibility for supplying the USV, while ECA is working on the underwater vehicle and Wood & Douglas is contributing the communications suite.

Three MMCM prototypes are supposed to be realised by around 2020. The MuMNS is 1.3m long, weighing 260kg and operate at depths of up to 300m on a 1km-long tether.

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MilSim Asia: ECA delivers driver simulator - News - Shephard

MilSim Asia: ECA delivers driver simulator - News - Shephard | robotique & simu |

French company ECA Group is set to deliver the first components of a military vehicle driver simulator to a Middle East customer ‘very soon’. 

The Military Vehicle Simulator (MVS) will eventually comprise 15 units mimicking new-type European-built armoured vehicles that the customer is acquiring, with one demonstrator simulator already completed ...

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Iver3 AUV Sold to Defense Research and Development Canada

Iver3 AUV Sold to Defense Research and Development Canada | robotique & simu |
OceanServer Technology has received a contract for an Iver3-580 EP system from Canada Public Works and Government Services…
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Husky UGV making mining safer - News - Shephard

The Husky unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) is being used to run autonomous sensor data in Chile’s mining industry in order to improve safety for operating teams and reduce manpower requirements in the dangerous mining environment.


The work is being carried out by the University of Chile’s Department of Electrical Engineering and the Advanced Mining Technology Center. The Husky is being used to solve registration problems with complex sensor data in the mines. By doing so, accurate and reliable sensing and automation will exist to enable improved safety and efficiency for tele-operated and autonomous mining activities. 

The Autonomous Rock Surface Modelling and Mapping in Mines project was designed to collect motion characteristics from Husky and noise characteristics from radar (Acumine 2D scanning millimeter wave radar), laser (3D Riegle scanning laser range finder) and vision-based sensors to model open pit and underground mines. A millimetre wave radar was used to penetrate dust, and Speed-Up Robust Feature (SURF) detection was analysed to determine the applicability of information extraction from mapping and surface profiling in mines. Sensors were integrated using the Robot Operating System (ROS).


3D video footage and densely sampled data sets were successfully collected upon completing field tests and data is in the process of being submitted to the International Journal of Robotics Research. A leading mining company in Chile has expressed interest in the research; discussions are underway to determine how this technology can be integrated into their workforce.

Dr Martin Adams, Professor at the University of Chile, said: ‘Our project develops existing technologies so that terrain surface profile and mine mapping information can be extracted from noisy sensor data. Our Husky-based sensing system will contribute significantly to the success and efficiency in which future mining operations take place.’

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Australian Maritime College to Build AUV Research Base

Australian Maritime College to Build AUV Research Base | robotique & simu |

Australian Maritime College (AMC) at the University of Tasmania plans to build a new $750,000-facility dedicated to development of underwater robotic technologies.

AMC’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) facility will be home to a fleet of robots used to survey the ocean’s depths and collect scientific data on research missions.


“This is an exciting new development for AMC, the University and the state of Tasmania. It will be unique within Australia and one of just a handful of comparable facilities globally, allowing us to be on the cutting-edge of research in this field,” AMC Principal Professor, Neil Bose, said.

“Building our underwater robotic research capabilities not only enhances our reputation on the international stage, it also helps stimulate the local economy through the recruitment of specialist personnel and the use of a local architectural firm and other related industries.”

Five new staff members have been recruited to help run the facility, including facility coordinator Peter King, lab manager Alfian Marzuki and engineers Isak Bowden-Floyd, Nathan Kemp and Konrad Zurcher.

“This facility will be a hub for world-class AUV research and technology. Through local and international collaborations, we aim to develop new data collection capabilities, improve reliability and increase autonomy of underwater vehicles,” AUV facility coordinator, Peter King, said.

“One of these projects, the Antarctic Gateway Partnership, will see us acquire and develop an AUV that tackles the great engineering challenges of venturing far beneath ice-covered waters to further our understanding of the Antarctic’s role in the world’s climate.”

The facility’s fleet of autonomous robots includes UBC-Gavia, Mullaya and the soon-to-be-procured Antarctic Gateway Partnership AUV.

The $24-million Antarctic Gateway Partnership is a Special Research Initiative of the Australian Research Council bringing together the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the Australian Antarctic Division to build further polar research capability in Tasmania as a gateway for Antarctic research, education, innovation and logistics. The Antarctic Gateway Partnership has contributed $3.6 million in funding for the new AUV and four of the new staff positions, with a further $3.75 million and one staff position contributed by AMC.

Launceston firm Artas Architects were tasked with designing a facility big enough to accommodate the Antarctic Gateway Partnership AUV, which will measure up to 8 metres long, weigh 3 tonnes and be capable of transiting more than 100 kilometres while collecting data from the sea floor at depths of about 4000-5000m, and beneath ice shelves and sea ice.


Artas principal, Heath Clayton, said: “We’ve been able to take a simple storage area that was largely unused and convert it into a contemporary research facility utilising modern building products. The design of the building, its colour and materials, complements the other structures in the area while still maintaining its own identity.”

Building works are expected to be completed in late 2016.

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First unmanned naval vessel unveiled

First unmanned naval vessel unveiled | robotique & simu |
Israel based company Elbit Systems introduces Seagull, a new multi-mission unmanned surface vehicle system for maritime warfare missions  with the aim to change the dynamic of anti-submarine operations through its detection capabilities.

Seagull is a 12-meter USV with replaceable mission modules, with two vessels capable of being operated and controlled in concert using a single Mission Control System (MCS), from manned ships or from the shore.

The system provides unmanned end-to-end mine hunting operation taking the man out of the mine field. It provides mission planning, and on-line operation in known and unknown areas, including area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines.

The company claims that seagull changes the dynamics of anti-submarine operations by creating a threat to submarines using a cost-effective and available asset, replacing and augmenting manned assets with minimal threat from submarines.

It empowers a surface vessel or naval base commander with off-board, available and rapidly deployable Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities to protect critical sea areas and high-value assets from submarine as well as sea mine threats.

In addition, Seagull features a robust, highly-autonomous and safe sailing capability as well as modular mission payload suites, selected to match a variety of required missions including EW, surface force protection, hydrographical missions in addition to he core MCM and ASW missions. The sailing suite includes a patented Autonomous Navigation System (ANS), with obstacle avoidance, which considers the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea.

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Unmanned helicopter demo puts detect and avoid to the test

Unmanned helicopter demo puts detect and avoid to the test | robotique & simu |

Schiebel Group’s unmanned helicopter has proven how to navigate using a detect and avoid system thanks to the help of the Netherland’s Coastguard. The Vienna-based UAV maker recently held a demo with the Royal Netherlands Air Force and the country’s Coast Guard.

An intruder aircraft provided by the government of the Netherlands attempted to intercept the company’s trademarked Camcopter S-100. “Several scenarios were successfully executed where the Camcopter S-100 unexpectedly encountered an intruder aircraft,” the company said. “The system then determined in real time the corrective action to ensure the necessary separation from the intruder aircraft.”

“This demonstration is another positive step towards unmanned aircraft systems gaining access to a broader range of airspace,” said Chris Day, head of capability engineering at Schiebel.

Head of operations for the Netherlands Coast Guard, Edwin van der Pol, said that in the future the entity hopes to use unmanned systems search and rescue operations. “These trials are important to achieve for bringing remotely piloted aircraft into non-segragated airspace.”

Earlier this year, Schiebel performed a demonstration off the coast of South Africa. Working with the South African Navy at False Bay, Western Cape, South Africa, Schiebel flew its trademarked Camcopter S-100 off the deck of a deep-ocean hydrographic survey vessel. During the test flights, crosswinds reached 25 knots and the deck size on the ship was limited. According to Schiebel, the unmanned helicopter “effortlessly conducted automatic takeoffs and landings and all other required maneuvers, thanks to its integrated GPS-independent positioning system, enabling pinpoint precision at a high dynamic range.”

The test included the use of an electronic support system used to detect, identify and geo-locate radio frequency sources. The system could be used for maritime surveillance missions or anti-piracy operations that the South African Navy may be interested in, Schiebel said.

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UMS SKELDAR announces South East Asia as priority market in launch of global multi-platform UAV strategy - sUAS News

UMS SKELDAR announces South East Asia as priority market in launch of global multi-platform UAV strategy - sUAS News | robotique & simu |

Saab and UMS AERO Group combine technologies as UMS SKELDAR to showcase Europe’s only provider of both Rotary and Fixed Wing platforms

UMS SKELDAR, the newly formed joint business between Saab and UMS AERO Group launches its combined unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) at Singapore Airshow, as the springboard for its ambition to become the number one choice in the global mid-range UAV market.

Backed by a highly active research and development programme, UMS SKELDAR brings together four platforms including the SKELDAR V-200 to create Europe’s most versatile UAVs for the global military, defence and civil security sectors. The company will showcase the new line-up at the Singapore Airshow 16-21 February. UMS SKELDAR will display its platforms and solutions alongside CWT at stand number D87.

In conjunction with its regional partner CWT, South East Asia’s largest logistics business, and on the back of contracts agreed with governments in Singapore, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company has declared Asia-Pacific and Mideast as priority regions for growth. “The strategic importance of the region to us made Singapore a natural choice for the world launch platform of our unrivalled line-up of platforms, systems and managed services. South East Asia will be pivotal and our relationship with CWT as our exclusive strategic partner plays a crucial role in the development of our market share,” according to Jacob Baumann, former two-star general in the Swiss military and CEO of UMS SKELDAR.

The highly targeted business development strategy is spearheaded by David Willems, aviation business specialist and Head of Marketing and Sales, together with former senior RAF officer and regional business development head George Duncan, responsible for Asia Pacific and Mideast markets. “The formation of UMS SKELDAR through Saab and UMS AERO has truly propelled the business into a global and expanding market. With a strong customer base and pipeline of strong prospective contracts, we’re looking forward to the Singapore Airshow to be able display our total solutions packages,” explains David Willems.

UMS SKELDAR brings together the four platforms to create Europe’s only provider of high endurance vertical take-off (VTOL) and fixed wing UAVs, across the 3-12+ hour endurance range:

Fixed wing:
• UMS F330 – designed as a high-performance ITAR-free unmanned aircraft

• UMS F720 – a highly versatile and widely capable Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). Its innovative, flexible and modular design enables the F-720 to carry multiple payloads at the same time, making it one of the most capable systems in its class.

Rotary/VTOL (vertical take-off and landing):

· UMS R350 – sets the standard in VTOL RPAS. This ITAR-free Tactical Helicopter is unique in its class as it contains a jet-turbine engine propulsion system.

· SKELDAR V-200 – an innovative UAV using the technology of Saab, ideal for civil security and military operations. The V-200 is the first rotary winged medium-range UAV that can be operated from a tailored control station. Equipped with multiple capabilities including surveillance and 3D mapping, the aircraft gives edge in any environment – day or night. The system can hover for hours while providing real-time information to a control station or to a remote video terminal. Launched from historically difficult locations such as the deck of a ship, a travelling convoy or other small stationery areas, SKELDAR V-200 is designed to provide real-time intelligence and surveillance as a force multiplier for land, civil security and maritime applications. The compact solution is fully autonomous, controlled by high-level-commands such as “Point and Fly” and “Point and Look”.

As a multi-skilled enterprise with all the capabilities necessary to manage and deliver total UAV programmes, UMS SKELDAR is equipped to provide solutions including research, development, design, manufacture, testing, training, maintenance and finance to a wide variety of sectors globally. Alongside design and production, UMS SKELDAR develops its own avionic solutions which serve to fly various types of UAV’s simultaneously on the same Ground Control Station (GCS). The company can provide customers with qualified ISR instructors for training of vehicles or to interpret sensor information alongside a RPAS capability requirement. All of the systems provided by UMS SKELDAR utilise exclusive design and build avionics, software and carry an authentic intellectual property rights (IPR).

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France seeks new counter-UAV capability

The French Ministry of Defence (MoD) is studying how to counter the threat of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), whether single platforms or in 'swarmed' formation. The ministry wants to legally tighten the use of RPAS, more commonly known as drones, around sensitive sites in France and is mulling the requirements for a cyber-based capability to counter the devices when needed.

"We are reviewing how to counter malicious drones. We want to prevent the impunity of their use," Colonel Laurent Barrilliet, member of the MoD's task force on the issue, told RPAS industry and government officials during a 19-20 January conference in Brussels on the EU's plans to regulate the sector.

Via Romain
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Russian Navy developing unmanned ‘drone’ boats — deputy commander

The Russian Navy also continues its work on developing self-guided deep-water search vessels and tethered underwater robots capable of carrying out complex operations at big depths © Vitaliy Nevar/TASS ST. PETERSBURG, January 21. /TASS/. The Russian Navy is working on developing ‘drone’ boats that can be based on ships and on the coast, Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Vice-Admiral Alexander Fedotenkov said on Thursday. "Work will be continued in 2016 to develop unmanned boats that can be based both on ships and on the shore," he said. The Russian Navy also continues its work on developing self-guided deep-water search vessels. Work is underway as well to develop tethered underwater robots capable of carrying out complex operations at big depths, Fedotenkov said.
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Underwater vision | Engineer Live

Underwater vision | Engineer Live | robotique & simu |

Robin Stephens provides insight into the MACH project, which is developing a comprehensive ocean current hindcast database.


shtead Technology has secured a global asset management agreement with Blue Ocean Monitoring to store, maintain and supply underwater gliders for ocean data monitoring.

The deal will see Blue Ocean Monitoring expand its service offering globally with Ashtead providing asset management services and project support from its offices in Aberdeen, Houston and Singapore.

Unlike autonomous vehicles (AUVs), which are driven by conventional propellers, the gliders operate using either buoyancy or wave motion propulsion mechanisms, which allows for longer deployment periods and the collection of large datasets continuously over extended time scales.

The gliders are capable of transmitting data in real-time and can be deployed and recovered easily, at a fraction of the cost of traditional vessel-based or fixed-mooring monitoring approaches, lowering both project costs and health, safety and environmental risks.

Simon Illingworth, managing director of Blue Ocean Monitoring says: “Initially used extensively for academic and military applications, these gliders are now increasingly being embraced by the oil and gas community for a wide range of purposes.

“Oil and gas applications include pipeline leak detection, oil spill response, decommissioning studies, dredge/construction plume monitoring, environmental monitoring and metocean studies.

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Performance of lithium ion battery enhanced

Corvus Energy says it has "vastly improved" the performance specifications for its lithium ion battery systems. The company says a rigorous testing programme with the Laboratory of Alternative Energy Conversion (LAEC) at Simon Fraser University, a battery testing and research facility in North America, and its on-going monitoring of its deployed systems, has validated improved specifications for the AT6500 lithium ion energy storage product platform. The module will now be designated AT6700 to reflect the validated energy capacity of 6.7kWh.

The company said the battery system has double the RMS power capability and substantially more energy capacity than previously reported. Corvus has a large installed base of industrial lithium ion batteries in the maritime industry, units on ferries, tugs, offshore supply vessels and port cranes.

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Hydroid to ramp-up production of MK 18 Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicle

Hydroid to ramp-up production of MK 18 Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicle | robotique & simu |

INDIAN HEAD, Md. - Unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) experts at Hydroid Inc. in Pocasset, Mass., are ramping-up production of the company's MK 18 Kingfish family of unmanned submersibles under terms of a $8.7 million contract.

Officials of the Naval Surface War- fare Center (NSWC) Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division in Indian Head, Md., are asking Hydroid to increase quantities for the procurement of additional MK 18 family of system assets.

The Navy's MK 18 UUV is a variant of the Hydroid REMUS 600, which Hydroid originally developed through funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., to support the Navy's UUVs with extended endurance, increased payload capacity, and greater operating depth.

The Hydroid MK 18 Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicle, shown above, will help the U.S. Navy with mine countermeasures, harbor security, debris field mapping, search and salvage, and scientific sampling.

The REMUS 600 can dive to depths of nearly 2,000 feet, and can operate on one battery charge for as long as 24 hours. The UUV is for mine count- ermeasures; harbor security; debris field mapping; search and salvage; scientific sampling and mapping; hydrographic surveys; environmental monitoring; and fishery operations. REMUS is short for Remote Environmental Measuring Unit S.

The torpedo-shaped REMUS 600 is nearly 13 feet long and two feet in diameter. The unit weighs 622 pounds. It has dynamic focus side look sonar (SLS), a Neil Brown conductivity and temperature sensor (CT), WET Labs beam attenuation meter (BAM) optical sensor, Imagenex 852 pencil beam sonar for obstacle avoidance, and a WET Labs ECO fluorometer and turbidity measurement sensor.

Its communications suite consists of long baseline acoustic communications, WiFi, Iridium satellite communications, and radio modem via gateway buoy. The UUV navigates by up- and down-looking acoustic Doppler current profiler; Doppler velocity log; Kearfott inertial navigation unit; compass; and GPS.

The REMUS 600 has a modular design to meet a variety of payloads. The UUV has a series of hull sections that can be separated for vehicle reconfiguration, maintenance, and shipping. It uses the Hydroid Vehicle Interface Program (VIP) for maintenance, checkout, mission planning, and data analysis.

Hydroid will do the work in Pocasset, Mass., and should be finished by September 2017. Hydroid is a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime AS in Kongsberg, Norway.


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UGV/UAV Joint Autonomy Demonstration

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, partnered with Carnegie Mellon University for a joint autonomy demonstration involving an unmanned ground vehicle and an unmanned Black Hawk helicopter.

During the demonstration, a UH-60MU Black Hawk was equipped with Sikorsky's Matrix Technology, and was used to transport CMU's Land Tamer autonomous unmanned ground vehicle to its mission area. Those involved in the demonstration say these missions can help prevent exposing warfighters to hazardous conditions.

"The teaming of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles, as demonstrated here, has enormous potential to bring the future ground commander an adaptable, modular, responsive and smart capability that can evolve as quickly as needed to meet a constantly changing threat," U.S. Army Tank Automative Research, Development and Engineering Center director Paul Rogers said in a statement.

The U.S. Army provided the Black Hawk helicopter for the demonstration, which was then modified with Sikorsky's Matrix equipment to give the aircraft unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities. The Matrix Technology was launched in 2013 with the aim of improving the reliability and safety of autonomous and optionally piloted aircraft.

CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center developed the unmanned ground vehicle used in the demonstration. NREC technical project manager Jeremy Searock says researchers demonstrated new capabilities by using unmanned air and ground platforms together.

"The helicopter provides long-range capability and access to remote areas, while the ground vehicle has long endurance and high-precision sensing," Searock said.

The unmanned Black Hawk flew a 12-mile route with the ground vehicle before releasing it. Once on the ground, the UGV traveled a six-mile course, using its sensors to detect hazards and relaying information to a remote ground station.

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